Thursday, February 19, 2015

Boys Reading and Writing Club

Hey guys, I've got great news! The Iron Guy is going to start a Boys Reading and Writing Club here at the Myers Park library. The first meeting will be Saturday, March 7 at 2:00 pm. What will the club do? Well, we won't do anything boring! What we WILL do is check out books, read them and write your reviews of the books, which I will post on this blog. Plus we'll do some other fun stuff. Plus, we'll have snacks.

Here's how it will work: At the first meeting, we'll do a fun activity. Then I'll show you a bunch of books and talk about some of those books, recommending them. You can look through them, then check them out. You'll take your books home and read them--but that's not all. You'll also write a review of what you read and I'll post it here on the blog! Then, at the next meeting, I'll bring another set of books, you'll check them out, etc. We'll meet the first Saturday of March, April and May. If you like it and have fun, we'll continue meeting through the summer.

Now I know there are questions, so let me address a few. First, we won't just sit around and talk. I'll have a fun activity to do. And we will have snacks. Second, I said I'd bring a bunch of books. Well, I'll bring a wide variety to each meeting, so you'll have plenty to choose from. And I'll bring books that you'll like. Have I ever steered you wrong before? I've been recommending guy books for a long time and think I know something about books boys like. However, if you absolutely don't see anything in my selection that you'd like, I'll work with you to find something you would. Or if you have a book that you're dying to read and I don't have it, I'll be sure to get it. And, yes, I will show you how to write a review. BTW, this club is for boys ages 9--12. If you're a little older or younger and would like to come, call me at the library.

OK, if you have any more questions or would like to sign up, call the Myers Park library at 704-416-5800. Hope to see you there! Yes, it will be a different type of club but I think it will be fun. And this club will start just in time for the blog's March Madness Contest! (more about that later) Above all, don't forget--


Saturday, February 7, 2015

More Boys vs Girls

All right! All right! The Iron Guy must shamefacedly admit that I STILL have not kept my 2014 Resolution of reading all the books in the Boys vs Girls series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. So if you want to flog me, go ahead and get the wet noodles. In the meantime, let me tell you about the ones I have read recently. These are great and each one gets better. If you want to see what I've said about the other books, look here and here and here. And if you haven't read any of these before, here's the lowdown on the story:

The books take place in the town of Buckman, West Virginia and involves two families, the Hartfords and Malloys. The Hartfords have four boys: 11-year-old twins Jake and Josh, nine-year-old Wally and seven-year-old Peter. Their best friends are their neighbors, the Benson boys. But then, Mr. Benson, a coach, takes a job in Georgia and the Malloy family rents his house for a year. The Hartford boys really miss their friends but look forward to having new boys move in. Imagine their reactions, then, when they learn that their new neighbors will be girls!! They decide to pull so many tricks on these new girls that their lives will be miserable and they'll  move away--but they don't count on the smartness and resilience of the three girls, who are eleven-year-old Eddie (Edith Ann), eight-year-old Caroline and nine-year-old Beth. Sometimes the tricks against the girls work but then the girls pull pranks of their own! And sometimes things happen that no one expects! That's when things get really funny!

OK, got that? Then we'll start with:

A Spy Among the Girls--The unthinkable has happened! After holding hands in that play, Josh and Beth actually--like each other! Josh says he's only pretending so that he can spy on the girls but then why does he and Beth go out of their way to be with each other? All the time? And then Eddie decides to do a science fair project to prove that boys are more gullible than girls. ("Gullible" means that you'll believe stupid things easily) And if all that weren't bad enough, Caroline decides, after watching Beth, that she wants to feel romance and tries to make Wally fall in love with her. No way!

The Boys Return--Hooray! The Hartford boys get great news! The Bensons are coming back to Buckman for a week during spring break. And all the Benson boys will stay at the Hartfords' house! What could be more fun? Well, how about a plan from the Benson boys to make the Malloy girls think their house is haunted? Will the girls fall for it? Maybe. But what's that noise Caroline hears late one night?

The Girls Take Over--Now it's April. The boys and girls make a bet--all of them will throw bottles with messages in them into the Buckman river. The bottle that travels the farthest by the end of the month will win. If a boy wins, the girls have to be his slaves and vice versa if a girl wins. Good idea, right? Wait--what if the boys try to cheat in order not to be slaves? And what if the girls try to cheat? Somebody had better do something quickly! And--Jake and Eddie both try out for pitcher on the school baseball team. Jake is known to be really good but the boys have watched Eddie practice and guess what? She's as good as he is! While all this goes on, Wally and Caroline both get into school's spelling bee. One will do well and the other one ends up in a disaster. Which one? Gotta read to find out!

Boys in Control--What an embarrassing development! The Hartford and Benson boys had taken some goofy pictures of each other for fun before the Bensons moved away--things like spaghetti your nose and wearing bunny pajamas two sizes too small. Guess who finds them in the basement--that's right, the Malloy girls! What could happen if those pictures got out! Caroline, however, strikes up a deal with Wally to get them back--but whenever Caroline gets an idea, there's usually unexpected (and funny!) trouble ahead.

As I said, each book gets better than the one before. Sometimes I even started to laugh even before all the tricks got under way because I KNEW their goofball ideas would turn out differently than what they planned. These books are so much fun that I look forward to whatever quiet minutes I find to read more. And the books are just the right length, about 120--140 pages, That way they're short enough to be fun yet long enough to let really get into the story. And you will really enjoy getting into these books, hanging out with the guys and girls, running back and forth between the Hartford and Malloy houses, crossing that swinging bridge or cheering for the Buckman Badgers baseball team. I'm going to miss that town and those kids when I finish these books.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Space Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra

Come on, guys, admit it--haven't you ever dreamed about being a pirate? Of course you have! What about being a space pirate? I bet you've wished that one too. That's what so great about this new book The Space Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra by Jason Fry. Not only do you have a family of pirates, they are pirates in the asteroids and moons around Jupiter. Well, maybe they aren't exactly pirates--they're privateers, but I'll get into that in a minute.

Privateer ship of the old days
First, let me tell you about the world of this book. It's a little complicated but hang on. The story takes place some 600 years in the future. Humanity has inhabited the Solar System but the people who live around Jupiter broke away from Earth's central government and formed the Jovian Union. Sometimes the Union uses privateers to capture Earth cargo ships. (Privateers are sort of legal pirates--they have permission from their governments to capture enemy ships, even non-military ships. They follow the laws of war and don't wantonly capture and kill like true pirates. Both the British and Americans used them in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812) That's where the Hashoone family comes in. They've been operating in space for generations and have letters of marque from the Jovian Union giving them legal permission to board and capture Earth ships and sell the cargo. But something goes wrong right away and they're not allowed to hold onto a freighter they've captured because of some legal issues. Things don't look right but while they're waiting for the court to settle the matter, they receive a new and very odd assignment--search the most deserted and barren asteroid area around Jupiter. And what do they find? The  Hydra, ship of the illegal and deadly pirate Thoadbone Mox. Why were they sent to find it? Does it have anything to do with shady operations on Earth? And could they survive a second encounter with the most bloodthirsty pirate in space?

I really enjoyed this book. It's a good old-fashioned space adventure, complete with colorful characters (especially Grandfather Huff Hashoone), mysterious dealings behind the scenes and a fantastic battle at the end on board a space pirate ship. Although, I must say, that it takes a while for all the action to start. This book is obviously meant to be the first in a series and so takes a while to set up the world of the future Solar System, but, wow, once the action starts, it's great!! The library already has copies of the next book, Curse of the Iris, and I can't wait to check it out. But the Iron Guy must be true to his word and finish the Boys vs Girls books first.

So go get this one and don't wait! You'll enjoy it a lot. Plus there's a great glossary at the back to give you the meanings of words you may not understand. The author (and the characters) use a lot of terms from the old pirate days, so when the author talks a bout a kip or a pinnace, you'll know what he means or when a character says, "Avast" or "Belay that," you'll understand what they're saying.
And if you've read this book, be sure to hit the "Comment" tab under this post and send us a review!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Just a Reminder...

...that the Iron Guy is still hosting a giveaway! That's right--I will give an autographed copy of Hamster S.A.M.: Odd-ventures in Space by author/illustrator/funny guy Dave McDonald to the first boy who sends a review of any book. it could be any kind of book--fiction, graphic novel, etc. All the instructions are on the left-hand side of the page under "Here's How Our Blog Works." You could find out more about the giveaway here.

And be sure to check out these blogs run by actual reader guys just like YOU! The first is This Kid Reviews Books by our talented friend Erik Weibel--who just turned 13, by the way. Erik recommends really good stuff for guys of all ages. And he's written his own book! Be sure to visit his site, leave a comment or two and find some great reads.

About Me!The second blog is The Readers and Writers Paradise by another good friend, Daniel Johnson. He's 17 but has been running his blog and writing about cool books since he was 12. But that's not all--he's started an online magazine so kids can get their stories published! It's called Kid Writers Magazine and you can find out more on his blog or go here. Plus Daniel writes his own stories and has a book coming out as well. PLUS, he reads his stories and others. What a guy! Be sure to check this one out too and leave some comments.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year and a Shot at Redemption

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope you had a great holiday season. Mine was fun even though I was sick for part of it. Too sick to do much reading. So that's one reason the Iron Guy is coming to you, asking for a chance for redemption. One of my New Year's Resolutions for 2014 was to read the entire Boys vs Girls series by the great Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Sad to say, I didn't make it. In fact, I've got six more books to read--well, five and a half, since I'm halfway through the sixth one. So the Iron Guy comes to you humbly, asking for a chance to redeem himself. To do so, I'll make every effort to read the rest of these books by the end of this month. Yes, I hear a collective gasp of astonishment from the cyber world but the Iron Guy is willing to go even that extreme to redeem himself from an epic fail!

Besides, I can't wait to tell you about these books. They are a lot of fun and I am having a really good time reading them. I reviewed the first one a long time ago (see the review here) and the second one back in October. (see that review here) Let me give you a little background before telling you about the others.

The stories take place in the town of Buckman, West Virginia and involves two families, the Hartfords and Malloys. (more about those names later) The Hartfords have four boys: 11-year-old twins Jake and Josh, nine-year-old Wally and seven-year-old Peter. Their best friends are their neighbors, the Benson boys. But then, Mr. Benson, a coach, takes a job in Georgia and the Malloy family rents his house for a year. The Hartford boys really miss their friends but look forward to having new boys move in. Imagine their reactions, then, when they learn that their new neighbors will be girls!! They decide to pull so many tricks on these new girls that their lives will be miserable and they'll  move away--but they don't count on the smartness and resilience of the three girls, who are eleven-year-old Eddie (Edith Ann), eight-year-old Caroline and nine-year-old Beth. Sometimes the tricks against the girls work but then the girls pull pranks of their own! And sometimes things happen that no one expects! That's when things get really funny. Here's a brief rundown of the books I've read:

Boys Against Girls--there's a mysterious creature lurking around Buckman called the abaguchie. Some say it's bigger than a cat or dog but not as big as one of the mountain lions that live in the hills. At least, that's what people say--no one ever seen it. Could Wally convince Caroline that there are abaguchie bones in the basement of Oldakker's bookstore? Could he convince her to sneak into the basement when no on'e's looking? And then what happens if he and his brothers stand on top of the trap door...? And then--are the two families really going to have Thanksgiving together??

The Girls' Revenge--Christmas is coming up and the teacher assigns a class project in which a student has to learn everything he or she can about another student and present their findings to the class. Much to Wally's disgust, Caroline Malloy picks him! But Wally doesn't know that Caroline is not only going to talk about Wally; she's going to BE Wally, dressing up like him even down to his underwear! On top of that, Wally and Caroline, without the other one knowing, decide to send prank Christmas gifts to each other--and Wally's embarassing gift to Caroline goes to the teacher!! And what happens when Mrs. Malloy drives into town but gets lost in a blizzard?

A Traitor Among the Boys--It's New Year's and, after some dramatic events at Christmas, the boys make a resolution to stop pulling so many pranks on the girls. But then, you know what happens to New Year's resolutions! In the meantime, the town of Buckman is celebrating a historic anniversary with a community play. Josh and Beth get dragged unwillingly into it--and then Josh has to "propose" to Beth in the play because the town was founded by a boy from one family marrying into the girl's family. Can he say that line convincingly to--to--a Malloy girl??

Yeah, these books are great reads! They may not make you hold your sides with laughter but they are funny. You'll smile a lot and truly get to like both the Hartford boys and the Malloy girls. I really got caught up in their lives, their feud and the town of Buckman seemed like a real place to me. I can't wait to finish the others. Don't you wait, either, guys! The library has plenty of copies. Don't delay; go start checking them out.

PS--some random notes:

There was actually a very famous feud back a long time ago in the West Virgina/Kentucky hills between two families called the Hatfields and McCoys. Hmmm--does that sound like Hartfords and Malloys?

The first few books in the series were written in the early 1990's before everyone had cell or smart phones. You should know that because it may explain a couple of things. For instance, in the first book, one of the girls gets locked in a shed and has to wait until one of her sisters comes along and finds her. You boys (or girls) may wonder, "Well, why didn't she just call/text someone to get her out?" Same thing when Mrs. Malloy gets lost in the blizzard; there weren't many cell phones at the time and no GPS devices that I now of. Don't worry--these things don't affect the stories or your enjoyment of them. They're just little curiosities. And it doesn't take long before the boys/girls are playing with Game Boys, sending emails and printing things off computers. Though you will notice in the first few books that the Hartford boys send letters to their Benson friends--and wait to get letters back! With all texting and Instagrams and Skype in the world today, have any of you boys actually sent a letter to a friend?

Our good friend Ms. Yingling has complained recently about all the depressing books for kids out there these days. In most of them, the parents are usually dead or severely disabled or really not very very good parents. Well, these books are a breath of fresh air because all the parents are living; they are not dead and they are not dimwits. The moms and dads are smart, caring and there when you need them. And furthermore, even with all  the pranks going on, no one is actually mean. It's refreshing to find books that are just plain good-natured fun. Try them, guys. You'll really enjoy them.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Kandy Kane Kid Rides and Reads Again

syndetics-lcHowdy, all you rootin' tootin' readin' guys! This is the Kandy Kane Kid. I've come around in past years, ridin' the range and blastin' any sourpusses and Grinches with two barrels of holiday cheer. I've also come to town to recommend a really good book for the season, one that every reader guy will enjoy. It's Kringle by the hugely-talented Tony Abbott. It's an epic fantasy about--you'd never believe it--Santa Claus. But this not some cutesy Santa story--it's a real epic battle between good and evil. These goblins are the real deal; nasty and vicious. And the heroes are truly heroic. This is a great read over the holidays, guys, so don't miss it! (you can see my original review here)

And don't forget, there is still a giveaway going on. I'll give an autographed copy of Hamster S.A.M.: Odd-ventures in Space by local author/illustrator Dave McDoanld to the first guy who writes in a review of any book or graphic novel. Find out more here.

And here's a video for your holiday enjoyment. Watch this and be amazed:

Rock on, guys, and have a great holiday season!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Matthew Myers and the Iron Guy--The Man and the Fan

View full imageHey ho, reader guys everywhere! The Iron Guy got to meet someone exciting last week. It was none other than Matthew Myers, the genius illustrator behind Battle Bunny, the most original and fun book of last year--or many other years, for that matter. If you haven't read Battle Bunny, go straight to your local library, do not pass "Go," and check out a copy! If you'd like to see how very much I liked that book, you can read my review here and read a fun post regarding Battle Bunny here. Anyway, I was at an all-day conference and Mr. Myers was a guest speaker. He was great! He talked about illustrating picture books and told us a lot of fascinating facts--for instance, did you know that an illustrator rarely sees the author when they work on a picture book? (although he worked very closely with the Battle Bunny authors) Or that it could take a year and a half to complete the illustrations? Afterwards, he gave us autographed copies of his books. Naturally, you know what book I wanted! Then I found out he was hanging around talking to people, so I got in line. He was gracious enough to listen to a Battle Bunny fan and let me talk about this blog. He was a terrific guy and also very funny. What's more, he was willing to take a picture with me! Since this is a true GUY book, I asked him to strike his most macho pose as the  real MANLY MEN we are:

Ummm--that's not quite what I had in mind.

THAT'S more like it!

Thanks, Mr. Myers! We hope to see you again and keep illustrating those terrific books!

PS--my autographed copy!