Note to Readers

I have not received any compensation for writing this post other than a free digital or print copy of the book. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea - Michael Ian Black

Released September 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

If you didn’t think so already, after reading this humorous picture book you’ll be convinced that staging a pig parade is not a stellar idea. In fact, it is the type of event that can only end in disaster.

You and your child will have fun reading about all the things that can go wrong if you try to include pigs in your parade plans. These problems range from the pigs’ refusal to wear their marching uniforms properly and not giving an “oink” about floats to their inability to help tether the large balloons that are the centerpiece of any cool parade.

No, after you’ve giggled your way through this hilarious picture book, you’ll agree with the author that pigs and parades just do not mix.

If your child enjoyed reading The Purple Kangaroo and/or Chicken Cheeks, you are already familiar with Michael Ian Black’s brand of silliness. The art and story line here reinforce the author’s laugh provoking tradition of finding humor in some very unlikely situations.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Absolute Value of -1 - Steve Brezenoff (Young Adult)

Released September 2010

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

The Absolute Value of -1 revolves around the life of three misfit teens. Lily Feinstein, her friends Noah and Simon. All three share a common pastime--smoking cigarettes and smoking weed. Lily is head over heels for Simon, yet he rarely even looks at her face when talking to her. Noah is nuts for Lily, but she's so infatuated with Simon that she never truly notices Noah. Much of the story becomes a triangle with the three teens trying to find their place in each others' lives while coming to terms with their own personal lives too.

The novel opens with a character, Suzanne, who is only introduced in the opening and ending of the story. It does become clear once you've started reading Lily's story.

Should every kid read The Absolute Value of -1? I'd wholeheartedly say yes, after all to me this is a modern day look at the angst some teenagers feel. It's powerfully written and completely mesmerizing. The author captures each characters' individuality perfectly. However, a recent book banning of two Jodi Picoult novels due to "graphic content" makes me wonder how the majority of parents would feel about the drug and alcohol use within Steve Brezenoff's book. I find it absurd that parents think blocking scenes of rape and bullying/violence (the main complaints with Picoult's books) make the world a better place.

The fact of the matter is that there is rape, there is violence, there is substance abuse. All the book banning in the world won't make it go away. Chances are your teen is already well exposed to the brutalities out there. Why not take the time to read the book with your teen so that you're ready to talk about it? I fully believe that The Absolute Value of -1 is destined to become a long-remembered entry into the minds and lives of today's teens. It's an amazing read and one I am so glad I did not miss.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Miles to Go - Jamie Harper (Picture Book)

Released October 2010

Reviewed By Bob Walch

Miles loves to take his little yellow car to school each day. He jumps in and lets his feet provide the power as his mother walks behind him. Along the way the preschooler greets the neighbor’s dog, mails some letters and is careful to avoid a collision with other people on the sidewalk.

Once at school, Miles parks his little car next to the other children's bikes and vehicles. When school is out, Miles and his good friend Otto work on the car because it has a broken horn. Once the horn is fixed, Beep! Beep!, the child is ready to roll again.

The bright illustrations and simple storyline of this picture book will capture the attention of any young car enthusiast who loves to zoom around in his toy auto. Of course, Miles is a careful driver and he’s a good example of how to follow road safety rules or, in this case, sidewalk courtesy.