Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Jackaby


Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–deny.

This Sherlock Holmes style novel is by William Ritter.  Mr. Ritter teaches high school language arts in Oregon.  Jackaby is his first novel. To learn more about all of Mr. Ritter's unique books, click here.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Treasury of Inuit Legends


Treasury of Inuit Legends by James Houston is by far the best adventure book I've read all summer.  I'm really glad that I discovered this book in a used bookstore in Seattle.  Jame Houston made his first journey to the Canadian Arctic in 1948 in search of a new land to paint. There he found a warm, friendly people living in a vast, cold, hauntingly beautiful world. He lived with the Inuit and Indian people in the Arctic and grew to understand them and their way of life. He also helped introduce Inuit culture to the world with his remarkable art and stories.  Here are four of his exciting Inuit folktales--Akavak, Tiktaliktak, The White Archer, and Wolf Run--collected for the first time in one beautiful volume. Houston's striking illustrations for each story bring the Arctic and its people to life. This inspired collection is sure to fascinate readers of all ages.

I look forward to reading more of James Houston's Arctic adventure books.

Click here to learn more about this extraordinary author and artist.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Thunder Boy Jr



Thunder Boy Jr. is named after his dad, but he wants a name that's all his own. Just because people call his dad Big Thunder doesn't mean he wants to be Little Thunder. He wants a name that celebrates something cool he's done, like Touch the Clouds, Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth, or Full of Wonder.

But just when Thunder Boy Jr. thinks all hope is lost, he and his dad pick the perfect name...a name that is sure to light up the sky.

National Book Award-winner Sherman Alexie's lyrical text and Caldecott Honor-winner Yuyi Morales's striking and beautiful illustrations celebrate the special relationship between father and son.

Click here to learn more.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Stephen Manes


Stephen Manes is the author of more than thirty books for children and young adults. His Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days! won kid-voted awards in five states and is a curriculum staple in American and French schools. The sequel, Make Four Million Dollars by Next Thursday!, quickly became a Publishers Weekly  bestseller. His Some of the Adventures of Rhode Island Red was illustrated by William Joyce, creator of Rolie Polie Olie. With Ron Barrett of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs fame, Manes wrote Encyclopedia Placematica, a collection of paper placemats that may remain the only book scalloped on all four sides. His books have been adapted for stage, television, and opera productions, including a Montreal children’s theater version of Perfect Person directed by Robert Lepage. The books have won commendations from the National Science Foundation and the Child Study Children’s Book Committee, as well as International Reading Association Children’s Choice awards. 

He is currently serving his fifth term as an elected member of the National Council of the Authors Guild, the country’s oldest and largest organization of book authors. He lives in Seattle with his wife, Susan Kocik.  He is a terrible dancer. (Stephen says this.  I haven't actually seen him dance)

Click here to see all of Stephen's awesome books.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Arken Freeth




Part Neanderthal, but raised as a human, Arken Freeth finds that he doesn’t fit in either world as he struggles to survive. Yet the very Neanderthal heritage that makes Arken an outsider gives him extraordinary strength and fighting skills. In order to survive and become the warrior he knows he can be, Arken must brave the dangers that lurk beneath the depths of the Circle Sea, the old Atlantic, as well as the Tookan pirates who roam its surface.

Many boys rarely get an opportunity to experience hunting and fishing firsthand, so these books give them a sense of what it is like to hunt big game and use that skill to keep yourself alive.

In addition, the protaganist is a 14-year-old boy who is a "double" fish out of water, not only is he the only commoner in a military academy for the sons and daughters of noble families, he is also part Neanderthal in a lost civilization existing 13,000 years ago. And if anyone finds out that he has Neanderthal blood, the laws of their society forbid racial mixing with Neanderthal slaves and he and his family will be put to death.

Top that off with the fact that Arken begins the series by being very short and being bullied and manages to overcome these obstacles through wit and tenacity and I feel it is an inspiring message to young boys and the problems they face in society today.

This unique book is by Alex Paul and is the first of a series of seven books.  Alex lives in Portland, OR.  Many of his childhood experiences helped craft his books. He grew up in small Oregon logging towns, mainly Mill City on the N. Santiam River.  His parents were British colonialists who escaped Hong Kong on the last ocean liner that left before the Japanese invasion the same day Pearl Harbor was hit.  They emigrated to Canada and both served in the war, his father in Canadian infantry and his mother in the WAC. After the war his father got a degree in English and they moved to the US where he had a career as a teacher in small Oregon towns.

Click here to visit Alex Paul's awesome website.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Into The Killing Seas


In 1945, in the waning days of World War II, two boys stow away aboard the U.S.S. Indianapolis as it sails from Guam to the Philippines. Separated from their parents at the start of the war, the boys hope to reunite with their family. But their hopes are dashed when a Japanese submarine sinks the ship in the middle of ocean.

Patrick and Teddy, with the help of their friend—an injured Marine named Benny—are not too worried at first. They expect to be rescued soon. They can handle the thirst and the dehydration. Even the occasional madness that seems to possess some of the ship’s surviving crew.

But as they float along in the water, they discover that the real danger lies beneath. And it has teeth.  Based on true events, this is a harrowing tale of survival and suspense.

This book is by Michael P. Spradlin.  Surrounded by books in his formative years, he grew up loving to read, imagining himself the hero of numerous epic battles and indulging in his favorite pastime, which was smuggling fireworks across the Ohio border so that he could blow up his collection of Plastic Green Army Men and Matchbox Cars.

To learn more about Michael, click here.

Click here to see a cool trailer of Into The Killing Seas.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Avenging The Owl





A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Han Solo avenged the destruction of an innocent planet by helping Luke Skywalker blow up the Death Star. Han walked away with a gold medal and the love of his life. But when Solo Hahn—named in honor of the beloved action hero—tries to avenge the death of his gray-and-white kitten, he gets eight months of community service. Eight months of working at the local raptor center helping owls—his now sworn enemies.

For the first time in his life, Solo is labeled a troubled kid, an at-risk youth. He’d always gotten good grades, had good friends, and gotten along with his parents. He used to volunteer to read Reader’s Digest to old people at the retirement home next door, and his favorite thing in the whole wide world was to surf. He wrote screenplays for fun. But when his parents uproot him and move the family from California to backwoods Oregon, Solo starts to lose track of the person he was. Everything is upside down, and he finds himself dealing with things way beyond his understanding. He’s the new kid in town, and he’s got a bad reputation. The question is: What will he do next?

This is a story about staying true to yourself when things get tough. Solo has every reason to lash out, but he ultimately needs to find a way to cope. Avenging the Owl deals with the difficult issues of suicide and depression, but more than anything it captures the powerlessness of being a kid. It won’t be easy, but the wild beauty of Oregon, its cold, empty beaches and captivating wildlife, may be just what Solo and his family need to help them start over.

This very cool book is by Melissa Hart.   She worked as an environmental educator and owl trainer at the Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene for eight years.  She teaches Literature for Laurel Springs, a distance-learning high school based in Ojai, California. To learn more about Melissa Hart and her other great books, click here.