Saturday, May 24, 2014

48 Hour Book Challenge for the Iron Guy--

Once again, boys, it's that time of year--the time when the Iron Guy tests his endurance, stamina and determination to the utmost limits of his iron abilities.Yes, it's the annual 48 Hour Book Challenge, the weekend in which a lot of kidlit bloggers try to read as many hours as they can over a weekend. I've done this before in 2010, 2011,and 2013. (things were too busy in 2012) So, as in those three glorious years, I'm going to accept the challenge to read, read and read some more. The event will happen in two weeks. That means it's from Friday, June 6 through Sunday, June 8. Technically, bloggers have from 7:00 am of that Friday until 7:00 am of the following Monday morning. The requirement is--brace yourselves--12 HOURS OF READING. That's right--a full quarter of a weekend! "Amazing!" you may say. "It can't be done!" others of you may think.

HA!! It's merely a trivial test for--


The good people who have organized the Challenge this year have picked out the theme of diversity. I've got a list of books to reflect that worthwhile theme and here they are:

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus

Black Diamond: The Story of the Negro Baseball Leagues by Patricia C. McKissaack and Frederick McKissack, Jr.

Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Foreman Lewis (sorry if the picture isn't very clear)

The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

and The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Now I know that these last three may stretch the definition of "diversity" a bit but here's how I look at it--one takes in medieval Poland (a different time in history), one has a main character who isn't even a person (pretty diverse), and the last one--well, I just wanted to read it. OK, you could say that one character is a piece of origami and that qualifies (possibly). Besides, it's part of my 2014 resolution and I'll have time to actually get to it.

Will I read ALL those books? Maybe. But I will give it a MANLY try. So come on, June 7--9. The IRON GUY is ready for you!!


I've got a challenge for YOU, reader guys. I want to see if you've got what it takes. Want to know more? Then read the post under this one!

--and a Challenge for All You Reader Guys!

All  right, here it is. I want to see if any of you reader guys have the stuff. If you're MANLY enough. If  you could tough it out. If so, then read 3 hours during the 48 Hour Book Challenge weekend. If you do, there's a PRIZE  waiting for you!! Yes, if you read 3 hours, you could get a free book or an item out of the ultra-cool prize box that the Iron Guy keeps for worthy reader guys like you. (as you can see, we have mostly books but there are also a few other things in there) And if you read 6 hours, you get TWO books or a book AND an item! If you you read 9, you get three things out of the box. And if you actually read 12 hours, like the Iron Guy, you get these two very cool Laser Challenge Pro battery-powered guns.

Sound good to you? Then read at least 3 hours over the weekend of June 6--8. (You actually have from 7:00 am on June 6 until 7:00 am on June 9) It doesn't matter what you read--it could be fiction or graphic novels or nonfiction or a biography. After you read, send me notice of your reading time by writing in the Comment section under any of the  posts I'll make that weekend. (yes, I get to spend some of the time blogging about my progress on the 48 hour Book Challenge)  You could come by the Myers Park library after that weekend to claim your prize or prizes. If you live too far away, send me a mailing address (I won't publish it) and I'll find a way to get prizes to you.

Wait a minute---

I know full well that there are some sneaky people out there. Some people who would only claim to have read 3, 6, 9 or 12 hours to try and cheat me into giving prizes. None of our regular reader guys would do that, of course, because honesty is a MANLY virtue, but we all know that dishonest people live in cyberspace. Who knows? You could be--

 one of the scheming members of the Lucian clan

 or a HYDRA agent trying to infiltrate our ranks

or even a disguised agent of KAOS.

SO--to keep things honest, whenever you send me the amount of time you've read, you must also send a REVIEW (or reviews) of the book or books or graphic novels you've read!! Does that sound tough? Well, the Iron Guy IS tough and I bet you are too! Besides, you'll be providing a valuable service to all the other reader guys. Writing your review will let other guys know about great reading, which is one of the purposes of this blog.

SO, when you write your review, you need to include four things:
A brief synopsis of what you've read (and I do mean brief--some guys have spent way too many sentences telling us the plot)
And why you did or didn't like what you read. (don't just say, "I enjoyed this book." Tell us WHY you liked or didn't like it)

OK, guys, you've got 2 weeks to prepare. Get to the library nearest you (or to your school library) and find some good stuff. Spend some time reading that weekend of June 6-8. You could win some cool things!

Look forward to hearing from you then!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Unstoppable: Countdown--More 39 Clues Thrills!

As I said in a post back in my February 27 post, everything stops when a new 39 Clues book comes out. And there's a good reason--these books are full of action, suspense and exotic locations. Plus more than a few laughs. Just the kind of things guys are looking for in their books. And Unstoppable: Countdown by Natalie Standiford is another sure-fire winner in this third series of the adventures of the Cahill clan.

Amy and Dan Cahill, along with their friends Jake and Atticus Rosenbloom, are on their way to Guatemala to find the next ingredient for the Cahill serum antidote and it's tremendously important that they find all the ingredients. Why? Because J. Rutherford Pierce, the media giant, has taken the Cahill serum and become the strongest, cleverest and most charming person on earth. Now he's determined to become President of the US--and, as one character notes, from there it's only a short step to dictator. The only hope is to put together the antidote. But Pierce's muscular, serum-enhanced goons are everywhere and there are many more of them than there are friends of Dan and Amy. And Pierce also has a factory that looks like it's going to mass-produce serum for an army of henchmen. Nellie Gomez, Dan and Amy''s au pair and co-conspirator against Pierce, has infiltrated that factory, posing as an organic chemistry expert. But how long can she keep up the ruse? Pierce is sure to find out--then what happens? And then Amy has to face the unthinkable choice--Dan's life is in extreme danger and the only solution is to take the vial of Cahill serum hidden in her backpack, even though the serum kills you within a week. Will she do it?? 

Oh, man, you've got to read to find out!! I really enjoyed every thrilling moment of this book and you will too. It's got everything you like about this terrific series and packs a strong emotional punch too, especially with the tension between Amy, Dan, Jake and Atticus. And this book perfectly sets up the next and, I think, the last book in this series. At the end, things become so bad for the Cahills that there may not be a way out. Pierce may really and truly be unstoppable. Then what becomes of the rest of the world? As I said, you've got to read this one!

And be sure to check out the 39 Clues website for more fun and Cahill info. AND be sure to write to us in the Comment section underneath this post if you're a 39 Clues fan--or write us a review in the Comment section if you've read any of the 39 Clues books!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Great Civil War Nofiction for Guys

Let me tell you about one of my favorite obsessions. It started way back in 1994. A friend gave me a copy of The Battle Cry of Freedom, a one-volume history of the Civil War. (it's very good but also long and written for grownups) Like most guys, I had taken American History in school and thought I knew all about the conflict between the states. But, while reading that book, I was amazed at how much I didn't know. And I was much further amazed at all the stories I didn't know about. Tales of courage, heroism, and incredible endurance.Stories like soldiers marching through icy rivers with icicles forming on them. Or the First Minnesota at Gettysburg, the 262 Union soldiers who charged into 1200 Confederates to keep  the Confederates from breaking through a hole in the lines. Or the story of The Angel of Marye's Heights at the battle of Fredericksburg, the Confederate soldier who took water to wounded Union soldiers, even when he was being shot at. The more I read, the more stories I found and became hooked on reading about Civil War history. I've recently read some terrific books about the CW and liked them so much that I wanted to tell you about them--not to mention it's in keeping with my 2014 resolution to share more nonfiction with all you boys.

You Wouldn't Want to be a Civil War Soldier: A war You'd Rather Not Fight by Thomas Ratliff, illustrated by David Antram
What a great book! It's one of the You Wouldn't Want to Be...series which covers everything from Ancient Greek athletes to sailing on the Titanic to climbing Mount Everest. This one covers the Civil War from beginning to end, telling what life was like for Union and Confederate soldiers (hints: take baths in the summer and try not to get captured), covers all the major battles (including a list at the end of the Top 10 Bloodiest Battles) and shows what types of weapons soldiers would use. It's a good introduction to the Civil War but would also be fun to read for CW fans like me. Plus the illustrations are terrific! Humorous, yet capturing all the horror of a real war. It was a great read but, after finishing it, I really would not want to have been a CW soldier!

What Was the Battle of Gettysburg? by Jim O'Connor, illustrated by John Mantha
Another great read, good for both the novice CW reader or long-time fan. Lots of good info about the most famous battle of the Civil War, as well as about its leaders. Plus a section of truly cool photos from that time! And a truly touching letter the the author's ancestor who actually fought in that battle! This book is good for the experienced reader or what the grownups call "reluctant readers."And it would be good for a school report or just some fun and interesting reading. PS--if you like this one, check out other books in the "What Was.." series of nonfiction or the "Who Was..." series of biographies. Those books fly off our shelves here at the library!

Civil War Forts by Victor Brooks (part of the Untold History of the Civil War series)
The title grabbed me. Think about it--forts, guns, cannons. Sounds cool to me. I thought this would be just a description of CW forts but was amazed to find another book of cool stories. Just wait until you read about Major Robert Anderson being trapped inside Fort Sumter or General Grant's attacks on Forts Henry and Donaldson in the middle of winter or the 54th Massachusetts, an African-American unit, attacking the Confederate Fort Wagner or how the youngest general in the U. S. army stormed Fort Fisher. Really exciting stuff!

Big Bad Ironclad: A Civil War Steamship Showdown--written and illustrated by Nathan Hale
I've saved the best for last. Man. Oh. Man. What a truly terrific book!!! It's one of the Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series of graphic novels. The idea is that Nathan Hale, the Revolutionary War Patriot who was caught and hanged by the British as a spy, had actually fallen into a big book of American history and knows the future of his country. He talks the British officer and the hangman into not hanging him (for now) if tells them stories about the future history of the US. In this one, he tells them about the Civil War and how both the Union and Confederacy will build naval ships out of iron instead of wood. (shocking!) He also goes on to tell the story of the Monitor and the Merrimack. (more appropriately called the Virginia--as he keeps reminding us) Furthermore, he tells some truly exciting and amazing stories about mischievous William Cushing, who was kicked out of naval school for drawing pictures of his teachers but learned his lesson and went on to become a true hero. What great stories! What great thrills along with great laughs! And what great artwork! I enjoyed this book more than any other I've read this year and can't wait to find more in this series. GO GET IT, GUYS!!! (PS--the writer/artist's name really is Nathan Hale, just like the Patriot spy)

In fact, go and check out all these books. You'll find out that, despite what some people may tell you, history is not boring!