Note to Readers

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Patalosh: The Time Travelers - Z Altug & Tracy Gensler

Release Date -

Z Altug and Tracy Gensler

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Orion, a ten-year-old traveling with his parents on the HMS Exploricus, had a lousy birthday. Things worsen when the time traveling ship goes out of control, and in the process, Orion sees a beast with red eyes clawing at his window. He awakens to find the ship crashed and he's alone.

Soon, Orion finds some of the crew, but he also learns his parents have been kidnapped by Daaggerd, an evil emperor who will stop at nothing to get both their time traveling ship and the Ancient Book of Spells, a book that Orion's parents protect. It's up to Orion to save his family, but that means solving seven riddles and traveling through time and around the country to prove he is worthy of keeping the spell book safe.

I've never been much of a sci-fi fan, but I do like time travel novels from time to time. Patalosh: The Time Travelers was a little slow to start. This was mainly because I had to form an understanding of the differences between Taloshians and Non-Taloshians and then the characters who are not always human. Once the story reached the actual quest where Orion had to solve the riddles and travel to different countries and time periods, I was hooked.

While Amazon lists the age group for Patalosh: The Time Travelers at eight and up, I would say it's probably a little advanced for some second graders, at least in my school district. Here, there are rules that require children to be closer to six when they start kindergarten, so by the age of eight, most kids I know are just starting books like the Magic Tree House series. This may or may not apply to your child, but I do think parents should be aware that there are 75 chapters and more than 350 pages, so you may have to read the book aloud to a younger child.

I would say that Patalosh: The Time Travelers is ideal for children who have mastered chapter books and are ready for longer novels like Harry Potter or Artemis Fowl. Of the children I see on a regular basis, they hit that stage at 10 or 11.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Campfire Crisis: A Choice Chapter Book - Blake Hoena

Release Date - April 2013

Blake Hoena

Lake 7 Creative

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Campfire Crisis is kind of like the old Choose Your Own Adventure books. The reader is the main character for this story that involves making smart decisions. You join two friends on a camping trip, and this year your mom and dad give you permission to have a campsite all to yourself. The unexpected occurs when a forest fire hits and you and your friends must make your way to safety.

With each chapter, you must make a decision. The difference with this Choice Chapter Book is that if you do make the wrong decision, you're directed to the right choice with an explanation of why that is the right choice. I grew up with Choose Your Own Adventure books and the choice you made directed the plot, so I missed that aspect in this book.

This book is going to appeal to a certain age group, and that's why I'm recommending it to the 8 to 12 year old. It's a chapter book, so a little more challenging for beginning readers, but the material is also common sense info, so older readers might find it too easy to make the right choices.

For the younger camper, Campfire Crisis teachers some great lessons. If you are planning to take your child camping for the first time, this book does include information that comes in handy.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Twerp - Mark Goldblatt

Release Date - May 28, 2013

Mark Goldblatt
Random House Children's

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I think many adults and a number of kids will sympathize with the main character in Twerp. Julian Twerski is back from a week-long suspension and offered the chance to skip reading Shakespeare in exchange for a journal detailing what he did to lead to his suspension. As he hates Shakespeare, Julian is happy to take the deal.

As Julian begins writing, he shares details about his life and mistakes he's made, but he's not really ready to discuss the act that led to his suspension, even if that is what his teacher is waiting for.

Though Julian makes many mistakes along the way, I found him to be an extremely honest, and refreshing character. I think we've all been there. As a novel, many experiences in Twerp will make you remember things you've done, no matter how old you are.We've all chosen activities that weren't so smart in order to make a friend happy.

I remember pushing a girl down during the spring melt. Not that I intended for her to fall, but she was stood on slushy snow in Converse (back then they were the shoes the poor kids wore) and slipped and went right down into a puddle of melted snow. I still feel bad for pushing her away, she really just wanted friends, but like Julian, I had my crowd of friends saying what I should do and made the wrong decision.

I liked Twerp. It's an honest book with real characters and situations that get you thinking. It would be great if just one child changed his or her actions after reading about Julian's experiences.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Too Noisy! - Malachy Doyle

Release Date - September 2012

Malachy Doyle
Ed Vere
Candlewick Press

Poor Sam. The little fella lives in a big, noisy family and there’s so much racket that Sam isn’t able to think or enjoy any quiet time. One day Sam has had enough. He decides to escape from all the noise, so off he goes into the woods.

What a wonderful place! It is quiet and Sam can do some serious thinking. Then he wanders, deeper and deeper into the forest as the sun goes down. Oh, dear! It is dark and suddenly Sam feels something crawling up his pant leg. Oops, there’s something else flapping around his face. Hmmm, Sam is suddenly afraid.

When something slippy-slidy slithered down his neck Sam had had enough. “He opened up his lips, and then he opened up his mouth, and then he opened up his throat and bellowed, ‘HELP! HELP! HELP!’”

In the distance Sam heard a comforting cacophony of noise. What was that? Why it was the entire family coming to find Sam! Well, you can imagine Sam’s joy at seeing (and hearing) everyone. From this day on Sam realized that there is no place like home (no matter how noisy it is!).

You’ll have fun reading aloud this picture book with your child and don’t forget all the sound effects. “Crash! Jangle! Tweetle! Toot!”, all these sounds are quite a hoot!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Double Crossed: A Spies and Thieves Story - Ally Carter

Release Date - January 2013

Ally Carter
Disney Hyperion

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Double Crossed is an e-novella worth checking out. It's an excellent choice for any fan of Alias or Chuck.

Macey McHenry, daughter of a senator and one of the Gallagher Girls, senses something is amiss at a benefit she's attending. W. W. Hale (Heist Society) certainly catches her attention, and when masked intruders hold everyone hostage, the teens pair up to stop the criminals in their tracks.

The e-novella is short, just over 70 pages, and certainly packs a lot into such as short length. Nothing feels rushed, however, and it certainly left me intrigued with both characters.

As this e-novella is free, you can't ask for a better price!
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