New #PlayTestShare Giveaway!

I am delighted to be hosting another round of #PlayTestShare, courtesy of the lovely and generous folks at Raincoast Books!

Open to Canadian residents, ages 18 and up, one lucky person will have the chance to win one of the amazing #PlayTestShare items below! I had the chance to play and test out the Ghost Story Box
 book as well as pore over the Star Wars Super Graphic
, so you will see some photos and get my thoughts on those two items. Read on for even more information about all the #PlayTestShare items on offer and how to enter the giveaway!

 

Ghost Story Box
Based on a unique and original format, this game contains 20 story-telling puzzle pieces printed on both sides. Each piece can be interchanged or flipped over to allow for all kinds of plot twists and turns, and there are even two alternative endings! When all the puzzle pieces are used, they stretch out to over 8-feet long to tell your own mega ghost story!

Perfect for Halloween- or any fans of adorably illustrated ghost stories!- the Ghost Story Box is a wonderfully unique take on a family-friendly puzzle. As per the description, the game contains twenty double-sided puzzle pieces, all of which can be used interchangeably. There are ‘start’ pieces and ‘end’ pieces, but however you put a story together is totally up to the player! This game is like a wordless picture book come to life in a fragmented puzzle format: there are multiple stories, multiple directions and so many intriguing, funny, or peculiar ways you can piece together a story! You can see from one of the images in the slideshow below how I started piecing together one storyline involving a young girl who accidentally sits on a ghost! This game makes for enjoyable family time, and if you have a child who likes creative, inventive play (and making up stories!), this is an awesome game to share and have fun with.

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Star Wars Super Graphic
Graphic-design guru Tim Leong presents STAR WARS trivia via playful pie charts, bar graphs, and other data-driven infographics. From a Venn diagram of Yoda’s idiosyncrasies to an organizational chart of the Empire to a line graph of Grand Moff Tarkin’s management decisions, STAR WARS SUPER GRAPHIC shines a new light on the much-adored universe. Equal parts playful and informative, this visual love letter to the vast STAR WARS universe will enchant fans of all ages.

Star Wars fans out there, this is a pick for you! The Star Wars Super Graphic is an infographic-based book that contains everything Star Wars. From bar graphs, pie charts, organizational charts to closer looks at characters (for example, what are R2-D2’s thoughts?), this is a very cool, funny, new and different kind of Star Wars book. I’ve read my share of Star Wars books (and we have a collection in our household!), and I don’t have anything quite like this. I must admit that I have a soft spot for infographic-based books and visually-based odes to various subjects (there’s something so aesthetically pleasing about this format to my librarian brain…), so, yes, I really adore this book! This is an unusual, fun, keepsake kind of book that would be perfect for a Star Wars fan.

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The rest of the terrific #PlayTestShare items:

 

Say Zoop!
The newest book from Herve Tullet magically responds with bursts of color and moving shapes, empowering children by letting their imaginations liberate and direct each page’s reaction. Tullet’s books define the genre of participatory bookmaking, encouraging readers to explore and interact with the physical book in all its dimensions. The reward is tremendous: a journey of whimsy and sheer fun that extends well beyond the book’s pages.

After Dinner Amusements: Family Time
This is a fun little twist on classic games and activities and offers easy amusement during family dinners, holiday gatherings and road trips! This miniature deck of cards features fifty thoughtful and playful questions about the past, present, and future – a great way for family members to connect and learn new things about one another.

Animal Friends on Parade Puzzle
From a gorilla in a party hat to a hedgehog rat-a-tat-tatting on his drum, these animal friends from different habitats-the jungle, farm, woodland, and Arctic-know that togetherness is something to celebrate. Featuring twelve double-sided uniquely die-cut pieces by artist Junzo Terada, this fun puzzle offers (nearly) endless combinations, providing hours of entertainment.

Donner Dinner Party
Who’s safe when there are cannibals hiding among you? That’s the question at the heart of this fast-paced game of social deduction in which cannibals and pioneers face off in a fight for survival. Set in the winter of 1846, players are members of the ill-fated Donner Party wagon train, stranded atop a mountain with no food. Rowdy, outrageous, and full of deception, this party game packs a delightfully wicked twist!

Make and Move Mega: Dinosaurs
Press out, slot together and play with your very own T-Rex, Triceratops, Apatosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Pteranodon. Created by talented paper artist and engineer Sato Hisao, each of these detailed 3D models comes with easy-to-follow assembly instructions. No scissors or glue required!

Travel Matching Game
Mix and match with this classic matching game, which includes 36 robust, jumbo-size cards featuring charming illustrations by Greg Pizzoli that will have kids ready to pack up their bags and explore the world! Children will adore pairing colorful images of suitcases, taxis, stop signs, and other classic travel imagery as they develop memory, concentration, and identification skills.

Royal Bingo
This majestically illustrated bingo game features portraits of 64 royal icons from around the world. Spot famous faces like William and Kate, or meet some less familiar figures such as the playboy prince Wenzeslaus of Liechtenstein. Each royal is further brought to life in an accompanying booklet, which details their personalities, foibles, gaffes and romances. Who will reign supreme?

 

Giveaway Info:

The contest is open to Canadian residents only, and entrants must be aged 18 and up. The contest will run from September 20, 2017 to September 28, 2017. One winner will be randomly selected at the end of giveaway via Rafflecopter. The winner will have 48 hours to respond by emailing me at fabbookreviews[at]gmail[dot]com, confirming their name, their mailing address, and their ONE (1) giveaway prize pick. The winner has 48 hours to email me with their prize pick and Canadian mailing address, or another winner will be chosen.

Enter by clicking on the following link to Rafflecopter and follow the instructions to enter:

Click here to enter the giveaway via Rafflecopter!

 

I received copies of Ghost Story Box and Star Wars Super Graphic from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review and for the purposes of this giveaway. Thank you! Opinions and comments regarding the titles are my own. Prizes provided by Raincoast Books.

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Recently Read: Great Picture Books!

I have had the great luck- again!- to have read through another stash of tremendous, unique, and fun picture books. You will see some returning favourites here including: the latest from Kyo Maclear and Kenard Pak with the stunning The Fog; the newest (and wonderfully madcap) collaboration from Philip C. Stead and Matthew Cordell; a new and awesome Olivia from Ian Falconer; more Nerdy Birdy; the latest from Canadian author-illustrator Ashley Spires; a fun and lovely cat counting book from Viviane Schwarz; and a follow-up of sorts to the very funny Creepy Carrots. There are also some utter gems from newer author and/or illustrators here, so be sure to take a look through the whole list!

The Sheep Who Hatched an Egg by Gemma Merino
Shawn Loves Sharks by Curtis Manley, illus. Tracy Subisak
Counting with Tiny Cat by Viviane Schwarz
Lily Wool by Paula Vásquez
Stack the Cats by Susie Ghahremani
Nope! by Drew Sheneman
The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do by Ashley Spires
The Only Fish in the Sea by Philip C. Stead, illus. Matthew Cordell
Creepy Pair of Underwear! by Aaron Reynolds, illus. Peter Brown
The Teacher’s Pet by Anica Mrose Rissi, illus. Zachariah OHora
Nerdy Birdy Tweets by Aaron Reynolds, illus. Matt Davies
Nothing Rhymes with Orange by Adam Rex
Olivia the Spy by Ian Falconer
The Fog by Kyo Maclear, illus. Kenard Pak
This Beautiful Day by Richard Jackson, illus. Suzy Lee

Must Read Monday (72): YA Titles from Emily Bain Murphy, Heather Smith, Cynthia Hand & more!

Welcome to another edition of Must Read Monday!

This feature is where I spotlight older, recent, or upcoming releases I am looking forward to. The lists will include all genres I like to read, everything from picture books to comics, children’s lit to adult fiction!

This week is all about young adult fiction- I don’t think I’ve posted a teen-centred Must Read in a while now! There are five titles on the docket this week: a new title- a first foray into sci-fi!- from fave Canadian author Vikki VanSickle; favourite YA author, Cynthia Hand, has an intriguing-sounding paranormal title releasing in October; Emily Bain Murphy’s well-received- and fascinatingly-described- mystery The Disappearances has been on my radar since the start of summer; a new coming of age novel from Canadian author Heather Smith set in 1980s Newfoundland; and the much buzzed-about contemporary YA release Moxie from Jennifer Mathieu. A great mix of titles and genres here!

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy
Publication: July 4, 2017 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Book Description:

What if the ordinary things in life suddenly…disappeared?

Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home–and the place where Juliet grew up.

Sterling is a place with mysteries of its own. A place where the experiences that weave life together–scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream–vanish every seven years.No one knows what caused these “Disappearances,” or what will slip away next. But Sterling always suspected that Juliet Quinn was somehow responsible–and Aila must bear the brunt of their blame while she follows the chain of literary clues her mother left behind.

As the next Disappearance nears, Aila begins to unravel the dual mystery of why the Disappearances happen and who her mother truly was. One thing is clear: Sterling isn’t going to hold on to anyone’s secrets for long before it starts giving them up.

The Winnowing by Vikki VanSickle
Publication: September 1, 2017 by Scholastic Canada Ltd
Book Description:

Marivic Stone lives in a small world, and that’s fine with her. Home is with her beloved grandfather in a small town that just happens to be famous for a medical discovery that saved humankind — though not without significant repercussions. Marivic loves her best friend, Saren, and the two of them promise to stick together, through thick and thin, and especially through the uncertain winnowing procedure, a now inevitable — but dangerous — part of adolescence.

But when tragedy separates the two friends, Marivic is thrust into a world of conspiracy, rebellion and revolution. For the first time in her life, Marivic is forced to think and act big. If she is going to right a decade of wrongs, she will need to trust her own frightening new abilities, even when it means turning her back on everything, and everyone, she’s known and loved. A gripping exploration of growing up, love and loss, The Winnowing is a page-turning adventure that will have readers rooting for their new hero, Marivic Stone, as they unravel the horror and intrigue of a world at once familiar but with a chilling strangeness lurking beneath the everyday.

The Agony of Bun O’Keefe by Heather Smith
Publication: September 5, 2017 by Razorbill Canada
Book Description:

Set in 1980s Newfoundland, The Agony of Bun O’Keefe is the story of a 14-year-old girl who runs away to the city and is taken in by a street musician who lives with an eclectic cast of characters: a pot smoking dishwasher with culinary dreams; a drag queen with a tragic past; a Catholic school girl desperately trying to reinvent herself; and a man who Bun is told to avoid at all cost.

 

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
Expected publication: September 19, 2017 by Roaring Brook Press
Book Description:

MOXIE GIRLS FIGHT BACK!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with a school administration at her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

Moxie is a book about high school life that will make you wanna riot!

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand
Expected publication: October 24, 2017 by HarperTeen
Book Description:

On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she’d become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.

She didn’t.

And then she died.

Now she’s stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge–as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.

Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly’s afterlife has been miserable.

But this year, everything is about to change. . . .

Review: Hunting Hour (A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery #3) by Margaret Mizushima

Review: Hunting Hour (A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery #3) by Margaret Mizushima
Source: ARC courtesy of Crooked Lane Books. Thank you!
Publication: August 8, 2017 by Crooked Lane Books
Book Description:

Deputy Mattie Cobb is in a dark place and has withdrawn from Cole Walker and his family to work on issues from her past. When she and her K-9 partner Robo get called to track a missing junior high student, they find the girl dead on Smoker’s Hill behind the high school, and Mattie must head to the Walker home to break the bad news. But that’s only the start of trouble in Timber Creek, because soon another girl goes missing—and this time it’s one of Cole’s daughters.

Knowing that each hour a child remains missing lessens the probability of finding her alive, Mattie and Robo lead the hunt while Cole and community volunteers join in to search everywhere. To no avail. It seems that someone has snatched all trace of the Walker girl from their midst, including her scent. Grasping at straws, Mattie and Robo follow a phoned-in tip into the dense forest, where they hope to find a trace of the girl’s scent and to rescue her alive. But when Robo does catch her scent, it leads them to information that challenges everything they thought they knew about the case.

Mattie and Robo must rush to hunt down the kidnapper before they’re too late in Hunting Hour, the third installment in critically acclaimed author Margaret Mizushima’s exhilarating mystery series.

Author Margaret Mizushima’s Timber Creek K-9 Mystery series has fast become a mystery series that I adore. Pairing formidable deputy Mattie Cobb and her incredible police dog Robo, the Timber Creek series blends elements of suspense, police procedural work, with explorations of interpersonal relationships to terrific effect. In Hunting Hour, the third in the series, Deputy Cobb and her team face an intense, almost impossible-to-solve situation when the heartbreaking discovery of a dead body leads to a terrifying hunt that hits much too close to home.

As per the book’s description, readers are taken on an intense journey with Mattie and Robo as Timber Creek is struck- again- with news about the death of a young girl. With tensions and suspicions running high, and Mattie facing her own biases when searching for possible homicide suspects, the town of Timber Creek is on high alert. As with the two previous Timber Creek entries, there are two perspectives (in third person narratives) running parallel to one another. While Mattie is undoubtedly the lead protagonist, the series also features veterinarian Cole Walker as the alternating perspective. Cole and Mattie have become close friends- with undercurrents of romantic friction- over the course of the novels, and Hunting Hour really explores more of their increasing feelings towards one another. As the case intensifies beyond belief- when Cole’s youngest daughter goes missing- and Mattie’s personal stake in solving the case goes beyond fierce, the alternating perspectives of Mattie and Cole reach extreme peaks and realizations.

As ever, I hope to read more of Mattie and Robo in Timber Creek series entries to come. While not a cozy mystery series, there is something comforting in reading about Mattie and Robo’s phenomenal relationship- and in how the duo approach increasingly tenacious situations with hope. Mizushima has also crafted Timber Creek so well over the last three novels, welcoming new and returning readers to a well-established, wild, and magnetic (and crime-prone!) community. Hunting Hour is the strongest of the series yet, with more examination into Mattie’s personal history and psychological trauma, as well as further exploration into the intensifying relationship between Mattie and Cole Walker. Readers interested in trying a well-written mystery series featuring an unusual and unforgettable duo might do well to try Mizushima’s Timber Creek K-9 novels out!

I received a copy of this title courtesy of Crooked Lane Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.

Picture Book Reviews: Color Blocked & Give Me Back My Book!

Color Blocked by Ashley Sorenson, illus. David Miles
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Publication: April 4, 2017 by Familius
Book Description:

The color is blocked! Readers must rub, turn, and tap the pages to straighten out pipes, unplug corks, and keep the color flowing. But watch out – the color might run faster than you can keep up! Along the way, readers will learn primary colors, how mixing colors can make secondary colors, and why you should never, ever, put too much trust in a narrator.

If you ever use stories such as Press Here, Please, Open This Book!, A Perfectly Messed-Up Story, Tap the Magic Tree, or any kind of delightful, interactive picture book for a read aloud and/or storytime, then you might want to add Color Blocked to your list! This picture book, written by Ashley Sorenson and vibrantly illustrated by David Miles, is another fun, perfect-for-read-aloud picture book to add to your repertoire. Color Blocked works well as the storytelling approach is appropriately straightforward, allowing for the hands-on aspects of the story to really take center stage.

Readers are immediately taken into a colourful world when everything goes black and white! ‘Uh-oh. Color’s blocked!’; readers are then asked to ‘gently shake this book from side to side to unclog the pipe’. From there, we’re taken on a fun, hands-on journey (along with a committed turtle as our guide), as we try to unclog and untwist pipes- all the while learning about creating colours from mixing different shades. Color Blocked will work very well as a read aloud pick as the storytelling approach is appropriately straightforward, allowing for the hands-on aspects of the story to really take center stage. A truly fun book that I think will go over very well for preschool-age storytimes and up, Color Blocked is an unpretentious, enjoyable reading experience that begs to be shared and experienced with and by young readers.

 

Give Me Back My Book! by Travis Foster & Ethan Long
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Publication: September 5, 2017 by Chronicle Books
Book Description:

This book is full of wonderful WORDS and beautiful PICTURES! And it’s EXCITING! And it’s FUNNY! It might be the BEST BOOK EVER-if we could decide whose book it is. Redd and Bloo explore the way a book is made and accidentally build a friendship, too, in this tale told only in dialogue. Travis Foster and Ethan Long offer a hilarious story about the joy of reading, which brings people together in unexpected ways, proving that each book truly belongs to . . . the people who love it.

If you are already familiar with Ethan Long’s zany and jolly approach to storytelling (Fright Club, Pig Has a Plan and numerous other popular titles!), then you might already be aware of the kind of story you might be getting here with Give Me Back My Book! Co-authored with illustrator Travis Foster, Give Me Back My Book! is a conversational-based picture book with a wacky, farcical edge.

Friends Redd and Bloo experience a bump in the relationship when Bloo discovers that Redd might have just taken his favourite green book. Alas, Redd, in a truly stubborn fashion that exasperates Bloo tremendously, refuses to give back the green book- until it is snatched away from them both by a sly, hat-wearing worm named Bookworm. Redd and Bloo then must come together to ‘bait’ Bookworm: by creating the most fascinating, captivating new book to make Bookworm return the stolen green book. Give Me Back My Book! relies, as Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie titles do, on speech bubbles/character dialogue to carry the entire story. While this format can be tricky, it actually works well here as the back-and-forth is pretty straightforward, clearly delineated- not to mention that the bright and funny illustrations more than perfectly highlight the key moments of the story! I have had the opportunity to read this story multiple times now, and I find that it grows on me more and more each time I read it. I think for an older, willing, and receptive storytime audience (Kindergarten-age, perhaps and above) might especially appreciate the farcical nature of the story; but it’s also wholly enjoyable as a story experienced in pairs or smaller groups! Altogether, a totally entertaining read from the team of Foster and Long that fans of authors such as Ed Vere, Mo Willems, Ame Dyckman, or Jan Thomas might flock to.

I received copies of these titles courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own.

Picture Book Review: Say Zoop! by Hervé Tullet

An awesomely fun, interactive picture book here on the review docket!

Say Zoop! by Hervé Tullet
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Publication: August 1, 2017 by Chronicle Books
Book Description:

Make some noise! Shout OH!” Whisper “oh!” Say “Zoop”? Yes! “Zoop!” “Zoop!” “Zoop!” The newest book from Herve Tullet magically responds with bursts of color and moving shapes, empowering children by letting their imaginations liberate and direct each page’s reaction. Tullet’s books define the genre of participatory bookmaking, encouraging readers to explore and interact with the physical book in all its dimensions. The reward is tremendous: a journey of whimsy and sheer fun that extends well beyond the book’s pages. In this worthy and exhilarating companion to the bestselling trio launched with Press Here, Tullet’s beloved dots will have readers literally “Ooh”-ing and “Ahh”-ing out loud in a happy collective encore.”

 

Since reading and falling in love with Hervé Tullet‘s brilliant, storytime game-changer Press Here, I’ve been a HUGE fan/appreciator of interactive picture books- and of Tullet’s work! While I would argue that Tullet’s post-Press Here works haven’t quite reached the epic storytime status or incredible effortlessness of his smash bestseller, his work is always cause for celebration, wonder and awe. Say Zoop!, Tullet’s latest, is wonderfully fun, thoughtful, engaging interactive picture book that begs for multiple reads and multiple explorations.

Say Zoop! is a book of sounds, shapes, colours, movement- and like Tullet’s previous work, relies on reader (and/or storyteller) whimsy and imagination. The picture book begins with the question: ‘Hi! Are you really sure you want to play?’ and a simple blue dot above; the reader then turns the page (after answering YES, I hope!) and is asked to put their finger on the blue dot and say ‘OH!’. From there, readers are taken on part one of a merry, busy, journey with the blue dots: of saying everything from loud, huge OH’s, to softer, smaller OH’s, counting OH’s, multiple OH’s, and shivering OH’s. Lest you think Tullet would let readers off with just deceptively simple OH’s and blue dots, you would be mistaken, for we are then introduced to new friends including a red dot (AH!) and a yellow sun-like dot (WAHOO!), and more intricate word/sound/shape play.

Busy, fun, hard-to-put-down and utterly delightful, Tullet absolutely has another picture book winner here with Say Zoop!.

I received a copy of this title courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.

Must Read Monday (71): Children’s Titles from Jason Reynolds, Robin Stevens, Celia C. Pérez & more!

Welcome to another edition of Must Read Monday!

This feature is where I spotlight older, recent, or upcoming releases I am looking forward to. The lists will include all genres I like to read, everything from picture books to comics, children’s lit to adult fiction!

 

 

This week: more children’s fiction! I can’t help it, folks- children’s fiction is one of my reading loves…and there is so much GREATNESS out there in this area that my to-read pile grows and grows. Some of this week’s picks are inspired by recently read incredible, moving, and overall wonderful reads. I just finished reading Jolly Foul Play, the fourth in the Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries series by British author Robin Stevens, and immediately added Mistletoe & Murder (book number five) to my list. It had been some time since reading book three in the Murder Most Unladylike series, but starting Jolly Foul Play brought Stevens’s brilliant 1930’s English world of young detectives all back- and it is a tremendous series that gets even stronger, sharper, and more engaging with each entry. Truly great. I also recently read Ghost (Track #1) by Jason Reynolds (mentioned here) and it is excellent- a highly, highly recommended read. I have Patina (Track #2) on my must-read, though for this Must Read Monday I am including another of his acclaimed middle grade novels, As Brave As You.

Last, but certainly not least, this week also includes: James Nicol’s The Apprentice Witch, which I picked up on a whim and looks delightful; the fantastically spooky and strange sounding The Bone Snatcher by Charlotte Salter; and Celia C. Pérez’s The First Rule of Punk, which I have been reading rave reviews about.

 

As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds
Publication: May 3, 2016 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Book Description:

When two brothers decide to prove how brave they are, everything backfires—literally.

Genie’s summer is full of surprises. The first is that he and his big brother, Ernie, are leaving Brooklyn for the very first time to spend the summer with their grandparents all the way in Virginia—in the COUNTRY! The second surprise comes when Genie figures out that their grandfather is blind. Thunderstruck and—being a curious kid—Genie peppers Grandpop with questions about how he covers it so well (besides wearing way cool Ray-Bans).

How does he match his clothes? Know where to walk? Cook with a gas stove? Pour a glass of sweet tea without spilling it? Genie thinks Grandpop must be the bravest guy he’s ever known, but he starts to notice that his grandfather never leaves the house—as in NEVER. And when he finds the secret room that Grandpop is always disappearing into—a room so full of songbirds and plants that it’s almost as if it’s been pulled inside-out—he begins to wonder if his grandfather is really so brave after all.

Then Ernie lets him down in the bravery department. It’s his fourteenth birthday, and, Grandpop says to become a man, you have to learn how to shoot a gun. Genie thinks that is AWESOME until he realizes Ernie has no interest in learning how to shoot. None. Nada. Dumbfounded by Ernie’s reluctance, Genie is left to wonder—is bravery and becoming a man only about proving something, or is it just as important to own up to what you won’t do?

 

Mistletoe & Murder (Murder Most Unladylike #5) by Robin Stevens
Publication: October 20, 2016 by Puffin
Book Description:

Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are spending the Christmas hols in snowy Cambridge. Hazel has high hopes of its beautiful spires, cosy libraries and inviting tea-rooms – but there is danger lurking in the dark stairwells of ancient Maudlin College.

Two days before Christmas, there is a terrible accident. At least, it appears to be an accident – until the Detective Society look a little closer, and realise a murder has taken place. Faced with several irritating grown-ups and fierce competition from a rival agency, they must use all their cunning and courage to find the killer (in time for Christmas Day, of course).

The fabulously festive fifth mystery from the bestselling, award-winning author of Murder Most Unladylike.

 

The Bone Snatcher by Charlotte Salter
Publication: February 14, 2017 by Dial
Book Description:

Sophie Seacove is a storyteller. She tells stories of what the world would be like if madness hadn’t taken over. If her parents hadn’t sold her off as a servant to pay for their stupid vacation. If she wasn’t now trapped in a decaying mansion filled with creepy people and surrounded by ravenous sea monsters.

The mansion has plenty of stories, too: About fantastical machines, and the tragic inventor who created them. About his highly suspicious death. And about the Monster Box, a mysterious object hidden in the house that just might hold the key to escaping this horrible place—and to reuniting Sophie with her family.

But not everyone wants Sophie to have the Monster Box, and as she gets closer to finding it, she finds herself unspooling years-old secrets—and dodging dangerous attacks. Sophie needs to use her brains, her brawn, and her unbreakable nature if she wants to make it off this wretched island…and live to tell this story.

 

The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol
Publication: July 25, 2017 by Chicken House
Book Description:

Arianwyn has flunked her witch’s assessment: She’s doomed. Declared an apprentice and sent to the town of Lull in disgrace, she may never become a real witch– much to the glee of her arch-rival, Gimma.But remote Lull is not as boring as it seems. Strange things are sighted in the woods, a dangerous infestation of hex creeps throughout the town, and a mysterious magical visitor arrives with his eye on her.

With every spirit banished, creature helped, and spell cast, Arianwyn starts to get the hang of being a witch–even if she’s only an apprentice. But the worst still lies ahead. For a sinister darkness has begun to haunt her spells, and there may be much more at stake than just her pride . . . for Arianwyn and the entire land.

 

The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez
Publication: August 22, 2017 by Viking
Book Description:

There are no shortcuts to surviving your first day at a new school–you can’t fix it with duct tape like you would your Chuck Taylors. On Day One, twelve-year-old Malu (Maria Luisa, if you want to annoy her) inadvertently upsets Posada Middle School’s queen bee, violates the school’s dress code with her punk rock look, and disappoints her college-professor mom in the process. Her dad, who now lives a thousand miles away, says things will get better as long as she remembers the first rule of punk: be yourself.

The real Malu loves rock music, skateboarding, zines, and Soyrizo (hold the cilantro, please). And when she assembles a group of like-minded misfits at school and starts a band, Malu finally begins to feel at home. She’ll do anything to preserve this, which includes standing up to an anti-punk school administration to fight for her right to express herself!

Black and white illustrations and collage art throughout make The First Rule of Punk a perfect pick for fans of books like Roller Girl and online magazines like Rookie.

Travels with my family…

Richard Thompson’s Cul de Sac

Long-ish time, no post! Mr. Fab and I are currently traveling and visiting family, and thus ability to post and review has been limited! Hope to be back with posts soon. A brief bookish note: if you haven’t yet had a chance to read Jason Reynolds’s middle grade novel Ghost (Track #1)– I cannot recommend this one enough. Had a chance to read this recently during some downtown on holiday and it is superb.

In the meantime, won’t you please enjoy some of the late Richard Thompson’s Cul de Dac?

Richard Thompson’s Cul de Sac

Must Read Monday (70): Children’s Fiction from Mary E. Lambert, Beth McMullen, Dusti Bowling & more!

Welcome to another edition of Must Read Monday!

This feature is where I spotlight older, recent, or upcoming releases I am looking forward to. The lists will include all genres I like to read, everything from picture books to comics, children’s lit to adult fiction!

This week: all children’s fiction! A mish-mash of genres is on the roster, with everything from mystery, adventure, to contemporary titles. We have: The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow from Jessica Haight and Stephanie Robinson, which sounds like a delightful mystery; the well-reviewed contemporary title Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes by Mary E. Lambert; Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling, which I’ve been reading tremendous early reviews for; Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls by Beth McMullen which sounds like a zippy middle-grade Gallagher Girls; and Julie Bowe’s lovely sounding contemporary Big & Little Questions (According to Wren Jo Byrd).

 

 

The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow by Jessica Haight & Stephanie Robinson, illus. Roman Muradov
Publication: December 1, 2015 by Delacorte
Book Description:

Fear Not the Unexpected.

Eleven-year-old Fairday Morrow is less than thrilled that her family is moving thousands of miles from civilization to the quiet country town of Ashpot, Connecticut, where she’s absolutely certain she’ll die of boredom.

As if leaving New York City and her best friend, Lizzy, the only other member of the elite Detective Mystery Squad (DMS), weren’t bad enough, Fairday is stuck living in the infamous Begonia House, a creepy old Victorian with dark passageways, a gigantic dead willow tree, and a mysterious past.

Before she can even unpack, strange music coming from behind a padlocked door leads Fairday up a spiral staircase and into a secret room, where an ancient mirror, a brass key, and a strange picture of a red-haired lady are the first in a series of clues that takes the members of the Detective Mystery Squad on an amazing adventure.

 

Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes by Mary E. Lambert
Publication: February 28, 2017 by Scholastic Press
Book Description:

Annabelle has a five mile rule: She must keep her friends from coming within five miles of her home. That’s because Annabelle’s mom is a hoarder. Their house is full of stuff: canned goods, broken toys, old newspapers… It’s everywhere except for Annabelle’s spotless room. Annabelle can’t let anyone find out what her house is like. They’ll realize that her mom is crazy. They’ll make fun of her. Or feel sorry for her. Or try to help.

But when the newspaper piles come crashing down on her sister’s head one morning, it kicks off an epic fight between her parents that ends up with her dad taking off — and her fix-it-all grandmother stepping in.

As Annabelle realizes how bad things have gotten for her little sister, while trying to navigate her first crush, not to mention stay sane herself, she’s forced to come to terms with the fact that maybe she can’t keep all her secrets to herself. Maybe she can’t just throw her mom’s things out… maybe she has to let some people in.

 

Big & Little Questions (According to Wren Jo Byrd) by Julie Bowe
Publication: March 21, 2017 by Kathy Dawson Books
Book Description:

It’s the start of a new school year and Wren Jo Byrd is worried that everyone will find out her parents separated over the summer. No one knows the truth, not even her best friend, Amber. When even her new teacher refers to her mom as Mrs. Byrd, Wren decides to keep their divorce a total secret. But something else changed over the summer: A new girl named Marianna moved to town and wants to be Amber’s next bff. And because of her fib, Wren can’t do anything about it. From take-out dinners with Mom to the tiny room she gets at Dad’s new place, nothing is the same for Wren anymore. But while Marianna makes everything harder at first, Wren soon learns that Marianna once had to ask many of the same questions–the big ones, as well as the little ones–that Wren is asking now.

 

Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls by Beth McMullen
Publication: July 4, 2017 by Aladdin
Book Description:

A girl discovers her boarding school is actually an elite spy-training program, and she must learn the skills of the trade in order to find her mother in this action-packed middle grade debut.

After a botched escape plan from her boarding school, Abigail is stunned to discover the school is actually a cover for an elite spy ring called The Center, along with being training grounds for future spies. Even more shocking? Abigail’s mother is a top agent for The Center and she has gone MIA, with valuable information that many people would like to have—at any cost. Along with a former nemesis and charming boy from her grade, Abigail goes through a crash course in Spy Training 101, often with hilarious—and sometimes painful—results. But Abigail realizes she might be a better spy-in-training than she thought—and the answers to her mother’s whereabouts are a lot closer than she thinks…

 

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling
Expected publication: September 5, 2017 by Sterling Children’s Books
Book Description:

Aven Green loves to tell people that she lost her arms in an alligator wrestling match, or a wildfire in Tanzania, but the truth is she was born without them. And when her parents take a job running Stagecoach Pass, a rundown western theme park in Arizona, Aven moves with them across the country knowing that she’ll have to answer the question over and over again.

Her new life takes an unexpected turn when she bonds with Connor, a classmate who also feels isolated because of his own disability, and they discover a room at Stagecoach Pass that holds bigger secrets than Aven ever could have imagined. It’s hard to solve a mystery, help a friend, and face your worst fears. But Aven’s about to discover she can do it all . . . even without arms.

 

Recently Read: Great Picture Books from Carey Sookocheff, Jonathan Fenske & more!

Some great picture books I’ve recently read and would recommend!

Let’s start off with a lovely new picture book from Canadian author-illustrator Carey Sookocheff:

Wet by Carey Sookocheff*
Publication: June 20, 2017 by Henry Holt and Co.
This is a quiet, restrained, straightforward story about- you guessed it!- everything wet. From slowly lowering into a pool, to the ever-present puddle at the bottom of a slide, to happy wet kisses from pets, a young boy takes us through the ups and downs of things that get wet. There’s a calm and sweet end to the story that adds to the book’s already-peaceful, perfect-for-nighttime feel. Sookocheff, illustrator of the Buddy and Earl series, has a wonderfully clear, unfussy style of illustration, and uses a suitably delicate colour palette to go along with her latest quiet, gentle story.

 

Now here are three terrifically fun, slightly wacky, perfect-for-storytime picture books:

 

I Want to Be in a Scary Story by Sean Taylor, illus. Jean Jullien
Publication: July 11, 2017 by Candlewick Press

The team behind one of my go-to preschool read alouds- Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise– is back with a Halloween-ready story about a little monster who claims to want to be in a scary story…but does monster really want the spookiness and frights that go along with starring in a scary story? This is a slightly more text-heavy picture book, but the interactive element and story is so appealing that I think this could be perfect for a preschool and up ages storytime.

 

Plankton is Pushy by Jonathan Fenske
Publication: April 25, 2017 by Scholastic Press

Fenske, author-illustrator behind the delightfully zany Barnacle is Bored, is back with a follow-up of sorts. No Barnacle this time, but starring a pink plankton, Plankton is Pushy is a Mo Willems’-esque story about manners and patience. Plankton is a surprisingly determined protagonist, and readers of all ages will be on edge to see what happens when his silent- and arguably impolite co-star- Mussel- finally reacts.

 

Marigold Bakes a Cake by Mike Malbrough
Publication: July 18, 2017 by Philomel Books

Mike Malbrough’s debut picture book looked so appealing and adorable that it was on one of my Must Read Monday posts. I’m happy to say that Marigold Bakes a Cake is just as delightful and madcap as I hoped. Orange tabby cat Marigold- a serious, composed baker on Mondays- is the star of the book, with an awesome assortment of birds that make for one bonkers mess. Malbrough’s illustrations are so expressive and vibrant- super!

 

*I received a hardcopy of Wet courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.