A Boy Called Christmas

by Matt Haig

illustrations by Chris Mould

a-boy-called-christmas-by-matt-haig-illustrations-by-chris-mould

 

 

A Boy Called Christmas  in a nutshell is AMAZING! This book captures all the magic of Christmas and being a kid and wrapped it up into a book. This book is for all ages and perfect to read this holiday season! I just felt so happy and so wrapped up in the Christmas spirit while reading this. It makes you really see Christmas and all the magic, joy and wonder of the season. There are some darker moments but nothing so scary that it isn’t suitable for young bookworms. This is a must READ and must BUY – it is perfect for reading aloud around the Christmas Tree with your family. You will be truly captivated and transported into the magical world that the author and illustrator created! I can not say enough great things about this book. It’s on my top 5 list of best books I read this year! Grab a copy for your family – gift copies to your family and friends. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this becomes a Christmas classic in years to come.

 

Summary: Before there was Santa Claus, there was a young boy who believed in the impossible. . . . Lemony Snicket meets Elf in this warmhearted Christmas caper.
 
Eleven-year-old Nikolas—nicknamed “Christmas”—has received only one toy in his life: a doll carved out of a turnip. But he’s happy with his turnip doll, because it came from his parents, who love him. Then one day his father goes missing, and Nikolas must travel to the North Pole to save him.

Along the way, Nikolas befriends a surly reindeer, bests a troublesome troll, and discovers a hidden world of enchantment in the frozen village of Elfhelm. But the elves of Elfhelm have troubles of their own: Christmas spirit and goodwill are at an all-time low, and Nikolas may be the only person who can fix things—if only he can reach his father before it’s too late. . . .

Thank you so very much Knopf Books for Young Readers for sending me a copy of A Boy Called Christmas for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Wildings

by Eleanor Glewwe

wildings-by-eleanor-glewwe

 

 

Do your kids (and you) love the magic of Harry Potter, InkHeart, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe? Do they love fantasy fiction but have run out of books to read? I know my middle grade reader has read just about every fantasy book under the sun. I was happy to pass on Wildings to her after I read it, I know she is going to fall in love with this book. I had not read or heard of the book Sparkers so this was my first introduction to the magical world that Rivka, Arik and other Wildings live in. I will go back and read it this book was so good I didn’t want it to end. I loved that Rivka is a strong girl who doesn’t back down if she feels she is doing what is right! We need more books with good, positive girls. This book deals with the topic of racism within the magical world and Rivka doing everything she can to reunite and change the laws so other wildings can be reunited with their families. Grab a copy for your fellow bookworms and gift it this holiday season. I really hope this story line continues I would love to read more and see where they go from here.

summary: Rivka is one of the magical elite and the daughter of an important ambassador. But she harbors a deep secret: She once had a twin brother, Arik. When Arik failed to develop his own magical abilities, the government declared him a wilding, removed him from his home, placed him with non-magical adoptive parents, and forbade him any contact with his birth family. Now it is as if he never existed at all.

But Rivka refuses to forget her twin brother. Even though she knows she could lose everything—her father, her friends, even her freedom—she sets out to find Arik. She has nothing to go on except her still-new magical powers and her love for her brother. Can that possibly be enough to bring them together again, when all of society believes they belong apart?

Thank you Viking Books for Young Readers for allowing me to read Wildings. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Curse of the Boggin and Dr Fell and the Playground of Doom

I have 2 great little books perfect for the upper elementary through middle grade reading crowd. If you are looking for some somewhat spooky but not scary books for your kids who have already read every and all GooseBumps books than look no further.  Curse of the Boggin and Dr Fell and the Playground of Doom just might be what they are looking for.

First up or hands down favorite of the 2:

Curse of the Boggin (The Library #1) by D.J. McHale

curse-of-the-boggin-the-library-1-by-d-j-machale

 

This one was our favorite of the 2 books and we can’t wait for book 2. The book is perfect and we loved every creepy moment of it. The cover will have every kid that loves a good spooky book grabbing it off the shelves, it is perfect and really sums up the book. Curse of the Boggin has 2 stories with in this one. There is of course the main story that the book is based on but the back story as to why the Boggin wants the key so badly. This book is a bit more creepy and scary so not for the easily scared readers. Upper elementary through middle grade will devour this book and series – I even think some YA readers would enjoy this one. The kids are great and read like real kids. They are sarcastic – stick together – and jump feet first into the unknown world to save not only their families but their best friend. Marcus learns a lot in a very short time. First he learns that he is gifted or cursed depending on how you want to look at it with a gift. He learns he is adopted and that his parents didn’t pass away like he thought they did. Than he learns he is the keeper of this very special key and it can not – I repeat can not fall into the hands of the boggin or we are all doomed. Curse of the Boggin is a grand slam and sure to delight readers with the creepy supernatural elements,  friendships and both strong boy and girl main characters. Grab a copy of this one and add it to your middle grade spooktober reading list.

summary: There’s a place beyond this world, beyond the land of the living, where ghosts go to write their unfinished stories—stories that ended too soon. It’s a place for unexplained phenomena: mysteries that have never been solved, spirits that have never been laid to rest. And there’s only one way in or out.

It’s called the Library, and you can get there with a special key. But beware! Don’t start a story you can’t finish. Because in this library, the stories you can’t finish just might finish you.

Marcus O’Mara is a 13 year old guy at a crossroads. He constantly finds himself in trouble at school, with his friends, and with his adoptive parents. Marcus doesn’t believe things can get any worse for him…until they get worse.

Much worse.

He begins seeing strange and impossible visions; gets thrown into paranormal danger and is haunted by a mysterious ghost with a singular goal: to give him a key.

It’s a key that opens the door to a mysterious library. When that door opens, the incredible adventure for Marcus and his friends begins as they learn the truth about Marcus’ past and uncover the strange world of unfinished stories that are found on the shelves of the Library.

Dr Fell and the Playground of Doom by David Neilsen

dr-fell-and-the-playground-of-doom-by-david-neilsen

 

This book was a small book and a quick read but not lacking it is a story that is packed full of mystery, fantasy and tween heroes. The tween kids are funny, sarcastic and not afraid of Dr Fell. They want to know what is up with him since something doesn’t seem right. This is a first book for my by David Neilsen and it was a delight to read his writing. He creates such a great enchanting book. I instantly fell into the book and didn’t want it to end. While it was a spooky book perfect for tween spooktober reading, it wasn’t I can’t sleep it was so scary. However if your child does scare easy than you might want to read it first just to make sure it would be OK. My tween reader has been reading spooky books for quite a while now and for her she said it wasn’t spooky enough – so definitely mildly spooky. The plot of the book is fast paced and will have your child reading all day long so they can find out how this book is going to end. Sadly the ending comes fast but is the perfect ending. Overall I really enjoyed this one and so did my middle grade reader (5th grader). The only thing she said she didn’t like was the cover. She said the cover would have her reaching for the book at the store or school library.

summary: When the mysterious Dr. Fell moves into the abandoned house that had once been the neighborhood kids’ hangout, he immediately builds a playground to win them over. But as the ever-changing play space becomes bigger and more elaborate, the children and their parents fall deeper under the doctor’s spell.

Only Jerry, Nancy, and Gail are immune to the lure of his extravagant wonderland. And they alone notice that when the injuries begin to pile up on the jungle gym, somehow Dr. Fell is able to heal each one with miraculous speed. Now the three children must find a way to uncover the doctor’s secret power without being captivated by his trickery.

Thank you so much Random House Books for Young Readers and Crown Books for Young Readers. We enjoyed Curse of the Boggin and Dr Fell and the Playground of Doom. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free books.

Love and Chicken Nuggets

Series: Pippa Morgan’s Diary
Author: Annie Kelsey

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Love and Chicken Nuggets by Annie Kelsey

summary: Meet Pippa Morgan, a small girl with a BIG imagination.

Pippa’s class has just been given a project all about “love”—gross! Luckily, there are lots of things she loves—like chicken nuggets and TV detectives, and her best friend forever, Catie Brown. But now that her mom is single, Pippa wonders whether she needs a little more love in her life. She comes up with a way to handle two problems at once…by making her mom the subject of her school project! Will Pippa be able to find her mom a husband? And can she get Catie to taste chicken nuggets for the first time ever? You’ll have to read her super-secret diary to find out!

ALSO BY ANNIE KELSEY: Pippa Morgan’s Diary

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Pippa Morgan's Diary by Annie Kelsey

summary: Sometimes a little white lie can land you in a whole lot of trouble…

Pippa’s new BFF Catie Brown is perfect. So perfect, that Pippa tells her a teeny tiny lie—that she once auditioned for Voice Factor—to impress her. And it works.  It works so well, in fact, that Catie enters Pippa into the school talent show.

 The only problem? Pippa can’t sing. Not at all.  In fact, her singing is so bad it scares the neighbors. But if she doesn’t participate in the talent show, Catie will know she lied. But if she does participate, the whole school will find out what a horrible singer she is…including Catie! It’s up to Pippa to put an end to this pesky problem!

Freddy The Frogcaster and the Terrible Tornado

by Janice Dean (the weather machine)

illustrated by Russ Cox

Freddy the Frogcaster and the Terrible Tornado by Janice Dean (the weather machine) illustrated by Russ Cox

 

I really have enjoyed the Freddy the Frogcaster books and this one I really think is my favorite by far. The author Janice Dean has tackled scary weather events for children and has succeeded in making this moments less scary. She does a wonderful job at describing weather from what’s it’s like to be a meteorologist, which is a hard job I know I got a taste of it in one of my college environmental science classes. She has also tackled hurricanes, blizzards and now tornadoes. I have experienced all 3 and I can tell you they are scary for kids and adults. In Freddy the Frogcaster and the Terrible Tornado the readers (and listeners) will learn all about tornadoes and see where the tornado alley that meteorologist always talking about. Kids that live in places with the possibility of tornadoes know to look at the sky as the storms are building and rolling in. The author has created a likable character, what is it about frogs they are just so adorable. Her writing style is simple but not so simple that it won’t hold an upper elementary aged reader. We can’t wait to see what weather emergency Janice Dean comes up with next.

summary: Get ready for a whirlwind of adventure with Freddy the Frogcaster when a famous storm chaser visits Lilypad!

In her fourth book, well-known meteorologist Janice Dean tackles some scary weather. Freddy the Frogcaster is faced with one of the most ferocious and devastating kinds of weather: the tornado.

Young readers will learn all about how big storms occur and produce some of nature’s most destructive weather. Chock-full of storm science lessons in the back, children and adults alike will learn valuable life-saving information.

As Freddy reminds us, please be prepared and know what to do and where to go when the next bad storm comes your way!

thank you so much Regnery Kids and Janice Dean for allowing us to read and review Freddy the Frogcaster and the Terrible Tornado. All thoughts and opinions are my own and were not influenced by the free book.

The Girl in the Tower

by Lisa Schroeder

The Girl In The Tower by Lisa Schroeder

 

I’m all about fairy tales and retellings. Many will say this is a retelling of Rapunzel however I think it is better. This book has some similarities but that is where it ends. Lisa Schroeder is a wonderful story-teller and we have enjoyed many of her books. The Girl in the Tower was a delightful book and we enjoyed every minute of reading this book. You will be rooting for Violet and wishing the story doesn’t end. We would love to read more books about Violet. The character and world building is so vivid and descriptive that you really feel that you are in that fairy tale right along with the characters. This book is geared towards middle grade and upper elementary but I just about any one who loves a great fairy tale. The art work is by one of favorites Nicoletta Ceccoli, her illustrations are simply amazing and so perfect for this story. The Girl in the Tower is delightful in every way. Add it your you elementary and middle school readers summer reading and enjoy some magic.

summary: Ever since she could remember, Violet and her mother have been locked away in a tower by the evil Queen Bogdana, who has the kingdom under her spell. The queen has all she wants except one thing-beauty. Violet possesses this beauty. She also has a secret: though she is very small, both her spirit and her heart are mighty.

When Violet is summoned by Bogdana to start training to become a real princess, it seems like her life might be taking a turn for the better. But hope quickly fades when Violet’s mother is expelled from the castle and they’re forbidden to see each other ever again. With everyone’s lives in the balance, it’s up to Violet to break the spell and reunite her family.

thank you MacMillan Children’s Publishing, Lisa Schroeder and netgalley for allowing us to read The Girl in the Tower. All thoughts and opinions are my own and were not influenced by the free book.

Earth Day middle grade books

There are many great Earth Day reads for upper elementary and middle grade readers. Today I’m going to share 2 that are the favorites right now with this age group. We really loved Fuzzy Mud and Chomp was a great book also, Hoot is our favorite but Chomp is right up there. Both these books raise awareness and might just get your reader asking questions and researching ways to help their local environment.

Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

 

Courage just meant pretending to be brave. “After all, if you’re not scared, then there’s nothing to be brave about is there?” (P. 15) this is one of my favorite lines from the book. I love it and it is so true.

Fuzzy Mud was written by a favorite kid lit author of mine and he did not disappoint! This book has 2 main themes throughout the story and does an excellent job and making them both work through out the storyline: Bullying and the Human Impact on the Environment. This book is a beyond 5 stars for me, I loved how it flowed so well and has mystery and suspense in it. This book would appeal to upper elementary and middle school. I think it would be a good classroom read aloud and would fit in perfectly with a science unit on the environment. This book even talks about secret senate meetings (loved reading those “transcripts”) the CDC and NIH are even mentioned and a part of the book. Fuzzy Mud helps raise awareness for the environment and I hope it goes on to win awards.

Tamaya: A sweet girl who wants to do the right thing. Even when that right thing means going back into the Fuzzy Mud woods to help find the kid who is the biggest bully she has ever known. She is scared because she knows there is something very wrong about the Fuzzy Mud but she is going to be brave because it’s the right thing to do.

Marshall: A good kid who is the target for the school bully. He hates school and just wish he could be invisible. He doesn’t have any friends anymore and he wish life was like before the bully targeted him. However he is best friends with Tamaya and she has gone missing and he knows where she is heading. Now he just needs to put on a brave face and go searching for her even it means facing the one who has made his life awful.

Chad: Oh Chad is that bully that targets one kid and makes his or her life horrible. Maybe he doesn’t have a great home life? Or maybe he is just mean? Either way he is mad and he has his sights set on Marshall. However he is going to cross paths with both Tamaya and Marshall in the woods and to get away Tamaya is going to expose both her and Chad to the Fuzzy Mud.

In the end all 3 come together to help each other out…

summary: Be careful. Your next step may be your last.

Fifth grader Tamaya Dhilwaddi and seventh grader Marshall Walsh have been walking to and from Woodridge Academy together since elementary school. But their routine is disrupted when bully Chad Hilligas challenges Marshall to a fight. To avoid the conflict, Marshall takes a shortcut home through the off-limits woods. Tamaya, unaware of the reason for the detour, reluctantly follows. They soon get lost. And then they find trouble. Bigger trouble than anyone could ever have imagined.

In the days and weeks that follow, the authorities and the U.S. Senate become involved, and what they uncover might affect the future of the world.

 

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

Chomp by Carl Hiassen

 

I  grabbed Chomp from the local library as an ebook. It was a bundle that also included Hoot, Flush, and Scat. It was a some fun reading and I think upper elementary and middle grade kids would love this set either all together as an ebook or individually as a physical book or ebooks. Hiaasen writes with such a great flair and creative flow that I can’t imagine anyone not loving his books. Readers will enjoy the plot and settings of the books as well as the likable characters. I love the sarcastic humor that is always sprinkled throughout any of his books and Chomp did not disappoint. Chomp delivers a great message about Carl Hiassens passion for the environment and how things we are doing are affecting plants and animals. He doesn’t preach it so much so that it turns off the reader or goes over the younger reader’s head. Chomp as well as any of his books would be great read alouds for the home or classroom. You could use any of his books as a jumping point for further action and study of your own local environment and habitats.

summary: Wahoo Cray lives in a zoo. His father is an animal wrangler, so he’s grown up with all manner of gators, snakes, parrots, rats, monkeys, snappers, and more in his backyard. The critters he can handle. His father is the unpredictable one.
When his dad takes a job with a reality TV show called “Expedition Survival!”, Wahoo figures he’ll have to do a bit of wrangling himself—to keep his dad from killing Derek Badger, the show’s boneheaded star, before the shoot is over. But the job keeps getting more complicated. Derek Badger seems to actually believe his PR and insists on using wild animals for his stunts. And Wahoo’s acquired a shadow named Tuna—a girl who’s sporting a shiner courtesy of her old man and needs a place to hide out.
They’ve only been on location in the Everglades for a day before Derek gets bitten by a bat and goes missing in a storm. Search parties head out and promptly get lost themselves. And then Tuna’s dad shows up with a gun . . .
It’s anyone’s guess who will actually survive “Expedition Survival”. . . .

thank you so very much Penguin Random House for kids, Delacorte Books for Young Readers and Louis Sachar for allowing me to read and review this. I wish I could give it more than 5 stars it was so good! All thoughts and opinions are my own and were not influenced by the free book.