Hey, guys, one of the great things about working in a library is the chance to pull books at random that look really cool and then read them. You can find some good stuff that way and sometimes get introduced to a whole new series. Or even find a new book in an old series.
Which is exactly what happened when I saw Akimbo and the Snakes by Alexander McCall Smith. These books are truly terrific and I thought I'd read all of them, so imagine how great it felt to find one I had missed! Akimbo is a young boy who lives on a game preserve in Kenya, where his father is the head ranger. We find out, in this book, that his uncle runs a snake park. How cool is that! What's even better is that his uncle invites Akimbo to work at the snake park over the summer. Akimbo enjoys it, of course, and learns a lot about snakes when his uncle tells him some villagers have spotted the deadliest of all poisonous snakes--the green mamba! They go out to capture it but--well, I won't spoil it for you but I will tell you that what happens is one of the scariest things I've ever read in any book! This book is short, only 66 pages, but, man, does it ever pack a wallop! Plus, there are some good facts about snakes after the end of the story. (find out about more Akimbo books here)
Then I found out this great new series, the I Survived books by Lauren Tarshis. Well, I should say that they're new to me. I've seen these get checked out of the library all the time and decided it was time to read one for myself, so I randomly grabbed this one, I Survived the Great Chicago Fire 1871. And then it grabbed me! What an exciting story! I'm going to show you the summary from the library's catalog because it tells you better than I could:
Oscar Starling never wanted to come to Chicago. But then Oscar finds himself not just in the heart of the big city but in the middle of a terrible fire! No one knows exactly how it began, but one thing is clear: Chicago is like a giant powder keg about to explode. An army of firemen is trying to help, but this fire is a ferocious beast that wants to devour everything in its path, including Oscar! Will Oscar survive one of the most famous and devastating fires in history?
That really gives you the sense of danger throughout this edge-of-your-seat book. It's short, only 96 pages, but you won't stop after you turn that first page. And there's a section at the back with information about the actual fire with a recommended website and book to find out more.
Of course, that meant I needed to know more, so I read What Was the Great Chicago Fire? by Janet B. Pascal. Everyone knows how good the What Was... and the Who Was...books are and this one is every bit as good as all the others. There are lots of interesting facts, a myth or two exploded and exciting stories that you just wouldn't believe--except that they really happened! This particular book has something that most of the books in this series don't--photographs! Really good ones too. (why don't more books in this series have them?) And, as always, there are a couple of timelines and a list of recommended books and websites. At 108 pages, this book can be read quickly and is another that you just won't put down once you pick it up.
The last one is another book that's not new at all but was completely new to me. It's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by the great J.K. Rowling. I'm sure all of you Harry Potter fans have already read it but if you're a new fan or just anyone who wants to have some fun, this is just the book you need. It purports to be a textbook for wizarding students and even has "comments" written all over it by a student--and just wait until you see who it was! There's no story but an alphabetical list of all the magical beasts that live in Harry Potter's world. This is one of those rare books that will make kids and grownups smile and smile all the way through. It's not long--only 88 pages--but one that you'll completely enjoy from beginning to end.
All right, boys, I know you all are busy now that school is back in full swing but if you need to take a break or even if you've got all your work done and have some free time, these are the books for you! They are what I call Good Quick Reads. (check that same label under this post to find more) And all you teachers and other grownups who are looking for books your boys would like, these are the ones you're looking for. Who knows--I bet you'd enjoy them yourselves!