Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham

Rye, Folly and Quinn are kids who live in a small town with a medieval feel. Girls are not allowed to read, the Earl and his soldiers are always interfering in people's business and oh yes, there are a myriad of sinister magical creatures around. Wirries are easy to trap, but Bog Noblins are terrifying violent creatures and one has been seen on Mud Puddle Lane. 

Can the kids and their families keep the village safe from the monsters? Particularly when there are so many monsters to choose from, not just the Bog Noblins, but also the Earl and the Luck Uglies; a band of mercenaries lauded for their skills at Bog Noblin fighting, but feared for their indiscriminate cruelty.

There are many things I love about this book. I love that whole families are in this together and that the families are so different. I love the world building, which is far deeper and more complex than I've seen in a middle grade novel for a while. I love that no-one is all good and no-one is all bad. I love the language, especially how every name is chosen with care and joy, from the cat (Shady) to the Earl's twisted daughter (Malydia)

There is always something happening in this brilliant, fast-paced adventure. There are clues to solve, connections to make and a new path to forge. One of the most satisfying books I've read in 2014.

Age 8 -12

Published by Harper Collins April 29, 2014

Friday, April 11, 2014

Little Poems for Tiny Ears by Lin Oliver

Babies love poetry. They love the sound of human voices, the musicality of rhyme and rhythm and they love those easy to remember lines. Parents know this and instinctively recite nursery rhymes to their small children. But sometimes Baa Baa Black Sheep can get a little repetitive. Thankfully Lin Oliver has written a charming alternative.

Little Poems for Tiny Ears is primarily a picture book, Tomie dePaulo's illustrations of round faced babies in soft bright colors are gentle and sweet. There are also parents in the illustrations, one poem is about Daddy's beard which we see from a toddler's eye view.

Lin Oliver's original poems are short and have jaunty rhymes. But it's the choice of subject matter in the poems which really makes this book interesting. There's a poem about toes, as all babies are fascinated by those things on the ends of their feet. Another poem is about pulling everything out of low kitchen cupboards, which is the most favorite game of many two year olds. I read poems from this book at story time in the store and the response is often the laughter of recognition. These super simple poems touch on small truths for the little ones and their parents.

An excellent choice for a baby shower gift, whether the parents read poetry or not. Because, babies love poetry.

Published February 11, 2014 by Nancy Paulsen Books
Review first published in April, 2014 Diesel Newsletter

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Space Taxi - Archie Takes Flight by Wendy Mass and Michael Brawer

Wendy Mass has written some seriously great middle grade novels including The Candymakers and A Mango Shaped Space. Her newest book Space Taxi is for new readers age 7 to 9 and it's just as good.

Archie Morningstar is 8 years, 8 months and 8 days old and tonight he gets to ride along in his Dad's Taxi. Archie is excited, but deep down, he knows that the most interesting thing will probably be going through a pothole and losing a hubcap. That's before he realizes that the first pick up is a bit further than just the next town over.

This is a wonderful early reader, it's short and easy to read, but not simple. There's a full plot with some mild peril and a few space facts thrown in. I'm looking forward to more adventures with Archie in Water Planet Rescue, which is published in September.

Published by Little Brown April 1, 2014