Posted in Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction

Little Kid, Big City: a kids’ guide to New York!

Little Kid, Big City: New York, by Beth Beckman/Illustrated by Holly Maher, (Feb. 2021, Quirk Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9781683692447

Ages 7-12

A travel book for kids that includes tips and tricks for navigating New York City, Little Kid, Big City: New York is set up like a choose-your-own-adventure book – just like New York! Most of the action is concentrated in Manhattan, but there are highlights in the outer boroughs, like Rockaway Beach and the Unisphere in my ‘hood, Queens; Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, Coney Island in Brooklyn, and so much more! There are great little inside secrets to New York, too: what makes our bagels taste so good? The water! The pizza? Foldable! Underground art galleries? Check the subways! Read the book straight through, or follow the prompts that give you a choice to wander all over the city. Colorful illustrations capture the buzz of New York by day, and the rhyming text lets little readers enjoy a story about New York City! The book is a spin-off of the Little Kid Big City website, which also has a wealth of information perfect for families traveling to New York, London, Amsterdam, and Washington, DC, and the Instagram account, which has gorgeous photos, guides, and reels.

Let the kids plan the next adventure when we can travel again – many of these sites are still closed at the moment – and you can’t go wrong. Until then, download a free Travel from Home Activity Kit. Back matter includes an “Adventure Index” that provides more in-depth detail about each of the sites visited in the book, and there’s a fold-out map of New York and the boroughs to hang up. Bundle this with Nadja Spiegelman and Sergio García Sánchez’s graphic novel, Lost in NYC, for a full New York experience.

 

Posted in Middle Grade, Non-fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

Books for Pet Lovers!

Ollie and Augustus, by Gabriel Evans, (May 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536209679

Ages 3-5

Ollie and Augustus are the best of friends: Ollie is a slight young boy, and Augustus is his large dog. The two friends did most things together; as most best friends do, they even got on each other’s nerves – but quickly got over it. When Ollie is about to start school, he worries: who will be there to keep Augustus company? OIlie tries to find a friend to occupy Augustus’s time until Ollie gets home, but the playdates he sets up with local dogs just don’t work out. They don’t share Augustus’s interests and he certainly doesn’t share theirs. Ollie needn’t worry, though: Augustus is perfectly capable of keeping himself busy until Ollie gets home.

An adorable story of friendship and that comfortable, “just right” feeling, Ollie and Augustus also eases back-to-school worries by assuring kids that comfort and love will be waiting at home for them. Assure your kiddos that pets will be fine; teddy bears, dolls, and other comfort objects that they may transfer worry to will be okay, and waiting for them when they get home after an exciting new day at school. Watercolor, gouache, and pencil artwork with soft colors gives a gentle feel to the story, and the brief prose moves about the pages, narrating each picture, keeping the reader’s interest moving throughout the story. Endpapers are set up like a photo album, capturing moments in Ollie’s and Augustus’s life together from the early moments forward, giving a sense of investment and time in the relationship. A sweet back to school or pet storytime choice.

 

My Pet (Not Yours) (Lento & Fox #2), by Ben Sanders, (Jan. 2020, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1684640850

Ages 3-6

The hilarious follow-up to My Book (Not Yours) is here! Lento the Sloth and Fox are back to delight readers with their latest romp. Lento has found a new pet! It’s a pink long-eared creature who really doesn’t look thrilled to be wearing the collar we assume Lento has adorned it with. But wait! Fox steps in and claims that Mr. Fluffington – Lento’s name for his new pet – should actually be HIS pet, because he is “an expert pet handler”. Fox dubs the new pet Frankensausage, which doesn’t seem to cheer it up any more than Lento did. The two go back and forth, hilariously trying to outdo the other and win Mr. Fluffington-Frankensausage’s affections. The pink friend’s disapproving face and posture remains constant throughout the shenanigans, making events even funnier. As the two frenemies take turns dressing their new pet up, tossing it about as they swear they’re playing with him, and bickering over who he’s better suited for, the pink guy can’t take it anymore. Sight gags, back and forth snarking, and bright, bold colors make this another home run for Lento and Fox, and another great addition to your storytimes. Put on different voices, grab a plush friend to stand in for Mr. Fluffington/Frankensausage, and have at it. Endpapers are there for more laughs as the stoic visage of Fluffington-sausage takes on different emotions, never-changing.

 

Pet That Dog! A Handbook for Making Four-Legged Friends, by Gideon Kidd & Rachel Braunigan, (Oct. 2020, Quirk Books), $14.99, ISBN:  978-1683692294

Ages 8-12

Eleven-year-old Gideon Kidd (now 12) loves dogs! He’s even got a website, IvePetThatDog, with pictures of Gideon and all the dogs he’s been petting since he was 8. Who better to write a book about befriending dogs, for kids? Pet That Dog! is part guide to caring for a pet dog, part guide to dogs, perfect for middle graders who love and may be getting a pupper of their own. Chapters include How to Pet That Dog, which shows kids the best way to approach a dog for pets (and how to walk away if the dog isn’t up for it); things to talk to dog people about in order to learn more about dogs, and fun personality quizzes and ideas for naming your dog. There’s even a Dog Tracker so kids can start journaling their own dog-petting adventures. Fun facts, colorful illustrations, and a conversational tone make this a great book for dog aficionados. Books, movies, and online sources provide more information for kids who want to learn more. My Kiddo has absconded with my copy of this book, and, while we haven’t been able to approach anyone to learn about their dogs lately, he’s definitely been putting it to use with our own pup.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Tis the season to be reading!

You want seasonal books? I got seasonal books. I got Hanukkah books, I got Christmas books, I got winter books, I got all the books: I’m just posting a few at a time, to keep the thrill of the season alive. Join me and enjoy!

The Littlest Candle: A Hanukkah Story, by Rabbis Kerry & Jesse Olitzky/Illustrated by Jen Kostman, (June 2020, Kalaniot Books), $17.99, ISBN: 978-0-9988527-5-1

Hanukkah is coming! The candles are so excited! Who will be the first candle on the menorah this year? The candles all discuss among themselves why each should be the first candle. All except Flicker, the smallest candle in the box, that is. Little Flicker is always the first candle to support his friends, whether it’s through cleaning up the hard to reach areas of the box, or making sure the others have enough to eat. Waxy, the wisest candle, recounts the story of Hanukkah and the importance of each candle in the menorah, and decides to make Little Flicker his helper candle: the shamash.

Soft, cheerful colors and gentle storytelling make this a wonderful Hanukkah story with a great message: “Hanukkah is a reminder that sometimes, even when you are small, you are still capable of miracles”. The cartoony artwork will appeal to all kids, and reminded me of The Day the Crayons Quit. Most of the artwork revolves around the crayons, but there are people in here, too; a family celebrates the season together with the brightly lit menorah burning in the background. Back matter has more to learn about Hanukkah, including the blessings to light the menorah by. Add this to your holiday reading every year, whether you celebrate Hanukkah or another seasonal holiday. It’s got a wonderful message that kids will love to hear.

I’m very excited because Kalaniot Books, The Littlest Candle‘s publisher, is a new imprint that will publish books for children on Jewish culture and history. So I’m hoping to bring more exciting titles to you in the future!

 

Elf, based on the film by David Berenbaum/Illustrated by Kim Smith, (Oct. 2020, Quirk Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9781683692409

Ages 4-8

Quirk Books has the best in pop culture books for kids and I am here for it. The newest? This year’s Elf, adapted from the hilarious 2003 movie starring Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf. The story of Buddy the Elf, the human raised by Santa’s elves, who goes to find his dad in crazy New York City and ends up saving Christmas is adorably rendered here with cartoon artwork and a mix of narration and word balloons, usually capturing some of the best movie moments. Endpapers bookend the film, showing Buddy at the beginning and end of his journey, and the art is so cheery and colorful, you won’t help but want to read this again and again. Absolutely wonderful, and perfect for a Pop Culture storytime (psst… Quirk publishes picture books about Home Alone 1 and Home Alone 2) along with classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and so many more.

My only question: when do we get a picture book adaptation of Jean Shepherd’s A Christmas Story? Come ON!

 

Mouse’s Night Before Christmas, by Tracey Corderoy/Illustrated by Sarah Massini, (Oct. 2020 Nosy Crow), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536214406

Ages 3-7

This sweet take on the classic A Visit from St. Nicholas/’Twas the Night Before Christmas stars a mouse who desperately wants a friend. The lonely mouse lives in a grandfather clock and wishes for a friend to give presents to… when who should land on his roof but old Saint Nick and his reindeer, forced down during a storm! The Mouse happily offers to guide Santa on his way, and spends a happy Christmas Eve as Santa’s helper. When he drops Mouse off, he comforts a disappointed Mouse by reminding him that Christmas isn’t over yet… and Mouse has to discover his own gift. A touching story of friendship, the rhyme is set to the rhythm of the original Clement Moore poem; you’ll fall right into it as you read it out loud. The mixed media illustrations are comforting and warm. Kids will love curling up with this lovable story of finding friends.

 

Gigantosaurus: The Holiday Party, by Cyber Group Studios, (Sept. 2020, Candlewick Entertainment), $5.99, ISBN: 9781536213409

Ages 3-7

Gigantosaurus is an animated dinosaur show currently streaming on Netflix and available on Disney Junior and the books have started hitting shelves. Based on the episode The Shortest Day, The Holiday Party Tiny, a triceratops, decides to throw a big party in celebration of the shortest day of the year. She’s planning food, music, presents, and the biggest party ever! But everything that can go wrong does go wrong, and Tiny is devastated. And then Giganto shows up: the big scary guy! Will Tiny’s party be saved? A holiday story about celebrating, friendship, and wrong expectations, The Holiday Party is digitally illustrated and includes both narration and speech bubbles. It’s a fun read for kids who love dinosaurs, and the stickers on the last two pages will make this a super-fun holiday treat. If you’re including this for your library shelves, slice those stickers out and give them away to your kiddos!

Posted in Fantasy, Historical Fiction, History, Teen, Tween Reads, Young Adult/New Adult

Tween and Teen Fiction that keeps readers on the edge of their seats

I’m at that odd moment when my TBR and my HBR (have been read) piles are toppling. Which is a good problem to have, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that I’m constantly catching up to something, be it reading or reviews. Let’s take a look at some YA, including a book that’s being touted for middle grade, but I feel would work much better for older tweens/teens.

 

They Threw Us Away, by Daniel Kraus/Illustrated by Rovina Kai, (Sept. 2020, Henry Holt BYR), $16.99, ISBN: 9781250224408

Ages 12+

I’m going to kick things off with the book I feel is better for older tweens. They Threw Us Away is being billed as “Lord of the Flies meets Toy Story”, and it’s a pretty accurate description. A blue teddy bear wakes up in a garbage dump and frees himself; he notes his name tag, which says his name is Buddy, and he sees other boxes of teddies on the pile and works to free the others before rats, seagulls, or a terrifying machine gets to them. Together, Buddy and the other teddies – Sunny, Sugar, Horace, and Reginald – put their memories together: they were in the Store, waiting for children to take them home and love them. Once they are loved by a child, teddies fall into the Forever Sleep. So what happened? The group sets out to get some answers, but they learn that the world is a scary place; even scarier than the Dump, and that the answers they seek may not be the answers they want to hear.

The first in a planned trilogy, They Threw Us Away is bleak and often brutal. There are graphic depictions of teddy bear death, which, when I say it, may sound like something to laugh off, but reading it is pretty horrific. Younger readers and more sensitive readers may be upset by the unrelenting danger and horror. Black and white illustrations throughout reinforce the story. There are some loose ends that we can expect future books to pick up on. Each Teddy has a distinct personality and struggles with their circumstances accordingly: Buddy is kind and gentle; the peacemaker and ersatz leader; Sugar, whose damaged box meant she suffered some bumps, too, is flighty and quirky; Sunny is a conflicted character with flashes of rage and a desire to keep the group together; Reginald is a serious, sagelike teddy, and Horace is fearful. Give this to your dedicated horror fans, and save it for your higher elementary readers and middle schoolers.

 

The Snow Fell Three Graves Deep: Voices from the Donner Party, by Allan Wolf, (Sept. 2020, Candlewick), $21.99, ISBN: 9780763663247

Ages 13+

This novel in verse is the latest retelling of the Donner Party and their fate in the Sierra Nevadas during the winter of 1846-1847. Poet Allan Wolf gives voice to members of the ill-fated party in his book: James Reed and George Donner, leaders of the doomed caravan; Baptiste Trudeau, a 16-year-old orphan taken under George and Tamzene Donner’s wing; Salvador and Luis, two Miwok Indian guides; Ludwig Keseberg, a haunted man; Patty and Virginia Reed, two of James Reed’s children, and more are all here, telling their stories in haunted verse. Hunger narrates the story, giving readers familiar with Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief a familiar touch. Hunger is dispassionate and yet evokes emotion in the narration. Beginning as the party begins experiencing misfortune, the voices grow more desperate and the verse, more haunting, as the snow falls; the party’s desperation is palpable. Moments dedicated to the snowfall include names of the fallen sprinkled in with the repeated word, “snow”. Comprehensive back matter includes an author’s note, biographies, statistics, a timeline of events, and resources for more reading and research. It’s an incredibly detailed work of historical fiction and nonfiction all at once.

The Snow Fell Three Graves Deep has starred reviews from Booklist and BookPage.

 

This is Not the Jess Show, by Anna Carey, (Nov. 2020, Quirk Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9781683691976

Ages 13+

I am DYING to talk about this book, but there’s so much I can’t say because I CAN’T SPOIL IT. So here are the main details: Jess Flynn is a 1990s high school junior wears babydoll dresses and watches Party of Five. She’s developing a crush on her childhood best friend, Tyler. Her sister, Sara, is suffering from a blood disease and has been getting worse. Things are in constant flux for Jess, and things have been getting weird in her home town of Swickley, too: half the population has been hit by a mysterious flu. Her dog goes from lavishing attention on her to growling and hiding from her. She hears strange chanting, and people either stop speaking when she enters a room, or she catches glances that people around her give one another. And what the heck is that black device with an apple on it that fell out of her friend’s backpack? Things are weird in Swickley, and Jess means to get to the bottom of it.

I LOVED this book! The ’90s vibe, the pacing, the overall story, everything is so well crafted and paced. Jess is a smart character who is sensitive enough to her surroundings to know something’s up: this is the constant in a plot that keeps trying to shift her world around. What I can say is that Jess gets a crash course in what people are willing to do for selfish reasons; what she does in response to that fact keeps the story in motion. ’90s pop culture references make this even more fun. Hand this to all your teens, and booktalk Grady Hendrix’s My Best Friend’s Exorcism, for it’s awesome ’80s references, too. Tell ’em to read them with their parents.

 

 

Posted in Non-Fiction, Teen, Tween Reads, Young Adult/New Adult

Cursed Objects: A trip through weird history

Cursed Objects: Strange but True Stories of the World’s Most Infamous Items, by J. W. Ocker, (Sept. 2020, Quirk Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9781683692362

Ages 12+

If you have teens (and tweens) who love the creepier side of life, you have to hand them Cursed Objects. If you have fans of the podcast (and Amazon Prime show  and series of books) Lore, have this book at the ready. Cursed Objects is a worldwide road trip through some of the weirdest, wackiest, allegedly objects that may or may not be cursed. Some of these treasures are well-known and infamous: the Hope Diamond and the actual Annabelle the doll are both in here, as are Robert the Doll (also featured on Lore) and . Some may be new to you, like Robert the Doll, one of the creepiest The Unlucky Mummy, who launched a thousand e-mail chain letters back in the ’90s. And some were new to me, like The Dybbuk Box, which was sold on eBay, and The Ring of Silvianus, a Roman artifact that allegedly inspired JRR Tolkien. Illustrated in two-color blue and white, each entry has a few pages dedicated to the object’s history, alleged misfortunes, and where it is today. There are callout boxes and bulleted lists throughout, making this an easy, entertaining, and absolutely fun read.

Author J.W. Ocker is the Edgar-winning author of The Rotter House and creator of OTIS: Odd Things I’ve Seen where you can read about more of his visits to oddities of culture, art, nature, and history across the world.


Posted in Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Once Upon a Con: Bookish and the Beast keeps the magic going

Bookish and the Beast, by Ashley Poston, (Aug. 2020, Quirk Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9781683691938

Ages 12+

The third Once Upon a Con book is coming! I’ve been enjoying this series since picking up Geekerella back in 2017. Remixed fairy tales, updated to take place in a fandom world? Yes, please! In this third installment, we’ve got some returning characters, some new faces, and a familiar storyline with a little fandom magic.

Rosie Thorne is a high school senior, living with her widowed dad, and mourning her mom, who happened to be a huge fan of… you know it, Starfield, the sci-fi series introduced in Geekerella. She’s also stuck on her college application essays and on the memory of the masked General Sond cosplayer she met at ExelsiCon. While trying to do a good deed, she inadvertently stumbles into a house where Vance Reigns – actor, Hollywood bad boy, and Starfield’s very own General Sond – is hiding out from the paparazzi after a major scandal hit the tabloids. He’s predictably beastly (see what I did there?) to Rosie, who’s so taken aback that she ruins a rare book in the house’s gorgeous library. She offers to work off the cost of the book, which means she’s now spending every day in Vance’s presence. As the two get used to one another, literal and proverbial masks come off, but they’re both hurt and vulnerable people: can Rosie and Vance let their guards down enough to fall in love?

Bookish and the Beast has all the elements that make Ashley Poston’s Once Upon a Con series so readable: great dialogue and pacing, fun characters that you want to fall in love with and hang out with, and most importantly, the genuine love of fandom. Her characters’ fandoms – in this case, Starfield – have passed on through generations, from parents to children, and it’s here that the heart of fandom lies. Fandom is a community, with its good, bad, and ugly, and Ashley Poston respects that community by creating characters that inhabit that space in her books and the readers who love them. Each character goes on their own personal journeys here, and so many relatable, enjoyable characters.

Rainbow Rowell readers, this series is for you. Check out Ashley Poston’s website for an FAQ, links to her social media, and more information about her books.

Posted in Uncategorized

A league of heroes dedicated to protecting: Spark and the League of Ursus

Spark and the League of Ursus, by Robert Repino, (Apr. 2020, Quirk Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9781683691662

Ages 8-12

Have you ever seen that meme with a teddy bear standing over a sleeping child, challenging a looming monster? If you have, you’ve got the basis for Spark and the Legends of Ursus. Spark and Sir Reginald are teddy bears, pledged to protect their now-tween children, Loretta and Matthew, from monsters. Sir Reginald is the elder bear and mentor to Spark, the one who introduced her to the League of Ursus – the secret society of teddy bears, sworn to protect. Things are dire when a monster shows up in Loretta’s room, and when a neighborhood girl goes missing. Spark and Sir Reginald are determined to protect their charges, but find themselves up against a terrible evil that they need help battling. Additional League of Ursus members, a sock monkey, and Amazon warrior princess doll are all that stands between the monster and the children of their neighborhood.

This is an exciting, heartfelt adventure book that embraces our love of teddy bears. Their gentle natures belie the fact that they are bears, who can be pretty ferocious! The story also looks at the love between a toy and a child – in this universe, a toy doesn’t “awaken” until it’s loved by a child – and how that changes as the child gets older and finds less time for their toys. If you have Toy Story fans, and readers of books like Brian Lynch’s Toy Academy series, that are ready for a more involved book, this is the book to give them. Spark is a wonderfully idealistic, eager young character, waiting to be called upon for her moment; Sir Reginald is a world-weary warrior with much to pass along to his student. Loretta and Matthew are burgeoning filmmakers with their own YouTube channel, so there’s some filmmaking tidbits here and there that could link up nicely with some Summer Reading programming involving filmmaking, maybe on a cell phone.

Spark and the League of Ursus is a good first fantasy novel to give to readers who are looking for something new, and a good fantasy novel to give to readers who may need that reassurance that it’s still okay to love a teddy bear. (I do.) Have Stranger Things fans? Give them this one, too – that monster can surely come from The Upside Down.

Note: I believe the final book will have illustrations; my ARC didn’t.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Comic Quests: Choose your own comic book adventure!

Quirk has such fun books, don’t they? Who else would find authors and illustrators that give us The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer pictures books, Star Wars as the Shakespearean masterpieces we all know they are, and now… Choose Your Own Adventure graphic novels in their Comic Quests series?

Released in September, there are two Comic Quests adventures: Knights Club and Hocus & Pocus. The rules are closer to role-playing games than merely choose your own adventure comics; readers will collect supplies, solve puzzles, and keep track of food and supplies for themselves and any familiars and pets they’re traveling with on their own handy dandy Quest Tracker – tabletop gamers will recognize the similarity to character sheets for roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons. Don’t worry about destroying your book, though – there are free, downloadable PDFs online. Librarians, consider putting a note on the covers of your copies to let your readers know this.

Knights Club: The Bands of Bravery, by Novy, Shuky, and Waltch/Translated by Melanie Strang-Hardy, (Sept. 2018, Quirk Books), $13.99, ISBN: 978-1-68369-057-3

Ages 8-12

Originally published in France in 2012, this first Knights Club adventure takes place in the year 1012, in the kingdom of Louis the Little. The Royal Order of Knights help keep the peace in Louis’ kingdom, and three farming brothers dream of joining their ranks. They set off to join Knights School, and that’s where the fun begins. Readers get to select which brother they want to be, and the adventure unfolds, questing through snowy mountains, dark forests, and mysterious lakes. Readers get to solve riddles, seek out magical objects, and choose their own path by following numbered panels through to the end of each tale. Panels are in color, and the storytelling pace moves along, but some challenges can be a little daunting for readers who are expecting a simple choose your own adventure story. My suggestion? Make it into a roleplaying program, and invite kids to learn how to play as they read! You may be creating your next generation of Dungeons & Dragons players, after all.

Knights Club: The Message of Destiny is the second book in the series and will be available in January 2019.

Hocus & Focus: The Legend of Grimm’s Woods, by Gorobei and Manuro, (Sept. 2018, Quirk Books), $13.99, ISBN: 9781-168369-055-9

Ages 8-12

Originally published in France in 2016, Hocus & Focus takes place in a more fairy tale-inspired fantasy world where readers can choose to be either a male (Hocus) or female (Pocus) character, choose a pet and keep it fed, and go on an adventure where you can discover gingerbread houses, make your way through a brain-teasing forest, and find missing children. There are numbered paths and riddles to be solved in order to advance, and panels are in full-color, just like the Knights Club. Gameplay can be a bit of a challenge – there’s one riddle where I had to count spots on baby wolves in order to get the next panel number that confounded me time and again (“is that a spot, or an ink blot? My ARC is black and white!”), so you may want to mark up your own ARC, if you have one, or keep a handy document of answers for kids that approach you needing help.

Hocus & Pocus: The Search for the Missing Dwarves is the second book in the series and will be available in January 2019.

All in all? A fun series of brain teasers for kids, and a nice way to side-eye anyone who says comics and graphic novels aren’t real reading!

Posted in Fantasy, Science Fiction, Teen

Garrison Girl: YA in the Attack on Titan universe!

Garrison Girl: An Attack on Titan novel, by Rachel Aaron, (Aug. 2018, Quirk Books), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-68369-061-0

Ages 12+

Humanity lives in walled cities while giant titans roam the earth. They’re without sense, without intelligence, motivated by a ravenous hunger for human flesh. The military guards the walls, always watching, always waiting. Rosalie Dumarque is the daughter of a wealthy, prominent general; her only purpose in life is to marry well and bring honor to her family, but that’s not going to work for Rosalie. She graduated from military school with honors, and she wants to fight titans, not get married. She convinces her father to let her serve for the six months before her wedding; he sends her to the Wall Rose Garrison in the hopes that she’ll be scared off. With titans wandering too close to the wall, death is always a possibility; under the command of Jax Cunningham, it’s more of a certainty. But Rosalie, along with new friends Willow and Emmett, are determined to stick it out and improve. At first, Rosalie is looked down on as the rich girl, but her commitment to the wall and Rose Garrison quickly makes her part of the team. She even manages to get through to Jax, who starts seeing her as more than a spoiled rich girl. The specter of her engagement looms as a romance blooms between the two, and when Rosalie decides that six months isn’t enough for her, she risks losing her father’s respect and her family’s support. BUT WHO CARES? THERE ARE TITANS, MAN!

Garrison Girl is a YA novel set in the Attack on Titan universe. Look, I’d never seen an episode or cracked open an Attack on Titan manga in my life before Ivy at Quirk sent me this book; I had a vague notion of what the story is about, so that was good enough for me. I finished the book in a day and a half. I refused to put it down, it was so good. These are original characters in a familiar universe, but if you’ve never set foot in that universe before, fear not! The book gets you up to speed pretty quickly with everything you need to know, and the action hits fast, hard, and brutally. I turned to my 14 year-old, who watches anime and reads manga, and said, “HE ATE A GUY!” My son sagely nodded and said, “Yup. Like a carrot.” I threw the book down on the couch in the break room at work and yelled at the end, and had a coworker comment, “You read books like people watch movies”. Well, yes, I do, and if you read this book, you will too. There are characters you will love and want to shield with your own body, and there are characters you will want to punch until a titan walks by and munches on them like potato chips. The book moves fast, the characters are well-thought out and written, and the action and tension are equally high. Fantasy fans, add this to your TBR. Put this on your Attack on Titan displays.

And, Rachel and Ivy? We’re getting more of this, right? RIGHT?

Posted in geek, geek culture, Middle Grade, programs, Tween Reads

I had a BookPop! party and it was great!

Quirk Books is a… well, quirky, fun book publisher that has a comic book writer and former YA librarian in their ranks, spreading the good word. It’s pretty awesome, because now, my library gets to do things like have a gallery dedicated to horror paperbacks of the ’70s and ’80s (Paperbacks From Hell), and have a mini pop culture con for my kiddos and tweens.

First up, my Paperbacks From Hell gallery, in my teen section. It’s garnering some looks, some chuckles, and some conversations: “What the hell is that?” “That is a giant gila monster. And watch your mouth.” (The display is in the teen area, but you know, little pitchers, big ears). The teens are pretty baffled, the grownups get a kick out of it, and it just makes me happy.

Next up, BookPop: Quirk’s traveling pop culture fest, happening in libraries and bookstores all over the place. I held mine late, because I thought it would be the perfect program to hold when the kids were out of school; last Thursday – since most of the families in my community don’t observe Rosh Hashanah – was the day. Quirk sent me a box o’swag, including ET: The Extra-Terrestrial tattoos (not in the picture: those babies were GONE); posters of the new kids’ books, X-Files: Children are Weird, and the YA novel My Best Friend’s Exorcism; and a spiffy tote bag to put everything in. I downloaded Quirk’s Geek Guides for putting on a great day of programming, and was ready.

First program of BookPop! Day was Superhero Storytime. I had a handful of kiddos and their parents attend, and we made masks and Geek Family Crests when we were done. The kids loved the masks – I downloaded some blank templates from First Palette, handed out scissors, markers, crayons, and lanyard to tie the masks, and the kids loved it. One little one even wore her mask through the next program…

Nick and Tesla’s Science Workshop. The Nick and Tesla books are tons of fun and loaded with STEM experiments, but I wanted something that even my littler ones could do. Enter, bubbles. I told the kids that Nick and Tesla are a brother-sister team that solve mysteries and get out of trouble by creating great science projects, and that we were going to learn about surface tension, and the difference between bubbling your milk and bubbling water with a little dish soap in it. I had a gallon-sized tub filled with water, gave out droppers, straws, and cups, and we bubbled away. Then, I had one of the kids add a cup of plain old liquid dish soap, and they all took turns stirring it. I spread some water on the table and demonstrate how to blow a table bubble, and that was all the kids needed. Look at these bubbles!

The entire table, at one point, was covered in bubbles. They loved it, I loved it, and they want more fun science programming, so win, all around. Next up was…

The Miss Peregrine Photo Workshop. Originally, I planned this for my teen patrons, but they weren’t interested – I had a group of tweens, though, who were all over it. We talked about the movie, I showed them the books, and brought out the equipment: photos I printed onto card stock from a Miss Peregrine-inspired Pinterest board (search on “vintage weird” and I guarantee you won’t be sorry), lots of paper towel, a spray bottle full of coffee, and two containers of coffee and tea. The kids loved aging their photos, and I was amazed by their creativity: one girl laid a paper towel over her photo to give it more texture as the coffee seeped through, and another tore the borders of her photo to make it look even older.

When I told them I wanted to create a photo gallery of their work, they all donated the photos to the library! So today, we have “Queensboro Hill’s Library for Outstanding Children” (forgive the glare, I laminated the photos so they wouldn’t deteriorate further):

I handed swag bags out for most of the day, and everything went except for one tote, two X-Files posters, and a handful of My Best Friend’s Exorcism posters, which will all be prizes for future programs. One kid couldn’t even wait to get home: he gave himself an ET tattoo sleeve, which was pretty fabulous.

I’d call our Queensboro Hill BookPop! a success.