The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

If you enjoyed the Maze Runner books, you’ll like this story as well.  This is a dystopian novel that will keep you on turning the pages until you realize that you’re at the end and you haven’t moved in hours.  I enjoyed the story line, although in a few places I felt as though the story was going drug along.  I will chalk this up to the fact that 90% of the story is riveting and a story does need a little down time every once in a while.

Main character Eden’s life has changed drastically since the war.  There’s a new powerful group called the Wolfpack that is controlling everything on earth including all the resources.  This group killed Eden’s family and has imprisoned her.  She has a lot of spunk and decides that she isn’t going to be held captive any longer.

Eden knows a secret.  She knows that the myth of Sanctuary Island, is actually not a myth at all…thanks to her father.  Eden races and risks her life to reach this island to find solace.  What she finds is far more complicated than she or the others escapees had expected.

What would you do to reach freedom if your future is looking deadlier every second?  How do you survive?

A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting (Babysitter’s Guide to Monsters #1) by Joe Ballarini

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This was a FANTASTICALLY  entertaining book! I cannot wait to share this with a girl I know who is just getting into the ‘Goosebumps’ books, she will love this!

Main character Kelly Ferguson is in middle school and has been working hard at earning money to go to camp, which is high dollar.  Kelly’s life changes in flash one Halloween, when she is asked to babysit instead of going to a Halloween Party with a friend.  Disappointment and a tug between earning money for camp or hanging out with her crush is all Kelly was worried about.  Little did she know, she was about to experience babysitting at a whole new level!

Baby Jacob was easiest enough for Kelly to handle, but then once she put him to bed, the night took a turn for the worse when Jacob is kidnapped by the Boogyman’s minions called Toadies!  Now, with the help of the Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting and a secret society of Monster Hunting babysitters, Kelly’s new mission is to get Baby Jacob back safe and sound before his parents come home!

This book puts a fun twist on the babysitting gig!  Readers will love the fast paced amusing story.  Hop into the story and grab a flash light…….you’re going to need it!

*Film adaptation starring Keegan Michael Key in the works.*

Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Before, I didn’t know about perspective.  Now I know it can change how you see the whole world.

This was a beautifully written story!  I didn’t realize until the end that this was a rendition of the author’s life as a little girl.  I loved the main character, Ruthie Mizrahi.  It’s the 1960’s and Ruthie is a young Cuban-Jewish immigrant girl adjusting to her new life in New York City.  It’s been hard for her family to learn the customs of the big city and on one dark night, their lives are changed forever…a horrific car accident leaves Ruthie in a body cast and confined her to her bed for a long recovery.

This is the story of a young girl who learns to love in darkest of times and how her heart can go from being stone cold to growing larger.  She teaches us how fragile life can really be and no matter what your circumstances happen to be, there is always something to look forward to.  Ruthie’s hope was to recover and learn to walk again as well as forgiving the person who had caused the accident and her displacement being confined to her bed for almost a whole year.

This moment in their lives seems to have brought many people together and closer to Ruthie.  The story was moving and very well written.  I felt myself rooting for Ruthie and almost crying with her at times.  She is a tough gal, who although fell into the darkness, it didn’t take long for someone to show her the light again. She let their rays of sunshine warm her heart and from there, Ruthie spread the rays onto others.

 

 

The Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals by Joel Sartore (National Geographic)

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This is a book that should be on everyone’s coffee tables and book shelves!  I found it on the ‘new’ release shelf at my local library, being an animal lover I had to check it out.  National Geographic the Photo ark is a lifelong project, already spanning 25 years, of photographer Joel Sartore.  It is his goal to take portraits of the world’s animals, especially those that are endangered and put them at our fingertips.  Joel has a powerful message sprawling through this fantastic book conveyed with humor, compassion and art.  Joel hopes we will look into the eyes of these animals, to know these animals, in order to save them.

Sartore’s intends to photograph every animal in captivity around the world.  He is visiting zoos and wildlife rescue centers to create studio portraits of 12,000 species, with an emphasis on those facing extinction.  He has photographed more than 6,000 already and now, thanks to a multi-year partnership with National Geographic, he may reach his goal.

As I was going through the book, I happened upon an Albino North American Porcupine with the caption “This albino porcupine is named Halsey for the spot in Nebraska near where she was rescued after being hit on the highway.  Today Halsey is thriving, despite a dental condition that prevents her from ever being returned to the wild.”  This caught me off guard because I happen to live in Nebraska!  Not only that, but as I kept reading I read more captions and descriptions of animals that were photographed at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium (Nebraska),  Nebraska Wildlife Rehab in Louisville (Nebraska) and the Lincoln’s Children Zoo (Nebraska).

Then, after finishing the book, I read about the photographer and author Joel Sartore.  He is a photographer, author, teacher, conservationist, National Geographic Fellow and a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine.  He is the founder of this project, the Photo Ark, has contributed to Audubon magazine, Sports Illustrated, the New York Times, Smithsonian magazine and numerous book projects.  Are you ready for the icing on the cake????  Joel is always happy to return from his travels around the world to his home in Lincoln, Nebraska, where his lives with is wife and their three children.

I cannot stress enough how amazing this book was, especially from the fact that this project is being conducted by a fellow Nebraskan.  I look forward to seeing more of Joel Sartore’s work in the future!

 

 

 

 

 

Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Julia is very short for her age, but by the end of the summer run of The Wizard of Oz, she’ll realize how big she is inside, where it counts.

Julia is still mourning the loss of her beloved dog Ramon when her mother signs Julia and her younger brother Randy up for a local university production of The Wizard of Oz.  Julia is quite short for her age, so her mother is certain she will be cast as a Munchkin.  Reluctant at first, Julia becomes more and more enamored with the various people involved in the semi-professional production.  The director, some of the actors, and a few of the tech crew have been hired from out of town; some are college students; the rest, like Julia, are from the local community.  Julia acknowledges not only her own “shortcomings” both at school and at home, but is realistic in her assessment of other people as well. The reader will grow along with Julia as she learns about life and the world around her through this classic production. A must read for students who love to act, as well as for those who feel they are average in a world of “stars.” I loved the main character Julia SO much and I think I took a liking towards her right from the beginning due to her love of her dog! Highly recommended for grades 4 & up!

Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

“SOME PIG,” Charlotte the spider’s praise for Wilbur, is just one fondly remembered snippet from E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. In Some Writer!, the two-time Caldecott Honor winner Melissa Sweet mixes White’s personal letters, photos, and family ephemera with her own exquisite artwork to tell his story, from his birth in 1899 to his death in 1985. Budding young writers will be fascinated and inspired by the journalist, New Yorker contributor, and children’s book author who loved words his whole life. This authorized tribute is the first fully illustrated biography of E. B. White and includes an afterword by Martha White, E. B. White’s granddaughter.

Some Writer! is one of the best biographies, for kids, that I have ever read!  Seriously! E. B. White is one of my most favorite authors.  If you don’t know the name, he is the author of the iconic Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, among many others.

The mixed media approach calls for the reader to slow down to observe all the details and sweet emphasizes, that E. B. White did himself. It’s filled with maps and collages that connect to the stories/chapters included of his life. There are thirteen chapters, among them, White’s beginnings and his work for The New Yorker magazine, his three books, and his collaboration on a new edition of The Elements of Style. His love of solitude and being in nature is evident in nearly every chapter. A beginning page, for children’s use especially, is a full-page picture of a manual typewriter, and an explanation of how it works. There are pages of actual pictures of White’s manuscripts, some hand-written, some typed; and a page about boat building, which is a surprising thread throughout the book. He was given a canoe by his father when he was young, and when the family spent summers in Maine. And, among others owned, late in life his son built him another one. (His son became a boat builder!) He spent much time canoeing and sailing on the water, observing, thinking about life.

The whole thing is a masterpiece. It’s so lovingly and expertly written and illustrated – capturing White’s essence perfectly.  For any literary lovers, this is a must for your personal library!  I cannot wait to read a few more books from E.B. White such as a book full of letters.  A beautiful, exceptionally written book that is a gift to us all!

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

What happens to the leaves on a tree when autumn and winter comes around the corner? Well, that is what we are about to find out! “Fletcher and the Falling Leaves” is a children’s book  and it is about a young fox named Fletcher who tries to save a tree’s leaves from falling off during autumn and winter. “Fletcher and the Falling Leaves” is a cute story about the beauty of changes in weather that I am sure that many children who are interested in knowing what happens to the trees during winter and autumn will easily enjoy for many years!

Each morning, Fletcher would come out of the den and explore the world, but then he realizes that the tree’s leaves were turning gold and beginning to fall off the tree. Fletcher than goes to the tree every day to keep the leaves on the tree; however, when winter came, Fletcher noticed that all the leaves were starting to fall off more rapidly than before.

Fletcher is very worried. He tells the tree he’ll help. But when the very last leaf falls to the ground, Fletcher feels as though he’s let down his friend . . .until the first day of winter, when Fletcher sees that his tree has turned into a shining, glittering surprise.