Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Secret Box by Whitaker Ringwald

Jax is 12 years old and a bit of a rebel, she's been in trouble for everything from shoplifting a candy bar to creeping backstage at a magic show to find the hole in the stage.

Ethan is her sidekick. He knows he's a sidekick, he calls himself Caution Boy. But he just can't seem to walk away from Jax and her ill advised schemes.

When Jax receives a mysterious box for her birthday from an Aunt she's never even heard of, she has to get it open no matter what. Unfortunately, the box has a special puzzle locking mechanism and apparently there are some other people who want to get their hands on the contents just as desperately as Jax does.

Add in Ethan's truly obnoxious older brother Tyler as a driver and you have all the ingredients for an exciting and funny adventure.

What I loved most about this book is the voice of Jax. She is so reckless and headstrong that you know she'll be leading us somewhere interesting and probably bad. Luckily her voice is tempered by that of fact-loving Ethan, who offers us a respite in tone and pace. 

Great for kids who love to be larger than life and who long for adventure.

Ages 8-10

Published February 25, 2014 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My Humongous Hamster by Lorna Freytag

What if your hamster ate all his food in one gulp and became humongous? It might be a bit scary, it might be a bit fun, it might even be useful.

This is a wonderful book about unleashing your imagination and letting it run wild through the city like a Godzilla sized hamster. There's no plot, just a series of situations that a giant hamster might find himself in.

There are two things I love about this book, one is that Lorna Freytag's text consists of short matter-of-fact sentences. This leaves your children plenty of opportunity to explore their own ideas about the fantastic illustrations. And that's the other thing I love about this book, the illustration is photo collage, but I have never seen that technique used better. The level of detail is extraordinary and great care has been taken to add shadow, sky and overlap to make it look real.

I'll leave you with an example of the artwork taken from Lorna Freytag's blog. How cool is that?

Published February 11, 2013 by Henry Holt and Co.
Ages 2-6