Kids Books Blog
Originally published in 2010 by Jacob Puckett, an 11-year-old guest reviewer
Greetings, brave adventurers! So you are looking for uncharted territory to claim and conquer, eh? You've already climbed the highest peaks and had lunch in the craters of the moon. So, where do you go next to do your exploring? Look no further than this hidden gem. This is a land of mystery and danger, a land of wonder and fright, a land with tyrannosaurs, tentacled creatures, and scariest of all....toll booths. Behold, Delaware!
Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware is part of M.T. Anderson's Pals in Peril series, a highly absurdist take on children's detective and adventure series of decades past, the most obvious being Nancy Drew, Goosebumps, and Tom Swift. The title character of this particular book is the star of his own fictional series that has fallen into obscurity. Just looking at Jasper Dash, you can see that he's from another time. Aviator goggles perched atop a perfectly parted swath of blonde hair. And that's when he opens his mouth and 19th-century slang falls out: "Hello, chums...What-ho and tippy tippy dingle and all."
It sounds almost too perfect to be true. Famed primate expert Jane Goodall had a stuffed toy chimpanzee as a little girl. She went everywhere with it, and together they explored the mysteries of nature.
Me...Jane is Patrick McDonnell’s peacefully expressive interpretation of Goodall’s childhood through his art, actual photographs of Jane, and the drawings of her youth. Jane starts out a very curious young girl, studying all sort of animals around her home. That curious nature leads to many answers.
Beginning-to-be-eleven-year-old Portia and her little brother Foster are excited to be visiting their relatives in the countryside for the summer in Elizabeth Enright’s Gone-Away Lake. Besides seeing their favorite aunt and uncle, there is Katy the boxer dog who has just had a litter of puppies “with flat faces like pansies, and ears that felt like pieces of silk, and claws like the tips of knitting needles”—but best of all for Portia is having time to hang out with her cousin Julian, he of the hundred-thousand freckles. Closer than a friend and nicer than a brother is how she thinks of him. Julian is interesting and interested in everything that goes on around him.
“New folks coming!”
That’s the important news that the young rabbit, Little Georgie, has to share with all of his neighbors, from the stately deer to the excitable field mouse on Rabbit Hill. Will they be good providers or “slatternly” like the last batch? Most everyone hopes for a garden, but Phewie, the skunk, is hoping for some quality “garbidge.” All of the residents of Robert Lawson’s Rabbit Hill have an opinion and a hope about what will come.
So many things could go wrong if the new folks that come aren’t nice. There might be vicious dogs. They might bring traps. They might even cut down and plow up the thicket where the burrow lies. Mother Rabbit is beside herself with worry, but Little Georgie and the rest are mostly just excited.
Niblet & Ralph may look a lot alike, but they are very different. One likes to jam, while the other likes to eat.
Ralph is Gemma's cat, while Niblet is Dilla's cat. They live in the same building - actually, right across the hall from each other. While their owners are at school, they talk on the phone all day. Meow, meow, meow! When they run out of things to say, they share the sun - in their respective arm chairs, of course.
Byx does not want to be the last to live.
Byx is not a dog, she is a dairne - an endangered species that resembles dogs. The dairne walk upright, have opposable thumbs and marsupial pouches, and can glide from tree to tree. The dairne also have a unique gift - the ability to know when someone is lying.
How would you draw the warmth of the sun on your face? Would you draw the sun, high in the sky, lighting up your upturned face? Most people would. But not Niko. Niko isn’t interested in drawing the sun. He’s not trying to show a person. He wants to draw the warmth.
Metro City’s very own superhero Captain Amazing is getting too old for his job, so he’s going to need some backup. Sidekicks is the journey of some die-hard hero wannabes who wish to join the captain for one very simple reason: They are his pets, and he hasn’t been paying them any attention lately.
It seems like a good idea, and Roscoe the dog (hero name Metal Mutt) seems like a shoe-in. Who would be a better superhero sidekick than man’s best friend? Unfortunately, ever since an incident with Amazing’s last animal sidekick, he’s adopted a strict no-pet policy.
Sure, all of these guys bring something to the table. Roscoe is big and strong; Shifty the Chameleon has powers of camouflage. Manny the cat has actual experience in the field. But what can tiny hamster Fluffy possibly do? At least he has a teeny, tiny Captain America costume.
I don't care if you are a kid, teen or adult - it feels great to be able to do some impressive tricks for your family and friends at the next backyard barbecue, like blowing a bubble within a bubble or slicing an unpeeled banana. If you want to move beyond mere parlor tricks, you can learn how to identify clouds, ride a boogie board or fold fortune cookies thanks to the super-easy directions in Show Off: How to Do Absolutely Everything One Step at a Time, by Sarah Hines Stephens and Bethany Mann.
What makes "Show Off" a fantastic book are the step-by-step picture directions. Since I am a graphic learner, this makes it so much easier for me than trying to decipher a page of text describing how to fold a ninja star. The ingredient lists tend to be very slight, which is a bonus for parents. If you want to learn more about an activity, several of them have longer descriptions in the back under "tell me more." The 224 activities are grouped under the categories of "amaze," "investigate," "create," "explore," "cook," and "move." Most of these are easy to do by yourself if you're at least 10 years old, while others will require adult help.