Books

Books

Fri
26
Aug

THE NINJABREAD MAN One Tough Cookie for Opponents

The Ninjabread Man

When a kind old sensei wants to do something special for his four students -- Ninja Bear, Ninja Snake, Ninja Mouse and Ninja Fox -- he works through the night on a special tasty recipe of ninjabread. When he opens the oven, however, he is unprepared for the surprise awaiting him.

C.J. Leigh's retelling of the classic fairy tale stays true to the original while giving it a whole new flavor by decorating it with ninja martial arts. With the successes of KUNG FU PANDA and its knockoffs, THE NINJABREAD MAN is a natural choice for younger readers who may, at their tender ages, already be too world-wise to sit through the tale of an old lady baking cookies.

Mon
11
Jul

Bedtime for Batman Successfully Reaches Younger Superheroes

Bedtime for Batman

Would you believe that bedtime could be the start of a great adventure?

That's the underlying theme of BEDTIME FOR BATMAN, the picture book from Michael Dahl and Ethen Beavers that tells two parallel stories using the same set of text and contrasted images.

On one page, you see the young protagonist, as he makes his preparations for the night. On the other page, there is Batman. For the boy, the signal is the clock (cleverly drawn), while for Batman the signal is the spotlight that shines his symbol on the clouds. Both have to clean things up and lock things away, and the juxtaposition of the images is genius -- and engaging -- turning bedtime into adventure time.

Fri
08
Jul

Mary GrandPre's Cleonardo: STEM with Delicate Blossoms

Cleonardo by Mary GrandPre

Caldecott winner Mary GrandPre may be best known as the illustrator of the US prints of the HARRY POTTER series, but her work extends far beyond the boy wizard's adventures, including pieces in the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, and the Wall Street Journal. However, CLEONARDO, THE LITTLE INVENTOR is the first time I can recall that GrandPre is also the author as well as the illustrator.

Cleonardo Wren is a young girl who comes from a long line of inventors, including her father Geonardo, her grandfather Leonardo -- all the way back to their ancestor, Neandernardo! She loves helping her father in his workshop, but with the town's Grand Festival of Inventions coming up, she finds she's more hindrance than help as her father tries to come up with a winning idea. So she takes to the forest to build things on her own out of the materials nature provides.

Thu
07
Jul

Jump On Grunberg's Dream Jumper

Dream Jumper by Greg Grunberg and Lucas Tumbloom

Fresh from Scholastic's Graphix imprint comes this full-color graphic novel, DREAM JUMPER: NIGHTMARE ESCAPE. And what's even better, while it's a series, it's the first of the series, so you're getting in at just the right time.

DREAM JUMPER tells the story of Ben Maxwell, a kid who has trouble sleeping because he is plagued with strange dreams. But they're not just his dreams -- he also enters the dreams of others, like his best friend who knows of Ben's ability and thinks they should incorporate to capitalize off of it.

Mon
20
Jun

Dav Pilkey Unleashes DOGMAN

Dogman Dav Pilkey Scholastic Graphix

When it comes to funnybook humor, Dav Pilkey has gone to the dogs. Literally.

Introducing DOGMAN, the comic within a comic that's become a comic all its own. Half dog, half man, all cop, Dogman is the brainchild of fourth-graders Harold and George, the creators of Captain Underpants (the character, not the book -- the book was created by Dav Pilkey; metafiction is confusing).

Tue
31
May

Science Fiction: Women Readers are Coming Out

Casimir Bridge female lead protagonist SF

By Darren Beyer

Science fiction has been a traditionally male dominated genre—at least that’s what I’ve been led to believe over the years. One had to look no farther than the closest science fiction and fantasy convention to see a crowd dominated by males. Look to the shelves of your local Barnes & Noble or the top science fiction lists on Amazon to see stories with male protagonists catering to male readers. That’s why, when talking to my doctor, a woman doctor, about my newly released book, I was surprised about how the conversation went.

“You published a book? I’d love to read it.”

“I don’t know if you’d be interested,” I said. “It’s science fiction.”

“I love science fiction. In fact, I’m part of a women’s book club and we all love science fiction.”

Wait. What?

Fri
27
May

Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

Girl Against Universe Paula Stokes

YA contemporary is usually not my thing; I do read it, but I'm definitely more of a YA sci-fi/fantasy girl. Also, as a licensed social worker and mental health advocate, I tend to be extra harsh when reviewing books that deal with issues of mental health, mental illness, and therapy. So when I started this book, I was a little hesitant - but by the end, I was asking, "wait, that's it?! I want more!!"

Maguire believes the universe is out to get her. After a string of bad luck and disasters - one of which killed her father, uncle, and brother in a car accident - Maguire has developed a plan to keep herself - and those around her - safe. Basically, she avoids the world by keeping to herself and adopting a series of paranoid rituals for situations she can't avoid, like school. Maguire's biggest fear revolves around being in any vehicle with anyone but herself.

Thu
26
May

LEGACY: MOTHER MINE is a worthy successor to the Destroyer series

A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to get a chance to review the newest The Destroyer book, BULLY PULPIT.  While I was doing the review, I had mentioned my love of “pulp adventure” novels, like THE DESTROYER and THE DEAD MAN.  The author suggested that if I liked THE DESTROYER so much, I might be interested in other pulp books like the CRAG BANYON  series and the LEGACY series which happens to be a spin-off of THE DESTROYER.  While I did enjoy the first two CRAG BANYON books, LEGACY really blew me away.
Tue
24
May

MISSING PIECES Finds Best Novel Slot for 2015

Missing Pieces Meredith Tate Best Novel 2015 Critical Blast

The Critical Blast Best of Awards added some new categories this year, among them Best Novel. And the first novel to win that category beat out (albeit narrowly) such books as WRITTEN IN THE STARS (Aisha Saeed) and ZEROES (Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, Deborah Biancotti).

Tue
17
May

Underwater Friends Cooperate to Return GAVIN'S GOGGLES

Gavins Goggles Critical Blast Book Review

Andy Lightner developed GAVIN'S GOGGLES: GOGGLES LOST AT SEA based on an experience he had with his family at the beach. In the fictionalized version of events, Gavin's goggles are lost to the tide, and get passed from one aquatic creature to the next as they try to determine what the things are and, later, how to return them to their original owner.

The story is told in a very light manner. Nearly all of the creatures have alliterative names, save for Pincher the Blue Crab and Bella Pelican, which makes it accessible to the very young readers. The book also comes with a set of ready-to-color illustrations at the end of the various sea characters who appear in the story, lending an interactive quality to the book.

Mon
18
Apr

Reeve’s RAILHEAD an Intergalactic Train Ride Across the Universe

Philip Reeve Railhead Critical Blast Dennis Russo book review

RAILHEAD by Philip Reeve is a sci-fi novel from Switch Press that takes place in the far future, across countless planets and star systems. And the fastest form of transportation? No, not by spaceship, but by train. Yes, train!

It seems that mankind has never lost its infatuation with travel by rail, and in this future so far removed from present day, planet Earth itself is basically forgotten, and only gone back to for a getaway.

Sun
10
Apr

A NEW LEASH ON LIFE helps kiddies play nice with puppies!

There are so many children’s books available to parents and educators that it can be a daunting task to pick something out the children in your life will love. Obviously, learning possibilities are an important aspect that many of us are looking for when we undertake this arduous process. It takes a skilled voice and practiced artistic touch to bring an engaging story to youthful readers and also offer a message of learning. A NEW LEASH ON LIFE is a fabulous example of the best the genre can offer.

Tue
22
Mar

Scholastic Book Review: Backstories - "Batman Gotham City’s Guardian"

Title: Batman: Gotham City’s Guardian

Author: Matthew Manning

Illustrator: Steven Gordon

Ages: 8-12 / Grade: 3-7

Retail: $5.99

Before you head out to the theaters to watch Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, take a look at the backstory for the mysterious Dark Knight Detective, Batman.

Mon
21
Mar

Scholastic Book Review: Backstories - "Superman the Man of Tomorrow"

Superman Scholastic Critical Blast

Title: Superman: The Man of Tomorrow

Author: Daniel Wallace

Illustrator: Patrick Spaziante

Ages: 8-12 / Grade: 3-7

Retail: $5.99

Before you head out to the theaters to watch Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, take a look at the backstory for the controversial Man of Steel himself, Superman.

Scholastic books offers a wonderful view into the backstory of the most iconic superhero in all of comics, in chapter form. With a forward by the last son of Krypton, that summarizes his journey, the book will enlighten your young reader. Ten short chapters provide insight on how Superman went from orphan alien, raised in Smallville, to beloved superhero and protector of Metropolis (and Earth)!

Fri
11
Mar

Review of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Campy Cult Classic"

Michael Rennie was ill
The Day the Earth Stood Still
But he told us where we stand
And Flash Gordon was there
In silver underwear…


The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Campy Cult Classic  by Dave Thompson

Published by Applause Theatre and Cinema Books

Cover Price: $19.99

Mon
07
Mar

Maguire's AFTER ALICE Heavy on Weird, Light on Wonder

After Alice Gregory Maguire

I have a confession to make. I've never read a Gregory Maguire book before. I know the name, I know the fame, and I've even seen the musical, WICKED, based on his novel of the same name. But I just hadn't sought out any of his works to try them in their written form.

And then I saw AFTER ALICE. When it comes to Alice in Wonderland books, I'm much like Mel Gibson's character in CONSPIRACY THEORY who, whenever he saw a copy of CATCHER IN THE WRY, he felt compelled to buy it. So I picked it up and looked forward to another trip down the classic rabbit hole.

Mon
29
Feb

CALIFORNIA: THE MAGIC ISLAND - ABCs no 123 - Fine by Me

Now, I’m a East Coast boy, but I’ve visited California a number of times over the years.  I’ve seen some amazing things in the state, both natural and manmade, so a book dedicated to saluting the state is reasonable idea.  CALIFORNIA: THE MAGIC ISLAND is an interesting read unlike just about anything else on bookstore shelves.  Try to get your head around a book fusing myth, history, ABCs, the animal kingdom, and a tour through the Golden State.  This might seem like a bit too much to contain in the pages of one book, but it’s all woven together quite well for the elementary school crowd.

Mon
29
Feb

Superman is the worst thing that happened to Lois Lane, according to author Tim Hanley

Investigating Lois Lane: The Turbulent History of the Daily Planet's Ace Reporter by Tim Hanley
Published by: Chicago Review Press
Cover Price: $17.99 (print or Kindle)

At the conclusion of his new book INVESTIGATING LOIS LANE, Tim Hanley writes, “Superman is the worst thing to ever happen to Lois Lane.  At the same time, he’s also the reason she exists.”  By the end of this excellently researched piece, I was forced to agree.

Wed
24
Feb

Fred Setterberg's SAM MALOOF a Clinic on Biographical Narrative

Sam Maloof 36 Views Master Woodworker

There’s a lot of ugliness in the world, as we all know. Missed deadlines and misanthropy. Bill collectors and bad attitudes. Snarled traffic and starving children. It’s enough to make a person want to crawl back into bed, positive that nothing you can do can effect change.

However, just as the seasons turn and their opposites are made apparent to the patient, there is also an opposite to the unsightliness of society, if only we can be bothered to actively look for it.

Tue
23
Feb

The Destroyer takes on religion, racism, and Jell-O Urinalism in his newest adventure

Destroyer 151 Bully Pulpit Warren Murphy Dick Sapir Remo Williams

The Destroyer #151: Bully Pulpit by Warren Murphy and RJ Carter
Published by: Destroyer Books
Cover Price: $8.99 ($2.99 on Kindle)

I love adventure "pulp" novels.  Series like THE DESTROYER feel like the adult versions of THE HARDY BOY CASEFILES books I grew up on.  I was surprised when Amazon tried to bring the genre back to life with THE DEAD MAN series a few years ago.  Sadly, these books didn't get all that much traction, but I did think they were worthwhile descendants of series like THE DESTROYER.   That said, THE DESTROYER is still the king to me,  151 books in the main series over the last 45 years. 

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