2015: 365 days but thousands and thousands of books published! Across the Internets, everyone — librarians, teachers, newspapers, journals, my next door neighbor, and your grocer’s cat — is compiling their “Best of 2015” book lists. We decided to take it one step further and compile a “Best of Best of 2015 Books Book List” (try saying that three times)! #BOBO2BBL could be a thing, right?
Here are the highlights from seven lists published from sources* we love:
Well, Sophia, you’ve asked the right website! Intense typing immediately occurred when we saw your message:
We love Pusheen! This image doctored by Kidsmomo.
Sisters is a graphic novel (kind of like a comic book) written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier, who also wrote and illustrated Smile and Drama. Both Smile and Sisters are autobiographical — meaning, the story is about Raina’s own life.
Sisters is a really funny and sweet account of Raina taking a road trip from California to Colorado with her mom, her younger sister Amara, and their baby brother. But it’s not all fun and games in the car. You might have guessed that from the hilarious cover illustration!
In the book, there are also flashbacks to when Raina was still an only child (and really wanted a little sister) and to when Amara was a toddler.
This book is perfect if you like stories in any of these categories:
A quick read
Will make you laugh
If you relate to family bickering
Not convinced? Check out reviews for Sisters submitted by other readers just like you — the book has an almost perfect 5-star record!
You can read a 16-page excerpt on the official website, and here’s a peek at one of the flashback pages:
After you’ve read Sisters (and loved it), check out some other books you might like…
Lumberjanes by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, and Noelle Stevenson
Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
If any readers (especially Sophia!) decide to read any of these books (especially Sisters!), please leave us a review! And if there are any other Kidsmomo readers are unsure about what to read next or have a question about a book, feel free to submit an Ask Kidsmomo question below:
There ain’t no party like a book launch party ‘cause a book launch party is AWE-SOME! What happens at a book launch party? The author talks. The audience asks questions. Drama unfolds. An animal runs wild. Snacks are eaten.
At least, that’s what happened at the launch party for C. Alexander London’s new book series, The Wild Ones, held at Books of Wonder in NYC on August 29th.
The event kicked off with a performance that the author described as “one little scene to give you a taste of the action of The Wild Ones” — a scene where a rescue occurs in Ankle Snap Alley:
Left: Eliot Shrefer. Right: C. Alexander London (with temporary animal ears).
Afterwards, there was a civilized conversation between the author and Eliot Schrefer, who has also written several books for teens and two books in the Spirit Animals series! Here’s some inside scoop that we’re reporting back to Kidsmomo readers:
C. Alexander London was inspired by reading Brian Jacques’ Redwall series as a kid, so he always wanted to write a fantasy series with talking animals. (As you read The Wild Ones, keep an eye out for Martin the mouse, a tribute to Redwall!)
The series follows the adventures of Kit, a raccoon:
Kit is a country raccoon who finds himself alone in the big city when a pack of hunting dogs destroy his home and kills his parents. Kit finds himself in Ankle Snap Alley, a city in the midst of a turf war between the Wild Ones and the people’s pets who call themselves The Flealess. There he uncovers the secret that they died for — an ancient truce that gives Ankle Snap Alley to the Wild Ones. But the Flealess will stop at nothing to keep that secret buried forever, and Kit is in serious danger. Only the brave of heart and quick of paw can save the Wild Ones now.
The idea came to London when he encountered two raccoons in his backyard. One of them lifted a paw, so he raised his hand up in response.
Not the raccoon in question. From Twitter User @CuteEmergency
Meanwhile, his pet dog was snarling at the raccoons from inside the house, which made sense because London later discovered that raccoons hold their paws up to show aggression. Here, he shares the details of the drama-filled origins of the book:
Since London mentioned his pet dog, our question was: Did Baxter make it into the book as a character? The answer: The main baddie, Titus, was once based on Baxter, a Boston terrier. However, after much consideration, Titus was changed to a thin Italian Greyhound with spindly legs and a deep gruff voice, inspiring London’s favorite sentence in the book, describing Titus’ voice as being “like dynamite in a silk purse.”
Stand-in for C. Alexander London’s dog, also a Boston Terrier
An Italian Greyhound. Photo (c) Flickr User louies
In preparation for writing The Wild Ones, London read many books featuring animal characters, such as the classics The Rats of NIMH and The Wind in the Willows. Like the Redwall series, many of them were very British, so he thought: What would the American counterpart be? London decided it could be an immigrant story — someone coming to a new place and finding a home: That is Kit’s story. Ankle Snap Alley is based on the historical Five Points neighborhood in Manhattan, infamous for crime and poverty.
So what will we be looking forward to after reading The Wild Ones? The sequel, of course! In the sequel, we’ll get a taste of a villainous coyote, a gang of otters, and the mysterious alligator in the sewer that everyone’s heard about. London just finished the first draft, which was a little held up because he invented a lot of new words for the world, but had a tiny bit of trouble keeping track of it all. A lot of the jargon used by the animals is similar to what thieves and magicians say.
After the Q&A, we stood in line for the book signing and enjoyed some compost cake and animal crackers:
And in case you’re worried that we’re reporting this from the grave after an intense life-ending stomachache: Nope, compost cake is NOT made of actual compost, but actually consists of crushed cookies, chips, pretzels and more fun, yummy snacks. Compost cake, naturally, is the closest homage to what the Wild Ones eat, which is… trash and compost. The animal crackers, however — the author admitted that was a little odd. He doesn’t want to us to EAT Kit, he wants us to READ about him, obviously. So… pick up a copy of The Wild Ones today! Or enter below for a chance to win a copy!
Raccoon Photo (c) Flickr user fatedsnowfox
ENTER BY SEPTEMBER 30TH FOR A CHANCE TO WIN…
GRAND PRIZE: A SIGNED HARDCOVER COPY OF THE WILD ONES AND A HARDCOVER COPY OF IMMORTAL GUARDIANS!
TWO RUNNER-UP PRIZES: A HARD COVER COPY OF THE WILD ONES!
P.S. In case you were keeping track: The “animal running wild” that we mentioned at the beginning was an adorable service dog who walked around the bookstore like he owned the joint. It did not seem professional to take a picture of him, as he was doing important dog work.
Independence Day = barbecues, fireworks, a dip in the pool, a run through the grass, a trip to the beach, and an all-around good time.
But it’s also a celebration of liberty, as you know from social studies class. Here at Kidsmomo, where we’re completely but let’s say healthily obsessed with books, we thought it would be fun to focus on the freedom of summer reading no teachers, no rules, you pick whatever you want to read all season!
So for this Fourth of July, we’re featuring our version of “Yankee Doodle Dandy” originally posted on Kidsmomo in 2012. In our humble opinion, it still rocks.
(PS – If you’re on the go or maybe too busy running around waving sparklers in the air just download the audio.)
As you guys can tell, neither Karen nor Nancy lent their voices to this video. Instead, we got help from a professional musician our friend Tom from the band Men and Whales. Thank you, Tom!
Usually, here at Kidsmomo we diplomatically divvy up the books we read — typically there’s only one copy! But for Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley, we were lucky enough to get our hands on TWO advance copies from the publisher, so we were able to read it at the same time! Based on this description, both of us were very excited to visit Circus Mirandus:
Even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve, Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other — the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real. And the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather.
The only problem is, the Lightbender doesn’t want to keep his promise. And now it’s up to Micah to get the miracle he came for.
So what did we think? Instead of summing it up, find out from our conversation below!
I enjoyed Circus Mirandus, but I have to say I was a teeny bit disappointed. I wanted to spend more time at the circus!
That didn’t bother me at all. I liked the glimpses of the circus but Micah’s experience through the book (in and out of the circus) was what I thought was most interesting.
I think I was actually more interested in Ephraim’s story than Micah’s. But then again, that’s probably because there was more circus in that storyline! And I don’t mean to say that I think the book would have been stronger or better written if there had been more circus scenes; I just personally really wanted to be at that circus! Ha ha.
This is new — usually I like backstory (I’m all about MORE BACKSTORY in books), and this time it’s reverse. But actually, I did like the backstory a lot.
I really liked how the backstory eventually included Great-Aunt Gertrudis. But maybe I shouldn’t say any more until we get to the spoilers section? Yeah, let’s just say that I enjoyed learning about what in her past might have caused Great-Aunt Gertrudis to be such a meanie.
You know who wasn’t a meanie? Jenny Mendoza. I thought that a) she was hilarious (intentionally and unintentionally) and b) it was good to see someone Micah’s age who doesn’t believe in magic.
Were you more of a Jenny or Micah growing up?
Probably a Jenny. One of my favorite “imaginative” games as a kid was to pretend I was a librarian! Not so fantastical…
HA! You’re such a nerd, nerd. I am definitely a Micah. I still think a lot about how great it would be to have magical powers.
Speaking of magical powers, I want to talk about the Lightbender and Victoria, but I don’t think we can do that without spoilers…
SO…. SPOILER TIME!
Follow this handy-dandy-chart to see what to do next:
If you haven’t read the book and have decided NOT to click on the oh-so-tempting flashing button above, it’s okay! Let us know if you’re interested in reading Circus Mirandus below!
— Nancy and Karen
Nancy loooves spoilers. If she had the magical power to travel through time, Past Nancy would definitely jump to the future and see what Future Nancy wrote in the spoilery review above. And then acquire a jet pack. More about Nancy »
Karen avoids spoilers when she’s really excited about a book because she’s easily disappointed; the less she knows ahead of time, the better. But when it’s a book she knows she’s never going to read, it’s Wikipedia all the way! More about Karen »
Imagine a carnival — animals, clowns, games, snacks— but replace the animals and clowns with AUTHORS and BOOKS! That’s what the annual Kids Author Carnival is like. Last Saturday, over 30 authors converged in one spot to hang out with kids, play games, sign books, and more!
We were there as volunteer Team Leaders, representing Camp Half-Blood and Hogwarts:
Games with authors included:
Buckets of Books: In this game, authors tried to get kids to answer trivia questions in one of four ways: only using certain words, only using one word, only using gestures/motions, or only using sounds/noises/music.
Guess what word was used to figure out this book?
Pictionary: Authors used their artistic skills (or lack thereof) while kids guessed the book:
Hint: It is not “Potato Bird”
Guess That Book:In which authors used clues to get kids to — you guessed it — guess that book!
Charades: See if you can guess what book the authors were miming in the videos below!
Roll the Dice Writing Workshop: Kids rolled GIANT dice for character (yellow), setting (blue), and conflict (pink), and then used what they landed on to write stories. The green die was for when you got stuck:
Truth and Dare: A Q&A-style panel in which kids asked authors questions about books and writing… and dared them to act silly. For instance, if you ever read THIS fantasy adventure novel:
Just think about the author J.A. White dancing the Macarena:
As you can see, it was an awesome event — and we’re so grateful that as volunteers, we got to witness all the entertaining author embarrassment.
Babysitting can be a breeze when the kids behave well, or it can be a hassle when the little munchkins decide to turn into full-on terrors. But no matter what kind of babysitting experiences you’ve had, chances are they’re pretty tame compared to what Gabby goes through in Gabby Duran and the Unsittables by Elise Allen and Daryle Conners.
Here’s the scoop (aka the official case file from the publisher):
The Association Linking Intergalatics and Earthlings (hereby known as A.L.I.E.N.) has a new member. After months of investigation, Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, has proven herself to be a babysitter extraordinaire. Her celebrity clients fly her around the country to care for their rambunctious little humans. Our spy, Associate 4118-23432B, otherwise known as Edwina, believes Gabby can be trusted with the truth: aliens are living among humans on Earth. And here at A.L.I.E.N we believe that even extraterrestrials need a babysitter now and then. No one was up to the task…until now.
After accepting the top-secret position, Edwina has paired our new associate up with her first charge, a little girl from the planet Flarknartia. The timing for associate 4118-25125A is less than ideal. It’s a school day on Planet Earth, Gabby’s audition for the solo part in the band is tonight, and this tiny alien is a bit more than meets the eye.
Can Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, First Sitter to the Unsittables, keep her otherworldly charge safe in the unpredictable halls of middle-school and keep A.L.I.E.N hidden?
Well, we know the answer to that question because we’ve read the book already. But obviously we’re not going to tell you exactly what happens! Besides, we’re sworn to secrecy by A.L.I.E.N.
Instead we’ll just say that the story is fun, the aliens are hilarious, and the whole thing is a blast to read. It’s not an epic adventure, and it doesn’t pretend to be — instead, it’s a quick, funny, wacky read.
And if you want to read it yourself, you can enter our sweepstakes for a chance to win a copy of the book! (You can also read an excerpt from the book if you just can’t wait.)
On 4/21/2015, Kidsmomo reader Amira asked us for book recommendations based on her interests:
Hello, I like books with cats and animals, a little bit with conflict and sometimes non fiction.
Well, Amira, we’d love to help! We immediately went into action when we saw your message:
Check out this booklist made just for you:
The Broccoli Tapes by Jan Slepian
The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth
Socks by Beverly Cleary
Whittington by Alan Armstrong
Fiction: Newer Reads
The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles de Lint
Cat Diaries: Secret Writings of the MEOW Society by Betsy Byars
Kaspar the Titantic Cat by Michael Morpurgo
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin
National Geographic: Animal Encyclopedia
How to Speak Cat: A Guide to Decoding Cat Language
National Geographic Kids: Awesome Animals
And if you’re not paw-sitive that you’re interested in books of this purr-suasion, check out…
Other Animal Adventures
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick
Tales from Dimwood Forest series by Avi
A Dog’s Life by Ann M. Martin
Bunnicula by James Howe
The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
If any readers — especially Amira! — decide to read any of these books, please leave us a review! And if there are any other Kidsmomo readers unsure about what to read next, feel free to submit an Ask Kidsmomo question below: