Monday, September 26, 2016

And the Winner of FULL OF BEANS is...

I'm happy to announce that, according to randomizer, the winner of the hardcover copy of FULL OF BEANS is...

Congratulations, Suzanne! Expect an email from me asking for your mailing address.

*   *   *

Next week, I'll be featuring a review of TIME TRAVELING WITH A HAMSTER by Ross Welford, and the week after, an exclusive Q&A with Ross, and a giveaway!

Monday, September 19, 2016

FULL OF BEANS by Jennifer L. Holm -- and a GIVEAWAY!

Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm (August 30, 2016, Random House, 208 pages, for ages 8 to 12)

Synopsis (from the publisher): Grown-ups lie. That’s one truth Beans knows for sure. He and his gang know how to spot a whopper a mile away, because they are the savviest bunch of barefoot conchs (that means “locals”) in all of Key West. Not that Beans really minds; it’s 1934, the middle of the Great Depression. With no jobs on the island, and no money anywhere, who can really blame the grown-ups for telling a few tales? Besides, Beans isn’t anyone’s fool. In fact, he has plans. Big plans. And the consequences might surprise even Beans himself.

Why I recommend it:  Well, first of all, I'm a sucker for any MG novel about The Great Depression, but especially when it's a marvelous mix of humorous and heartwarming. But also, to be honest, this is just plain fun. The kind of book that leaves you smiling when you turn the last page.

Beans is a wise-cracking, lovable scamp of a character. If you've read Turtle in Paradise, this is actually a prequel, and leads right up to the beginning of Turtle in Paradise. But where the first book was Turtle's POV, Full of Beans is all about her cousin Beans Curry, and his various get-rich-quick schemes.

Favorite lines: I felt like Daddy Warbucks.
                         Except with hair.   (p.77)

Bonus: Another great read-aloud.

Giveaway details: Through the generosity of the publisher I have one hardcover copy to give away. To enter you must be a follower of this blog and you must comment on this post. This giveaway is open to US and Canadian mailing addresses only and will end at 10:00 pm EDT on Sunday Sept 25. Winner to be announced Monday Sept 26. Good luck!

Monday, September 12, 2016


Long-time readers of this blog may remember my review of LUG: DAWN OF THE ICE AGE by David Zeltser, that I featured (with a moving guest post by David) in Sept 2014.

Well, hold onto your snow possums because Lug, my favorite caveboy hero, is back! And the sequel is funnier than ever.

Lug: Blast From the North by David Zeltser. illustrations by Jan Gerardi (September 1, 2016, Carolrhoda Books/Lerner Publishing Group, 160 pages, for ages 8 to 12)

Synopsis (from the publisher): After saving his clan from saber-toothed tigers, Lug the caveboy has become a hero. The only problem: between the nightmares and his sudden skittishness around animals, he doesn't feel like much of a hero. But now he and his friends, Stony and Echo, have even bigger problems. A giant glacier is rolling toward their village—faster than any ordinary mass of ice should move—and it's on course to crush the whole settlement! Maybe Blast, the mysterious northern boy who lives on the glacier, can help Lug's clan. Or maybe it will be up to Lug to save the day again, whether he's ready to or not.

Why I recommend it: This is a funny and entertaining read throughout. I didn't think it was possible to outdo the humor and charm in the first book, Lug: Dawn of the Ice Age. But Zeltser manages it with ease. I read this book in one sitting, no doubt with a goofy smile on my face, and cheered on Lug and his loyal friends (Yay for Echo! Girl power!). An environmental message that's timely but never preachy and a thoroughly satisfying ending add to the appeal. Black and white illustrations are sprinkled throughout. Bonus: This would make a wonderful read-aloud.

Favorite line:  The first thing the boy did was throw his vegetable at me. (p. 20)

Do you have any favorite humorous MG books that also include a subtle (or maybe not-so-subtle) environmental message?