Books to Prep for Your Exoplanet Visit

February 26th, 2017 by

NASA made a big announcement this week: Forty light-years away (a measly 235 trillion miles) from our planet, there are seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a single star called Trappist-1. Three of those planets are in the habitable-zone, which is the zone around Trappist-1 that could possibly sustain water.

What does this mean? Well, we’re not quite ready to climb into our space ships, take a nice nap in hyper-sleep, and wake up on a new planet — but it’s possible that human beings will eventually visit these exoplanets. In fact, NASA released some (fake) travel posters showing off the far-future vacation destinations, like this one:

Take a planet-hopping excursion through the TRAPPIST-1 system, where you can see other planets in the red sky. Credit NASA-JPL/Caltech

In honor of this scientific breakthrough, here is a booklist featuring kids just like you (well, occasionally with super powers and hefty responsibilities) growing up in space. (Book descriptions from the publishers.)

Stupendous Science Fiction Standalone Novels

   

The Green Book by Jill Paton Walsh
The Green Book by Jill Paton Walsh

Pattie and her family are among the last refugees to flee a dying Earth in an old spaceship. And when the group finally lands on the distant planet which is to be their new home, it seems that the four-year journey has been a success. But as they begin to settle this shiny new world, they discover that the colony is in serious jeopardy. Nothing on this planet is edible, and they may not be able to grow food. With supplies dwindling, Pattie and her sister decide to take the one chance that might make life possible on Shine.

Pi in the Sky by Wendy Mass
Pi in the Sky by Wendy Mass

Joss is the seventh son of the Supreme Overlord of the Universe. This means that his older brothers took the really cool jobs before he was born. All Joss gets to do is deliver pies. That’s right: pies. Of course these pies actually hold the secrets of the universe between their buttery crusts, but they’re still pies.

Joss is happy to let his older brothers shine. He has plenty to keep his hands full: trying to improve his bowling score, listening to his best friend Kal try (and fail) to play the drums, and exploring his ever-changing home: The Realms. But when Earth suddenly disappears, Joss is tasked with the seemingly impossible job of bringing it back. With the help of an outspoken girl from Earth named Annika, he embarks on the adventure of a lifetime and learns that the universe is an even stranger place than he’d imagined.

Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Liam has always had trouble keeping his feet on the ground. Being 239,000 miles from earth doesn’t make it any easier.

Liam is too big for his boots. And his football strip. And his school blazer. But being super-sized height-wise has its advantages: He’s the only 11-year-old to ever ride the G-force-defying Cosmic rollercoaster — or to be offered the chance to drive a Porsche. Long-legged Liam makes a giant leap for boy-kind by competing with a group of adults for the chance to go into space. Is Liam the best boy for the job? Sometimes being big isn’t all about being a grown-up.

Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson
Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson

For Violet Marlocke, family is the most important thing in the whole galaxy. So when her father goes missing while on a hazardous job, she can’t just sit around and do nothing. To get him back, Violet throws caution to the stars and sets out with a group of misfit friends on a quest to find him. But space is vast and dangerous, and she soon discovers that her dad is in big, BIG trouble. With her father’s life on the line, nothing is going to stop Violet from trying to rescue him and keep her family together.

Splendid Series in Space


Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
Zita the Spacegirl series

Zita’s life took a cosmic left turn in the blink of an eye. When her best friend is abducted by an alien doomsday cult, Zita leaps to the rescue and finds herself a stranger on a strange planet. Humanoid chickens and neurotic robots are shocking enough as new experiences go, but Zita is even more surprised to find herself taking on the role of intergalactic hero. Before long, aliens in all shapes and sizes don’t even phase her. Neither do ancient prophecies, doomed planets, or even a friendly con man who takes a mysterious interest in Zita’s quest.

Starbounders by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson
Starbounders by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson
Starbounders series

Zachary Night has been waiting his whole life for this moment. Like his family before him, he’s finally headed to Indigo 8, a top secret training center where future Starbounders learn the skills to protect the galaxy. But being a Starbounder is no walk on the moon. No sooner has Zachary mastered the warp glove basics than a mission into space goes wrong and puts him and his new friends right in the line of fire. And when a plot to destroy Indigo 8 comes to light, Zachary will have to get back to Earth on his own and fast — before there’s no Earth left to go back to.

George’s Secret Key to the Universe by Lucy Hawking and Stephen Hawking
George’s Secret Key to the Universe by Lucy and Stephen Hawking
George series

George’s parents, who have always been wary of technology, warn him about their new neighbors: Eric is a scientist and his daughter, Annie, seems to be following in his footsteps. But when George befriends them and Cosmos, their super-computer, he finds himself on a wildly fun adventure, while learning about physics, time, and the universe. With Cosmos’s help, he can travel to other planets and a black hole. But what would happen if the wrong people got their hands on Cosmos? George, Annie, and Eric aren’t about to find out, and what ensues is a funny adventure that clearly explains the mysteries of science.

Hunt for the Hydra by Jason Fry
Hunt for the Hydra by Jason Fry
The Jupiter Pirates series

The relationship between Tycho Hashoone, his twin sister, Yana, and their older brother, Carlo, isn’t your average sibling rivalry. They might be crew members together aboard the Shadow Comet, but only one of them can be the next ship captain. So when the Hashoones find themselves in the midst of a dangerous conspiracy — one that will pit them against space pirates, Earth diplomats, and even treachery from within the family — each sibling is desperate to prove his or her worth. The only trouble is, if they don’t work together, none of them may make it out alive.

Space Case by Stuart Gibbs
Space Case by Stuart Gibbs
Moon Base Alpha series

Like his fellow lunarnauts — otherwise known as Moonies — living on Moon Base Alpha, 12-year-old Dashiell Gibson is famous the world over for being one of the first humans to live on the moon.

And he’s bored out of his mind. Kids aren’t allowed on the lunar surface, meaning they’re trapped inside the tiny moon base with next to nothing to occupy their time — and the only other kid Dash’s age spends all his time hooked into virtual reality games.

Then Moon Base Alpha’s top scientist turns up dead. Dash senses there’s foul play afoot, but no one believes him. Everyone agrees Dr. Holtz went onto the lunar surface without his helmet properly affixed, simple as that. But Dr. Holtz was on the verge of an important new discovery, Dash finds out, and it’s a secret that could change everything for the Moonies — a secret someone just might kill to keep…

The Planet Thieves by Dan Krokos
The Planet Thieves by Dan Krokos
The Planet Thieves series

Two weeks ago, 13-year-old Mason Stark and seventeen of his fellow cadets from the Academy for Earth Space Command boarded the SS Egypt. The trip was supposed to be a short, routine voyage to log their required space time for summer quarter.

Routine goes out the airlock when they’re attacked by the Tremist, an alien race who have been at war with humanity for the last 60 years.

With the captain and crew dead, injured, or taken prisoner, Mason and the cadets are all that’s left to warn the ESC. They soon find out exactly why the Tremist chose their ship to attack: the Egypt is carrying a weapon that could change the war forever.

Now Mason will have to lead the cadets in a daring assault to take back the ship, rescue the survivors, and recover the weapon. Before there isn’t a war left to fight.

Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall
Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall
Mars Evacuees series

The fact that someone had decided I would be safer on Mars, where you could still only SORT OF breathe the air and SORT OF not get sunburned to death, was a sign that the war with the aliens was not going fantastically well.

I’d been worried I was about to be told that my mother’s spacefighter had been shot down, so when I found out that I was being evacuated to Mars, I was pretty calm.

And despite everything that happened to me and my friends afterwards, I’d do it all again. because until you’ve been shot at, pursued by terrifying aliens, taught maths by a laser-shooting robot goldfish and tried to save the galaxy, I don’t think you can say that you’ve really lived.

The Lost Planet by Rachel Searles
The Lost Planet by Rachel Searles
The Lost Planet series

If the same thing happens to you, this is my advice: ALWAYS CARRY DUCT TAPE.

This is what the boy is told:

– He woke up on planet Trucon, inside of a fence line he shouldn’t have been able to cross.
– He has an annirad blaster wound to the back of his head.
– He has no memory.
– He is now under the protection of a mysterious benefactor.
– His name is Chase Garrety.

This is what Chase Garrety knows:

– He has a message: “Guide the star.”
– Time is running out.

MiNRS by Kevin Sylvester
MiNRS by Kevin Sylvester
MiNRS series

In space. Underground. And out of time.

Christopher Nichols and his family live on a new planet, Perses, as colonists of Melming Mining’s Great Mission to save the earth. Dozens of families like Christopher’s have relocated, too, like his best friend Elena Rosales.

A communications blackout with Earth hits, and all of Perses is on its own for three months. It’s okay, though, because the colonists have prepared, stockpiling food and resources to survive. But they never prepared for an attack.

Landers, as the attackers are called, obliterate the colony to steal the metal and raw ore. Now in a race against time, Christopher, along with a small group of survivors, are forced into the maze of mining tunnels. The kids run. They hide. But can they survive?

Do you have a favorite book set in space or on another planet? Leave a comment below or send in a review!

— Nancy

Nancy would much rather travel into space than the deep ocean, but really, she’s perfectly content right where she is now. On her couch.

Meet Nancy »

The Rock and the River: Book Review

February 19th, 2017 by

the-rock-and-the-riverLast week, we highlighted this year’s Coretta Scott King Award recipients. This week, I want to recommend a past winner: The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon. If you’re looking for a book that will give you a window into black history during this Black History Month, look no further.

The story takes place in Chicago in 1968, a time of great political turmoil and a pivotal time in the civil rights movement. Sam, the book’s protagonist, is the son of a famous civil rights leader who is aligned with Martin Luther King Jr.

But Sam’s older brother, Stick, is tired of speeches and non-violent protest. He joins the Black Panthers, another activist group that believes black people should reclaim their rights and provide for their own communities by more extreme means if necessary.

And Sam is caught in the middle. What will he do when a friend gets in trouble with the police — treated unfairly because of his race? Will Sam continue to support his father’s approach, or will he follow Stick on an exhilarating — but also scary and dangerous — new path?

I should warn you: There is some violence in this book. But more than that, there are some parts that are really, really troubling and sad. (The publisher recommends this book for ages 9-14.) But that’s part of our country’s history we need to know. And though this story is fictional, I think it provides important insight into real-life events and struggles — which in turn reminds us what we should all continue fighting for today.

Have you been reading any new books for Black History Month? Leave a comment with your own recommendations!

— Karen

Karen also really enjoyed One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. If you’re interested in learning about the Black Panthers but you’re not sure about The Rock and the River, check out One Crazy Summer!

More about Karen »

Your Valentine’s Day Book Match

February 12th, 2017 by

February is the month of LOVE, and the #1 love in our lives is… BOOKS! There are so many amazing new books released recently, we’ve compiled a quiz to determine which book you should read next!

Answer the questions below. When you get your results, be sure to check out the official book description below the cover!

Standalone book or a series?

Are you happy with your result? If not, take the quiz again! Leave a comment below and let us know which book you’re most excited about.

2017 Coretta Scott King Book Awards

February 6th, 2017 by

coretta-scott-king-awardsLast week, we gave a rundown of the 2017 Newbery winners. Since February is Black History Month, we wanted to follow that up with a rundown of the 2017 Coretta Scott King Book Awards winners.

You’ve probably heard of Mrs. Coretta Scott King, who was the wife of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and an activist in her own right. The Coretta Scott King Book Awards recognize outstanding books for young adults and children by African-American authors and illustrators that reflect the African-American experience.

Since they were founded in 1969, the Coretta Scott King Book Awards have grown to include several categories. For us here at Kidsmomo, the most exciting is the Author Award. Check out this year’s winner and honor books (descriptions provided by the publishers):
 

THIS YEAR’S WINNER

march-book-threeMarch: Book Three written by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell

Welcome to the stunning conclusion of the award-winning and best-selling MARCH trilogy. Congressman John Lewis, an American icon and one of the key figures of the civil rights movement, joins co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell to bring the lessons of history to vivid life for a new generation, urgently relevant for today’s world.

By the fall of 1963, the Civil Rights Movement has penetrated deep into the American consciousness, and as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, John Lewis is guiding the tip of the spear. Through relentless direct action, SNCC continues to force the nation to confront its own blatant injustice, but for every step forward, the danger grows more intense: Jim Crow strikes back through legal tricks, intimidation, violence, and death. The only hope for lasting change is to give voice to the millions of Americans silenced by voter suppression: “One Man, One Vote.”

To carry out their nonviolent revolution, Lewis and an army of young activists launch a series of innovative campaigns, including the Freedom Vote, Mississippi Freedom Summer, and an all-out battle for the soul of the Democratic Party waged live on national television.

With these new struggles come new allies, new opponents, and an unpredictable new president who might be both at once. But fractures within the movement are deepening… even as 25-year-old John Lewis prepares to risk everything in a historic showdown high above the Alabama river, in a town called Selma.

[Note from Kidsmomo: This book is recommended for ages 12 and up.]

 

HONOR BOOKS

as-brave-as-youAs Brave as You by Jason Reynolds

When two brothers decide to prove how brave they are, everything backfires — literally — in this piercing middle grade novel by the winner of the Coretta Scott King/Johnson Steptoe Award.

Genie’s summer is full of surprises. The first is that he and his big brother, Ernie, are leaving Brooklyn for the very first time to spend the summer with their grandparents all the way in Virginia — in the COUNTRY! The second surprise comes when Genie figures out that their grandfather is blind. Thunderstruck and — being a curious kid — Genie peppers Grandpop with questions about how he covers it so well (besides wearing way cool Ray-Bans).

How does he match his clothes? Know where to walk? Cook with a gas stove? Pour a glass of sweet tea without spilling it? Genie thinks Grandpop must be the bravest guy he’s ever known, but he starts to notice that his grandfather never leaves the house — as in NEVER. And when he finds the secret room that Grandpop is always disappearing into — a room so full of songbirds and plants that it’s almost as if it’s been pulled inside-out — he begins to wonder if his grandfather is really so brave after all.

Then Ernie lets him down in the bravery department. It’s his 14th birthday, and, Grandpop says to become a man, you have to learn how to shoot a gun. Genie thinks that is AWESOME until he realizes Ernie has no interest in learning how to shoot. None. Nada. Dumbfounded by Ernie’s reluctance, Genie is left to wonder — is bravery and becoming a man only about proving something, or is it just as important to own up to what you won’t do?

[Note from Kidsmomo: This book is recommended for ages 10 and up.]

 
Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan

Using original slave auction and plantation estate documents, Ashley Bryan offers a moving and powerful picture book that contrasts the monetary value of a slave with the priceless value of life experiences and dreams that a slave owner could never take away.

Imagine being looked up and down and being valued as less than chair. Less than an ox. Less than a dress. Maybe about the same as… a lantern.

You, an object. An object to sell.

In his gentle yet deeply powerful way, Ashley Bryan goes to the heart of how a slave is given a monetary value by the slave owner, tempering this with the one thing that CAN’T be bought or sold — dreams. Inspired by the actual will of a plantation owner that lists the worth of each and every one of his “workers,” Bryan has created collages around that document, and others like it. Through fierce paintings and expansive poetry he imagines and interprets each person’s life on the plantation, as well as the life their owner knew nothing about — their dreams and pride in knowing that they were worth far more than an Overseer or Madam ever would guess. Visually epic, and never before done, this stunning picture book is unlike anything you’ve seen.

 

Which books have you already read, or are most interested in reading? Vote in the poll below!

Your Coretta Scott King Pick:

2017 Newbery Award Winners

February 1st, 2017 by

It’s a month into 2017, and the American Library Association has rolled out the red carpet for their biggest stars: authors, illustrators, librarians, publishers, and of course, BOOKS!

For those Newbery Newbs out there: The ALA Youth Media Awards are like the Academy Awards or Super Bowl for kids literature, and their big award is the John Newbery Medal. The award is given out to a book published in 2016, and the selection committee is comprised of MVPs of books: librarians from around the country!

Check out this year’s winners (descriptions provided by the publishers):

JOHN NEWBERY MEDAL WINNER

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her 13th birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule — but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her — even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.

NEWBERY HONOR BOOKS

Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan

Using original slave auction and plantation estate documents, Ashley Bryan offers a moving and powerful picture book that contrasts the monetary value of a slave with the priceless value of life experiences and dreams that a slave owner could never take away.

Imagine being looked up and down and being valued as less than chair. Less than an ox. Less than a dress. Maybe about the same as… a lantern.

You, an object. An object to sell.

In his gentle yet deeply powerful way, Ashley Bryan goes to the heart of how a slave is given a monetary value by the slave owner, tempering this with the one thing that CAN’T be bought or sold — dreams. Inspired by the actual will of a plantation owner that lists the worth of each and every one of his “workers,” Bryan has created collages around that document, and others like it. Through fierce paintings and expansive poetry he imagines and interprets each person’s life on the plantation, as well as the life their owner knew nothing about — their dreams and pride in knowing that they were worth far more than an Overseer or Madam ever would guess. Visually epic, and never before done, this stunning picture book is unlike anything you’ve seen.

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog written by Adam Gidwitz, illustrated by Hatem Aly

An exciting and hilarious medieval adventure from the bestselling author of A Tale Dark and Grimm.

1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children. Their adventures take them on a chase through France: They are taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. On the run to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned, their quest drives them forward to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel, where all will come to question if these children can perform the miracles of saints.

Join William, an oblate on a mission from his monastery; Jacob, a Jewish boy who has fled his burning village; and Jeanne, a peasant girl who hides her prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne’s loyal greyhound, Gwenforte… recently brought back from the dead. Told in multiple voices, in a style reminiscent of The Canterbury Tales, our narrator collects their stories and the saga of these three unlikely allies begins to come together.

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.

Brilliantly crafted, Wolf Hollow is a haunting tale of America at a crossroads and a time when one girl’s resilience, strength, and compassion help to illuminate the darkest corners of our history.

Which books have you already read, or are most interested in reading? Vote in the poll below!

Your Newbery Picks:

The Scourge: Book Review

January 22nd, 2017 by

the-scourgeQuestion: What do you get when you combine the terror of a deadly epidemic with the suspense of a government conspiracy? Answer: A pretty gripping story involving mystery, bravery, friendship, family, prejudice, corruption, and snakes. (Yes, I do mean literal snakes. On fire. Just wait for it.)

The Scourge by Jennifer A. Nielsen takes place in a country ravaged by a highly contagious, very painful, and absolutely fatal disease. To contain the spread of sickness, the governor has come up with a program of containment: Test people before they start showing symptoms, and anyone found to be carrying the scourge is sent to an island hospital to live out the rest of their days in quarantine.

One day, Ani and her friend Weevil get taken in for testing. They should be safe because up to that point, only townspeople had tested positive for the scourge; Ani and Weevil’s families and the other River People avoided interaction with the townspeople as much as possible. (Bigotry and oppression can do that.)

But soon Ani and Weevil are on their way to Attic Island, where they discover that the conditions are far from the rosy picture painted by the government. Why are patients being put to work instead of resting and healing? What happens inside the separate infirmary building? How come the wardens never get sick? Ani is determined to find out.

If you’re a fan of Jennifer A. Nielsen’s Ascendence Trilogy, then you will definitely enjoy The Scourge. Just like in that series, this book will keep you guessing with plenty of double crosses, hidden agendas, unexpected alliances, and political intrigue. (And even a little romance.)

This book also reminded me a bit of Icefall by Matthew Kirby and The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. All three stories feature a strong female protagonist who must unite a people and struggle against powerful forces — all in fictional countries/kingdoms far from our present day nation.

On the other hand, even though the country in The Scourge is fictional, I think Ani could be an inspiration to all of us living in America today. Ani is strong enough to stand up for her beliefs, insist that those in power be held accountable to the people, and work to bring her countrymen (and countrywomen!) together despite deep-rooted prejudice and inequality. I don’t know if the author was inspired by current events, but either way I think Ani and her courage would be a welcome addition to the real world.

Do you also have recommendations of books showcasing major girl power? Share yours in the comments below!

— Karen

One of Karen’s all-time favorite books is Because of Winn-Dixie, which features a strong female protagonist who changes lives in a way that involves no action/adventure but is still meaningful and dramatic nonetheless. Bringing together people in your own community is important too!

More about Karen »

Book Trailers You May Have Missed

January 15th, 2017 by

Despite my campaign and prayers and crossed fingers, not all books can be made into movies for us to enjoy. But the next best thing? Book trailers!

Book trailers are ingenious because readers find out a little bit about the book, but the trailer never gives away the ending. Sometimes, if a character’s “voice” is in the trailer, readers have a starting point for their imagination.

In my youth, eons ago before book trailers, I used to stare intensely at book covers hoping to find clues about how a character in the book would look, or what the setting would be like. If only they were moving photos, a la Harry Potter Wizarding World photographs — and now book trailers are kind of like that!

Check out some neat-o book trailers for interesting reads you may have missed recently (plus descriptions from the publisher):

Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom by Booki Vivat

Meet Abbie Wu. Abbie is in crisis — and not just because she’s starting middle school or because she’s stuck in a family that doesn’t quite get her or because everyone seems to have a Thing except her. Abbie Wu is always in crisis.

Heavily illustrated and embarrassingly honest, Frazzled dives right into the mind of this hilariously neurotic middle school girl as she tries to figure out who she is, where she belongs, and how to survive the everyday disasters of growing up. With Abbie’s flair for the dramatic and natural tendency to freak out, middle school has never seemed so nerve-racking!

Like Magic by Elaine Vickers

For three 10-year-old girls, their once simple worlds are starting to feel too big. Painfully shy Grace dreads starting fifth grade now that her best friend has moved away. Jada hopes she’ll stop feeling so alone if she finds the mother who left years ago. And Malia fears the arrival of her new baby sister will forever change the family she loves. When the girls each find a mysterious treasure box in their library and begin to fill the box with their own precious things, they start to feel less alone. But it’s up to Grace, Jada, and Malia to take the treasures and turn them into something more: true friendship.

A Tail of Camelot (Mice of the Round Table, #1) by Julie Leung

Young mouse Calib Christopher dreams of the day when he will become a Knight of Camelot like his father and grandfather before him. For generations, Calib’s family has lived among the mice that dwell beneath the human Knights of the Round Table, defending the castle they all call home. Calib just hopes he will be able to live up to the Christopher name.

Then, on the night of the annual Harvest Tournament, tragedy strikes. The mice suspect the Darklings are behind the vicious sneak attack, but Calib has his doubts, so he sets off on a quest for the truth. Venturing deep into the woods beyond the castle walls, Calib and his friend Cecily discover that a threat far greater than the Darklings is gathering, and human and animal knights alike are in grave danger.

With help from a host of unlikely new allies, including a young human boy named Galahad, Calib must get the Mice of the Round Table and the Darklings to put aside their differences and fight together. Only then will they be strong enough to save Camelot.

Dolphin Dreams by Catherine Hapka

Avery has just moved to Southern California with her mom after her parents’ divorce. She dreams of swimming with dolphins, but a near-drowning incident years ago has left her fearful of the ocean.

Maria longs for space and quiet among her big, loud family. She dreams of acceptance to a prestigious art program for her drawings of dolphins, but knows her parents think art is impractical.

Then a unique-looking dolphin leads the two girls to meet in a secluded cove. As Avery and Maria observe the dolphin and become friends, they push each other to overcome their fears. But their opposing backgrounds and personalities lead to a disagreement that threatens to tear their friendship apart. When it seems their special dolphin is in trouble, can they overcome their differences and help the dolphin — and each other — before it’s too late?

I hope these book trailers inspired you to read one of these books — me, I’m going to pick up a copy of Frazzled ASAP! Which book trailer was your favorite? Let us know in a comment below!

— Nancy

Nancy used to make lots of book trailers for Kidsmomo, but now she mainly leaves the movie making to the professionals. 🙂

Meet Nancy »

Save Me a Seat: Book Review

January 8th, 2017 by

save-me-a-seatI have to admit, I judged this book by its cover. If you know anything about me by now, it’s that I loooooooooooooove food. Love it. LOVE. IT. So when I saw the lunch trays on this cover, I was like, “YES! I must read this book!” And I’m really glad that I did!

Save Me a Seat is told in alternating chapters from the perspectives of Joe (written by Sarah Weeks) and Ravi (written by Gita Varadarajan):

Joe is having a tough time, now that his best friends have moved away; they were the main thing helping him cope with being bullied by the most popular boy in their class. And now things are getting even worse, ever since Joe’s mom started working as a lunch monitor at his school — embarrassing him on a daily basis. Plus, Joe’s new teacher this year doesn’t seem to understand that his Auditory Processing Disorder makes him anxious about speaking in class. Why couldn’t things just be like last year?

Ravi is facing his own challenges, having just moved to the U.S. from India. At home, Ravi had tons of friends and was top of his class. Given his popularity, and with English as his first language, Ravi thought the transition to his new life in America would be easy. But boy was he wrong! His teacher and classmates have trouble understanding Ravi’s accented English, and none of them understand the culture he’s coming from — just as Ravi starts to realize he doesn’t understand the culture and expectations at his new school. Why couldn’t his family just have stayed in India, where everything was great?

Joe and Ravi are obviously very different from one another, and at first, that’s all that they can see about each other. But this book is about the importance of looking beyond surface level and getting to know other people’s many layers. At least, that’s what Miss Frost says is important when she meets with both Joe and Ravi at school. But can these two classmates move past their assumptions and come together as allies? Not until they can look deeper and understand the complex layers within themselves

I really enjoyed getting to know both Ravi and Joe. Each boy has his own unique voice and story, and I loved learning about their lives. Each character also opened up a new world to me: I was not familiar with Auditory Processing Disorder before reading Joe’s chapters, and I also appreciated the window into Ravi’s family’s background and experience as immigrants from India.

I was also really glad to discover that this book takes place over a single week. To be honest, when I read the book description, I was a bit concerned that this would be a heavy book, requiring me to follow the difficult lives of two students as they suffered through a tough school year. Instead, the short chapters and day-by-day frame of Save Me a Seat made the book a smooth, effortless read. Which is not to say that the book is simple — just like Ravi and Joe, it has layers.

And in case you were wondering, the food descriptions did not disappoint either! I perked up every time Joe mentioned his mother’s cooking, and my mouth watered as I read the descriptions of Ravi’s Indian lunches. Darn it, now I’m hungry! And I’m curious: What’s your favorite thing to eat for school lunch? Leave a comment with your answer!

— Karen

As a kid, Karen’s favorite school lunch was sloppy joes. Now that she no longer eats beef, Karen’s always in search of a good vegetarian version. Holla at her if you know a good place in New York! 🙂

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Captain Underpants: First Look Movie News

January 2nd, 2017 by

Tra laa laaaaaa! Are you ready for the Captain Underpants movie? This year, the world was given an amazing belated Christmas present: the first look into what the upcoming Captain Underpants movie looks like!

For those of you who are NOT familiar with Captain Underpants (whhaaaaa how is that possible?!!?!), here is a refresher:

Captain Underpants is a novel series by the amazing writer and illustrator Dav Pilkey  also known for Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot series, The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, and many, many other hilarious graphic novels and picture books. In Captain Underpants, fourth graders George Beard and Harold Hutchins are best friends, next-door neighbors, and class clowns. George and Harold also write and illustrate their own comics, which they sell to their classmates.

Check out the actors who are voicing George and Harold:

Kevin Hart

George Beard and Harold Hutchins

Thomas Middleditch

Principal Benjamin “Benny” Krupp is George and Harold’s nemesis. (Boo!! Hiss!!!) He’s the meanest, cruelest, lamest, principal to ever grace the halls of Jerome Horwitz Elementary School and he’s always trying to quash George and Harold’s grand plans.

One day (SPOILER ALERT!), George and Harold hypnotize Principal Krupp to think he is… tra la laaaa, Captain Underpants! Captain Underpants styles himself with white underpants (obviously) and a red cape. Principal Krupp transforms into Captain Underpants unknowingly with a literal *snap* of a finger, but reverts back to Principal Krupp when he’s soaked with water.

Principal Krupp / Captain Underpants will be voiced by Ed Helms:

There are many books in the series and so many interesting side characters too! We have yet to see a video trailer or more movie posters with any other characters, like brown-nosing Melvin Sneedly or Miss Edith Anthrope, the school secretary. It’s so cool to see Dav Pilkey’s hand-drawn, flat 2D-style characters transformed into 3D-style animation. The movie is produced by Dreamworks Animation, which made the wonderful How to Train Your Dragon movies, so I can’t wait to see more than just a photo!

Questions I already have: Will we see Sulu and Crackers, George and Harold’s pets? Will there be any musical numbers? Will the movie be based on the first book, all of the books, or any of the books? Does Captain Underpants put on shoes when he needs to walk across gravel?

(That last question will probably not be answered in the movie.)

Are you as excited about the Captain Underpants movie as I am? Leave a comment below on what you think about the first look, or about your favorite book in the series.

— Nancy

Nancy doesn’t think she could ever pull off the cape look, but hey, she’s no captain.

Cool Books for Cold-Weather Reading

December 26th, 2016 by

Happy Christmahanakwanzika! That’s Christmas + Hanukkah + Kwanzaa, in case you were wondering. This year, the three holidays are all very close to each other, which is awesome. But let’s not forget another very important December date that just passed: the winter solstice!

I know I’m at odds with popular opinion, but I much prefer winter over summer. I love stomping around in newly fallen snow. I love snuggling up with a hot seasonal beverage. I love putting a yule log YouTube video on my TV and pretending to warm myself by the fire. (Pro tip: Make sure you choose a video with “high quality crackling fire sounds.” Worth it.)

In other words, forget the holidays — winter itself deserves celebrating! So I’ve put together this list of seasonal reads so you can immerse yourself in the wonderful winter chill:

ophelia-and-the-marvelous-boyOphelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee
When Ophelia’s father starts working in an expansive museum, she meets a mysterious boy who claims to live in the building as the captive of the evil Snow Queen. As Ophelia tries to learn more, she finds herself in great danger!

 

 

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
Just like in Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, this story follows the adventures of a brave girl (Hazel) who must save a boy (her friend Jack) from a malevolent Snow Queen. Although this book is much more closely connected to the original Hans Christian Andersen tale that inspired it, Breadcrumbs also folds in some relatable real-life growing-up stuff too.

 

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia) by C.S. Lewis
Since we’re on the topic of royal winter villains, I obviously had to mention this epic fantasy adventure about four siblings battling the powerful White Witch. Given that Narnia has been stuck in winter for ages, I’d say this is a perfect book for reading this season!

 

time-fetchThe Time Fetch by Amy Herrick
Nancy highlighted this sci-fi/fantasy book in her recent post about “Book to Screen Adaptations We Need,” but she didn’t mention the incredible timeliness of her choice: The book takes place in the days leading up to the winter solstice, and Nancy wrote her blog post just three days before this year’s winter solstice! I wonder if the oversight had anything to do with a real-life appearance by the time gobblers from the story!

absolutely-trulyAbsolutely Truly (A Pumpkin Falls Mystery) by Heather Vogel Frederick
I absolutely truly loved this book. Yes, that’s a corny pun — but it’s also the truth! Somehow I simultaneously gobbled up and hugged this book in a tight embrace the whole time I read it. Not even metaphorically! Okay, yes, metaphorically. But seriously, I really enjoyed Absolutely Truly — a mystery involving an undelivered letter in a valuable book. Icy winter weather also plays a big role in the story, in case you couldn’t tell from the cover.

 

If you’re looking for even more winter book recommendations, check out this Kidsmomo booklist: “A Wintry Mix of Books.” Of course, if you have your own favorite read for the season, please leave a comment and share! In the meantime, stay warm!

— Karen

Karen seems to have caught a cold over the last few days. What a perfect excuse for staying inside with a good book!

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