The Show Must Go On!

The Show Must Go On!written by Kate Klise

illustrated by M. Sarah Klise

This is book 1 of the Three Ring Rascals.  When you finish you’ll be glad that there is a plan for more stories with the characters that you’ve come to love.

The book opens with “If you’re ever walking down a dusty road and see a sign that looks like this, STOP and look closely.”  The sign says:  Coming Soon!  Sir Sidney’s Circus   Animals!  Acrobats!  Amazing Feats That Will DAZZLE YOUR EYES and DELIGHT YOUR BRAIN!

Sir Sidney’s circus is the best in the world, but Sir Sidney is getting old and a bit tired of travel.  He loves his circus and his animals, big and small, but he needs some help.  After a day of pacing and listing, considering and wondering Sir Sidney hires certified lion tamer, Barnaby Brambles to manage his circus.  Right from the start things begin to go wrong.  You see Barnaby Brambles doesn’t understand that kindness goes a long way.  He doesn’t consider how all things are connected. If you eliminate one thing or add another what is good doesn’t always remain.  Barnaby Brambles also doesn’t know that all things are not what they seem.  If a deal seems to be too good to be true, it just might be. No, Barnaby Brambles doesn’t think about anything but money and becoming rich.  He cuts corners in every way that he can.  If he thinks he can get away with it, he tries it and he has no qualms about telling a lie if it will get him what he wants.  He is bad, through and through.

What will become of the best circus in the world now that he is in charge?  Will the acrobats perform?  Will the animals be safe and cared for?  You’ll have to read The Show Must Go On! to find out.  It’s smafunderful!

You can Meet the Cast here and learn a more about the book. Which character are you most like?  I’m curious to know what you think.

Melonhead and the Undercover Operation

Melonhead and the Undercover Operationby Katy Kelly

243 pages of deliciously funny, mysterious adventure for middle grade readers

I really like Melonhead.  He makes me laugh.  When I am reading I know things aren’t going to work out – (I thought, “Oh, please make the deliveries first.  Just do it and then go watch.  Oh, you really have to.”  Knowing, of course, that he and Sam would not do that.) – and I can totally understand the reason for the choices they make.  Melonhead is all about doing and working really hard to keep out of trouble so his mom doesn’t have to worry about him.  His dad travels often an in Melonhead and the Undercover Operation he gives Adam a list called The Melon Family Guidelines for Life that he hopes will help Adam and his mom stay calm.  Its a list of 9 actions to consider and take like 2. plan ahead or 4. when in doubt, ask an adult or 8. remember the ways of ladies.  These G’s for L replace the Remind -o-rama with do’s rather than don’ts – and they sort of smooth things out.  Melonhead works very hard to follow them but that can be difficult when you take being a Junior Special Agent for the FBI seriously and you feel certain that the newly posted person on the 10 Most Wanted Criminals in the country lives in your neighborhood.

The characters are terrific – even if they only make a cameo appearance in this book.  The actions are laugh out loud, but not outrageous.  I don’t know which I like best: the human periscopes or the old lady disguises.  I like how Adam and Sam have friend that are girls like Jonique and Lucy Rose and friends that are old like Pops and Madam and Mrs. Wilkins.  And there is a serious side to.  I am glad there are four Melonhead books so far, along with three Lucy Rose books because these are great characters to have around.

The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle

The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castleby Christopher Healy

477 pages that are sure to make you laugh

Liam has been kidnapped and Ella and Frederic have a plan – The League of Princes must be reunited.  Their first mission is to stop Briar Rose from forcing Liam to marry her.  When that doesn’t  work, the League finds themselves in the dungeon. Liam agrees to recapture the Sword of Erinthia from the Bandit King in exchange for his friends’ freedom.  Together again, but working under the constant threat of re-imprisonment, the League develops a plan to scale the Wall of Secrecy, cross the Moat of A Thousand Fangs, enter Castle von Deeb, unlock the Vault o’ Fine Loot with the trigger switch in The Snake Hole to recapture the priceless heirloom. Complicated and convoluted, the plan unravels.   At times it involves trolls, dwarves, bandits, gnomes, warlords, giants, clowns and snakes.  Never smooth, but always developing the many secrets, arguments and twists in the plan will keep you eagerly reading and giggling through to the very end.

The Princes Charming are never efficient and yet they persevere.  They may be unlikely heroes, but because they are devoted, loyal friends to the end they will win your admiration.   At the crossroads they each take their separate way, yet readers are certain the League of Princes will be called together again.  Maybe this time they’ll get it right?!?

If you haven’t read The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom yet – here’s why you should.  The funny details, the captivating characters combined with just a pinch of suspense will pull you in and make you wish for more when the end is reached.

The Best of Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl had so many great books! I will share a few of his that I liked so much that I have read so many times. Boy and Going Solo I have already reviewed, but the ones that I’m going to review are shorter reads and are just as great.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

5 Golden Tickets are released into 5 Wonka candy bars all around the world. After 4 tickets our found, Charlie’s parents, struggling to ‘make end’s meat’, give him a chocolate bar and as expected, no ticket. But by some miraculous stroke of luck, Charlie gets a golden ticket. The spectacular adventure that awaits him is far more than anything that he could have imagined. But meeting Mr. Wonka himself is one of the unimaginable adventures in itself. This has two movie takes on it and again, is one of Roald Dahl’s Ultimate Classics.

The Magic Finger

The Greggs are a normal family. They live in their normal house, go about their daily activities. The dad and his sons hunt. But this makes their eight year old neighbor very cross. And being cross is the thing that activates her ‘magic finger.’ Her magic finger punishes people for the things that make her cross. For example, the magic finger turned her teacher into a cat because the teacher called her stupid. And now the magic finger has done something horrendous to the Greggs, without the girl being able to control it. This is a quick read, but so not underestimate this book at all.

The Enormous Crocodile

The Enormous Crocodile is a VERY ENORMOUS CROCODILE! And he wants to dine on some “sweet, juicy” children. But all of his animal friends try to talk him out of committing this “dastardly deed”. The jungle animals cannot convince him not to do it, but they are not giving up. Read The Enormous Crocodile to find out what happens.

Click here to access the Official Roald Dahl Website.

To view other Roald Dahl Book Reviews, go to the “Book Review List” page (link found about book picture at top of screen) and find his books.

Dead End in Norvelt

 

Dead End in Norvelt

352 pages for middle grade readers and beyond

Summer has finally come, but nothing is going as Jack had planned. His vacation freedom is quickly lost when he is grounded “grounded for life” for accidentally discharging the rifle his father brought home as a souvenir of WWII.  The blast from the gun caused his elderly neighbor to drop her hearing aid into the toilet and so the only thing he will be allowed to do is to help her.  At first helping Miss Volker seems like torture – after all he has to be there at 5:30 am -, but he quickly realizes it might be the only way he will survive the summer. Miss Volker cannot write because of her arthritic hands, but she is the author of the town’s obituaries and the keeper of the town’s history and someone must tell the story.  Jack becomes her scribe.  He doesn’t think there’ll be much to do, but soon it becomes apparent that all is not as it should be.  Not only are the original residents dying off at an alarming rate, but the town of Norvelt itself, may be nearing its end.

History, obituaries, nose-bleeds, Hell’s Angels, Eleanor Roosevelt, Girl Scout cookies and a homemade airplane combine to create a laugh-out-loud story that will make you think and wonder.  It has a serious side too.  How do promises get made and twisted?  What is the importance of history and how do we know and understand it?  How do communities work?  Can you every really be alone and disconnected?

Jack Gantos has combined truth and fiction to present you with an interesting view of small town life in the early 1960’s – an time of change.  It is interesting to me to come to the end of Dead End in Norvelt and realize that my life has now become historical fiction.  All three of the books selected by the Newbery committee this year are set in the time when communism was on our mind as the evil opposite of democracy.  It has been interesting for me to read and wonder at how that mystique was created and to wonder what is being created now.  Vietnam was the war of my youth.  Afghanistan is the war now.  What things change, and what things stay the same?

Fake Mustache

Fake Mustacheby Tom Angleberger

196 pages of laugh-out-loud fun

You know from the cover, the subtitle (or, how Jodie O’Rodeo and her wonder horse (and some nerdy kid) saved the U.S. presidential election from a mad genius criminal mastermind), the end pages and the title page that this book will make you snicker – at least.

Lenny Junior (the nerdy kid) begins his story with a warning. “Don’t ever buy a fake mustache as Sven’s Fair Price Store.”  He goes on to explain that is an awesome place for fake noses or thumbs or fake laughter machines, but not mustaches.  They are TOO good because they’re made from real Belgian mustache hair (apparently men grow their mustaches for a year before cutting them off to sell to the Heidelberg Novelty Company) and being real hair are expensive.  “But they’re worth it…if you really want a good fake mustache – which you don’t!  It’ll only lead to trouble.  That’s what I’m trying to tell you.”

Just after Lenny Junior and his only friend, Casper, go to Sven’s strange things happen in Hairsprinkle.  There are bank robberies, corporate takeovers and fixed elections.  Lenny knows Casper is the culprit.  The bank security camera clearly show that the ringleader is dressed as a “man-about-town” and is sporting a spectacular handlebar mustache.  Those at the exact two things Casper spent his birthday money on the day before.  Lenny tries to get help and because of this he is named the “Evil One” and becomes most wanted while Casper’s (newly elected Mayor, Fako Mustacho) evil takeover plans unfold.

Fortunately for Lenny Junior it is Halloween so being in disguise is acceptable and by some twist of trolley car fate, Lenny meets the real live person he is dressed up as, Jodie O’Rodeo.  She seems genuinely nice and both soon realize the future of Hairsprinkle, in fact the world, is in their hands.  With only booger shooting nasal guns, electric shock gum and the ultra-sticky-stretchy grabber hand along with their wits they must work together to save the world.  Can they stop Fako Mustacho before it is too late?

You’ll have to smile your way to the ending to find out.  Really, who doesn’t love a good “slappy hand?”

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies AgainChitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again

by Frank Cottrell Boyce

212 pages of car adventuring fun

In 1967 one of my favorite Christmas presents was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Flemming.  I loved the Potts.  I loved the whistling sweets.  I thought Joe the Monster and his gang were terribly wonderful crooks.  And of course, I loved Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with “her first two CHITTY sneezes and the two soft BANGS, the bangs ran on and into each other so as to make a delicious purring rumble.”   I thought her amazing dashboard with knobs that glow and flash urgently as the need arose had just the perfect balance of efficiency and irreverence.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – a magical car with a mind of it’s own.  I loved everything about that book – right down to the secret recipe at the end!

Next came the movie.  What a major disappointment!  The car wasn’t even the right color.  To me, it was silly, dull and boring.  Frank Cottrell Boyce had a totally different experience.  He saw the movie first and loved it.  Then he read the book.  He writes that this was the first time he knew that “films and books  – even when they’re telling the same story – each had a different kind of enchantment.”

Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again does indeed have its own kind of enchantment.  It takes the best pieces from the original, mixes them together with new ideas and creates a wholly unique story that has the Tooting family traveling the world, escaping the clutches of greedy crooks (Man Mountain Fink’s son from the original gang) and learning all about their amazingly wonderful Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.   Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is part of the family now and is teaching the Tootings to pay attention to each other, listen carefully and have trust in the power of family.

What a terrifically satisfying sequel!

Happy 101!!

 We are celebrating our 101st post on Kid’s Books 101 by sharing our first 101 books! Look closely at the picture and you’ll see some familiar titles.

Choose your favorite books, and start reading! 🙂 We look forward to sharing our next 101 titles! Let us know what you think and/or share a favorite title of your own. There can never be enough great books!

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If you would like to explore the number 101, here are some books for fun!

101 Doodle Definitions101 Things to Do with Bacon101 Ways to Become a Superhero . . . Or an Evil Genius

And a book especially for Mrs. Eaves…

101 Things to Do Before You're Old and Boring

(She says “It’s not too late yet”)

I don’t know…maybe you should read it.

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny – Detectives Extraordinaire

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny – Detectives ExtraordinaireMr. and Mrs. Bunny—Detectives Extraordinaire!

translated from the Rabbit by Polly Horvath is laugh out loud funny from beginning to end.

As in all the Polly Horvath books I have read there is a uniquely functioning dysfunctional family situation.  In this case Madeline is more an adult than her parents.  She takes care of everything for them because they don’t seem to see the need for her traditional wishes to go to school, have friends or fit in.  They get kidnapped and it is up to Madeline to find them.  She knows she’ll have to because they don’t know how to do anything for themselves.  She does this with the help of rabbits.  She is able to talk to them because she is a one-of-a-kind person, “a Rabbit Whisperer.”  They are detectives and work to make sure she has what all children need – someone to take care of them.    Through many hilarious twists and turns they outsmart the foxes, break the code (sort of) and wear retro-purple sequin disco platforms in the process.

My favorite lines are, “I’ve often heard animals speak.  Plants too.  It’s all a matter of noticing, isn’t it?  The richness of our lives depends on what we are willing to notice and what we are willing to believe.”

So true – what do you notice?  What do you believe?  Enjoy reading while you wait for Everything on a Waffle‘s sequel to come out next fall.  Books by Polly Horvath are fun!

The Name of this Book is Secret

     X xxxxx.

     Xxxx?

     Xxx, Xxxx.

     Xxx xx xxxxxx xxx xxxxx…

That is the end of the first chapter. That’s how secret this book is. The whole first chapter is X’s and the names written are not the real names of the characters. Okay, now to the review.

Cass is a survivalist, always prepared for the next natural disaster. Max-Ernest is a logical boy, with an unidentified impulsive talking condition. Do you think that they would be “collaborators”? Probably not. But they are doing what they do best when they meet, and get mixed up in a dead magician’s story. Including a symphony of smells, an underground house and a two evil villains! Read The Name of this Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch to find out what happens.

The Name of this Website is Secret includes a biography of Pseudonymous Bosch, all about the books and more. It’s awesome!!

The publisher’s version of the series website here.

Buy this book from Amazon.com! 🙂

This book is part of  “The Secret Series.” Here are all of the books:

Book 2
Book 3
Book 4
secret5
Book 5