Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Intermediate

5-Minute Stories for Minecrafters: Extreme Stories!

5-Minute Stories for Minecrafters: Extreme Stories from the Extreme Hills, by Greyson Mann/Illustrated by Grace Sandford, (Sept. 2017, Sky Pony Press), $7.99, ISBN: 978-1-5107-2370-2

Recommended for readers 7-10

Buddies Zack, Sophia, and Anthony are Minecraft adventurers on the hunt for treasure. Over the course of eight short stories (or short chapters, since they do follow one adventure), the friends encounter zombies, spiders, exploding Creepers, and a dreaded Enderman! Written for a more intermediate audience, these are fun for a quick read-aloud during a circle time or for kids who are in the mood for something fast that doesn’t require a lot of commitment; something they can pick up during a homework or study break. Themes of working together and friendship frame the relationship between characters and influence choices they make while adventuring. Illustrations throughout the text keep kids in the story’s world, holding their interest.

Overall, a fun book to have available for Minecrafters. My library is loaded with them.

Posted in gaming, geek, Guide, Non-Fiction, Teen, Tween Reads

Minecraft teaches kids Python, empowers future programmers

minecraftLearn to Program with Minecraft, by Craig Richardson (Dec. 2015, No Starch Press), $29.95, ISBN: 9781593276706

Recommended for ages 10+

The kids in my library are obsessed with Minecraft. From 2:30 on, as the kids storm the beachhead that is my children’s room, I hear shouts of, “Don’t touch my skin!”; “GET THE CREEPER! GET THE CREEPER!”; “OMG, get away from the Enderman!”; and “DIAMONDS!” I see the potential of Minecraft, and how it can be a fantastic tool to teach kids to create online worlds. I also, as a children’s librarian and mom of three boys, know that for the most part, they want to kill creepers and each other in some kind of 8-bit battle royale more often than not.

Books like Learn to Program with Minecraft are my gateway drug to programming with these kids. First, I get the fiction in (the GameKnight999 series by Mark Cheverton is available in English and Spanish, and they fly off my shelves), then I introduce coding programs like the Hour of Code, to show them how playing their game actually teaches them the building blocks of coding programs and apps of their own. Finally, I use part of my book-buying budget to buy coding nonfiction to keep around. I love DK’s coding books; those are especially great for my younger coders. My older kids need a little more, though, to keep them interested. That’s where the No Starch Books come in.

No Starch has great programming books for kids and teens, and Learn to Program with Minecraft is a solid addition to middle school and YA collecctions. A heads-up: you have to download Python to work with this book, but it’s a free programming language. Don’t be scared! The book will guide you along your Python/Minecraft journey, with screenshots and step-by-step bullets points that make creating much less stressful.

The book will help you create mini-games within Minecraft, take you on an automated teleportation tour around your Minecraft world, and teach you to make secret passageways. You’ll learn to make lava traps and cause floods, but be a good Minecraft citizen: no griefing.

I don’t quite have the Minecraft skills for this just yet, but I’m confident in my crafters here – I’ll be investing in this for my summer crowd, especially since we’ll be running a Google CS program here in a couple of months. Get kids to love programming, and watch what they come up with. I’m pretty psyched.

 

Posted in gaming, geek, geek culture, Guide, Humor, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Tween Reads, Video Games

Yogscast: The Book!

yogscastYogscast: The Diggy Diggy Book, by The Yogscast, (Feb. 2016, Scholastic), $8.99, ISBN: 9780545956635

Recommended for ages 8-13

Yogscast is an insanely popular YouTube channel by gamers, for gamers. They have skits, animations, videos, songs – it’s like SNL on crack for gamers, and it’s pretty kid-friendly (otherwise, Scholastic wouldn’t be putting this book out). If you have Warcraft and/or Minecrafters in your household, library, or classroom, you’ve likely heard of Yogscast, or the kids in your life have.

My gamer boy was a faithful Yogscast fan when he was 7 or 8; I’d see him curled up with his iPad and headset in, cackling and snorting, and wondering what in the world he was listening to. So I asked him, and he told me, and then he showed me.

Yogscast is HUGE. The channel has over 4 BILLION views. If they were a movie, they’d be Deadpool PLUS Avengers, and that is just something that warps my fragile little mind. When I saw that they had a book out, I knew I’d need to check this out.

The Diggy Diggy Book is for people who know this channel and know it well. You will meet the creators and explore different areas. There are tons of in-jokes, a tour of YogTowers, a the tourist’s guide to Datlof, and the chance to become a JaffaQuest cadet. I was pretty clueless reading this book, because it is such an inclusive community (yes, I know calling a community of millions and billions inclusive is hilarious), but if you’re a fan, you’ll love the book. Carry it in your library at your own risk, though – there are workbook-type pages in here and they’ll most likely get written on. This book will do gangbusters at the Scholastic Book Fairs, bet on it.

 

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction, gaming, geek culture, Intermediate, Middle Grade

GameKnight999 is back in a new Minecraft adventure!

In news that will make the kids at my library ecstatic, Mark Cheverton has a new GameKnight999 Minecraft novel coming out in two days. GameKnight999 vs. Herobrine: Herobrine Reborn is Book 3 in this latest adventure series.

Gamek-vs-Hb-V2-72dpi

I first discovered Mark Cheverton’s books at New York Comic Con a couple of years ago, where I picked up his first big GameKnight999 series, beginning with Invasion of the Overworld. My then 9 year-old son loved it, and when I ordered a set for my library at the time, they disappeared as soon as I displayed them on the “New” shelves. One of the first purchases I made here at my new location was the original series, and again, haven’t seen them since I put them on the shelves – I didn’t even make it to the shelves, come to think of it; once the kids saw Minecraft books in my arms, they swarmed me!

swarm

Needless to say, I’ve ordered more Minecraft books since, and I’ve held a really popular Pixel Art workshop. I cut construction paper into 2″ x 2″ squares, and provided templates of various Minecraft subjects (my first were the Creeper and a flower) that the kids used to create their own works of Minecraft Art. It went over so well that I’m scheduling more Minecraft workshops in the future.

Gameknight999 vs. Herobrine, Book 3 is the conclusion of the Herobrine Reborn series, and will hit bookstores and mass market retailers this Wednesday, January 6th and is already available on Amazon!

Cheverton also Skypes with schools interested in virtual author visits – check out his website for more information. He also provides his own Minecraft server info for kids who want to join in the fun. He will unapologetically ban griefers and bullies, so you know it’s a safe space for your families and patrons (if you let them run Minecraft on your computers). Go to his server site for more information on access.

I’m off to add this latest book to my January budget. Enjoy!

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, gaming, geek culture, Intermediate, Middle Grade, roleplaying

Invasion of the Overworld – Is Minecraft The Matrix?

invasionInvasion of the Overworld, by Mark Cheverton (2013, Sky Pony Press) $9.99, ISBN: 978-1-63220-711-1

Recommended for ages 8-12

If you’re around tweens at all in the course of your day, you’ve probably at least heard of Minecraft. It’s an online game and community that allows users to create their own worlds in 8-bit, or face off against other users on other servers. My kids have been Minecrafting for a  few years now, and some of the stuff I’ve seen is nothing short of mind-blowing. I’ve seen Hogwarts, Middle Earth, and castles and creations that defy all explanation, created by anyone from young kids to architects and engineers who use Minecraft. That said, there are – as in real life – creeps who find amusement in destroying other people’s creations. Called “griefers”, they find their way into users’ areas and burn down and destroy other people’s hard work. Invasion of the Overworld addresses this beautifully.

The story begins with a boy whose Minecraft name is GameKnight999. He’s a 12 year-old kid who loves griefing and setting up traps to lure his teammates and friends to. It’s his way of exercising power that he doesn’t have in real life, but it’s not doing him any favors. When – in a scene that reminded me of Disney’s Tron – he finds himself digitized and in the Minecraft world itself, he learns that his online actions have repercussions, and when he’s confronted with the fallout from his actions, he begins to see things in a new light.

He also learns that all is not well in the world of Minecraft. The monsters that exist in the game are finding their way, server by server, to the Source, a source of power that will lead them to our world. GameKnight – called The User That is Not a User – is the one things standing in their way. We see GameKnight on a voyage of personal discovery as he matures and takes on the responsibility not only of defending Minecraft, but his own world.

The book is Minecraft-heavy. There are detailed desriptions of settings, tools, and game vocabulary. Minecrafters will recognize and love this, and newbies to the game (and I count myself in this number) will appreciate Mr. Cheverton’s explanations. Mark Cheverton wrote this series after the Minecraft world he and his son created was destroyed by griefers. Parents will appreciate the discussions about cyberbullying and bullying in real life, and I’m hopeful that kids reading this series will see that every action brings with it some consequence, whether or not they hide behind the anonymity of being online.

I bought a set of these books for my library, because the kids are avid Minecrafters. I haven’t seen the books since the day I put them on the shelves – they’re constantly in circulation, and I really should by a new set, along with Mr. Cheverton’s latest series, The Mystery of Herobrine.

Keep up with Mark Cheverton’s Minecraft novels at his website, where you can sign up for email updates.

Full disclosure, I am mortified by how long it took me to get to this review. I received a copy of the GameKnight999 trilogy at New York Comic Con last year, and only just got to sit down and read this first book in the series. I hope that all the booktalks I’ve given this series in the time it took me to read it helps make up for the delay!

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, gaming, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Minecrafters! GameKnight999 is writing another adventure!

Hey, remember back when we were getting all excited for New York Comic Con, I had the opportunity to get a set of Minecraft novels written by Mark Cheverton, and so did you? I promise, PROMISE, promise, those reviews are coming – the Cybils awards are currently taking over my entire nightstand and starting to head toward my living room – but in the meantime, Mark Cheverton is writing another Minecraft adventure, and Sky Pony Press is publishing it!

The new book sounds like it’s going to be part of another GameKnight999 series, and it’s called The Mystery of Herobrine. We’re going to get more Minecraft secrets, and meet some new villains in this series. Mr. Cheverton even treated us to a glimpse of one of his new villains, Xa-Tul, the zombie king:

minecraft_gameknight

I’m really excited to get to these books. My son loved them, and was VERY excited to see this sneak peek. I also bought a set for my library, and I haven’t seen them since the day I put them on the “New Books” shelf. The kids are EATING this book, I swear it. In fact, once I get a book budget again, I may have to invest in another set. And I think I need to look at this Winter Morgan Minecraft series, also available through Sky Pony.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Science Fiction, Video Games, Young Adult/New Adult

Minecraft Novels at New York Comic Con!

I just got the greatest press release in my inbox – there are Minecraft novels for tweens! Not only that, but Skyhorse Publishing, who publishes the books by GAMEKNIGHT999, aka Mark Cheverton’s, has a whole roster of authors that will be at Skyhorse’s booth 2129, signing all weekend at New York Comic Con, all from Skyhorse’s sci fi/fantasy/horror imprint, Night Shade Books.

That’s not enough? How about FREE BOOKS? How about entering a raffle to be selected s the inspiration for a new character in Mark Cheverton’s next Minecraft novel? Drawings will be at 3:00PM on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

More? Okay, there’s also going to be a LEGO diorama of Comic Con itself, created by Jeff Friesen, author of United States of LEGO. And on Sunday – KIDS’ DAY! – Skyhorse will host a LEGO play center for kids.

Here’s the schedule. Plan accordingly!

Thursday, 3:00 PM and Friday, 11:30 AM

Meet Mike Martinez

Buy The Daedalus Incident for $10 and receive a FREE copy of The Enceladus Crisis

*****

Friday, 3:30 PM

Meet Ellen Datlow!

Buy Best Horror of the Year, Vol. 6 for $10 and receive a FREE copy of Vol. 5!

Winner of Six Hugo Awards ● Ten World Fantasy Awards ● Three Bram Stoker Awards ● Eight Locus Awards ● Two International Horror Guild Awards ● Two Shirley Jackson Awards ● The Karl Edward Wagner Special Award

*****

Friday, 5:00 PM

Meet Laird Barron!

Buy The Beautiful Thing the Awaits Us All for $10 and receive a FREE copy of Occultation or The Croning

Three Time Winner of the Shirley Jackson Award ● Winner of the Bram Stoker Award ● Nominated for Three World Fantasy Awards ● Nominated for Seven International Horror Guild Awards ● Nominated for 14 Locus Awards

*****

Saturday, 2:00 PM and 5:00 PM AND Sunday, 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM

Meet Mark Cheverton!

Bestselling Author of the GAMEKNIGHT999 Minecraft Series

Mark Will be Signing Invasion of the OverworldBattle for the Nether, and Confronting the Dragon

Kids Take Home One Free Book! (only one copy per day allowed)

I’ll be reviewing Invasion of the Overworld very soon, so watch this space!

Posted in Media, Video Games

Game Review: Minecraft

Recommended for ages 9+

Minecraft is a sandbox game – a game with no objective other than to have fun (and survive) – where players create their own worlds by mining and digging resources for themselves. With both multiplayer and single player options, Minecrafters can play with other friends or on their own.

Players have limited time to get their resources and initial shelters built; monsters called Creepers (right) come out at “night” and damage property and individuals alike. Other monsters, including spiders, skeletons and zombies cause varying degrees of damage to property and/or players.

Players can modify their game by downloading modifications (mods for short) that provide them with extra weapons, unlimited resources, surface textures and additional characters. Some mods are not comptabile with others, but there are lists that keep players informed about these incompatibilities.

Minecraft is a great game for kids. It affords them the creativity to build worlds to their liking and gives them the tools to continue creating, expanding and altering their worlds. By playing alone, they can interact with other Minecrafters, or by playing by themselves, they can avoid any potential problems with “friends” who think destroying other people’s worlds is fun. It is a game of imagination and creation that continues to grow and expand, bringing new ideas and capabilities to kids. With an “old school” 8-bit appearance, there are no sleek graphics or mind-blowing special effects, and yet the game is very popular because of the ability to develop and adjust entire landscapes and stretch their creative  muscles.

There is a wealth of information available for anyone interested in learning Minecraft, including the Minecraft Wiki, available in ten different languages including Spanish, French, Russian and Korean. Templates exist for other languages if a user is willing to put the work in to build them. Billing itself as “the ultimate resource” , the wiki offers help on gameplay, crafting, modifications and more. WikiMinecraft is a fan-based site that offers video tutorials and screen shots to guide new crafters.

One family creates their own Minecraft video podcast, Minecraft Family Adventures, available on YouTube.