Monday, October 27, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Herbert's Wormhole -- A Novel in Cartoons

I am sure that many school librarians are facing the same plight as me. "I need a book. I want something just like Diary of a Wimpy Kid." Sigh. Sure there are some choices, but not so many of them are boy slanted. So I was delighted when last week at the HarperCollins preview, Herbert's Wormhole was on the table.

When we meet Alex, he is just about to "Blow that slime-sucking freak into a gazillion space-chunks!" (p. 1) You'd think a kid would be super excited about completing a whole video game. Not Alex. At the beginning of the summer, he promised his parents that as soon as he mastered his game, he'd play outside and NOT ask for another video game for the rest of the summer. Of course, right after he made his promise the coolest video game ever arrived in the stores.

Even worse is what his parents bought him in the name of entertainment for the rest of the summer. A jungle gym. Seriously. The Safe-T-Kids Jump n' Jammin' Jungle Gym complete with swing, monkey bars, climbing wall, ladder and a spiral tunnel slide. On top of that comes the announcement that Alex's parents have arranged a play date with nerdy neighbour Herbert Slewg. Herbert likes to invent things, and he and Alex aren't exactly on the same level.

Alex faces his destiny and heads on over to Herbert's place. He finds Herbert in his bedroom dressed in an AlienSlayer:3-D bodysuit! Alex can't believe it. Herbert of all people has THE game. Maybe his luck is changing.

Not quite. Herbert is using the components of the video game for his latest invention. He's trying to figure out how to walk through walls, among other things.

When Herbert and Alex head on over to the jungle gym something interesting happens. Alex is messing around and flipping the switch on the bodysuit that Herbert modified. All of a sudden a weird "wubba-wubba" sound starts to come out of the slide, and Alex feels a strong pull. Before they know it, fwooop! The boys are sucked through time. Not to the past, like they originally think, but instead toward the future.

They are in the same town of Merwinsville, but everything is different. Firstly, there are G'daliens all over. They are hideous tentacled creatures who wear wigs and speak in Aussie accents in order to appear friendly. Then there is the fact that everything is so clean. No cars, no litter, no pollution. Herbert is enamoured, but Alex is wary. What are all these creepy aliens doing, and why are they in charge?

More importantly, how are Alex and Herbert going to get home?

Filled with slapstick humour, and gross-out moments, Herbert's Wormhole is bound to find enthusiastic readers. From zero gravity t-ball, to bumper car pizza joints, Herbert's Wormhole has a bit of something for everyone. While the plot line reminds me more of The True Meaning of Smekday, than it does Wimpy Kid, the cartoon format is reader friendly and will likely inspire some artistically inclined kids to come up with their own adventures with the G'daliens. Since I read the arc, I missed out on quite a bit of the artwork, and I am looking forward to the pub date of 5/2009 to check out the final copy.

(Ed to add: Check out the website!)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Non-Fiction Monday -- Contest

Well, welcome to Non-Fiction Monday! We are starting it off with a bang over here at Tweendom with a contest featuring prizes from the fine folks at DK who are celebrating the publication of the title Take Me Back. In their own words:

"History may repeat itself, but there is no need to make the same old history book over and over. From the creators of the award-winning, New York Times Bestsellers Pick Me Up and Do Not Open comes Take Me Back--a journey throughout history like never before! Rock out at a gory Aztec festival, read the blog of Louis XVI’s closest confidant, take a pinball tour of Celtic Europe, and check out Alexander the Great’s fan site. With content that's comprehensive, irreverent and witty, Take Me Back is bound to become a classic."

There is a winning prize pack containing the following 8 non-fiction titles:

Take Me Back, Do Not Open, Pick Me Up, Cosmic, Dr. Frankenstein's Human Body Book,Cool Stuff Exploded, Eyewitness Expert: Knight, Animals: A Visual Encyclopedia.

Pretty cool, yes?

But that is not all! There will also be four winners of the title Take Me Back.

So here's the deal. Leave me a comment telling about your favourite historical time period. A bonus entry will go to those folks who leave the title of a non-fiction book on the topic of history that the kids in their lives love!

This contest will be running on Mondays through November 3rd. Winners will be announced on election day!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Cabinet of Wonders

This book was put into my hands by a colleague who said that it was a much buzzed about title. The cover was cute enough to get my attention, and since I knew I was going away for the weekend, it was perfect timing as well.

Petra's father has just been returned home from the Prince's castle broken, bandaged and bloody. She cannot understand what has happened. Her father was to go to Prague to build a beautiful clock for Prince Rodolfo...what could have made the Prince steal her father's eyes, of all things?

Petra knows that she must get her father's eyes back for him. He needs them in order to work and support his family. He is, after all, a magician when it comes to metal, and besides regular things like clocks, he has made a virtual zoo of animals out of tin. Petra's own pet spider Astrophil was made by her father. Astrophil not only moves independently, but he can also talk to Petra. She keeps him up in her hair, and consults with him on many matters.

Petra comes up with a plan to go to Prague and work at the castle. She figures that she will be able to steal her father's eyes back. What she doesn't count on is Prague itself. She comes from the country side, and it is not very long before she is pursuing a gypsy boy (Roma) who has stolen her purse. As fate would have it, she catches Neel, and is soon befriended by his family. She quickly finds out that her father's magic is not the only kind of magic. The Roma have many different types of magic themselves. With the help of Neel's sister, Petra is soon in the castle, and that much closer to her goal of finding her father's eyes.

What will happen if she gets them? Prince Rodolfo is a vengeful man, and while Petra is only thinking of her father, she is certainly not thinking of the long term.

Marie Rutkoski has penned a magical tale filled with adventure, fantasy, exploration, and drama. I do admit, I had a slow start. The mechanics of the metal animals did not grab me at first. Once Petra was on the road, however, I was hooked. Petra is strong willed and clever, and Neel and his family add intrigue and danger to Petra's adventure. Astrophil is endearing and a scene stealer himself. As a reader I found myself both disappointed and excited about the subtitle of "The Kronos Chronicles: Book I". Sometimes I yearn for stand alone stories...I am a bit impatient that way. The Cabinet of Wonders certainly gallops toward the end, and readers will anxiously await the next installment. An equal opportunity read that will be eagerly snatched up by girls and boys alike.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cybils!

Tomorrow is the last day to nominate titles for the Cybils award. I am one of the lucky judges for the graphic novels committee, and I would love to have lots of titles to argue over...a-hem...discuss! Head on over to the Cybils to nominate!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Diary of A Wimpy Kid - Rodrick Rules

When this FINALLY got checked in at the library last week, I eagerly snatched it up as I knew I wouldn't see it until about May.

"I guess Mom was pretty proud of herself for making me write in that journal last year, because now she went and bought me another." (p.1) And so it begins.

Greg is back, and we start at the beginning of another school year. As with the first installment, each journal entry describes a day in the life of a pretty hilarious family. From Greg's having to wear his brother's hand-me-down Speedo to swim team, to making Chirag the invisible boy, Jeff Kinney certainly has his finger on the pulse of Middle School existence.

So why "Rodrick Rules"? Well, it turns out that Rodrick knows something about Greg that Greg really doesn't want to get out. So now more than ever, Rodrick is in charge. Greg cannot tell on anything! Not even the party when his folks are out of town.

While there is nothing in this second installment that rivals the "cheese touch", it is a read that kid's cannot put down. As I said before, it is constantly checked out of my school library, and my fourth graders have even nominated the first title for their 4th grade book election this year. Perfect for reluctant and avid readers alike.