Cryptid Hunters by Roland Smith

October 13th, 2010 by

cryptid-hunters-roland-smith-book-reviewSubmitted by Hahaha me, Age 11 from Maine

Rating: ★★★★½

After Grace and Marty O’Hara’s parents go missing in the Amazon, the are sent to live with their uncle, Travis Wolfe, a mysterious man hiding many secrets. Wolfe believes in cryptids, creatures like the kraken and the Loch Ness monster, which means excitment, adventure, and danger…right?

Duh du jour! After literally falling into the jungle of the Congo, Grace and Marty have to face crocodiles, disease-carrying mosquitoes, and venomous snakes, which is no easy task considering Grace fears EVERYTHING. And did I forget to mention that it’s fabled a dinosaur the size of an elephant is wandering around the Congo? Of course, Noah Blackwood and Butch McCall just have to be involved, and they have a dark history with Wolfe. Unfortunately for Grace and Marty, Wolfe won’t be able to rescue you them for…oh, about a week, so they head off toward a safe house, unknown to them that they are involved in matters far more than they would think.

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Featured in "Mysterious Forces at Work"

Cryptid Hunters is SO intriguing and dangerous and exciting and awesome!! This is the perfect book for a boring Sunday afternoon! After you finish it, read it’s sequel, Tentacles, because it is just as awesome as Crytpid Hunters!

Interview with Jon and Pamela Voelkel, Authors of Middleworld

August 7th, 2010 by

Today, we’ve got a very special treat for you guys! Some of you have noticed that every so often, an author will leave a comment on the site. When that happens, we have heart attacks of joy, and then after we recover, we do little happy dances in our respective homes. Well, take that excitement and multiply it by roughly a bazillion — because today we have a full-fledged interview with TWO authors: Jon and Pamela Voelkel.

Their book, Middleworld, is a fast-paced supernatural adventure story about a regular old kid who ends up fighting to save the world from the Ancient Maya Lords of Death. You know, just your average children’s book. It’s actually the first installment in the Jaguar Stones trilogy, so hopefully there’s plenty more jungle exploring, butt kicking, and monkey conversing to come!

Middleworld was recently featured as an Al’s Book Club pick on The Today Show. In other words, Jon and Pamela Voelkel are big time — and they were nice enough to do a Q&A for us:

The mysterious housekeeper Zia is the one who gets Max on a plane to rescue his parents. Will she play a big role in the later books?

J&P: YES! Zia has a much bigger role in The Jaguar Stones, Book 2: The End of the World Club — which is out on 12/28/2010.

In the book, spirits of Lord 6-Rabbit and his mother Lady Kan Kakaw inhabit howler monkeys. If the two of you were to possess the body of an animal, which animals would you choose?

J&P: Jon chooses a jaguar because they rule the rainforest and they’re so sleek and handsome. Pamela would rather be a house cat and sleep all day.

An illustration by Pamela Voelkel from Middleworld, Page 33

The two of you write the series together — how does that work? Do you end up talking about The Jaguar Stones all day and night?

J&P: Yes we do — and it drives our children crazy. But the characters in the book are like our children too; we’ve lived with them for six years. When we first started writing the book, we used to pass the manuscript to and fro between us, each one writing a complete draft. Now that we have a better idea of where we’re going, Pamela does most of the writing and Jon does most of the illustrating. We still plot everything out together and the balance of male/female, action/emotion seems to work pretty well.

The two of you did a lot of traveling around the country, talking to kids at schools and book stores. What was the most surprising thing that happened to you on the road?

J&P: Neither of us were big fans of school as kids, so the biggest surprise has been discovering how much fun it is to go back there now and talk about the Maya. There have been so many favorite moments — like arriving at a little school in the wilds of Arkansas to find it decorated from top to bottom in paintings of Mayan glyphs and calendars and animal masks to welcome us… or the principal in New York who went out to direct school buses wearing our Maya king costume… or the party at Square Books Junior where they made the tamale recipe from our book.

What was the funniest thing that happened on tour?

J&P: The funniest thing happened at a school in Massachusetts. It was a Friday afternoon after a week of testing, and when the principal stood next to the Maya king, 300 kids stood up as one chanting “Sac-ri-fice! Sac-ri-fice!” Luckily for us, the principal thought it was hilarious!

The Voelkel kids in Uxmal and illustration by P. Voelkel from Middleworld, Page 130 ... looks familiar!

We just finished Middleworld, and loved it — what are some books you’d recommend to our kid readers at

J&P: We’re so glad you enjoyed Middleworld — and we promise that Book 2 is even faster and more fun! Recommended for kid readers are:

  • Before Columbus: the Americas of 1491 by Charles C. Mann
  • Motel of the Mysteries by David MacAuley
  • The Monster Blood Tattoo series by D.M. Cornish (for teens)
  • The Hungry City Chronicles by Philip Reeve (for teens)
  • The Roman Mysteries by Caroline Lawrence
  • The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer
  • The Owl Service by Alan Garner (for teens)
  • Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

So there you have it — 0ur Q&A with the authors of Middleworld, Jon “the Jaguar” Voelkel and Pamela “the House Cat” Voelkel! And now we’ve got the same question for you: If you were to possess the body of any animal, which one would you choose? Leave a comment with your answer!

And also leave a comment or submit a review if you’ve read the book! And if you haven’t, what are you waiting for? The Ancient Maya Lords of Death await you!

Kidsmomo Podcast #30: “Adventure Is Out There!”

July 27th, 2010 by

A perilous ocean voyage from Britain to America. A trip to Africa to cure monkeys. An around-the-world chase to battle a god. And a nightmare plane ride, sitting next to total strangers… Okay, that last one is just Nancy complaining. But in our latest podcast, all about globe-trotting adventures, we do feature books with some actually terrifying and dangerous exploits. And yet, we still whine about how freezing it is on an airplane. Hey, we get cold easily, okay?

    Download the MP3 (6.1 MB)

  • Nancy calls for MUTINY — aka our mystery book revealed
  • Our picks for globe-trotting adventures — including a review by YOU (The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle and Kane Chronicles Book 1: The Red Pyramid)
  • Planes, trains, and automobiles

Also, don’t forget: our new theme is summer camp. But instead of postcards, send us a review of your favorite summer camp book! And check out our picks for summer camp books.

— Karen and Nancy

Book Trailer: The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

July 21st, 2010 by

This book trailer for The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle was originally the Mystery Book Theater video for our Globe-Trotting Adventures theme. For more on The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, check out our “Adventure Is Out There!” podcast.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Getting there is half the fun.” Well, for the heroine in Avi’s The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, the journey is not so much fun as… a terrifying, near-deadly experience!

On the Road with Hahaha me

July 13th, 2010 by

Tell us about your dream form of transportation (plane, train, automobile, hot air balloon, submarine, etc.).

Submitted by Hahaha me, Age 11 from Maine

My favorite method of travel is riding in a spacious van with air-conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter. I like traveling in the van because it’s NOT loud and unless you are driving, it’s very easy to fall asleep in when you’re going somewhere far away (which helps pass time). The scenery is awesome when it flashes by the window! Also, you don’t need to buy tickets to ride in a car like you do with a plane or train. It will be a while before I can actually DRIVE a car, but I’ll be excited when I can!

Globe-Trotting Adventures

July 13th, 2010 by

From Africa to Egypt to France to Tibet… Who needs a passport when you can pick up a book?

Sure, maybe you wish you could actually travel to foreign countries, but given some of the dangerous situations in these globe-trotting adventures, we’re perfectly happy to just read about them. Seriously, the folks in these books are chased through the jungle, pursued by secret agents, and even tricked by gods. No, thank you.

But hey, their stories make for excellent reading! So, here are some globe-trotting adventure books (in no particular order):

  1. The Voyages Of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting (Karen’s pick)
  2. Kane Chronicles Book #1: The Red Pyramid (Nancy’s pick)
  3. The 39 Clues series by various authors
  4. Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R.L. Lafevers
  5. Treasure Island: The Graphic Novel adapted by Tim Hamilton from the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson
  6. Around the World in a Hundred Years by Jean Fritz
  7. The Wanderer by Sharon Creech
  8. Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz
  9. Everest series by Gordan Korman
  10. Peak by Roland Smith
  11. Middleworld series by Jon and Pamela Voelkel
  12. The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois
  13. Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne

If you’ve read any of these, send in your book review. Or send in a review of your favorite globe-trotting adventure.

UPDATE 7/27/10: We revealed the answer to our Globe-Trotting Adventures Mystery Book Theater in the “Adventure Is Out There!” Podcast, so take a listen if you want to know the answer. Or just tune in if you want to hear Nancy and Karen fight over the best form of transportation. Yes, we take our transport very seriously…