Friday, April 24, 2015

Fun at the Alien Dude Author Visit

E. K. Smith
It was a great day at the Myers Park library last Saturday because the one and only E. K. Smith was here, author of the terrific Alien Dude series of books. What makes these books so terrific, other than they are fun and exciting? They are written for BOYS!! Ms. Smith had a boy of her own and, when he was starting to learn how to read and having a hard time, she looked around but couldn't find anything he, or any boy, would like. "Everything was babyish," she told me. So she took the situation into her own hand and wrote Alien Dude and The Attack of Wormzilla and Alien Dude: Mr. Evil Potato Man and the Food Fight. (good books--see my reviews here) So I was very excited for a long time about her visit.

Kenner and Ms. Smith
And it was a good time. She showed slides of her books, talked about writing them, how she got ideas from her son (!!) and how she worked with the illustrator. We had a small crowd--well, really small because it was only one guy (his name was Kenner) but we still had fun. In fact, Ms. Smith talked about some upcoming Alien Dude books and said our hero will get a sidekick. Kenner then suggested that the sidekick be a robot dinosaur and Ms. Smith liked that idea. So his idea may actually end up in a book! See what could happen when even one guy talks with an author!!

Ms. Smith, because of your outstanding workon behalf of boy readers, this blog is going to give you the highest honor it can possibly offer by making you an Honorary Guy!

That's right--you now have the right to make obnoxious noises at sporting events, crack all the goofball jokes you'd like and eat insane amounts of foods with no nutritional value. I'm sure you're amazed and overwhelmed at the awesome greatness of this exceptional honor but there's no need to thank us--you've earned it!!

All silliness aside, we truly appreciate your visit, Ms. Smith, and look forward to more terrific Alien Dude books!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

It Happened on a Train: A Great Audiobook for GUYS!

The terrific Arte Johnson
If you've followed this blog for a while, you'll know that I am a HUGE fan of the Brixton Brothers mystery series. They're funny, they're hip and they have some really good mysteries in them. And good action scenes too. So I was very, very glad to see the library get audiobook copies of them! And I was very, very, very glad to see that the great Arte Johnson was the person reading them!. Now you may or may not know who Arte Johnson is but guys who grew up when I did are very familiar with him and knew how funny he could be. He's the perfect guy for these audiobooks and he did a great job on this one.

And this one, It Happened on a Train, is my favorite of the four Brixton Bothers. (all of them written by the marvelously-talented Mac Barnett) It wold take too long to recount the plot, so if you want to see what this one is about, see my review of the book here. Just let me say that the story has lots of unexpected twists, characters who will surprise you, good laughs and suspense. Plus, Steve Brixton is the only guy who can be a hero and a goofball at the same time--as when he climbs on top of the train, as you see on the cover. Arte Johnson does a terrific job, pacing his reading to give you the maximum suspense and humor. Get this book next time you take a road trip or even if you if you're in a carpool. Especially if you're in a carpool. We've tried these books when driving kids to school and found that no one can fight, bicker or complain when they're laughing or trying to figure out the mystery.

One more note--don't forget that today is the day for the ALIEN DUDE author visit! See the post under this one for more info!


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Alien Dude Author Visit!

We've got a real treat coming up this Saturday at the Myers Park library. An author, who wrote a couple of books for BOYS is coming here at 2:00 pm. Her name is E. K. Smith and she wrote the Alien Dude books. Ever hear of them? Yes? No? If you haven't, here's the story:

E. K. Smith was a teacher who saw that there weren't enough good books for boys just beginning to learn to read. Yeah, there were a lot of cutesy books out there but what self-respecting boy would want one of those? So she took the matter into her own hands and, with illustrator Peter Grosshauser, created her own books, the Alien Dude series!

Alien Dude is awesome. He can fly. He can morph and do many other things. But he still has to attend school. In the first book, Alien Dude and the Attack of Wormzilla, the school is overrun with worms! Who else but the giant Wormzilla could be the cause of all this disgustingness? But what could Alien Dude do against all those worm minions? You'll be surprised and will laugh at what he thinks of!

In the second book, Alien Dude: Mr. Evil Potato Man and the Food Fight, the kids in school start turning into food! Alien Dude must morph into a potato peeler and do many other things to break Mr.Evil Potato Man's spell. This book, like the first one, is action-packed as well as full of the humor that guys will enjoy.

These books are great fun and a terrific way to get guys to start reading. If you're a younger reader guy or the parent of a just-learning-to-read boy, these are the books for you. And, as I said, the author will be here this Saturday, April 18, at 2:00 pm at the Myers Park library. I've met her and she's a delightful person, so  come on over and have a good time, especially if you're a boy between 6--11 years old. (And, yes, girls are welcome too. We boys are just awesome that way)
Call us at 704-416-5800 to register or we'll see you there!
(PS--there will be Alien Dude books for sale!)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Our First Two Reviews From Shark and Zark!

HEY, all you totally cool reader guys! We've got good news--our first two book reviews are in from Sharyq and Zarak (aka "Shark and Zark"), those two awesome guys from our Boys Read and Write Club. (Actually, they sent in their reviews last Monday but I was out of town on vacation and just got back--so I'm sorry for the delay, guys!) Let's not waste any time; here's a review from Sharyq:

Hyperspace high crash landing
by Zac harrison

Hey bookworms I got a good book for you! Its about a boy named John Riley who gets on the wrong bus. aparently he gets on a bus to a space bus to a alien school. there he learns that you don't need to be a supreme life form to be a hero!

Thanks, Sharyq!! I've never read any of the Hyperspace High books but it sounds really good. Have any of you other reader guys read one?

And here's the review from Zarak:

how to eat fried worms
by Thomas Rockwell
pictures by Emily McCully

I didn't like this book because it grossed me out because it's about a boy named billy and he got dared a lot and he didn't get dared but he ate worms with yucky stuff on it just to get money.

And thank you too, Zarak!! I'm sorry you didn't like it because I think it's a really funny book and I recommend it all the time but, hey, not everyone likes the same things. And that's good. If everyone liked exactly all the same things all the time, the world would be a dull place. It's the differences that make life interesting. 

OK, we really appreciate your sharing your thoughts with us and look forward to hearing from you again. Don't forget that the first time any guy writes in a review, he gets a free book! So come over and claim them, Shark and Zark!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Boys Read and Write Club--First Meeting!

Hey, again, reader guys everywhere. This is the Iron Guy again, telling you about an extremely cool event that took place here at the Myers Park library this afternoon. I'm referring, of course, to the first meeting of the Boys Reading and Writing Club. We had two guys here, the very hip and happening Shayryq and his ultra-cool brother Zarak. Or, as they call themselves, "Shark and Zark."
We had a great time. First, we all introduced ourselves, (their dad was there too--what a truly MANLY MAN!) then we played some Nerf basketball. They shot some shots but then we made it more interesting--each one grabbed a book at random and used that book to block his brother's shots as he brought the ball up the court. (Hint--use a bigger book, Zarak!) Then I offered them some snacks but they declined because their dad had taken them to lunch at Pike's. (what a good choice! Pike's is great) Then I showed them how to write reviews for the blog because that's how this club works--we have fun, they get some books AND will write reviews about those books, which I will post on this blog, before the next meeting. Here's a picture of them, holding the books they chose. Zarak made a good choice--How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell. That's a really funny book and a favorite of mine. Sharyq likes space books, so he got a Hyperspace High book (I'm not sure which one) and The Hunt for the Hydra, another one of my favorites.
As I said, we had a great time and can't wait until the next meeting, which will be Saturday, May 2 at 2:00 pm. Find out more about the club at my original post about it.
Thanks, Sharyq and Zarak! Can't wait to post your reviews!

The Latest 39 Clues Book!!

Hey reader guys, a bunch of you are about to start your spring break, Some you even started yesterday. Some of you will go out of town or some will stay here but I bet all of you will want something good to read. So what could be better than the newest book in the newest set of The 39 Clues adventures? This one is Mission Titanic by the terrific Jude Watson in the new Doublecross series. And, man, is it a thrill!

Amy and Dan retired from the Cahill life after all the terrible events in the Unstoppable series, so Ian is now head of the Cahill family. That's right--vain, stuck-up Ian Kabra. But just as he's getting fitted for a new suit (and admiring himself in the mirrors) a bunch of unfriendly Cahills arrive a week early a meeting that Ian had scheduled. Then all the computers go dead. The all the screens come to life and someone called The Outcast tells everyone that he wants to take control of the Cahill family back from the "children" and proposes "a test for the current leadership." He plans to replicate four world-famous disasters and Ian and his followers have five days to prevent the first one! So what will Ian do? Will have have to call back Amy and Dan? And just who IS The Outcast and why does he seem so familiar where everything is located in Grace's mansion? There's lots of mysteries, surprises, action, bad guys, exotic locations, new bad guys, narrow escapes--all the things we love about The 39 Clues! You will definitely enjoy this one, guys, so head right over to your library and get it for your spring break--or just to have a really good time reading!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day! And Who DID Win the Boys vs Girls War?

Ah, faith and begora, and it's a happy St. Patrick's Day I hope you're having! This is Iron Guy O'Carl, wearing his green and enjoying the day. St. Patrick was a really remarkable guy. I hope you find some good biographies of him at your library because it's quite a story--being abducted by slavers, escaping and going back several years later to minister to the very nation who had captured him. That takes a truly MANLY MAN! But beside that, you could make a very strong argument that we might not even have libraries today if it had not been for Patrick of Ireland. He established a lot of monasteries around those Celtic isles and they were about the only places that had books. After Rome fell and the tide of barbarism swept over Europe, bringing in the Dark Ages, those monasteries kept books and reading alive. So we owe a lot to that man and have a good reason to celebrate!

And I have another reason--I've finally finished the Boys vs Girls series by the great Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. It's been a lot, a lot, a LOT of fun to read and I'm sorry that it's over! If you haven't read any of my reviews of the other books, (which you could do by clicking on the Girls Against the Boys tab under this post) here's the background:

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--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!

But, with these last three books, the school year ends and the Malloys may have to move back to Ohio. The boys AND the girls start reflecting on all their tricks and pranks and realize what fun they've had. Good heavens--will they actually MISS each other???

Girls Rule--it's the last month of school. It's also the month for the annual Strawberry Festival. The kids who make enough money for the new children's wing of the hospital get either all the strawberry snacks they want or a chance to get into the parade. How will they make enough? After a lot of failed ideas, someone thinks of a car wash. But the girls and boys have to work at it together--can that possibly happen?

Boys Rock (oh, yeah!! Gotta love that title!)--the school year is over and summer living is easy. But there are summer assignments for school. Either they have to read books off a list or put out three issues of a newspaper. They decide on the newspaper but guess what? Eddie gets to be editor-in-chief! Will that cause trouble? What do you think! And what does Caroline see in the window of the old (maybe haunted) house? And what does Wally think lives under the trapdoor of Oldakkers' bookstore? You won't guess--but you will smile when you read about them! (ps--Mr. Malloy has to decide if he'll stay in Buckman or move back to Ohio)

Who Won the War?--now it's the end of summer. Will the Malloys move or stay? I won't tell you!! You'll have to find out for yourself! But there is a big twist in the middle that may be the best incident yet. And also--will Mad Bomber Bill actually blow anything up?

One of the very great pleasures of running this blog is finding books that don't get as much attention as the latest and hottest favorites. These books are some of the most fun I've read for a long while and they certainly deserve to have  more guys reading them. So get over to your library! Read them! Enjoy them! I bet you'll have as much fun as I did.

Note to the grownups: These books are like a breath of pure fresh air. Our good friend Ms Yingling has complained about all the depressing books published these days. Well, here's a welcome antidote to all that. The kids pull pranks but nothing seriously bad happens, although, in the spirit of reality, some things could have happened and the parents make sure their kids know it. And that's the great thing--all the parents are alive, they care about their kids and they are smart and involved. And both the boys and girls are good but not unrealistic. They do chores without complaining, are respectful but yet sneak off to pull a prank or fulfill a dare.
One more thing--there are twelve books in this series. The first came out in 1993 before email, smartphones or widespread use of the Internet. When one girl gets locked in a shed by the boys, she waits until her sisters come by and she yells. Some of your readers might say, "Why didn't she just whip out her phone and call for help?" And the boys send actual letters to their friends in Georgia in the first few books!! Could your kids even imagine that these days? These things may make the earlier books hard to relate to but both boys and girls can relate to all the funny stuff that happens. One more thing--the last book came out in 2006. By then the boys send emails to their friends, play video games and the girls use a story off the Internet to fool the boys. Much more up-to-date. Yet they spend a rainy afternoon playing Monopoly and summer days on a rope swing--not staring at hand-held devices. More fresh air.

So listen up, boys! Play your video games on your computers if you'd like but ride bikes! Play board games! Read books! There's a lot of fun in these things.