Thursday, December 31, 2015

A New Year's Treat--A Review from Graham!

Happy New Year's greetings, guys! I tell you, we've been really lucky and hit the jackpot with book reviews at the end of the year. There's been one from Mighty Micah, one from Mr. Keesler, the CEO of the library and now we have one from Graham, a great boy who is also a big fan of The Copernicus Legacy series by the amazing Tony Abbott. (sorry, I don't have a picture) He's going to tell us about The Forbidden Stone, the first of these thrilling books. Let's hear what he has to say:

The  Forbidden Stone by Tony Abbott

Wade and Darrell, along with their Cousin Lily and her friend Becca are summoned to Germany with their father by an old family friend. Upon arriving they quickly determined there frined had been MURDERED. This discovery and the kidnapping of their mother, drags them into a relic hunt which leads them across the globe. They work to discover the mytserious relics of Nicolaus Copernicus, the famous astronomer, while being chased by the knights of the deadly Teutonic order. This book is like a roller coaster curvng and sswerving around the world. I liked this book because of the thrilling adventures that live inside the pages of Copernicus Legacy.

Thanks, Graham!  I'm a HUGE fan of these books and I'm glad you are too. (if you'd like to know what I've said about them, click on the "Copernicus Legacy" and "Forbidden Stone" labels under this post) Take a note, boys--this book is recommended by a reader guy just like you. It's not just the word of some boring old grownup. Another boy liked it and I bet you will too. Go to your local library and check out a copy. After all, now that Graham has reviewed The Forbidden Stone, this book is--


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Something Great Right After Christmas--A Review From--Well, It's Pretty Incredible!

Mr. Lee Keesler, CEO of Charlotte Meckelnburg libraries
Happy Day After Christmas, guys! Hope you had a great time. I certainly did. Here's one more present I found under the blogging tree--a review from the CEO of our library system! He's Mr. Lee Keesler and he's the Big Kahuna, The Exalted Emperor, the Great Galactic Overlord of the Charlotte Mecklenburg libraries. Like the Iron Guy, he's a MANLY MAN and lover of books. He's also one of the nicest guys you'll ever be lucky enough to meet. Mr. Keesler been good enough to ask my advice on good reads. I recommended a grownup book to him once and he liked it, so he asked my opinion a second time. Well, that was a great opportunity to tell him about one of my very favorites, Leviathan by the talented Scott Westerfeld. (check out my original review here) I've always thought that it's a book that grownups as well as boys would enjoy, so that was my chance. We found a copy and, not only did he read it, he even sent in a review! Here it is:

Hey guys, Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan is great reading fun.  Part history, part fantasy, it is 100% adventure from the very first pages.

The story is set in the historical context of the beginnings of World War I.  Aleksandar’s father and mother are assassinated, and that sets off a chain reaction across Europe that turns into “the Great War.” Aleksandar flees to Switzerland where he collides with the separate but equally exciting story of Deryn Sharp, an English commoner who loves to fly.  Both teens distinguish themselves and their young contemporaries by leading and setting examples for their older adult companions.  It is the quintessential story of the triumph of youth.

Leviathan is made more fascinating and adventuresome by Westerfeld’s blending of animals and machines, a nod to Charles Darwin in the person of Darwin’s daughter, Nora Darwin Barlowe. Aleksandar and Deryn learn to bring out the best qualities of animal, machines and their combined forms to serve their interests.

Leviathan is a fast read with rich descriptions of beasts and battles. I recommend it highly.

Thanks, Mr. Keesler! We really appreciate it. And, as I've always said, any guy who sends in a review for the first time gets a free book. And that means any guy! So feel free to pick one out of our ultra-cool prize box sometime.

Well, the holiday season isn't over yet. Kwanzaa begins today and New Year's Day is Friday, so, if I don't post anything before then, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy New Year to everyone!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Just in Time for the Holidays--Mighty Micah's Present!

Ho ho ho and happy holidays, guys! What a great piece of luck--one of our reader guys got an early present today. His name is Mighty Micah and he came to our Boys Read and Write Club over the summer. He also sent us a review of that terrific sci-fi book, The Roar by Emma Clayton. The Iron Guy, whose generosity is exceeded only by that of Santa Claus, has always said that the first time any boy sends in a book review, that boy gets a free book. So Micah came in today to claim his prize from our ultra-cool prize box. Of course, he went right away for the Calvin and Hobbs book, which he said was a favorite of his grandmother. (of course, a lot whole lot of guys like Calvin and Hobbs) As a holiday bonus, he also got a Capt'n Eli coloring book, which comes from the fabulously-cool Capt'n Eli series of graphic novels.
Mighty Micah and his free books
Congratulations, Micah! I hope you send in some more reviews soon. And, guys, this goes to show that other boys are excited about reading. It's proof positive that--


Reading is an occupation for MANLY MEN!!

All silliness aside, I really hope all of you have a great a great holiday season. And to make your season merry and bright, here's a video I shared a few years ago. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Two Terrific Books for Hanukkah

Hey, guys, I recommended a holiday book to you in the last post and I've got a couple more for you today. Both of them are picture books but don't just roll your eyes when I say that. Some guys would think that picture books are only for little kids. Wrong! These are good for guys at any age, even for a MANLY MAN like the Iron Guy. Both of them are about Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, that is going on this very week. If you've never read the history of Hanukkah, be sure to check it out. It's a really great story--an evil emperor (Antiochus), a small band of rebels (the Maccabbees) and a miraculous intervention. (hmmm--does this sound like the story of a certain set of movies? And the new one comes out this very month? Coincidence??? You tell me!) Both of these books can be read quickly but the memory of these books will last a really long time, maybe even long after the holidays. Maybe even the rest of your lives.

The first one is Hanukkah at Valley Forge by Stephen Krensky, illustrated by Greg Harlin. What a
great story! It takes place during the Revolutionary War. During the brutal  winter of 1777, General George Washington and his troops were camped in Valley Forge. Things did not look good for them. Some of the men didn't have shoes or coats. No one had enough food. And the British showed no sign of leaving. As Washington made his rounds, he saw one soldier lighting a candle in one of the cabins. The general was curious, so he asked what the soldier was doing. The young man said he did it for Hanukkah and, since Washington had never heard of it, told him the story of the ancient fight and the great miracle. Could that tale from long ago restore the general's faith in the Patriot's cause?
As I said, this is a great story. And the illustrations are truly outstanding. The very first one sets the tone for the desperate state of the Patriots. There's a lone soldier, patrolling the camp in the snow. He has no gloves. He's trying to keep warm in his thin coat. BRRR! I could feel the bitter cold! But as the soldier relates the Hanukkah story, the illustrations shift back and forth form Valley Forge to ancient Israel, thereby showing the parallels between the Maccabeean revolt and the Revolution. It works really well and heightens the terrific emotional impact of this story. As I said, you'll read through this book quickly but you won't forget it anytime soon!

And the second is a truly terrific book, Oskar and the Eight Blessings by Richard and Tanya Simon, illustrated by Mark Siegel. This is another book in which the words and pictures combine to make an unforgettable experience. It's 1938. Oskar and his family live happily in Europe until The Night of Broken Glass, the beginning of the Holocaust. His parents put him on a ship to America so he can stay with his Aunt Esther. His father tells him, "Oskar, even in bad times, people can be good. You have to look for the blessings." He arrives in New York on the seventh night of Hanukkah, which also turns out to be Christmas Eve, with only a photo and address for his aunt. And no money. Even if he looks for the blessings, could that be enough for one lone boy walking 100 blocks in a strange city?
Wow! I really felt for Oskar all alone in the big city. But I also felt good, really good, when the blessings came. And I don't mean feeling good in some cheap, cheesy way, like the feeling you get in many of the sugary and sentimental books you see this time of year, It's a good and uplifted sensation. The way you feel when something good comes out of a bad situation. And the artwork!! It really moves the story along and helps you to see things from Oskar's perspective. What a terrific book! This one should not be missed. In fact, you'll probably want to read and reread this one every year.

You'll notice that both these books take place in two of the darkest periods in history, times when things seemed hopeless. Yet these people persevered when they, like the soldier at Valley Forge, remembered the old story or, like Oskar, remembered his father's words. Their trust, their faith, if you will, got them through like a candle in the dark. I've heard a lot of grownups talk about how these festivals of lights, like Hanukkah and Kwanzaa with their candles or Christmas with its lights or even Diwali, take place around the winter solstice, the darkest time of the year. It's as if something in the human spirit cries out that light will overcome darkness eventually and we need to remind ourselves of that when things are darkest and coldest. That's not easy to do--in fact, keeping that faith during hard times is the toughest thing you'll ever do as a guy. (or a girl) That's why reading is so important! Reading books like these gives us the mental and emotional fuel to keep going. Not only is reading fun and exciting, it builds you up and strengthens you on the inside, where it really counts. That's one reason I keep telling you about terrific books. Reading strengthens and enriches your lives. Don't forget that!

Well, I hope you don't mind my going deep on you. Really great books can do that to me. Before I go, I also want to thank my online friend Heidi Estrin for giving me the idea to review these books. I had been meaning to read them for some time but when she told me about #Readukkah, an event hosted by the Association of Jewish Libraries that encourages people to review Jewish books this week. And I'm glad she did because I really enjoyed them. Thanks, Heidi! And be sure to check these books out and tell all your friends and families about them.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Holiday Blast from the Past--Kringle by Tony Abbott

Hey, guys, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and are now in holiday mode. If you're not, I have just the book for you. It's Kringle by the great Tony Abbott. I first read this book about 8 years ago and have recommended it at the holiday season several times since then. And for a good reason--it's a terrific story! A rich epic fantasy about how Santa Claus became Santa Claus. "Oh, man," you might say about now, "not another sugary-sweet story about Santa." Not to fear, reader guys! This is a real good-vs-evil struggle between the badly-outnumbered good guys and  the goblins, the mean, nasty, vicious bad guys. Those who crave excitement, danger and adventure in their books (and what GUY doesn't?) will really enjoy this one.

I tell you, there just seem to be no end to Mr. Abbott's talents. He can write full-length thrillers like the amazing Copernicus Legacy series, fantasies or mysteries for younger readers like The Secrets of Droon or Goofballs or a mystery book for older guys like The Postcard, one of the most terrific books I've read--and they're all really, really good! No matter what sort of book you like, Mr. Abbott's has probably written one that you'd enjoy. Be sure to check your library and Mr. Abbott's website to see.

PS--click the "Kringle" label under this post to see my reviews from the past. (if you do, say "hi" to the Kandy Kane Kid)