December 11, 2017

Review: Wild Born (Spirit Animals #1) by Brandon Mull

Title: Wild Born (Spirit Animals #1) 
Author: Brandon Mull

Four children separated by vast distances all undergo the same ritual, watched by cloaked strangers. Four flashes of light erupt, and from them emerge the unmistakable shapes of incredible beasts - a wolf, a leopard, a panda, a falcon. Suddenly the paths of these children - and the world - have been changed for ever. Enter the world of Erdas, where every child who comes of age must discover if they have a spirit animal, a rare bond between human and beast that bestows great powers to both. A dark force has risen from distant and long-forgotten lands, and has begun an onslaught that will ravage the world. Now the fate of Erdas has fallen on the shoulders of four young strangers ...and on you.

I've read and listened to several of the 39 Clues books, and I knew these books would be similar to a degree, so I wanted a taste of the series in order to be able to book talk it better.  From the start I could see why kids like these books.  They move along at a good pace which is always important for keeping kids reading.  Plus there are a variety of characters, so if you don't like one main character you may like another (My personal favorite was Abeke).  I also loved the animal aspect!  Any kid who loves animals will really like that part of the story.  I think my favorite animal was the panda just because Meilin wasn't real thrilled to have it as her spirit animal!) 

As for the rest of the story - it was good.  Lots of action and suspense so it kept me listening.  I know kids will enjoy that and want to keep with the series to see how it all works out.  

Final Thought: Well done and perfect for the middle school kid.  Action and suspense enough to keep a reader awake but not enough to scare them! 

Of course I would have this book/series in the media center.  It's a great series to hook the 39 Clue readers into.  But will also appeal to kids who liked Gregor the Overlander, The False Prince or maybe even Percy Jackson! 

December 6, 2017

Nonfiction Review: 1,000 Facts About the White House

Title: 1,000 Facts about the White House
Author: Sarah Wassner Flynn

Welcome to the White House! Go behind the scenes to get a 360-degree view of America's most famous president's residence, from how it was built in 1792 and the fire of 1812, to today's state dinners, celebrations, celebrity pets, and more. Discover through 1,000 fun-to-read facts what it's like to live and work at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the quirky rules of the house and how the Secret Service keeps it safe. Find out how the kids who have lived there play, watch movies, and entertain friends. With a treasure trove of material from the White House Historical Association, this book presents a fascinating story of the building and the many people who have shaped its 225-year history.

Ok we all know about the White House right?  It's the place where the president lives.  But what do you really KNOW about it?  This book is filled with all kinds of little tidbits about the house we see all the time in the news and in movies etc.  There are facts about it's history, the animals that have lived there, food at the White House, ghosts (my favorite part!), and how it has changed over time.  

What I really liked is that the infomration is grouped just like that. It's not just a long list of 1000 facts.  Instead the facts are grouped up.  So if you're interested in one topic over another, you can just read that topic.  Which is why I was able to jump the the ghost facts first.

As I've said before on the blog I often times see my son's reaction to a book as an indication of it's ability to hook other kids.  My son spotted it sitting out and started asking all kinds of questions about it.  I think he was interested because, just like me, I knew the White House, but I wanted to know more.  

Also - it has great photgraphs throughout the book.  So not only do you get to learn about some new things, you can see what they are talking about as well. 

In the End: Great book with lots of fantastic facts both fun and serious.  

I would add this for sure!  We should all know more about the house the President lives in! 

December 4, 2017

Review: Click'd by Tamara Ireland Stone

Title: Click'd
Author: Tamara Ireland Stone

Allie Navarro can't wait to show her best friends the app she built at CodeGirls summer camp. CLICK'D pairs users based on common interests and sends them on a fun (and occasionally rule-breaking) scavenger hunt to find each other. And it's a hit. By the second day of school, everyone is talking about CLICK'D.

Watching her app go viral is amazing. Leaderboards are filling up! Everyone's making new friends. And with all the data Allie is collecting, she has an even better shot at beating her archenemy, Nathan, at the upcoming youth coding competition. But when Allie discovers a glitch that threatens to expose everyone's secrets, she has to figure out how to make things right, even if that means sharing the computer lab with Nathan. Can Allie fix her app, stop it from doing any more damage, and win back the friends it hurt-all before she steps on stage to present CLICK'D to the judges?

Before the review I want to mention to the teachers and librarians out there - there is a teacher's guide for Click'd! Check it out HERE

Right now I am teaching a coding class to 6th graders, and it has been really fun.  I love how coding makes them think and be ok with things not going right the first time! It really forces them to think through the problem and be ok with trial and error.  So when I was given this book for review I hoped it would fit with that.  I wasn't disappointed.  I was really pleased with how this book talked about coding.  It was factual about coding but not so much that the average kid would be lost.  It kept it at their level! I think the use of the app Allie created would hold their attention.  I could see them imagining how they might use an app like it at school!

Mostly though I liked how it is a story that kids can relate to at the middle school age.  All kids can relate to the idea of their deepest secrets seeing the light of day and the horror of being the one that causes that.  Allie is a great character throughout all that.  She's typical for the age in her reactions but also a great role model for how to handle something big like this.  I liked her a lot.  

In the end: I liked that it showed the fun and challenge of coding (for both boys and girls - with an emphasis on girls) and at the same time was just a good book about friendship and taking responsibility for a situation you caused! 

Sidenote- Allie's app is super cool and I wish it really existed!  

Yes I'd put this in the library!  I think kids would be interested in it - especially at my school where they have to take coding.  

November 30, 2017

Nonfiction Review: History's Mysteries: Curious clues, Cold Cases and Puzzles from the Past by Kitson Jazynka

Title: History's Mysteries: Curious Clues, Cold Cases and Puzzles from the Past
Author: Kitson Jazynka

Why were the Easter Island heads erected? What really happened to the Maya? Who stole the Irish Crown Jewels? The first book in this exciting new series will cover history's heavy-hitting, head-scratching mysteries, including the Lost Colony of Roanoke, the Bermuda Triangle, the Oak Island Money Pit, Stonehenge, the Sphinx, the disappearance of entire civilizations, the dancing plague, the Voynich manuscript, and so many more. Chock-full of cool photos, fun facts, and spine-tingling mysteries.

What a great book!!! Loved it! I'm totally into all things mysterious, so this was a perfect fit for me.  Some of the stories I had heard about before (Yeti), but others were new.  I think that's what I liked the most - that it included some stories I had never heard of before.  And since I love stories like this it was nice to hear about some new ones.  

The pictures in the book are great - real photographs for the most part.  Very colorful, large and detailed pictures.  That really added to the enjoyment of the stories. I could see kids really looking at the pictures to see the details talked about in the pieces. 

Library Thoughts: I would for sure add this to the library! This falls in the high interest nonfiction catigory 100%!

Final Thought: Great little book.  Loved it and can see kids loving it too.