Friday, March 25, 2016

The Iron Guy Calls a Time Out (and In)

Yes, indeed, yours truly, Iron Guy Carl, is calling a time out from the March Madness of Reading Contest to tell you about a couple of very cool books! One is short and you can read it quickly; the other is longer but told a great story that wouldn't let me go.

The first one caught my eye and I thought is was perfect to read right after St. Patrick's Day and in the middle of the big basketball tournament. It's Leprechauns Don't Play Basketball by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones. It's book # 4 in The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids series, which are a whole lot of fun. As the book covers say, "There are some pretty weird grown-ups living in Bailey City" and most of the teach at Bailey School! Some of them may or may not be supernatural. There's Miss Jeepers, for instance, who has pale skin and a strange Romanian accent. Could she really be a vampire?? Well, Eddie and his friends have gotten used to her but they aren't prepared for Coach O'Grady, a short little man with a big smile and an Irish accent who comes to teach Irish dancing to the kids. Could he really be a leprechaun?? And why does he carry that bag of stones on his belt? And why do strange things happen when he pulls out a stone? And why is Miss Jeepers so upset that he's there? You won't know if you don't check this out! But you will have a lot of fun reading it because there's humor and mysterious goings-on. And it's short. I call it a Good Quick Read and you younger reader guys, maybe around third grade, would really like it. (and I bet even the older ones would too)

The second book would be great for older reader guys, maybe sixth grade or up, though I bet some of you fifth-graders would like it too. It's Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip Through the Motown Sound by Andrea Davis Pinkney.
Before I talk about the book, let me stop for a moment and savor that word. Motown. Short for Motor City. (which was Detroit) The place were some of the best music ever recorded in America came from. Songs that still make you get up and move. Some that are still relevant. Songs by Jackie Wilson. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. The Marvelletes. You guys never heard of them? What about Marvin Gaye? Diana Ross and the Supremes? Stevie Wonder? The Jackson Five? Ah, I may have got some of you now. This terrific book tells the story of the place all that great music came from and the man who started it all and kept it going through good times and some turbulent years.
That man was Berry Gordy (yes, spelled Berry, not Barry), a man working at the Ford Motor Company in Detriot, Michigan back in the late '50's who had a dream of producing hit records and making unknowns into stars. And how he succeeded after borrowing money from his family and making only $3.00 from his first record. He had hit after hit coming out of the Motown studio (which was actually a house in Detroit) until he had built a golden music empire on catchy pop tunes. But then the Civil Rights era came and times were rough. Could Motown adapt and survive? The answer is wonderful but, as I said, you won't know if you don't read this book! And you'll be glad that you did. I enjoyed this book a lot because it told an inspiring story and I learned a lot too--in fact, I learned a lot of things I never knew and I grew up in those days!
Part of what makes this book so great is the narration. It's told by someone called The Groove. It's like listening to an old, hip fun and wise relative talking about an important road trip from long ago. It's a very refreshing change from most books and you will like it!

All right, before, the Iron Guy calls a time in, let me post a video from The Temptations, one of the biggest Motown groups, singing "Can't Get Next to You." Forget the 1970 fashions or the choreography which we thought was cool but may look silly now--listen to that relentlessly driving beat, the rhythm section that simmers like a pot of chili, the snarl in those voices, the sheer liveliness and exuberance of that music. Just try, I repeat, just try not to get excited when you hear this! Enjoy and here's the TIME IN!! Send us those reviews! And if you have any questions about the contest, click here.

Bam! Bam! Bam! Reid Hits THREE Shots!

Wow, this is great! Not only is the March Madness Tournament is in the Sweet Sixteen phase (and, without trying to start a ruckus, I have to say, "Go, Carolina!") but the March Madness of Reading Contest is also shifting into high gear! We have not just one, not just two, but three reviews from our friend Reid, who has sent us reviews in the past. And it looks like we may have the beginning of a rivalry! But first, let's hear about what Reid has read and liked:

How To Get Fabulously Rich by Thomas Rockwell is about a kid named Billy who played the lottery and lost but decided to try again. On the second time he tried, he won. After he won he had to split some money to other people. He realizes that winning the lottery is not something that is necessary. He is sad because he lost a lot of friends in the experience. His dad has to get into a lot of no fun work with the law. He feels stressed out and does nothing with the money he gets. I like this book because it teaches me that having friends is more important than anything else. I think you should read it too!!!

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan is about a kid named Percy and has to learn things way too big for his age. Also he has to do something virtually impossible. He has to return an object he does not know the location of to a god about 4 million miles away in ten hours. If he doesn't, war will start and he will be killed instantly.

I like this book because the characters took things that were bad about themselves and used them for good reasons. Also the book kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time!

Percy and his friends are scared but can they do it? Read the book to find out their destiny.

The One And Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate is about a gorilla named Ivan who is stuck in a mall with a lot of people standing and staring at him. He feels frustrated that he can only sit in his domain. He made other animal friends in next door domains. He likes to make art and watch his keepers children play and do their homework. He does a lot of things like watch T.V, draw, swing in his tire swing, and make faces. He hates being in the mall because there are no other gorillas. After a couple years Ivan is transported to the zoo where he hangs out with other gorillas. There he learns that something great can come out of something bad. He loves his new home and wants to stay there. I like this book because it teaches me to wait when bad things happen and good things will come.

Thanks, Reid! These sound truly great. I know The Lightning Thief is--in fact, it's one of my all-time favorites. Lots and lots of other guys like it too. I haven't read the other two but I know that Thomas Rockwell is a terrific author because his book How to Eat Fried Worms is another of my all-time favorites. The One and Only Ivan won the Newbery Award, which is like the Oscar for best kid book, back in 2013. You've made me want to go and read it now.

OK, guys, here are the standings:
REID--3 points
GRAM--2 points

Hey, things are heating up!! This could be the start of an epic rivalry like Duke and Carolina. Who will be the winner?  Reid is ahead but only by one point. Will Gram come from behind and pass him? Will Reid hang onto his lead? OR---will someone come out of nowhere (like Middle Tennesse State did) and upset them both??? It could happen. Send in those reviews, boys! Now, I know that next week is spring break but you can still send them in. And remember that you have until April 5 to send them in. Next week will be a busy time for me, so if I don't post reviews right away--or even for a few days--don't worry. I'll post them as soon as I can. But keep those reviews coming and keep the excitement building. Will the final winner be Reid or Gram? Or someone else entirely?  Anything can happen in the MARCH MADNESS OF READING CONTEST!!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Prizes for the March Madness of Reading Contest!

Hey, guys, things have been busier than an NBA offical counting Steph Curry 3-point shots, so I haven't had a chance to post what the prizes will be for the March Madness of Reading Contest. I bet you're wondering, so let me tell you:

FIRST PLACE:  A set of Star Wars Blueprints posters--very cool!
And Out From Boneville, the first in the Bone graphic novel series (it's an awesome series!)

SECOND PLACE: A 20Q handheld game and the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid book. All guys love the Wimpy Kid books and this is a fun game.

THIRD PLACE: A "Joust Read" T-shirt and The Maze of Bones,
the first in The 39 Clues series, which is also awesome and all guys love.

GREAT STUFF! And it can be yours by sending in reviews. If you have any questions about how the contest works, click here. OK? Let's heat up that competiton, guys and see who will get the fabulous prizes in the MARCH MADNESS OF READING!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Gram Burns Another Shot!

Hey, guys, things are heating up in the March Madness of Reading Contest! We have another review from our friend Gram, who is lighting up the boards like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on a hot streak. This time he's sent us a review of a Rick Riordan book--and all guys know how great Rick Riordan's books are! Let's see what Gram has to say:
The Red Pyramid

By: Gram Chambers
Written by: Rick Riordan

The Red Pyramid is about two ordinary (not really) siblings that have been separated their whole life after their mom dies. Carter travels the world with their dad the Egyptologist  while Sadie lives with their grandparents in London. Then on Christmas Eve the only day their dad is allowed to see Sadie he takes them to a museum where they figure out that their dad is a magician and he exploded the Rosetta Stone (a famous Egyptian relic) and releases the Egyptian Gods. Then he gets banished to the duat (sort of like a prison) by Set the evil God. I like this book because it is full of suspense.

Thanks, Gram! You are right--this book has lots of suspense. Plus humor. Plus action. Plus mystery and incredible magic and evil villains and desperate fights and all the things guys love in books. The Red Pyramid is really good and you all would enjoy it. So rush right over to your local library and check it out!

This means that Gram is still in the lead with two points now. But there's still plenty of time for all you readers guys to send in your reviews. So let's hear from the rest of you out there. especially you fellow students of Gram at the Park Road Montessori school. And especially you boys at the Charlotte Lab school, to whom I came and talked a couple of weeks ago. Send in those reviews! Tell us what you've read and liked! (don't forget--it can be graphic novels, nonfiction and biographies too) Let's keep the excitement going!! PS--click here if you need to see how the contest works)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Our First Shot in the the March Madness Contest!

Yes, guys, the excitement begins! We have our first book review for the March Madness of Reading Contest (right as the ACC Championship Tournament is underway) and it's from our good friend Gram, who sent us a review back in December. Let's see what Gram has read and liked:

The Fellowship of the Ring

By: Gram Chambers
Written by: J. R. R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring is about some hobbits named Frodo, Merry, Sam, and Pippin, a wizard named Gandalf and man named Aragorn also called Strider. Frodo has a secret ring that can make him invisible. Frodo and the hobbits first set out for Rivendell where they find Gandalf , an elf  and a Dwarf. Frodo and the rest of the company travel to Mordor and come out missing their Wizard.. Then the company gets split up Merry and  Pippin get captured by Orks, Frodo and Sam continue the journey alone, and Aragorn and two others search for the captured hobbits.  I liked this book because it is full of twists and turns.

Thanks, Gram! I can't tell you and all the other boys how great this book is! In fact, the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy may be my favorite read of all time! There's danger, magic, creepy bad guys, more magic, excitement, chases, beauty, humor, battles--well, you get the idea. The Lord of the Rings has it all!! This book is the first in that trilogy and may be a little slow starting off (though I don't think so) but after Frodo faces the creepy Riders and gets wounded, the story really takes off. 

The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien--go get it, guys! You will LOVE it!!

OK, this means that GRAM is the first guy with a point on the board. As I said in the post before this, in which I explain the points system, all reviews are worth ONE POINT. Some reviews are worth more because those books are longer or need more attention. So if you want more points per review, check out some of those. But right now, GRAM is in the lead. So come on guys, send in those reviews and let's heat up the excitement at the MARCH MADNESS OF READING CONTEST!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

March Madness of Reading Contest--2016 Style!


Greetings, greetings, enthusiastic greetings, all reader guys everywhere! Today is March 1 and that's a glorious day for me. Why? Because it means the NCAA Men's basketball tournament, otherwise known as March Madness, happens this month! This is one of the great sports events of the year and it's exciting every time. Each year there are thrilling games. Each year there are stunning upsets. Each year some unknown Cinderella team comes up from nowhere and, even for a moment, startles the whole world. And, in the last few years, the teams that ended up in the finals were NOT the teams everyone predicted. It's great! The games are exciting and a party atmosphere fills the country. Therefore, in honor of this great event, I'm going to hold a MARCH MADNESS OF READING contest. This will be a lot of fun--you get to read cool books and three guys will win prizes from our ultra-cool prize box. (What prizes? More about that in another post!) The contest starts now and will continue through April 5. I'll announce the winners soon after that.

The rules are simple--you write in book reviews and you get points. The three guys with the most points at the end of the month win. As I said, simple. You could write about any book, fiction or nonfiction. Or a graphic novel. Or a biography. (I'll tell you how to send in your reviews in a minute) Every book review is worth at least one point. Got that? Each review is worth at least ONE POINT.

But then, there are some books that I don't think get enough attention. So, each review of one of the following books is worth TWO POINTS:

Any book in the Brixton Brothers series by Mac Barnett

Any book in the Alvin Ho series by Lenore Look

    Any book in the Boys vs Girls series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

    Or any of the Lunch Lady graphic novels

    Or any one of the three Fangbone graphic novels

    Or the nonfiction book Stubby: The War Dog

Got that? OK, I've got more. There are some longer books that also don't get enough love. Each review of one these is worth THREE POINTS:

Any of the truly great Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales graphic novels

Any book in the Leviathan trilogy by the talented Scott Westereld

Lincoln: A Photobiography by the great Russell Freedman

Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze by the terrific Alan Silberberg

But wait--there's more! I have three favorites that really should be read more often. They are much longer, all three are older and a bit harder but not that difficult. And they are GREAT STORIES!!

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle (one of The Books Every Guy Should Read)    

The Yearling by Marjorie Keenan Rawlings (an epic story of growing up in the Florida wilderness)

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (the greatest pirate story of all time)                    

All right, ready to start reading and sending in your reviews? Good. Here's what you do:

1. Go to the "Comments" area under this post or any post.
2. Type up your review in the blank space under where it says "Leave your comment." Be sure to give us the book's title, its author, a BRIEF summary of the plot and why you did or didn't like the book. Don't just say, "This book was cool"; tell us WHY you liked it.
3. Here's the tricky part--under the Comments area is a place that says "Choose an Identity." It gives you a choice of signing up with a Google account, an Open ID account, or you could use a name and a URL or you could be anonymous. (I wish you wouldn't be anonymous; how would I know who to give the prize to?) You DON'T have to create a Google account! And you DON'T have to use Open ID. The best thing, if you've never written to us before, is to use the Name/URL option. You don't have to put in a URL but we would appreciate leaving your name--either your full name or your first name or you could make up a name. (like Turkeyhead) 

Or, if this gets too confusing, type up your reviews and bring or send them to me at the Myers Park library. And if you have any questions or don't understand something, call me at 704-416-5800 or come by the Myers Park library and see me.
I'll post the reviews and points at least once a week. OK? Then get going and may the best guy win!!!

PS--if you want to see some of the past March Madness contests, click here and here and here.