New Books for Review

seesawClavis sent me a group of books to review, which you’ll be seeing soon. Here’s a list of what arrived this week:

 

The Seesaw and Good-bye, Fish by Judith Koppens,

Circus 123 by one of my favorites, Guido van Genechten,crypto

A Big Book of Face Painting by Charlotte Verrecas,

Kevin’s Big Book of Emotions by another favorite, Liesbet Slegers.

 

I also purchased a copy of The Crypto-Capers in The Peacock Diaries by Renee Hand. I’ve been following this series since the beginning, so I sure don’t want to miss out on any of them.

Overdue is my review of Soccer Dreams by Clare Hodgson Meeker, but it’s coming soon. I promise.

 

Top 10 Middle Grade and Young Adult Books of 2011

I’ve had such a difficult time picking favorites this year. There are so many books that can make these lists–like I mentioned over at The Book Connection–when I posted my Top 10 for that blog earlier today. I didn’t read as many books in the middle grade and young adult categories as I would have liked to this year, but I’m hoping to focus a bit more on those in 2012. It all depends upon my schedule and the requests I receive.

Sometimes reviewers are lucky when compiling their Top 10, and one book stands out amongst the rest. That is certainly the case for this list. Once We Were Kings by Ian Alexander is my favorite in the MG/YA categories for 2011. It tells the story of an orphan boy and a peasant girl from opposing villages who must work to unite their kingdoms against a powerful enemy that  threatens to destroy them.  With wonderful, well-drawn characters and a superb plot, Once We Were Kings  takes top honors this year.

While not a huge lover of this genre, I feel fortunate to have stumbled upon excellent fantasy titles for young readers over the past couple of years. I look forward to finding more.

Here are other favorites from 2011:

2. Vorak the Incomprehensible: Rule the School by Vordak T. Incomprehensible

3.  Horrid Henry Rocks by Francesca Simon

4.  Horrid Henry Wakes the Dead by Francesca Simon

5.  Bad Spelling by Marv Dasef

6. Peter Rock Star from Galilee: A Guided Bible Study for Teens by Sherree Funk

7. The Crypto-Capers in The Chest of Mystery by Renee Hand

8. Nana Takes the Reins by Kathleen Lane

9. Nate Rocks the World by Karen Pokras Toz

10. True Grime by Natasha Deen

Look for  my list for favorite picture books coming soon!

The Adventures of Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill – Case #2: Mineral Mischief by Renee Hand

Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill are back with another mystery to solve in Mineral Mischief  by award-winning author Renee Hand.

Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill are called in to investigate when Maple Moo’s rare and expensive mineral goes missing. The most famous detectives in Acorn Valley, they go about questioning the suspects, determined to find the culprit.

I was thrilled when Renee contacted me about touring the second book in her animal detective series. I had already read and reviewed the first book in this series,The Great Pie Catastrophe, and I’ve been a fan of her Crypto-Capers series for years.

Mineral Mischief  combines an engaging story with factual information about rocks and minerals to create a story your children will enjoy. What I like best about this book is that the facts are woven into the storyline in a perfect way so that the reader gains the information without feeling like he’s sitting through a science class.

Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill have a wonderful relationship, so they make great partners, even when they don’t see eye-to-eye on how to handle things. The book actually opens with a bullying scene. This is a timely subject for our children, and I was glad the author worked it into the storyline. She also manages to tie in the opening scene with the ending so the reader is satisfied at the conclusion of the story.

The illustrations provided by Jake Karwoski are a wonderful complement to the text. Also included is a Did You Know? page, terms to identify rocks and minerals, a few experiments, and a picture of The Rock Cycle.

All learning should be this fun!

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher:North Star Press
  • ISBN-10:087839415X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0878394159
  • SRP:  $9.95

The author paid me to promote her book with a virtual book tour through Pump Up Your Book. This fee did not include a review. This review includes my honest opinion, for which I received no type of monetary compenasation.

The Crypto-Capers: The Chest of Mystery by Renee Hand

In the highly-anticipated conclusion of the seach for the Golden Monkey, the Crypto-Capers team is up to their eyeballs in danger and mystery. Book 4 in the series, The Chest of Mystery,  picks up right where Book 3 left off. Having found two of the pieces to open the treasure room in the previous book, they discover they have only solved half the puzzle. With the Panther hot on their trail, time is running out.

The team travels to Pisa, Italy to meet with the one man who holds all the answers. But when he disappears without a trace, they have to depend on each other and believe in what they know. Will that be enough to lead them to the lost treasure of the Mayans and the Golden Monkey?

Wow! I’ll tell you that this book was definitely worth the wait. In Book 3, the danger had been cranked up for the Crypto-Capers. In the conclusion to this mystery, they get more than they bargained for. The Panther is closing in, Morris is in danger, and their new friend Emmanuel might be an important piece of the puzzle.

In addition to Max, Mia and Granny Holmes, the fourth member of the team, Morris, joins them in the field.  This is unusual, and the reader can see this as a bit of growth in this character. Speaking of growth, I’m glad to see the cover artist doesn’t forget that the kids are growing as the series moves along. All the kids seem a bit older on the cover now.

We are also treated to meeting some new characters in The Chest of Mystery. Their relationships add a new element to the story, and keep the series fresh, just like adding pieces to the unfolding mystery does. The reader will also discover why she needs to hold onto the first three books in this series, as she will refer to them for help in solving the puzzles in Book 4.

Author Renee Hand has won awards for her writing. It’s truly no surprise to me. She delivers consistently well-written, engaging stories. I am always eagerly awaiting her next book.  The interactive element of The Crypto-Capers series will have even the most reluctant readers solving crimes with the team.  These are books you don’t want to miss!

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher:North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.
  • ISBN-10:0878393943
  • ISBN-13: 978-0878393947
  • SRP:  $12.95



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The Adventures of Joe-Joe Nut & Biscuit Bill, Case #1: The Great Pie Catastrophe by Renee Hand

Renee Hand, the creative mastermind behind The Crypto-Capers, has just released the first book in her new children’s detective series, The Adventures of Joe-Joe Nut & Biscuit Bill. This series, which is aimed at children in early elementary grades, is about animal detectives Joe-Joe Nut (squirrel) and Biscuit Bill (duck), who solve crimes in Acorn Valley. 

In Case #1: The Great Pie Catastrophe, Miss Cluck’s Blueberry Pie that she planned to enter into a contest at the 42nd Annual Pie Festival has been stolen. Joe-Joe and Nut and Biscuit Bill are called in to investigate and the hunt soon begins as they follow different sets of animal tracks to uncover clues. Will Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill find the culprit before the judging begins?

I was so excited to receive this book in the mail. I’m a big fan of The Crypto-Capers, so I had high hopes for Hand’s new series. I certainly wasn’t disappointed. Young readers are encouraged to use their deduction and reasoning skills to solve the crime alongside the two detectives. They are immediately drawn in by the storyline and the book’s quirky characters.

As with human detectives who work alongside each other, Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill talk about things other than the case, like Joe-Joe Nut’s inability to cook. Moments like these bring humor to the story and make these characters fun to follow around.

While I love the front cover on this book, I think the back cover is even better, with the potential suspects lined up against a wall as if they were in a police line-up. Also included are some animal facts and a quick quiz that asks readers to identify which animal the tracks on page 41 belong to.

If the rest of the books in this series are as fun and educational as The Great Pie Catastrophe, the author will have another winning series on her hands. I can’t wait for Book 2!

Readers can visit the Joe-Joe Nut Series portion of the author’s website for some free coloring pages.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher:  North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.
  • ISBN-10:  0-87839-351-X
  • ISBN-13:  978-0-87839-351-0
  • SRP:  $9.95*

* Also available in a Kindle edition.



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Tweet for Literacy Giveaways – Prize Package 7 Announced!

Tweet-for-Lit-Logo-sidebar-sepia

Our Motto: “The family that reads together has a lot of fun!”

The Tweet for Literacy Giveaway is a campaign designed to raise awareness of the importance of involving the whole family in a child’s reading activities. Tweet for Literacy will be giving away literacy-related prizes every two days throughout the month of November in honor of National Family Literacy Month. Help a child to read, and let the fun begin!

How to Enter the Tweet for Literacy Giveaways

Step 1: Follow our 7 sponsors on Twitter. This step is required. We will all follow you back!

http://twitter.com/ccmalandrinos

http://twitter.com/lindathieman

http://twitter.com/hollyhardin

http://twitter.com/susieqtpies

http://twitter.com/cafeofdreams

http://twitter.com/nicole_odell

http://twitter.com/sherikayehoff

Step 2: Re-tweet (RT) any post about the giveaway. Use the hashtag #Tweet4Lit on each RT. Be sure to add the bit.ly URL link for this contest page. It’s .

Sample Entry Re-tweets

RT @ccmalandrinos Tweet for Literacy is giving away 12 prize sets and a grand prize thru Nov. Enter here. http://bit.ly/dIXXS  #Tweet4Lit

RT @ccmalandrinos Enter Tweet for Literacy giveaways here! New prize sets every 2 days. #Tweet4Lit http://bit.ly/dIXXS

Step 3: That’s it! See the Official Rules below.

Official Rules

You can re-enter as many times as you like. Prizes are awarded every 2 days starting on November 8. First day to enter is November 6, 2009. Last day to enter is November 30. A prize package will be awarded on each even day of the month. Each prize package will be a set of items that are literacy related. See below for specific information on prizes.

The name of the winner will be selected at random and will be drawn at approximately 6pm CT. The winner will have 3 days to respond. If we don’t hear from the winner, we will select another winner for that prize package. We will notify our 13 winners by Direct Message (DM) on Twitter.

Whereas you can enter as often as you like, if you are not following all 7 sponsors on Twitter, which will be verified, your entries will be disqualified. All entries that comply with the above rules will be valid for each drawing, including the Grand Prize. The Grand Prize will be awarded on December 1, 2009.

Open to residents of the U.S. only. Must be at least 18 years old to enter.

If you have any questions or comments about the giveaway, please contact Linda Thieman at blog (at) katieandkimble (dot) com.

Our Sponsors

Authors

Holly Hardin, author of the children’s picture book Aurora of the Northern Lights

Twitter name: @hollyhardin

Blog: Holly’s Helpful Hints

http://hhhelpfulhints.blogspot.com/

http://hollyhardin.net/

Sheri Kaye Hoff, Life Coach and author of Keys to Living Joyfully

Twitter name: @sherikayehoff

Blog: Coach Sheri’s Living Joyfully Everyday blog

http://www.lifeisjoyful.org/id1.html

Nicole O’Dell, author of the Scenarios books for girls ages 10-15

Twitter name: @nicole_odell

Blog: Nicole O’Dell blog

http://nicoleodell.blogspot.com

http://www.nicoleodell.com

www.scenariosforgirls.com

Linda Thieman, author of the Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story chapter book series for ages 7-10

Twitter name: @lindathieman

Blog: The Katie & Kimble Blog

http://www.katieandkimbleblog.com

Bloggers

Susan Buetow, homeschooling mom/blogger

Twitter name: @susieqtpies

Blogs: The Homeschool Messenger; Scraps of Life

http://homeschoolmessenger.blogspot.com/

http://cafescrapper-scrapsoflife.blogspot.com/

Cheryl Malandrinos, writer/mom/book blogger

Twitter name: @ccmalandrinos

Blog: The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection

https://childrensandteensbookconnection.wordpress.com/

April Pohren, mom/book blogger

Twitter name: @cafeofdreams

Blog: Café of Dreams

http://cafeofdreams.blogspot.com

Prizes and Winners

The Tweet for Literacy campaign was designed to encourage family literacy. Our motto is “The family that reads together has a lot of fun!”

Our goal is to empower children and teens, especially girls, who are so often overlooked. We also seek to teach tolerance and self-acceptance through reading and through family interaction.

Our seventh prize package winner will be selected on November 20, 2009, at 6pm CT. Total value of Prize Package Seven is $125.

Prize Package Seven

1) The Yoga Zoo Adventure by Helen Purperhart, a $14.95 value. (Ages 3-7) Donated by Tweet for Literacy sponsor April Pohren.

2) Aurora of the Northern Lights by Holly Hardin (autographed — an $18.95 value), the delightful Yuletide-themed picture book by one of our Tweet for Literacy sponsors. Donated by the author.

3) Ranger’s Apprentice Book 1: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan ($7.99; ages 9-12) Donated by Tweet for Literacy sponsor April Pohren.

4) The Crypto-Capers: The Case of Red Rock Canyon by Renee Hand ($12.95 value). Readers help the detectives solve the case by figuring out puzzles! For ages 9-12. Donated by the author.

5) Across the Pond by Storyheart (Barry Eva), autographed, for Young Adults. (Value $19.99) Donated by the author.

6) Light Up Your Child’s Mind: Finding a Unique Pathway to Happiness and Success by Joseph S. Renzulli, Sally M. Reis, Andrea Thompson ($25.99 value). Donated by Hachette Book Group.

7) Daughter of Kura by Debra Austin (a pre-publication advanced readers copy-ARC!) A $24.00 value for Mom or Dad. Donated by Tweet for Literacy sponsor April Pohren.

Check back here daily as we will continue to update the list of prizes.


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Tweet for Literacy Giveaways – Prize Package 5 Announced

Tweet-for-Lit-Logo-sidebar-sepia

Our Motto: “The family that reads together has a lot of fun!”

The Tweet for Literacy Giveaway is a campaign designed to raise awareness of the importance of involving the whole family in a child’s reading activities. Tweet for Literacy will be giving away literacy-related prizes every two days throughout the month of November in honor of National Family Literacy Month. Help a child to read, and let the fun begin!

How to Enter the Tweet for Literacy Giveaways

Step 1: Follow our 7 sponsors on Twitter. This step is required. We will all follow you back!

http://twitter.com/ccmalandrinos
http://twitter.com/lindathieman
http://twitter.com/hollyhardin
http://twitter.com/susieqtpies
http://twitter.com/cafeofdreams

http://twitter.com/nicole_odell
http://twitter.com/sherikayehoff

Step 2: Re-tweet (RT) any post about the giveaway. Use the hashtag #Tweet4Lit on each RT. Be sure to add the bit.ly URL link for this contest page. It’s .

Sample Entry Re-tweets

RT @ccmalandrinos Tweet for Literacy is giving away 12 prize sets and a grand prize thru Nov. Enter here. http://bit.ly/3kVjz5  #Tweet4Lit

RT @ccmalandrinos Enter Tweet for Literacy giveaways here! New prize sets every 2 days. #Tweet4Lit http://bit.ly/3kVjz5

Step 3: That’s it! See the Official Rules below.

Official Rules

You can re-enter as many times as you like. Prizes are awarded every 2 days starting on November 8. First day to enter is November 6, 2009. Last day to enter is November 30. A prize package will be awarded on each even day of the month. Each prize package will be a set of items that are literacy related. See below for specific information on prizes.

The name of the winner will be selected at random and will be drawn at approximately 6pm CT. The winner will have 3 days to respond. If we don’t hear from the winner, we will select another winner for that prize package. We will notify our 13 winners by Direct Message (DM) on Twitter.

Whereas you can enter as often as you like, if you are not following all 7 sponsors on Twitter, which will be verified, your entries will be disqualified. All entries that comply with the above rules will be valid for each drawing, including the Grand Prize. The Grand Prize will be awarded on December 1, 2009.

Open to residents of the U.S. only. Must be at least 18 years old to enter.

If you have any questions or comments about the giveaway, please contact Linda Thieman at blog (at) katieandkimble (dot) com.

Our Sponsors

Authors

Holly Hardin, author of the children’s picture book Aurora of the Northern Lights
Twitter name: @hollyhardin
Blog: Holly’s Helpful Hints
http://hhhelpfulhints.blogspot.com/
http://hollyhardin.net/

Sheri Kaye Hoff, Life Coach and author of Keys to Living Joyfully
Twitter name: @sherikayehoff
Blog: Coach Sheri’s Living Joyfully Everyday blog
http://www.lifeisjoyful.org/id1.html

Nicole O’Dell, author of the Scenarios books for girls ages 10-15
Twitter name: @nicole_odell
Blog: Nicole O’Dell blog
http://nicoleodell.blogspot.com
www.nicoleodell.com

www.scenariosforgirls.com

Linda Thieman, author of the Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story chapter book series for ages 7-10
Twitter name: @lindathieman
Blog: The Katie & Kimble Blog
http://www.katieandkimbleblog.com

Bloggers

Susan Buetow, homeschooling mom/blogger
Twitter name: @susieqtpies
Blogs: The Homeschool Messenger; Scraps of Life
http://homeschoolmessenger.blogspot.com/
http://cafescrapper-scrapsoflife.blogspot.com/

Cheryl Malandrinos, writer/mom/book blogger
Twitter name: @ccmalandrinos
Blog: The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection
https://childrensandteensbookconnection.wordpress.com/

April Pohren, mom/book blogger
Twitter name: @cafeofdreams
Blog: Café of Dreams
http://cafeofdreams.blogspot.com

Prizes and Winners

The Tweet for Literacy campaign was designed to encourage family literacy. Our motto is “The family that reads together has a lot of fun!”

Our goal is to empower children and teens, especially girls, who are so often overlooked. We also seek to teach tolerance and self-acceptance through reading and through family interaction.

Our fifth prize package winner will be selected on November 16, 2009, at 6pm CT. Total value of Prize Package Five is $111.

Prize Package Five

1) Can You Make a Scary Face? by Jan Thomas (Ages 4-8). (Value $12.99) Donated by Tweet for Literacy sponsor Cheryl Malandrinos.

Aurora of the Northern Lights2) Aurora of the Northern Lights by Holly Hardin (autographed — an $18.95 value), the delightful Yuletide-themed picture book by one of our Tweet for Literacy sponsors. Donated by the author.

3) Candytuft’s Enchanting Treats: A Flower Fairies Chapter Book by Cicely Mary Barker; $3.99, ages 9-12. Donated by Tweet for Literacy sponsor April Pohren.

4) The Crypto-Capers: The Legend of the Golden Monkey by Renee Hand ($12.95 value). Readers help the detectives solve the case by figuring out puzzles! For ages 9-12. Donated by the author.The Legend of the Golden Monkey

5) Bad Girls Club by Judy Gregerson. (Young Adult) (Value $16.95). An advanced readers copy donated by Tweet for Literacy sponsor Cheryl Malandrinos.

6) Light Up Your Child’s Mind: Finding a Unique Pathway to Happiness and Success by Joseph S. Renzulli, Sally M. Reis, Andrea Thompson ($25.99 value). Donated by Hachette Book Group.

7) It Happens in Threes by Denise Robbins (signed/personalized), an $18.95 value, for Mom or Dad. Donated by the author. 

Check back here daily as we will continue to update the list of prizes.