Posted in Adventure, Fiction, Humor, Middle Grade

Spy Penguins are on the scene!

At the beginning of the school year, Macmillan sent me a box of new fiction to check out; I’ve been working my way through it, but had to take some time to post about the Spy Penguins books by Sam Hay, with illustrations by Marek Jagucki. These books are hilarious and loaded with wacky adventures! I read both books in the series so far (there’s a third one coming in September 2020), and have started reading the first book to my kiddo. He’s thoroughly enjoying them. So let’s take a look at the newest dynamic duo, The Spy Penguins.

Spy Penguins, by Sam Hay/Illustrated by Marek Jagucki, (Sept. 2018, Feiwel & Friends), $13.99, ISBN: 9781250188380

Ages 7-11

The first book in the new Spy Penguins series introduces us to Agent 00Zero and Q, better known as Jackson and his best friend, Quigley. They’re two young penguins who have big dreams of joining the FBI (Frosty Bureau of Investigation). Jackson wants to be a field agent, just like his Uncle Bryn, while Quigley wants to be the gadget guy, creating all sorts of cool inventions, just like his cousin, Sunny. The problem? They’re a little young, a little dorky, and have a gift for getting into trouble. But when rare fish start disappearing from the aquarium, jeopardizing their friend’s Lily’s dad’s job and reputation, the two agents-in-training get down to business! But can the two crack the case AND avoid being the next to disappear?

Spy Penguins is just fun to read. There’s some good world-building, with penguin-related vocabulary (flipper and ice-related terms, krill-sized problems), and creative backgrounds for the side characters, like Jackson’s Type-A mom, who is a “truth magnet” that can track you down and whose temper is measured in shark levels, or Jackson’s father, a more creative type who constantly creates new rooms to add on to the family home. Jackson and Quigley make a great and lovable team, and the action and fast-paced storytelling will ensure that kids will want to spend time with these two – and their extended group of family and friends – again. Black and white illustrations add to the fun and the story, providing a visuals and a solid framework around the story.

Spy Penguins: The Spy Who Loved Ice Cream, by Sam Hay/Illustrated by Marek Jagucki, (Sept. 2019, Feiwel & Friends), $13.99, ISBN: 9781250188588

Ages 7-11

Jackson and Quigley are back, and just in time! Jackson’s Uncle Bryn, actual member of the FBI (Frosty Bureau of Investigation), has been hypnotized and is on a crime spree! The two wannabe-agents-in-training have to figure out what happened to Uncle Bryn, prove his innocence, and dodge Jackson’s mom, who still has them on punishment from the last adventure!

Picking up immediately after the events of the first Spy Penguins novel, The Spy Who Loved Ice Cream begins with Jackson and Quigley scrubbing seagull poop as part of their punishment, meted out by Jackson’s mom. But things take a turn when they stop at the ice cream parlor and meet Uncle Bryn and two other FBI agents, who are eating a weirdly glowing ice cream and don’t acknowledge the two. Sure, it’s strange, since Uncle Bryn is Jackson’s favorite uncle; when they discover that Uncle Bryn is wanted for robbery, they know something is REALLY up. Loaded with more gadgets, delicious (and mind-altering) ice cream, and new ways of trying to avoid Jackson’s mom, The Spy Who Loved Ice Cream is every bit as much fun as Spy Penguins. More characters get fleshed-out backstories, including Quigley’s tech whiz cousin, Sunny and antagonist Hoff Rockhopper. The inventions are straight-up hilarious this time around, including a hat that’s supposed to deflect seagull poop and a suit made of sardine poop that should (emphasis on “should”) render the wearer invisible. The illustrations and fast-paced, fun writing will keep readers coming back for more.

If you have readers who love Snazzy Cat Capers, introduce them to Jackson and Quigley. If these characters all existed in the same universe, I’d be thrilled. (CROSSOVER!)

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour and giveaway! Eduardo Guadardo, Elite Sheep

Eduardo Guadardo is a sheep in training. He’s about to graduate from the Fairy-Tale Bureau of Investigations – the FBI – and take on the status of Elite Sheep, and he’s a master agent in the making. The FBI has even given him his own case to solve: an heiress named Mary is on the bad guys’ radar, and Eduardo needs to keep her safe. Even if it means following her to school. But Eduardo doesn’t like to play by the rules; he doesn’t think he needs a partner, until he does.

Eduardo Guadardo, Elite Sheep, by Anthony Pearson/Illustrated by Jennifer E. Morris,
(Sept. 2018, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1503902909
Ages 4-7

I love a good fractured fairy tale, and Eduardo Guadardo fits the bill! Eduardo learns a valuable lesson about teamwork, and readers get a fun, new version of Mary Had a Little Lamb, with a secret agent spin. It’s a dialogue-driven book with lots of conversation, so it’s a cute readers’ theatre pick for reading buddies programs. The cartoony artwork is eye-catching and kid-friendly with something new to spot with every read. The secret agent squirrel endpapers may be one of the funniest parts of the story: have kids pick out different actions (he’s talking on a cell phone and working a listening device).

Display and booktalk with other popular fractured fairy tales, like Corey Rosen Schwartz’s Ninja stories (Ninja Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel Ninja Chicks, The Three Ninja Pigs), Bob Hartman’s The Wolf Who Cried Boy, or Emma Dodd’s Cinderelephant.

Hand out dossier files like Eduardo’s, with FBI badges, before storytime. Put some coloring sheets in them! The CIA – the real one, no joke – has a kids’ coloring book online, and you can always rely on Disney Jr’s Special Agent Oso coloring pages to show up and save the day.

Get some intel on Eduardo Guardado in his very own book trailer!

 

Anthony Pearson is not a spy. He’s not. We promise. He’s actually a school counselor, a child therapist, and the author of Baby Bear Eats the Night, illustrated by Bonnie Leick. But that didn’t stop him from digging for clues about “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” What he found made him imagine what could have inspired the rhyme: a sheep that is totally, absolutely, 100 percent in control of things … or maybe just 95 percent. And squirrels in sunglasses. Oh, and a witch flying a helicopter. But you didn’t hear about the Fairytale Bureau of Investigations from him. Anthony and his family live in deep cover in Georgia. Get more intel about him at www.AnthonyPearson.info.

Jennifer E. Morris has written and illustrated award-winning picture books and has also illustrated children’s magazines, greeting cards, partyware, and educational materials. She has not illustrated classified documents nor is she a super secret agent. She is, however, the creator of May I Please Have a Cookie? which has infiltrated more than a million homes. If you say “The dove flies at noon,” she may tell you what the ducks recorded on their cameras. Maybe. But most likely not. Jennifer lives with her family in Massachusetts, just a few miles from the little red schoolhouse where “Mary Had a Little Lamb” originated. Read more of her dossier (that’s DAH-see-ay) at www.jenmorris.com.

 

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Eduardo Guadardo, Elite Sheep, courtesy of Two Lions (U.S. addresses). Check out this Rafflecopter giveaway!

Posted in Espionage, Fiction, Fiction, Humor, Middle Grade, Middle School, Tween Reads

The League of Unexceptional Children – Be Ordinary and Save the World!

leagueThe League of Unexceptional Children, by Gitty Daneshvari (Oct. 2015, Little, Brown), $17.99, ISBN: 9780316405706

Recommended for ages 9-12

Jonathan and Shelly are average. Forgettable, even. They don’t stand out, they’re not super-genius smart, and hardly anyone remembers their names five minutes after meeting them. And that’s what makes them the perfect spies. When the Vice President of the United States is kidnapped, Jonathan and Shelly find themselves recruited into the League of Unexceptional Children to find out who’s behind the kidnapping and to save the world: it seems that the VP isn’t the strongest-willed guy around, and happens to have access to some very important codes that could bring some big problems if they were to get out. Can Jonathan and Shelly save the day?

This is a hilarious beginning to a new series by Gitty Daneshvari, who’s authored the Monster High and School of Fear middle grade series. The kids in my library are ALWAYS asking me where these books are, so I know this book is a no-brainer for my shelves. Most of the adults are as hapless as the kids, and Jonathan and Shelly have a great rapport and go at one another like a regular Nick and Nora (look it up, kids). Shelly makes grandiose boasts about her abilities, while Jonathan is a little more down-to-earth, and their back and forth will leave you chuckling and inwardly wincing with awkwardness. Boys and girls alike will love this one. Heck, build a program around it and show a season of Code Name: Kids Next Door to kick off a Secret Agent Day!

Gitty Daneshvari’s author page is loaded with great little things to do. Kids (and adults!) can contact her, check out her blog, request a Skype session for your class or library, and meet Harriet, the Literary Bulldog.