Monday, October 24, 2016

World Series of Reading 2016!

Hey, boys, here's a great contest for you--the 2016 World Series of Reading! We had a fun March Madness of Reading seven months ago and I thought it's time for another contest. And what better time than the World Series!

All America used to watch the World Series

It's not so popular now but you wouldn't believe how big the World Series once was. It was all that people talked about. The whole nation hung on every game. I remember a time that our teacher brought a TV into our classroom so we could watch a game. The players weren't just stars, they were heroes. Some of the games became legends. Imagine the Super Bowl and the NBA Finals combined. That's how big it was. Now it gets beat in the ratings by Dancing with the Stars. Sad.

Which is all the more reason to hold a contest during the week of the World Series. Our contest will start tomorrow, October 25, and go on through Wednesday, November 2, which would be how long the Series would run if it went all seven games. The rules will be simple; you read books and then you send in a review of each book or audiobook. Each review is worth at least one point. Some will be worth more points. I'll count up the points after Nov. 2 and the three boys with the most points will win. What will the winners get? Well, I'll tell you about that in a couple of minutes.

So how does the contest work? I'm glad you asked. Boys can read anything you'd like--fiction, graphic novels, nonfiction or biographies. And for the first time, I'll include audioboks because they are so great. Any review you send is worth one point. That makes it a SINGLE.

However, there are some books that are other boys have told us about during the year and I'd to like see more boys read them. Or there are some books that are really good and don't get enough attention. Reviews of these books will be worth two points, making them DOUBLES. These books are:

Any in the Alvin Ho, Stick Dog, Spy School, Mysterious Benedict Society, Brixton Brothers or Ballpark Mysteries series or any graphic novel in the Fangbone series.


There are other books which are really good but longer and more challenging.  Reviews of these books will be worth three points, making them TRIPLES. These books are:

Stubby the War Dog
, Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze, any book in the Leviathan trilogy or any nonfiction book about the World Series.

And, for the first time, any review of an audiobook will be worth three points.

But wait--there's more! A review of any book in The Copernicus Legacy series or a review of The Boys in the Boat or The Fourteenth Goldfish (the library's Community Read book for kids) will be worth four points, making it a HOME RUN.

So what would it take for a GRAND SLAM? A review of The YearlingTreasure Island, or The Hound of the Baskervilles. These books are older and also more challenging but also much more rewarding, making each review worth five points.

All right, guys, those are the rules. I will start accepting reviews tomorrow until midnight on Nov. 2. I'll try my best to announce the winners on Thursday, Nov. 3. Remember, when you send in a review, be sure to include the title, author, a brief summary of the plot and why you did or didn't like the book. Don't just say, "This book was cool. I liked it." Tell us why you did. Or didn't. There are instructions on sending reviews in the "Here's How Our Blog Works" box on the right-hand side of the page. Or you could call me at the Myers Park library at 704-416-5800. Winners will get prizes our of our ultra-cool prize box, which contains mostly books. All of them are ultra-cool, of course, but there may be a surprise or two.

So step up to the plate, boys, and send in those reviews. I know it may be hard with school going on but I have faith in all you MANLY MEN out there! I can't wait to hear from you!

PS--if you want to find out more about any of the books I've mentioned, click on the title in the "labels" section under this post.

Friday, October 14, 2016

More Cool Reads (and One Cool Listen)

Greetings, everyone! The Iron Guy is pleased to present you a collection of cool stuff I've read lately plus one audiobook. These are in random order. No theme to this selection--just stuff that I pulled off the shelves that looked interesting. Most of these would be good for younger reader guys, like second and third graders, but older guys would also get a smile or two out them.

The Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot series by Dav Pilkey and illustrated by Dan Santat

Wow! Are these books fun! I read three--Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot, Ricky's Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs the Jurassic Jackrabbits from Jupiter and Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs the Unpleasant Penguins from Pluto. In the first, we meet Ricky Ricotta, who is "A little mouse with a big problem." The bullies at school make his life miserable plus he has a hard time making friends. Where could he find a buddy who could also keep the bullies away? Meanwhile, Dr. Stinky McNasty has created a giant robot to destroy Ricky's town of Squeakyville. Who could stand between it and the town's destruction? Could it be Ricky?
In the second, the evil General Jackrabbit has created three enormous killer rabbits with dinosaur heads to take over the Solar System. Could even a Mighty Robot withstand a Rabbidactyl, a Trihareatops and a Bunnysaurus Rex?
In the third, Ricky has insulted his cousin Lucy and tries (with the robot's help) to make up for it but that only leads Lucy to the spaceship of President Penguin, leader of Pluto, who is determined to punish the scientists of Squeakyville for declaring that Pluto is no longer a planet. And the giant robot penguins have a secret weapon that can stop even the Mighty Robot. How could anyone help? (you'd be surprised!)
As I said, these books are a lot of fun! And the artwork is nothing short of awesome! Besides, how could you not enjoy books that have Flip-O-Rama??

The Kung Pow Chicken series by Cyndi Marko

Gordon Blue and his younger brother Benny seem like ordinary school kids living in Fowladelphia but the have a secret--they are really superheroes!!

In the first, Let's Get Cracking, Gordon and Benny are at the annual Fowl Fall Festival. Things seem ordinary when, suddenly, all their classmates lose all their feathers! And, just as suddenly, there's an old granny selling knitted sweaters! Time for Kung Pow Chicken and Egg Drop to spring into action! But are Kung Pow's Drumsticks of Doom any match for the Naughty Knitting Needles?

Every hero has a sidekick, of course, and Kung Pow Chicken has his younger brother, aka Egg Drop. So, when in Heroes on the Side, Egg Drop gets invited to a sidekicks party in New Yolk City, things seem fine--until are the sidekicks are trapped by Ticklebeak and his Bad Eggs!! (Fortunately, Gordon and Benny were in their hotel room) The heroes rush in to save the sidekicks but the Bad Eggs get away. But wait--there's a plot to capture to heroes as well! Can sidekicks save the day?
These are also a lot of fun with goofy jokes and chicken superheroes. I ask you again--how could you not enjoy them?

The Wildest Race Ever: The Story of the 1904 Olympic Marathon by Meghan McCarthy (author and illustrator)

Have you ever heard the expression that "truth is stranger than fiction"? Well, sometimes is it not only stranger, it's a whole lot goofier! You'll definitely believe that when you read this true story of the first Olympic Marathon held in America.
It was held in conjunction with the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. And it was summer. 90 degrees on the day of the race! And they ran on dirt roads. With cars that passed by and choked the runners with dust. Some runners were more interested in looking good than running fast. One guy got chased a mile off course by a dog! Another guy, from Cuba, stopped and practiced his English with cheering spectators! The doctor drove off a 30-foot embankment and the winning runner didn't win! Oh, man, that was a wild race and this is one very entertaining book. It's short, funny and a truly good Quick Read. Plus, there's a good section at the end that tells what became of the main runners after the race and about the 1904 World's Fair. This book would be good for younger and older readers.

The Forbidden Stone by Tony Abbott

Wow, oh, wow, I have certainly saved the best for the last. This is the audiobook version of the first book in that amazing Copernicus Legacy series by the incredible Tony Abbott. If you have read this blog for a while, you'll know that I'm a HUGE fan of these books. (It would take too long to tell you about them, so click on the Copernicus Legacy or The Forbidden Stone label under this post to find out more) This recording by actor MacLeod Andrews perfectly captures all the things that are great about The Copernicus Legacy--the danger, the mystery, the almost-unbearable suspense, the coded puzzles, the creepy bad guys and even the humor. I found myself listening while driving around town, while coming to work, when coming home from work--and then sitting in the driveway to hear a little more! You won't want to stop listening either! BTW, this is long and complicated for younger guys but it would be perfect for fifth and sixth graders.

OK, here's a good selection of cool reads and listens. Don't tell me there's no time--these are quick and fun. And, if you get driven to school, this audiobook is the perfect way to pass the time. Besides, I bet the grownups will enjoy it too!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Four Cool New Reads

First week of October greetings, guys! The gorgeous fall weather has finally arrived, rewarding all us MANLY MEN for enduring the humid Charlotte summer. I've also found some very cool books that I bet you boys would really enjoy.

The first is Star Wars: The Weapon of a Jedi by Jason Fry and illustrated by Phil Noto. It takes place
between Episodes IV and V, soon after Luke and the rebels destroyed the Death Star. Luke agrees to rendezvous with his fellow rebels in another system but, on his way, gets an urging to go to the planet Devaron. (could it be from the Force?) Luke finds an old Jedi temple there, destroyed by the Empire, and thinks it could be a good place to further his light saber training. But it's in the jungle and the only person willing to take him there is someone called The Scavenger. Doesn't sound good, does it?
I really enjoyed this! It had the feel of of one the the movies and I could picture every scene in my mind. Plus it has all the action, space battles and storm trooper attacks you'd expect form a Star Wars movie. And it's written by Jason Fry, who wrote that terrific Hunt for the Hydra book. (see my review here) Any Star Wars fan or simply anyone who enjoys a good read will like this.

The next is from the great Who Was... series. It's Who Was Roberto Clemente? by James Buckley, Jr. and illustrated by Ted Hammond. Roberto Clemente was the first Latin American inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Born in Puerto Rico in 1934, he got into the major leagues when he was 19 and spoke very little English. And, like his contemporary Jackie Robinson, he faced discrimination. But no one could deny his talent and he became a hugely successful and popular player. And he always remembered his humble beginnings back in Puerto Rico and worked tirelessly to help out kids and improve their baseball skills. This book like, all the Who Was.. and What Were.. books, are interesting, informative and keep you reading until the last page. And, at 103 pages, it's just the right length for any boy who's looking for a good story, especially those who think they don't like reading. (plus it's relevant after the recent tragic death of pitcher Jose Fernandez)

Then we have two books that I've wanted to read for a long time. And am I glad that I finally did! These books are Stick Dog and Stick Dog Tries to Take the Donuts by Tom Watson. (who also draws the pictures) They are great! Funny! A whole lot of fun to read! The idea is that an elementary school kid, who tells you up front that he can't draw, has written stories in his notebooks about Stick Dog, a dog living in a drain pipe under Highway 16, and his friends Poo-Poo, Stripes, Karen and Mutt. Since they all live outdoors, they are always looking for food and the stories are about the goofball ideas those dogs come up with to get it. (Hey, they're dogs! They use dog logic) In the first book, they try to come up with ways to get hamburgers from a family cooking out in the park. These methods involve, in true dog fashion, running into trees and banging their heads, chasing their tails at whirlwind speed and howling with the baby. Great plans, right? In the second book, the dogs discover some round things with holes in the middle that taste really good but they're in a box on the back of a truck. Can the dogs figure out how to get those yummy round things without being discovered by the human working from that truck? You gotta read these book to find out!! And you will laugh loud and long when you do. Oh, yeah! Dogs that bounce, dogs on coffee, dogs with squirrels as mortal enemies--how could you not like them?

All these books are really good and can be read fairly quickly. (I read most of them in one sitting) Any guy, from the enthusiastic reader to what the grownups call a reluctant reader will get a kick out of them. Don't believe me? Check them out and see!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Who WOULD Win?

Batman V SupermanImage result for king kong vs godzillaHey, guys, I know you've wondered sometime who would win in a fight between two famous monsters. Or between two superheroes. Or between two killer animals. All boys think about this sometimes. Boys have always wondered about this. That's why we had the movie King Kong vs Godzilla back in my day. That's why we had Batman vs Superman this year. And that's why we have the Who Would Win series of books by Jerry Pallotta (illustrated by Rob Bolster).
These books are very cool! They're informational and interesting, plus they end with a fight between two killer animals. What could be better? And, if you don't agree with the outcome of the fight, there's a page at the end of each book that lists the advantages of each animal and let's YOU decide who would win!

Along the way, you'll learn several amazing facts such as:
  • Scorpions glow under black light because they reflect ultraviolet rays
  • Tigers live in Asia, not Africa (although a few lions live in the Gir Forest of India)
  • Great White Sharks can tell if you're nervous because they can sense electricity
  • Some chefs use squid ink to make black pasta!

All of these are quick and fun (what I call Good Quick Reads) and would be really good for our younger reader guys, like maybe second--fourth graders, But older guys would enjoy them too. And, teachers, these would be the ideal books if you have boys think they don't like reading.

The books you see on this page are only four of the books in this series. There are several others, including Hammerhead vs Bull Shark, Polar Bear vs Grizzly Bear, Komodo Dragon vs King Cobra and (maybe the best one) Tyrannosaurus Rex vs Velociraptor! Our library system has plenty of copies, so go grab some and enjoy!

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Boys in the Boat--You GOTTA Read This!


I was going to write an intro about how I've been too busy lately to review anything or about school starting back but I'm going to skip all that because I've just finished a really terrific book and can't wait any longer to tell you about it.

The Boys In The BoatIt's The Boys in the Boat: The True Story of an American Team's Epic Journey to Win Gold at the 1936 Olympics by Daniel James Brown. What a great read!! What a great story!! And it's all true.

The book centers around Joe Rantz, a boy growing up in the Seattle/Sequim area of Washington state in the 1920's. His family life was happy but tragedy struck over and over. He got very sick and couldn't leave his room for a long time. Then he lost his mom. His dad remarried after a while and things seemed to settle back to normal.

Then the Great Depression hit.

Times became very hard and his family left him because they couldn't afford to keep him. He was alone at 15. To survive, he foraged in the woods and did what work he could, including cutting trees. Of course, he didn't want to keep living like this and scraped together enough money over the years to pay for his first year at the University of Washington. If he could get on the university's rowing team, he could get a job to pay for his living expenses. All those years of cutting trees had given him the upper body strength needed for rowing and he made the team.

The work was hard. Rowing may look easy but it takes unbelievable amounts of of concentration and stamina. But the coach saw something special in Joe and his team mates--so special that he believed they could be in the 1936 Olympics. And they did. But, on the day of the race, everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong. The team was in dead last place. With Hitler watching. Could they even finish the race? Could they still win?

I won't tell you the answer but I will tell you this--you will hold your breath, grip your chair---and then you just won't believe what happens!!

Boys, I can't begin to say how great this book is. There are just too many good things to say about it. The only way you'll find out is to go and check it out for yourselves. But you will be SO glad you did! This is one of those rare and wonderful stories that will stay with you the rest of your lives. Go find it! The library has plenty of copies. You gotta read this book. YOU GOTTA READ THIS BOOK! Did I say it enough? You gotta what? Read this book!!

PS--this is kid-friendly version of a grownup book. The publishers condensed the original version from 404 to 220 pages and added some photos and cool information in the back so that younger readers could enjoy the story and not get bogged down in slower passages. It's a good idea; there was a kid-friendly version of a book about Stubby the War Dog a couple of years ago. (check out my review here) I read both the grownup and younger versions and actually liked the kid-friendly version better!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Once Again--Is Michael Phelps, Like Percy Jackson, a son of Poseidon?

Hey, guys, especially all you Percy Jackson fans, if you've been watching the Summer Olympics, you've probably been amazed at the incredible Michael Phelps. I mean, this dude has been competing way past the point other athletes have packed up and gone away. AND he's not just competing,  he's still winning gold medals!! It's just unbelievable. So that made think of a post from August 20, 2008 in which I asked if he were a son of Poseidon, just like Percy Jackson. Here's a copy of that original post:

Well, think about it---Percy is powerful in the water; Michael is powerful in the water. Percy has ADHD; so does Michael. Coincidence??? Hmmmmmm......

Of course, someone is bound to say, "But Michael Phelps is 23 years old. He turned 16 before Percy. Why didn't he claim the ancient prophecy?" Don't you remember that Grover said in the first book that some demigods never find out about their parentage and grow up to be famous people due to their remarkable abilities.

"OK, why didn't the monsters get his scent and track him down?" PLEASE--ask me a hard question!! The answer is obvious--the monsters didn't catch his demigod scent because of all that chlorine in all those swimming pools!!

Plus, someone left a comment saying that Michael  has a sing le mom and Percy Jackson has a single mom.

Too many coincidences??? Hmmmmm....

So what do you think? Do we have a demigod on the US swimming team? You gotta wonder. Did you see him in that 200-meter event Wednesday night? He didn't just win--he DOMINATED that race! He was so impressive that our own Carolina Panthers football team paused its preseason game Thursday night to watch him win! So how about it, boys? Do ordinary mortals keep winning in the water like he does? Is Michael Phelps an unknown son of Poseidon? Leave a comment in the Comments  section below this post and tell us!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Reid Comes Through Again!

Hey, everybody is the great land of summer! Our good friend Reid has sent us not just one but two of his first-class reviews! He always tells us about very cool books, so let's hear what he will tell us today:

View full imageThe Mysterious Benedict Society and The PerilousJourney is a follow-up to the last and is even better! In it the special children go on a hair tingling adventure with the Ten Men on their trail. They catch taxis and go on boats to follow a path of clues Mr.Benedict has left for them. This book gets you even closer to the danger than ever before. It is a very interesting text that I hope you will read. And if you do read it you are guaranteed to like it. 

View full imageMr Lemoncello's library is about a boy named Kyle that really wants to check out a book at the new library. The new game maker that is world-famous designed it! And, Kyle just found out about an invitation only lock-in.He is so excited that it is finally time for the lock-in. But when he gets there he realizes that he is going to have to get ready because what will happen next he will never forget. So read this book and you will never forget it either. So make sure you get it or else you will not have the adventure of a lifetime.

Thanks, Reid! I enjoyed that book (which is actually called Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library) and I would LOVE to work at that library! The Mysterious Benedict Society books sound great too.

So, guys, take a clue from Reid and check out these books. Still time left for lots of fun summer reading!