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New Movie: Brave

21 Nov

I think I’m going to love this kids movie which comes out next year. (Uh, hello. It’s set in Scotland.) It’s supposed to feature a “new” type of princess and the movie trailer looks pretty great. If you’re a kilt lover there is a hilarious scene in the trailer you won’t soon forget. Did you notice the spectacular lack of a hero? Finally, a heroine who might be able to accomplish major things without the assistance of a man. What do you think about it?

Review: The Crown on Your Head by Nancy Tillman

29 Oct

The Crown on Your Head by Nancy Tillman
Feiwel and Friends (Sept. 2011)
Hardback: $16.99 (32 pages)
Available as nook book: $9.99
ISBN: 9780312645212

Favorite Lines: “YOU WERE BORN TO SHINE.”

Every child is born with a crown. The crown is everything that gives us unique value. Our crown will always be with us wherever we go, whatever we do.

The Crown on Your Head is a book which shouts to the world children are special. In it a parent tells a child from the moment she (he) saw the child she knew he was special and would accomplish wonderful things.

Aimed at smaller children, The Crown on Your Head makes statements and then backs them up with a simple explanation most children will understand. Every colorful page of the book portrays a child living life to the fullest. If you’re looking for a short picture book capable of expressing your love toward a child, this may be the book for you.

Winner of The Crown on Your Head

5 Oct

The winner of The Crown on Your Head is…

Kacey Shoupe.

Book Trailer & Giveaway: The Crown On Your Head by Nancy Tillman

27 Sep

There are less than 100 days ’till Christmas and Nancy Tillman‘s The Crown on Your Head would make a great gift. Zeitghost Media is allowing me to give away one copy of the picture book here at Scooper Speaks. Want a chance to win it? Well, here it is. To Win: you must have a mailing address in the United States or Canada. Simply tell me the title of the picture book you best remember, either reading to a sibling or your child, or having read to you. For example, the book I remember best is Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever. I read it to my younger brother–he’s 11 years my junior–all the time. (BTW, you listen to the author read the book at his website.) The giveaway is open until noon on October 5 when I use random.org to select a winner.

Book Trailer & Giveaway: Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith

19 Aug

Giveaway is now closed! Thanks for entering.

Furnace Penitentiary: the world’s most secure prison for young offenders, buried a mile beneath the earth’s surface. Convicted of a murder he didn’t commit, sentenced to life without parole, “new fish” Alex Sawyer knows he has two choices: find a way out, or resign himself to a death behind bars, in the darkness at the bottom of the world. Except in Furnace, death is the least of his worries. Soon Alex discovers that the prison is a place of pure evil, where inhuman creatures in gas masks stalk the corridors at night, where giants in black suits drag screaming inmates into the shadows, where deformed beasts can be heard howling from the blood-drenched tunnels below. And behind everything is the mysterious, all-powerful warden, a man as cruel and dangerous as the devil himself, whose unthinkable acts have consequences that stretch far beyond the walls of the prison.

Together with a bunch of inmates—some innocent kids who have been framed, others cold-blooded killers—Alex plans an escape. But as he starts to uncover the truth about Furnace’s deeper, darker purpose, Alex’s actions grow ever more dangerous, and he must risk everything to expose this nightmare that’s hidden from the eyes of the world.

Want to win the first book in Alexander Gordon Smith‘s Escape from Furnace series? Zeitghost Media has allowed me to host a giveaway of Lockdown in honor of book three in the series, which was released earlier this month. To be eligible, you must have a U.S. or Canadian mailing address. I will select a winner with the help of a random number generator at noon on August 27; Zeitghost will mail the book to the winner. To enter, leave a comment telling me if you would expose Furnace or keep running after successfully escaping.

Review: Janitors by Tyler Whitesides

3 Aug

Janitors by Tyler Whitesides
Shadow Mountain (August 2011)
Hardcover: $17.95 (Get it at B&N today for $9.89)
ISBN: 978-1-60908-056-3

Favorite Lines: “You just went to the bathroom and you haven’t washed your hands yet.” (p. 18, ARC)

Have you ever fallen asleep during math class? Are you easily distracted while listening to your English teacher? Do you find yourself completely uninterested in geography? Well, it may not be your fault. The janitors at Welcher Elementary know a secret, and it’s draining all the smarts out of the kids. Twelveyear- old Spencer Zumbro, with the help of his classmate Daisy “Gullible” Gates, must fight with and against a secret, janitorial society that wields wizard-like powers. Who can Spencer and Daisy trust and how will they protect their school and possibly the world? Janitors is book 1 in a new children’s fantasy series by debut novelist Tyler Whitesides. You’ll never look at a mop the same way again.

Tyler Whitesides has taken a common childhood issue and transformed it into a fantastical journey filled with excitement and lessons.  Kids won’t even realize the basic life lessons which are being reinforced in the entertaining story about two kids learning there is more to life than what you see.

Not only does Janitors have a great cover, but it is a well-written, imaginative story. The main character is Spencer. A boy who is dealing with the craziness of living with his siblings in his aunt’s house after his father walked out on the family. The poor kid attends a new school and is the unfortunate target of the elementary school’s bully Dez. His unfortunate exposure to a magical concoction allows him to see monstrous creatures running around the school, but it also makes him an even bigger target for Dez.

After an incident with Dez, Spencer learns a valuable life lesson from his classmate and soon-to-be partner, Daisy.

No one will ever believe you if you don’t stand up for what you know is true.

That statement colors the entire book in different ways. The best part is that the hero learns just standing up for what he believes doesn’t automatically equal a positive result. However it does build character, self-confidence and self-respect.

I read Janitors with my 8-year-old and she enjoyed it. Together we ewwwed at a gross bathroom scene (you’ll know it when you read it). I cheered as Spencer’s mother lost the frazzled, stressed out woman role and became a strong, go-with-the-flow mama bear. I enjoyed Janitors and hope you like reading about the magical, secret society of janitors, too.

Pick it up today and let me know what you think.

What Are Your Kids Reading?

29 Jun

I’ll tell you what mine are reading. My 11-year-old enjoys the Dork Diaries. (BTW the website is one of the coolest websites I’ve ever seen. It’s got book trailers, bright colors and is interactive.) Last summer we drove from Indiana to Maryland to visit my best-friend and her family. Before we left she picked out the first book, Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life. Continue reading

Review: Beyond Foo by Obert Skye

16 Apr

Beyond Foo by Obert Skye (Nice cover art by Mr. Ben Sowards!)
Shadow Mountain (May 9, 2011)
Hardback: $14.99
ISBN: 978-1-60908-050-1

Favorite Line: “I hate evil’s intentions, its personality, and its slimy commitment to making life horrible for so many.” (p. 88)

Foo is the remarkable realm that allows us to hope, imagine, and dream. Geth a fearless Lithen, is one of the wisest and most respected beings of Foo. At the conclusion of the bestselling Leven Thumps series, the realm of Foo achieves balance–dreams can once again thrive and grow. With things in order, Geth and the beloved sycophant Clover set off to find a new adventure that leads beyond the hidden border of Foo and into an unknown land where dreams have been trapped and freedom has been crushed. Join Geth and Clover on a page-turning, mind-blowing, laugh-out-loud, and imagine-the-impossible quest. Your dreams will thank you!

Beyond Foo is the first book in a trilogy set in the imaginary world of Foo. It’s a spinoff from the Leven Thumps series which I have never read. The book attempts to catch readers up and knowledge of Leven Thumps unnecessary, but I had a hard time reading this book.

It felt like my brain was surrounded by cotton candy. I was slow to pick up on the events and I think there was humor, but it went right over my head. Sure the book is action packed, but it goes from being told in the third person to having a first person narrator speak.

Consider the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. Often the narrator would introduce the characters and a little bit of the story, but the characters always took over the story. That is how Beyond Foo is written. For example, chapters one and two are told in third person. Chapter three begins with a paragraph told by a narrator who uses words like you and I. Then the second paragraph reverts to third person. When the narrator speaks he is giving a nugget of wisdom like don’t go through life with your eyes closed. Great information, but it took away from the story. Most of the remaining chapters had a narrator told paragraph before switching back to third person.

The actual story is interesting. I think I might be too old to enjoy the book though. The things that were supposed to be funny, weren’t funny to me. I was appalled at the actions the hero took to achieve whatever his goal was at the moment. For those who’ve read the book those scenes took place in a cave and later in a cage. I just couldn’t get into the story. Maybe a younger boy would have a better time connecting with the story.

Conclusion: I don’t see myself continuing this story. The hero is working to right a wrong, but his actions are those of an anti-hero at times. Kind of the like saying, “Do whatever it takes to reach the end you want to reach.” I also think not having read the Leven Thumps series was a detriment to me. Others will probably disagree, but this series is a no go for me.

Giveaway: Beyond Foo by Obert Skye

15 Apr

Do you read children’s books or know someone who does? I’ve got a slightly used ARC of Obert Skye’s Beyond Foo up for grabs. It’s book one in the Foo trilogy and is written by the author of the Leven Thumps series. Entering is simple: just comment on this post. (Open through April 23 to residents of the U.S. and Canada 18+; 1 entry per person)

Book one in a new unFOOgettable trilogy!

Foo is the remarkable realm that allows us to hope, imagine, and dream. Geth a fearless Lithen, is one of the wisest and most respected beings of Foo. At the conclusion of the bestselling Leven Thumps series, the realm of Foo achieves balance–dreams can once again thrive and grow. With things in order, Geth and the beloved sycophant Clover set off to find a new adventure that leads beyond the hidden border of Foo and into an unknown land where dreams have been trapped and freedom has been crushed. Join Geth and Clover on a page-turning, mind-blowing, laugh-out-loud, and imagine-the-impossible quest. Your dreams will thank you!