Book Review: Claude on the Slopes by Alex T. Smith

Claude on the Slopes by Alex T. Smith is a cute picturebook. It will be available as a hardcover on October 1 2014.  Claude is a dog that is far from ordinary and spends each day after his owners leave pursuing adventure. In this book Claude and his best friend Sir Bobblysock go to the Snowy Mountain and learn to sled, ski, and more.

Claude on the Slopes is a fun book. Cluade is a dog on a mission, to have new adventures. He is sweet and sometimes a bit simple, but never comes off as a bumbling fool. Sir Bobblysock is a sock yes, but he is somehow also the more practical of the two characters. Claude learns about sledding, skiing, snowman building, snowball fights, the dangers of avalanche, and the methods to help those buried after one. The illustrations are great, adding some color and aditional humor to the tale.

Young readers that are fans of picturebooks featuring world discovery by an innocent main character that gets to do this they cannot, like Curious George, will enjoy Claude on the Slopes and the previous book in the series Claude at the Beach. While I enjoyed reading the book I do not think it broke new ground and did not leave me looking for more, but I am certainly glad that I met Claude and Sire Bobblysock!

Early Book Review: The Angry Little Puffin by Timothy Young

The Angry Little Puffin by Timothy Young is a picturebook that is currently scheduled for release on September 28, 2014. One little puffin at a zoo or aquarium is upset after hearing visitors constantly mistake him for a penguin. He finally reaches his breaking point and goes on a rant about the many differences between the two. that is until a little girl stops him in mid-speech by explaining to her father why puffins are her favorite.

The Angry Little Puffin is a well drawn and fun picturebook. I think the little puffin is absolutely adorable, and most readers (regardless of age) can relate to his upset. we have all had a moment when we felt alone, misunderstood, or unappreciated. The little girl actually seeing the puffin and recognizing his characteristics for the wonders they are turns everything around. The book not only shows children that we all get angry and frustrated, but it also shows how we can help ourselves and others when they reach that breaking point. I think the point that reaching out can be a simple, small thing but can mean everything to the one they are helping.

I loved The Angry Little Puffin and think everyone else will too. children that love nature and animals will love learning about the puffin, and just what makes them different from the penguin. the book can also let readers of all ages know that getting upset is normal, but not only can you calm down but a small effort can go miles in helping lift someone else out of a frustrated funk as well. 

Book Review: My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.) by Peter Brown

My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.) by Peter Brown is a great picturebook for this time of year. A boy named Bobby thinks his teacher is the worst. She is loud, she yells, and he is fairly certain she is a monster. Luckily, Bobby can go to his favorite spot in the park on weekends to play. Then one day he sees his teacher there! That day Bobby learns that monsters are not always what they seem.

My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.) is a fun story that most school age children can relate to. Either they are upset with their teacher for the work they need to do, a punishment they feel is unfair, or stories that they have heard about the teacher before school even starts. Then the is the innate belief with most young students that teachers really do not exist outside the school building, and you get a universal starting ground for a charming story. Each page has small monstrous details for the teacher and little bits of humor in each illustration. This is one of those picturebooks that stands up to several readings and will be a great going back to school read for story times or at home.

My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.) is a book that I would recommend for group or one on one reading. Newly independent readers will enjoy exploring the book on their own or sharing with others. The story is fun, humorous, and has a universal theme that all readers will enjoy.

Book Review: Fire Burn And Cauldron Bubble by H.P. Mallory

Fire Burn And Cauldron Bubble is the first book in the Jolie Wilkins series by H.P. Mallory  is a blend of human, urban fantasy, and romance. Jolie is a self employed psychic approached by a powerful warlock to help solve a murder. The trouble is that in the process she discovers that she has the unique power that allows her to bring the dead back to life. This makes her a major asset, and there are several players that want her for their team. The gorgeous warlock that discovered her powers, a ruthless witch in search of more power, a couple of vampires with a taste for witches, and more are all vying to have her on their side. Jolie needs to decide who has the best intentions, and her best interests at heart. Her love life is in play, but so is the fate of the supernatural creatures around the world. Can she master her powers and make the right choices?

Fire Burn And Cauldron Bubble was a mixed bag for me. I know as the first book in the series there would need to be some serious world and character set up for the future. However I felt like the introduction of men interested in the self deprecating and seriously in the need of a mirror Jolie was a little much. As was the oversexed best friend. I felt like the guys were just tossed at her, not because they were necessary to the plot (which they were but not as relationship fodder) but because the author wanted to set up complications that could carry through the series. now that I have that out of the way, I did like the premise of the book and the majority of the characters. I regularly got annoyed with Jolie and her disbelief that men could be attracted to her and her obsession with her appearance (because of course outward appearance is everything and personality and whatnot mean nothing). The puzzles of who is on what side and who has ulterior motives is very well done, and I was actually surprised at one point. I m hoping that now all of the story and world prep work is done the second book in the series will have some serious character growth and action to make the investment worth it. I am trying to trust that it will, but am a little leery. 

I would recommend Fire Burn And Cauldron Bubble to readers that are a fan of the author. Readers that are willing to read a first novel that is mostly the set up for the following series might want to give it a try, but I would wait until reading a review of the second book (which I will get to eventually) before making an investment. 

Book Review and Giveaway: Captain No Beard: An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life by Carole P. Roman

Captain No Beard: An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life by Carole P. Roman is a fun picturebook.  Captain No Beard and his pirate ship The Flying Dragon set sail for a voyage of the imagination with his fearless crew of four: First Mate Hallie, Mongo the Monkey, Linus the loudmouthed lion, and Fribbit the floppy frog. Normally a young boy named Alexander, his cousin Hallie, and three stuffed animals, once they board his bed their world is transformed into a magical vessel, sailing the seven seas on dangerous and exciting adventures!

Captain No Beard is the first book in a series of picturebooks about Alexander, Hallie, and their stuffed animal crew using their imagination to explore the seven seas. They explore pirate terms, use team work, and entertain young readers. The illustrations are colorful and fun, exploring the use of imagination.

The second book, Pepper Parrot's Problem with Patience continues the narrative about friendship, teamwork, and how everyone is a little different. In this book Pepper is a new member to the crew and is having trouble keeping up with everyone else. It all comes down to different learning styles and shows young readers that no only is it okay to learn or think differently from others, but that helping each other is much better than laughing, teasing, or getting angry.

Would you like to add this series to your personal or classroom collection? I just happen to have a complete set in my hot little hands. Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below to win every captain no beard book in my possession. The set includes; Captain No Beard: An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's LifePepper Parrot's Problem with Patience, Stuck in the DoldrumsStrangers on the High Seas,The Crew Goes Coconuts, and The Treasure of Snake Island. 

Book Review: Have You Seen my Dragon by Steve Light

Have You Seen my Dragon by Steve Light is a picturebook that explores counting and numbers along with the fun of a search and find. In the city a small boy is searching for his friend. Readers of all ages spot the glorious beast along with a variety of big-city icons they can count. Is the dragon taking the crosstown bus, or breathing his fiery breath below a busy street? Maybe he took a taxi to the zoo or is playing with the dogs in the park. 

Have You Seen my Dragon has lovely pen and ink illustrations which results in a stylized blend of black and white page with pops of color. Searching for the dragon invites young readers to count to twenty as we spot the dragon hiding (not very well for the most part) in the daily finds of city life. I really loved the detailed artwork, and both my children could spend significant time enjoying this book. The lines and hidden details really made me smile, as did the fun counting and antics of the dragon. This book is well worth a look for the artwork alone, but it just might trick some reluctant counters to get some practice in.

2014 Hugo Award Winners Announced!

2014 Hugo Award Winners Announced!

The 2014 Hugo Award winners have been announced! The 2014 Hugo Award winners were announced on Sunday evening, August 17, at the ExCel Converntion Centre in London, England.  Text-based CoverItLive coverage of the ceremony was provided through the Hugo Awards web site.

Here are this years winners:

BEST NOVEL Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie

BEST NOVELLA “Equoid” by Charles Stross

BEST NOVELETTE “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal

BEST SHORT STORY “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu

BEST RELATED WORK “We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative” by Kameron Hurley

BEST GRAPHIC STORY “Time” by Randall Munroe

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, LONG FORM Gravity written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, directed by Alfonso Cuarón

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, SHORT FORM  Game of Thrones “The Rains of Castamere” written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by David Nutter




BEST SEMIPROZINE Lightspeed Magazine edited by John Joseph Adams, Rich Horton, and Stefan Rudnicki

BEST FANZINE A Dribble of Ink edited by Aidan Moher

BEST FANCAST SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester

BEST FAN WRITER Kameron Hurley


Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2012 or 2013, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo Award) Sofia Samatar

See the Final Ballot Details for a full breakdown of votes, subsequent placements, and nomination counts.

Early Book Review: Dino-Boarding by Lisa Wheeler and Barry Gott

Dino-Boarding by Lisa Wheeler and Barry Gott is the latest in a series of picturebooks about dinosaurs performing sports, and is currently scheduled for release on September 1 2014. Team Green Machine battles the Shredding Crew in a dino-boarding competition. Allo and Diplo thrill the surfing crowd, while Compy comes up short on a short board. Next, Iguano, Raptor, and the Ptero Twins fly high on skateboards. And who will win the snowboarding half-pipe? Tricera and T-Rex each think they'll take home the prize. Let's hope the dinos remembered their helmets since these tricks might get gnarly!

Dino-Boarding is the newest book in the popular series featuring dinosaurs competing in a variety of sports. This book focuses on surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding. The cartoonish dinos wear their helmets and compete hard, playing fairly to win. The pages are colorful and bright, catching young readers eye. There are many details in the illustrations, so the book can withstand multiple reads.

I would recommend Dino-Boarding to young readers that love dinosaurs and or sports. The illustrations are bright and a bit stylized, and will appeal to many young readers.

Book Review: Secrets of the Book by Erin Fry

Secrets of the Book by Erin Fry is a middle grade novel with a great premise. Sixth grader Spencer Lemon's mom is big on volunteering, which means Spencer does plenty as well. While volunteering at a nursing home he makes friends with Ed, who in turn hands over a very special book without the chance to explain all the necessary details. The book contains famous dead people who can be brought back to life. Unfortunately Ed goes missing and some less than trustworthy characters seem to be popping up with extreme interest in the book. And it’s up to Spencer, along with Gregor and Ed’s mysterious (and cute) granddaughter Mel, to protect the book and save the world.

Love the idea behind Secrets of the Book. The characters are interesting and well fleshed out. I really loved the inclusion of Gregor as a very capable young man, and an asset to the group.The friendship between Gregor and Spencer is well done and feels real. Spencer's eye condition gives him a challenge to overcome, but despite being mentioned regularly did not seem to have much other impact on the story besides in the building of his character. The mystery behind the book and the wondering about which historical figure would pop up next was intriguing as well. However, I will admit that my interest in the book started to wan about half way through. It is not that there was not any action, there were chases and intrigue a plenty. But for some reason my interest started to waver. I put the book down, picked it up again, and so on. I am not sure exactly what was not working for me either. The mystery was there, good characters were there, and I was curious to know what happened next- but several times I was just not curious enough to read instead of cook dinner or pick up my latest crochet project. This means that I got behind on my reading schedule and frustrated with myself, and less interested in the book.

Secrets of the Book did not grab me like I hoped it would. I think some middle grade readers will love it, and think it might inspire some to expand their circle of friends, since friendship is a major component of the book. I think it might also encourage some readers to do some research about the historical figures mentioned or taking part in the book.

Book Review: The Toothless Tooth Fairy by Shanelle Hicks and Anca Delia Budeanu

The Toothless Tooth Fairy by Shanelle Hicks and Anca Delia Budeanu is a picturebook about a Tooth Fairy contest for the best smile. Bella is the nicest, and prettiest tooth fairy and everyone is sure that she will win the contest. Zelda, a not so nice fairy, does everything she can to ruin Bella's chances the meaning of true beaty is revealed. 

The Toothless Tooth Fairy has a cute story, nice illustrations, and a few good messages. Bella is the perfect tooth fairy. She is sweet, kind, and of course beautiful. However, when Zelda uses some magic dust to cause an accident Bella loses a tooth and decides that she cannot win a beautiful smile contest without the missing tooth. Not too thrilled with that reliance on beauty, the evil cackling by Zelda, or pure little Bella's leaving IOU's while pulling out kids teeth, but in the end everyone is shown that inner beauty is more important than physical beauty. There is still a bit of a odd feeling that the story makes appearance very important, despite the message about inner beauty, more so than the kindness or intelligence that I want my daughter to value. I do give the book points for lovely artwork and including a very diverse cast of fairies.

The Toothless Tooth Fairy was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I loved the artwork, the diverse group of characters, and the intended message. However, I think the message lost a little bit of it's impact because of the sheer importance of both Bella and Zelda's appearance, even at the very end.