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!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Audiobook Awesomeness

Well, guys, summer's heating up here in Charlotte. How hot is it? It's so hot that the birds are using potholders to pull worms out of the ground. It's so hot the orchards are growing fried pies.It's so hot that Domino's turned off their ovens and are baking their pizzas on the sidewalk! Yep, it's hot.

Things are heating up in the library, too--I mean we're really busy, so I'm going to be brief today.
Do you remember my talking about the audiobook version of The Serpent's Curse by Tony Abbott? Well, I finished and I have just two words to say about it:
The Serpent's Curse



This really is one of the best audiobooks I've heard in a long time. The plot is terrific and the reading is spot-on, which means it gets all the intense action, suspense, danger, humor and mystery just right. I can't say enough good things about it. You'll enjoy it so much that you'll ask your parents to drive around the block a couple of more times to hear what happens next! If you haven't listened to his, go get it!! And if you haven't read any of The Copernicus Legacy books----well, I can't think of a better way to cool off that with a big glass of lemonade and one of these unbelievably good reads.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Reid Reads Again!---I Mean, Writes Again!--I Mean He Reads AND Writes Again!

Tars Tarkas, Martian warrior chief
Hey everyone, this is the Iron Guy, keeping busy during this ultra-busy summer season. I tell you, this summer keeps me hopping! I'm checking out books faster than light speed. Sometimes I wish we could hire one of those four-armed Martians from the old John Carter books in order to keep up!
And when it gets this busy, even a MANLY MAN like the Iron Guy has trouble keeping up with his reading. That's why I'm glad we have faithful friends like our good pal Reid! He has sent us a review of something that sounds really good. Let's hear what it is:

The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart is a cool book that hooks me and keeps me on the edge of my seat at all times. It is really fun to read because it is about smart people like you and is really good. It is about 4 people named Reynie,Constance,Sticky,and Kate. They go on an adventure together to a place called the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened or LIVE for short. They become Messengers and help with the Whisperer project. The Whisperer is a scary device able to remove,steal,and communicate thoughts. 

The Mysterious Benedict SocietyThanks, Reid! This is another one of those books that keep getting checked out over and over and over again. I can see why from your review! This is the first book in a series and I hope you read the rest of them. Let us know if you do! BTW, the audiobooks must be really good. I know someone who would listen to it in the car and, when she got home, would run run inside and slap the disc in the cd player to keep playing the story!

How about the rest of you reader guys? Have any of you read this book? Or any of the others in this series? Or listened to the audiobooks? Send us a review in the "Comments" section--or send us a review of ANY book you're enjoying this summer.

Monday, July 11, 2016

It's Monday--What Are You Listening To?

Summertime greetings, guys! What sort of fun activities are you doing? Swimming? Baseball?  Movies? Traveling? I certainly hope you're doing more than playing video games all day and night! (it's OK to do that but there's so much more fun stuff out there) I hope you're finding fun stuff to read as well. And if you are traveling or even just getting driven around town to camps/sports/etc., one of the most fun things you can do in the car is listen to audiobooks. That's what the Iron Guy loves to do. If I'm driving to work or even just going to the store, I'll always have an audiobook going. It's great fun and I get to hear some truly cool stuff. That's why this post is called It's Monday--What Are You Listening To? A bunch of grownups host a weekly meme called It's Monday--What Are You Reading? but I thought I'd change it and give it an audiobook focus. (btw, you can find that meme at Teaching Mentor Texts)

So what am I listening to? The Serpent's Curse by the amazing Tony Abbott. It's book number two in that incredible series, The Copernicus Legacy. I'm a HUGE fan of those books. Action! Danger! International conspiracies and 500-year-old secrets! Plus some spectacularly evil villains and generous dashes of humor. So when I saw the library has audiobook versions, I knew I HAD to check out one. I'm only on disc 2 so far but I'm enjoying it a lot. The actor who reads this book, MacLeod Andrews, paces the reading just right to get the maximum suspense and humor out of the story. (especially when he reads the part with Dr. Beverly Billing...ham, one of the funniest episodes in any book from the last couple of years!) And he gets the voices just right too--the kids sound like kids and the villains--well, you couldn't find more perfectly-done voices for all those smooth or brutal or bone-chillingly frightening bad guys. If you're going to spend some time in the car, find these Copernicus Legacy audiobooks! You will get hooked and you may even find yourselves sitting in your driveways at the end of your trips because you just have to listen to a few minutes more!!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Big Fun With Big Nate!

Hey, guys, I hope you're all enjoying the summer. The Iron Guy certainly does. Even though summer is busy at the library and it gets miserably hot in Charlotte during June, July and August, the summer always has that laid back, let's-all-have-fun vibe that I love. So, in the spirit of fun, I decided to check out some Big Nate books. I see those things get checked in and out, in and out, all the time. This has been going on for quite a while. So, after seeing these books keep coming through the checkout line, I figured they must be really good. So I found three of them and guess what??

I'm Charlotte's newest Big Nate fan!!

These books are great! Truly terrific! They are funny, funny, funny. The story lines are fun and the characters are believable--well, in a cartoonish sort of way. I picked out three books at random and here they are:

Big Nate: Mr. Popularity (all of these books are by Lincoln Peirce)

Big Nate running for class president??!! What a goofball idea. But then, the election results might surprise you! Along the way, you'll learn Big Nate's basketball game prep, what happens between Nate and Jenny (could it be looovve?) and why Nate's dad never got Nate a wallet. And you'll laugh the whole time.

Big Nate Lives It Up

A new kid comes to P.S. 38, Nate's school, and the principal assigns Nate to be his "buddy" and show him around the school--but this kid is the complete opposite of Nate and how will they ever get along? And Nate keeps thinking he's met this kid before. Then there are 100-year-old cartoons, Randy and his fellow bullies and a massive scavenger hunt with a most unexpected find. THEN NATE REMEMBERS when he met the new kid before--and it's not pleasant...

Big Nate Makes the Grade

Ah, the first day back at school! Is it a chance to start a year of fresh possibilities or for Nate to re-enter "my own personal chamber of horrors"?
He finds out pretty quickly when he hands in homework with Cheese Doodle dust on in it, has "Hot Feet Syndrome" and tries to tell jokes during school announcements. Plus the teacher's reaction when Nate shows him where he created his art homework. Plus the surprising things he does in the chess tournament. (well, thy're normal for Nate!)

I tell you, I have become totally hooked by this little guy with his big mouth, big attitude and big capacity for getting into trouble! I see now why all the kids keep checking out these books. Guys, this is your chance for great fun. If you haven't read Big Nate, then run down to your local library and check out some before everyone else does. And if you are already a fan of Nate Wright, then go to the "Comments" section under this post and tell about the books you've read.

And I hope all of you have a great fourth of July weekend! I know I've said this before but it's worth saying again--don't  forget that we we live in a country in which you are free to read what you like. Which is not true everywhere on earth. I recently listened to an audiobook in which a woman decided to travel the old Silk Road route from China to Italy. Part of the route took her through a central Asian country ruled by a dictator. The capital city had a big modern library and the shelves were full, only they were full of copies of one book--a biography of the dictator, written by the dictator! Boys, remember to celebrate your right to read this weekend. Head to your library! Read widely! Read what you like. Read something you've never looked at before. Read people you agree with. Read people you don't agree with. Read something fun. Read something challenging. Always remember--



Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Justin Tells Us About Spy School!

Guess what, guys? A new friend has sent us a review! His name is Justin, he's 14 (almost) and he has quite a story. He used to hate reading; in fact, he was "that kid who would read short 20 page nonfiction books for my weekly assignment." Then he found the book Playing with Fire by Bruce Hale and was hooked. Since then he has read lots of other stuff and now runs a blog about books! (like the Iron Guy) That blog is called Justin Talks Books and you can visit it here. He has run the blog for two years and is a particular fan of Stuart Gibbs. Mr. Gibbs even gave Justin a special shout-out once. How cool is that! Justin will tell us about one of Mr. Gibbs's most popular books.

Spy School by Stuart Gibbs

Spy SchoolSummary: Benjamin Ripley, a 12 year old living your average middle school life is being recruited for a science academy, secretly a spy school. Oh it's just another typical recruitment with a top-notch spy appearing in your living room after a long day of school. Ben has a "cryptography" skill and even though he bombs his SACSA's (basically a pre-assesement in self-preservation) he's kept in the school because of his "talent" for cryptography. Along the way he meets Erica Hale- the most beautiful girl he's ever seen, the best student in spy school's history, and a legacy (she's even related to all time spy legend Nathan Hale) But the introverted isolated Erica reaches out to Ben and reveals he has no skill whatsoever. Instead, he's being used as bait for something called Operation Creeping Badger, a plan created by the CIA to weed out the mole in Spy School. Ben decides to hop on the train for one main reason: getting to spend time with Erica. I mean for three years she's practically been lonelier than a rock on a deserted island and now she reaches out to a nerd like Ben? Not only does it bring us his coolness by a mile, but spending time with your crush is the best feeling ever. But is it worth if it you end up being dead? Follow Stuart Gibbs's fantastic thriller through elaborate plans, midnight escapes, and lots of gun fighting as Ben and friends try to answer the question: Who's the mole? Oh and try to not get killed in the process.

What I liked: Everything? But seriously, it's just a well-written book. Humorous moments were weaved well into the diverse book. Lots of actions scenes, which of course you'd expect from a James Bond-esque book. I definitely liked the inclusion of a legacy in a book. I mean if you think about it any time you read about a private school there's always someone "who's great grand-father was the founder" or something like that. Not only is Erica's deceased relatives the founders of the school, but the country in general has been at the mercy of their family. I could talk for about 10 pages of how this book is awesome, but I feel like there wouldn't be any point to it.

What I didn't like: Let me just start out with saying: the cursing. Yes, there are bad words in this novel, but keep in mind this: I talked to the author himself and he said that he only stuck in the various language because it could give some character to the book, to spice things up. He was advised to do so by somebody (an editor I think?) and so he did and he received a million hate comments for it. He's removed all bad language from the rest of his books (unless you consider "stupid" "dumb" and "idiot" bad words) Another thing I didn't like was the classic format for all middle grade books. While it varies, in MG if we're talking about a kid and school it's always: There's a loser at blah blah school. Suddenly he catches a break and he talks to his crush. For half the book everything is really awesome with only minor flaws. Then there's a huge conflict at the end. The ending is either "YAY! We made it!" or "Aw, we lost" I feel like I could explain the plot of this book at a general level using the normal MG format, and while it's not bad, it's just overused.

Final Thoughts: A really, really, really great book with some minor flaws but nothing enough to make it bad.

Rating on 'the scale': 9.5 out of ten

Why? Minor flaws but nothing major. Really a great books that keeps things exciting and fresh.

Related: Spy School series by Stuart Gibbs/ Playing w/ Fire series by Bruce Hale/ Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

Thanks, Justin! We really appreciate it. Stuart Gibbs is a popular author with guys. Our friend Reid told us about this book back in March. I may have to look up some of his books myself. Please keep in touch and send us more reviews.

All right, boys, this is a good start to summer! School is almost over and there will be lots of fun stuff to do but don't forget that reading is one of them. As you can see from Justin's story, reading is a great thing for guys. So write in and tell us over the summer what books, graphic novels, biographies or nonfiction you're reading. After all, the Iron Guy (and Justin and Reid and lots of other boys) believe that--