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.”

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bully Bean - Thomas Weck & Peter Weck

Release Date - July 2013

Lima Bear Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

The Lima Bear Stories are the creation of Thomas Weck. His son, Peter, urged him to take the stories he told them as children and turn them into picture books for today's youngsters. Hence, the series of beans surrounding these colorful bears was born.

Bully Bean captures an important message - bullying. Lima Bear loves exploring the underground caves near his home. He never expects Bully Bean, the town bully, to find his peaceful sanctuary and try to attack him. When Bully Bean gets trapped in the caves, Lima Bear has the perfect opportunity to get even with the mean bear. What will he do?

I love the message behind Bully Bean, and certainly appreciated the bear's reactions to the situation. It's definitely idyllic and not always the way things play out in real life, but it would be nice if kids could learn something from this and try to change their ways.

If anything, this book offers the perfect way for parents of children who are or may be bullied to get their children to open up. That said, as much as I'd love to say that some bullies could learn from it, of the bullies I know of from my own childhood or my children's, the bullies all come from verbally or physically abusive households, so I can't see the parents caring enough to try to change their child's behavior.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Far, Far Away - Tom McNeal

Release Date - June 2013

Tom McNeal
Knopf Books for Young Readers

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Far, Far Away may be classified as a young adult book, but as an adult, I was mesmerized. I think there will be equal appeal with teen and parent this time. 

Jeremy Johnson Johnson's life is unlike that of most teens. Jeremy's mother abandoned both him and his father, and since then, his father has refused to leave the house, and even sometimes his bed. At school, Jeremy also has a bully to watch for. When Ginger Boultinghouse starts showing him attention, he gets caught up in her pranks. One nearly leads to his arrest. The bigger issue for Jeremy is that his father doesn't work and therefore they are about to lose the family bookstore that happens to be attached to their house, so that means they'll soon have no home.

What people don't know about Jeremy is that he has a protective ghost following his every move. That ghost happens to be Jacob Grimm, one of the popular Brothers Grimm. Jacob knows his mission is to keep Jeremy safe from the Finder of Occasions. The problem is that Jacob has no idea who this "finder" is.

I grew up on a steady diet of the Grimms' fairy tales as a child. They are quite gruesome if you've read the real stories and not the Disney-fied versions. The interwoven facts and details of the Grimms and their stories really add to Tom McNeal's novel.

I did figure out the Finder of Occasions identity long before Jacob did, but it didn't take away anything from my enjoyment. I was hooked on the characters, the setting, and the small town ways from the very first page.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Boy and the Airplane - Mark Pett

Release Date - April 2013

Mark Pett
Simon and Schuster for Young Readers

Book Review by Bob Walch

There is no text to explain what is happening in The Boy and the Airplane. The reader will have to look at the illustrations and provide his or her own storyline. Summarizing the action here, you’ll see a small child playing with his toy airplane. Then, unfortunately, the plane ends up on the roof of a house and the child can’t climb up to retrieve it.

The downcast child is sitting under a tree, perhaps thinking about his airplane, when a seed pod whirls down from the branches above. The youngster plants it close to the house.

With the passage of time the child becomes an adult and the seedling becomes a mature tree. Finally an old man with a white beard climbs the large tree and retrieves his airplane that is still there and intact after all these years. Playing with the toy now doesn’t seem to provide him with much pleasure, so the old fellow gives the plane to a little girl. End of story!

Make of it what you will. this is a picture book that demands you and/or your child invent the story to accompany the sepia illustrations. Perhaps this will be fun – perhaps not. You’ll have to make of it what you will. On the other hand, giving this book to an older child or an adult might elicit a much different response or reaction to the drawings. This little boy will “speak” to each reader in a different way so make of this book what you will.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Dare You To - Katie McGarry

Release Date - June 2013

Katie McGarry
Harlequin Teen

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Beth Risk steps in for her mother to keep her mother out of jail. Beth feels she's stronger and without a record, she won't be held for long. On the other hand, her mother has a larger risk of being put behind bars for years. Beth never expects for her long-absent uncle to suddenly reappear and demand custody.

Ryan Stone is the classic all-American jock. He's a strong contender on the pitcher's mound, and he can't figure out why he's so drawn to Beth. The fact that her uncle is a former MLB player doesn't hurt. Breaking through Beth's shell isn't going to be easy, but it's exactly what Ryan wants to focus on.

Dare You To starts with a simple dare. From there, it becomes an interesting look at two teens, both with personal demons. Watching their romance blossom and grow, even if they are high schoolers, is definitely involving and had me rooting for them.

Going back to my favorite books as a teen, Dare You To reminded me of the old Loveswept series for teens back in the 1980s. It had the same emotional pull, sense of true romance, and characters that felt real.