The Call of the Wild adapted by Ellyn Alcott

5 stars Picture book/Wonder book

This was a wonderful picture book. I was fortunate enough to get this in a Wonder Book so I was able to listen to the book after I read it.  From the way the story was presented to the illustrations, this book was prefect.

I don’t remember much about this book when I read it as a child.  I do remember having to read it in school with my classmates and how the dog Buck, found himself in some new surroundings, trying to adapt.  There are some individuals who get all emotional when you mention this book but as you can see, I’m not one of them. After reading and listening to this     I can understand how they feel.

The story begins with Buck living comfortably on a ranch.  He’s alone but he’s the “king of the ranch,’ and he enjoys that.  One night while out for a walk with one of the farm workers, Buck gets dognapped.  Buck is confused as he travels not just by truck but by trains and ship to his final destination.  Buck’s new home is a noisy, busy place.  Buck is no longer alone but he’s now become part of a team, a team of sled dogs.

The sled dogs were mean and the work was hard.  Buck was smart though and knew that if he had to work hard, if he was going to survive.  His owners had only one thing on their mind: seeking their fortunes.  Working in the snow was new for Buck but he got used to it and soon he became the lead dog.  Buck’s owners came and went but Buck, he was always the lead dog.  As spring arrived, Buck heard a calling in the wilderness, a summons that pulled deep within him. This past winter had been a rough one for Buck but also a good one.  Buck was different and he noticed it. This is a great transition in the book.  A terrific section where it’s good to think back over everything Buck has been though this past winter and to think about what will happen with Buck in the future. Buck is ready to take the lead again when he gets a new owner, but Thornton is different.  I liked how Thornton and Buck came together and the adjustment they made for each other.  The ending was perfect and I can see why some individuals get emotional when this book is mentioned.

The illustrations were terrific.  Bright, bold colors and just enough details to bring the story alive on the page.  There were instances of turmoil and chaos in the book and I liked the way that the frantic and wild illustrations that accompanied this.  The easy-to-read text had a great flow and the print was bold and easy to understand.   5 star read for me.    

Hot Dog by Doug Salati

5 stars Children’s Picture Book

I think we all can relate to the dog in this story. I think it helps to understand what kind of dog this is too.   I think this looks like a dachshund to me, a brown wiener dog.   Known for their short legs and long bodies, this dog lives in the city and belongs to a woman who takes him for walks on a leash. 

One particular hot sunny day, they head out, so the woman can do her errands.  The sun has already heated up the sidewalks.  The women ties the dog up outside as she slips inside each of the businesses she has to stop at. The dog starts to get irritated at being left outside. It’s hot, it’s noisy, and today, it’s just too much.  Too much noise.  It’s too hot.  Too many people.  She keeps dragging him along, stop after stop.  Finally, he dog has had enough and he stops.  In the middle of the road and ….she got it.  She understood.  

The ending is so sweet that it will leave a huge smile on your face as the dog and the woman just escaped life for the day.   What a great day to be a dog.    5 stars   Hot Dog by Doug Salati

Red Scare: A Graphic Novel by Liam Francis Walsh

5 stars Graphic Novel

This was an interesting graphic novel and I really enjoyed the ending.  The story revolves around Peggy who has polio and uses metal crutches to walk.  Peggy feels like a victim (why me?) and although her doctor says she’ll get better with exercise, Peggy doesn’t do them.  Peggy has a brother Skip who I feel, puts up with Peggy.  Peggy meets Cynthia one day at the doctors.  Cynthia has this powerful energy and this positive attitude which surprises Peggy.  It also motivates Peggy because Cynitha also has polio but her future is not so positive. 

Peggy helps her mom clean rooms at the local hotel.  Instead of cleaning though, Peggy pulls out a book and lies down on the floor in one of the hotel’s rooms she’s supposed to be helping her mother with and she starts reading.  Suddenly, the door opens and a guest is ushered in and Peggy hides under the bed. She escapes later when the gentleman washes up in the bathroom.  This sounds simple enough except this book takes place in 1953, when there’s talk of Communist Spies and secret missions.  And Peggy, she didn’t sneak out of the room with everything that she came in the room with.  Big problem!  When Peggy finds herself in possession of an amazing device, a device that changes everything in her life, I enjoyed how Peggy herself changed.  She became alive with energy and her whole attitude was transformed.  She has some individuals who have taken an interest in her but Peggy is more excited about how her life has changed to concern herself with them.   The illustrations in this graphic novel were fantastic and I could feel the energy on the pages as the drama unfolded.  There’s quite a bit of action taking place in this book but it’s not difficult to follow and I really enjoyed this book.  5 stars   Red Scare 

I Survived The Sinking of the Titanic, 1912 (I Survived Graphic Novel series) #1

5 stars Middle School Graphic Novel

I’m enjoying this series.  There’s nothing like getting some education while reading a graphic novel and if we can get our young readers to pick up this series and read them, they’ll acquire some historical information along with a great story.  With text boxes that are easy to follow, colorful illustrations, and a story that grabs your attention and moves quickly, the I Survived the Sinking of The Titanic, 1912 graphic novel, is a book that you’ll finish once you pick it up. 

The story begins with the sinking of the Titanic and we’re witnesses individuals falling into the Atlantic Ocean.  We hear a few comments from the passengers as they begin to realize what lies ahead for them.  We now flashback to the previous day, nineteen hours earlier, when a young girl and her brother awake inside their cabin.  Their aunt has taken them on this voyage.   Sister is easily entertained but brother likes to have some excitement in his life, hence his ability for trouble to follow him.  Their idea to check out the ship wouldn’t seem like such a bad idea but it’s what happens along the way and the timing of their inquiry that turns their little excursion into something big. I enjoyed the use of the different sized text boxes in this graphic novel and the illustrations.   The illustrator was able to add more details and provide more emphasis by varying the sizes of the text boxes.  The illustration’s attention to detail and the use of color added to the story and helped to create a mood within the story.   The author states that this is more of a historical fiction book with the characters of the book being fictional but the facts about the Titanic being factual.  I thought the story was entertaining and there wasn’t a lot of characters to keep track of.  At the back of the book, the author writes to her readers a personal note pertaining to the book and she also includes various information about the Titanic on a few pages

I Survived the Nazi Invasion, 1944 (I Survived Graphic Novels #3) by Georgia Ball

5 stars Middle School Graphic Novel

Another great I Survived graphic novel for children.  Addressing the Nazi Invasion of 1944, there’s nothing like reading how a family is forced apart and the young siblings try to outsmart their enemy, to get your blood flowing late at night.   I know from reading previous stories about the Nazi’s and hearing personal stories, that this period in history is one of the darkest but each time I read one of these stories, I still shake my head.  To allow someone to have that much control and then, all the individuals that followed every one of his commands.  I think it’s so sad.

It’s bad enough that families have been pulled out of their own homes and placed into a ghetto with who-knows how many other displaced families.   Just when they think this might be their new home, they’re yanked out and their lives are rearranged again.  For Max, he had his sister Zena and his Papa nearby until the Nazi’s decided they could use Papa elsewhere and they took him away.  Now, it’s just Max and Zena, and they’re trying to survive.  Can they do it alone?

I really enjoyed the illustrations in this graphic novel, the use of color was fantastic.  The action was nonstop as this family was pulled from their surroundings and became one of many.  If you haven’t checked out this graphic novel series based on the I Survived series, I highly recommend that you do.  

Jim Curious and the Jungle Journey: A 3-D Voyage into the Jungle by Matthias Picard

5 stars Graphic novel

This is a fun book to look at but you’ll need the 3D glasses that come with it, to fully appreciate its beauty.  There are no words to read inside this book, as that would be hard.  This is an oversized, children’s graphic novel about a young boy who goes on an adventure. It’s up to you, the reader, to decide whether the adventure actually took place. 

When the boy awakes, he is in a diving suit (make sure you notice how his house looks compared to the lighthouse.   He decides to follow a bug which has landed on his suit.  What an interesting world he has stepped into.  I thought the trees looked interested and instead of walking on land, the boy decides to walk through the swamp waters.  I liked the page where you can see part of him underwater and therefore you can see the both parts of the swamp too.  It’s quite an adventure as he explores this new world with snakes, bugs, frogs, and loads of other interesting creatures.  My ultimate favorite page was the butterfly pages.  Those two pages were fantastic!!  With lots of forest vegetation, trees, forest creatures, and the little boy, each page is bursting with life. 

Finding his way through the swamp, he finds himself amongst some ruins.  With a curious mind, he discovers steps, bridges, buildings, wall markings, and numerous other items that put a smile on his face.  I’m tired from all of his walking yet he continues on walking. It’s a fun adventure, right at your fingertips.  An entertaining, graphic novel to sit back and appreciate all the great 3D work that has gone into it.  It’s a book I can see young ones enjoying as there is nothing scary in the illustrations and some of the illustrations might inspire some good questions out of them.    5 stars 

Clarice the Brave by Lisa McMann

5 stars Middle School

“It only takes 1 mouse to believe in you. And that mouse is me.”

This is a quote that Clarice’s mom heard from her father which is then passed down to Clarice.  Clarice holds onto these words as she tries to care for her brother Charlies, aboard a pirate ship.  Clarice and Charles are the only two remaining members of their family.  As mice living aboard a ship, daily life at sea, has claimed the lives of the rest of their family members. Living in fear, the brothers live in a wooden crate by the pantry, this is their home.  Clarice travels out for supplies but Charles prefers to stay securely inside the box, waiting on Clarice, the provider. 

I found myself immediately absorbed into this story as Clarice describes the world around her.  The ship was full, as the humans were filling up all the available space.  They consisted of two groups of people: the crew/captain and the prisoners.  Fighting erupts on the ship and the brothers hear the word, mutiny.  What does this word even mean?   

The brothers soon find out as Clarice finds himself in a smaller boat with some of the individuals from the ship and Special Lady. Packed with sailors, a mouse, and a cat, this boat which has been cast out into the sea, does have the captain aboard, which gave me some hope.  Meanwhile, Charles is still aboard the ship.  Charles the mouse who doesn’t like to move out his box needs to do something to stay alive without his brother.

Will the brothers ever be reunited again?  What happens to the brothers as they float out in the sea in two different vessels?  What a good adventure story, a story of friendship and family, a story that will stay with you. 

If You Live Here by Kate Gardner

5 stars Childrens

This is a cute picture book and the illustrations are amazing.  I think the language of the book can lead a little one to higher level thinking and the illustrations compliment and stretch that thinking.   As you open up each two-page spread, you are greeted with one place that might be an option for someone to live on.  Now, some options are more feasible than others but they all are options. 

Some examples are:

“If you live on a spaceship, keep curious for there is wonder all around. “

The illustration is a blue & green spaceship traveling through black space with stars and spaceships, rocks, and shooting stars all around.  There are people in space helmets outside the spaceship. People inside the spaceship drawing, looking out the window and waving.  It’s a friendly homey looking spaceship.

“If you live in a burrow, everyone snuggles”

The illustration shows a hilly tree section leading up to a castle.  This section is a ¼ of the top of the book.  The rest of the page is life under the ground in the dirt.  We see multiple tunnels – tunnels made by squirrels, snakes, turtles, foxes, rabbits, mole, and mice.  Some of these tunnels are simple and some of them are elaborate with paths this way and that. 

I loved the language in this book.  It’s fun to look at these illustrations and the amount of detail in them. I like the paper that the illustrations are printed on too.   From a castle, to a submarine, to a dollhouse, to a nest, (just to name a few) – you will see that there is a lot to look at.   5 stars 

Can You Track Down Bigfoot?: An Interactive Monster Hunt (You Choose: Monster Hunter) by Bradon Terrell

4 stars Children’s/ Middle School

I wanted to track down Bigfoot, like who doesn’t?1?  My son was telling me that there are some individuals at his work who actually belong to a group who does this.  They go out on the weekends or take vacations and hunt for Bigfoot, seriously.  Boy, was I intrigued! I wanted to know exactly how they did this and what they found. Were this people, ok? Sure, I’ve watched those shows on TV but I feel they hype things up but to actually talk to someone who has actually went out and hunted around looking for him, now that’s crazy!  Do you think this is crazy? I think it’s fun and exciting but I don’t know if I would spend my free time doing it.  When I saw this book at the library, I knew I had to read it.  I wanted to know if I would learn anything.

I liked that this book included some of the famous pictures we all know surrounding Bigfoot.  I think seeing these throughout the book made me feel that I was actually on a mission.  I do enjoy reading these choose-your-own-ending books as it seems that you can spend however long you’d like, reading these books before you’re done with them.  In this book, I liked that they sent you right back to the beginning every time that you finished one of the missions.  This book did a great job setting up the scene and telling me about Bigfoot.  As you read each story, the encounters that you’ll have will vary. 

The book takes you on adventures with Bigfoot, The Skunk Ape of the Everglades, The Himalayan Yeti and there is some information about whether Bigfoot is real or just a hoax.   At the back of the book, there are some interesting sections, so make sure you check them out.  One was about the different Bigfoots in the world.  From the Orang Pendak in Indonesia to the Big Greyman in Scotland (original name, huh?) to the Moehau in New Zealand and Ucu in Argentina these are creatures from around the world that individuals can’t explain.  A man with yellow hair and large tusks? A man with glowing eyes and extra-large arms?  These all sound interesting and I wonder just how similar they are to each other.  The author also gives us other questions to consider while thinking about these creatures.  There are also a couple other books listed and some internet sites an individual could use to find out more about Bigfoot.  An index is also at the end of this book.  I think this makes a great book for children who enjoy these types of stories as there is a lot of different stories within this book.  This is not a scary book but carries a mysterious element to it, as you discover and uncover information about these unexplained creatures.   4 stars

Can You Net the Loch Ness Monster by Brandon Terrell & Matt Doeden

3 stars Children’s

Do you search for Nessie in Scotland, Champ in New York or do you want to go to Africa to search for Mokele-mbembe, the choice is yours?  I myself, started with the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland and then, came back to the beginning again and started other searches for the other creatures because I needed to know how they all would end.  I also took alternative side options with each of them for that’s what’s so wonderful with these books, the possibilities are endless.   

There are actual photographs in these books and a few of them, you will find familiar as they are popular with that creature.  There is the blurry image of the Loch Ness Monster with its head poking up out of the water (or is that really a twisted tree branch in the water).  Nevertheless, the photographs help reassure the reader that these creatures are real and that you’re on a mission to prove it.  I enjoyed all the different directions this book takes you down and following these paths, they were never hard.  The font size was large and easy-to-read which was good and it varied in size according to different tasks.  I did feel that the book was lacking in drama department.  The book does a great job in providing specific details and setting up the scenes but each of the actual events, they fell short for me.  They were over before I knew it and it was time to move on.   Where was the drama?  The anticipation?  I felt cheated.  I was tracking down a famous, mysterious creature and I thought there needed to be more: more story and more excitement.

Make sure you check out the back of the book for a list of freshwater Lake Monsters Around the World.  There are 7 monsters listed from Loch Ness in Scotland to Champ in the U.S. to Ogopogo in Canada to The Lake Van Monster in Turkey.  There is also a glossary at the back, a few internet sites & books pertaining to the Loch Ness Monster, and a few questions relating to information in this book.  I liked that this book also includes an index. I think this book provides some good basic information about the monsters presented inside it.    3 stars

Sample Text

“Going inside the cave would be a terrible risk.  You could get trapped or lost. No. You’ll stay where you are and hope the shape returns.  You wait and watch as long as you can.  But nothing appears.  After a while, you have to resurface before running out of air.

In the boat, you swap out your oxygen tanks and head back down.  But it’s hopeless.  You don’t see another hint of Nessie.  As the sun drops low in the sky, you realize it’s time to head back.

This search has been a failure.  But you’re not going to give up.  Maybe tomorrow you’ll have better luck.


To read another adventure, turn to page 9

To learn more about lake monsters, turn to page 103”