Friday, April 29, 2011

Black Spiny-Tailed Iguana: Lizard Lightning! by Natalie Lunis

by Natalie Lunis
Blink of an Eye: Superfast Animals series
Bearport Publishing
Review copy from publisher.
Yes, okay, it has been a while. We took a small, unplanned break - of two weeks! In between out of town guests and birthdays and relatives in the hospital, we were still reading, but we devoted some time to series we needed to catch up on - the Eldest series is great, but the internet world really doesn't need one more review of them!

Now it's time to dive into some of the shiny new books that have been beckoning to us from the corners of our desk. This first one we found fascinating because, let's face it, turtles are not thought of as terribly fast. Oh, we can scoot along pretty quickly if we want to, on land or in water, but we prefer to take our time or just hang around under the heat lamp, not moving at all. At any rate, we will never be any match for a greyhound or a cheetah!

This entry in the series is at least another reptile - the fastest reptile in the world! Black spiny-tailed iguanas can run almost 22 miles an hour; faster than most people, and much faster than the alligators they are sometimes mistaken for. They are big guys, up to four feet long! They don't need to chase their food (plants), but they do need to run to escape their predators. Personally, we think anything that big and tough-looking should need to run from anyone.

Many other interesting facts are presented in a kid-friendly (think upper elementary) manner. Each two-page spread has a few paragraphs of information with smaller pictures/charts/graphs opposite a larger, close-up photo. The photographs are very clear and attractive. The back includes an illustrated glossary, an index, and an internet link to find more information.

These look like they will be a great addition to the shelves, and we plan to order the rest of the series.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Hidden Gallery, by MaryRose Wood

Copy borrowed from library.
If you haven't read the first book in this series (The Mysterious Howling), stop right now and go find it. Some books in series can be read out of order, this is not one of them! In this case, that's a good thing - some series books are so determined to stand on their own, they spend the first several chapters boring you with back story. This book moves too quickly to bore anyone.

If you have read The Mysterious Howling, and you enjoyed its quirkiness, then you will definitely enjoy the sequel. The children are their same delightful combination of wolf pup and proper lady and gentleman, Penelope is still the perfect governess for them, and an easy heroine to root for. She is a bit innocent and naive, but smart enough that she catches on to clues not too long after the reader does. Is it always realistic and plausible? Of course not! Hello, the kids were raised by wolves! That's part of the fun of these stories, and we already can't wait for the next one. Recommended for upper elementary, middle or high school libraries - or for a fun family read-aloud (homeschoolers especially will find a plethora of lessons to spin off onto!)

We give this a 5 out of 5.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Max Cassidy: Escape from Shadow Island, by Paul Adam

Walden Pond press
Review copy from publisher.
We hate to use the word 'formulaic', but we can't help feeling like we have read this before. In fact, as we neared the end, someone asked what we were reading and how it was. We answered by telling them we were about to get to the part where the hero does "x", finds out "y", but won't be able to "z" until the next book at least. Oh, and so-and-so will do such-and-such at the last minute, saving the day. We were right on all counts.

That said, this was well-written enough to appeal to teen and preteen boys looking for a good adventure series, and we do plan on purchasing the sequels. If you are looking for a fast-paced read and willing to contribute a healthy suspension of disbelief, this is a great series to pick up. We give this first title a

3 out of 5.
Max Cassidy can escape from anything

Only fourteen years old, Max is the world's foremost escape artist. Chained, handcuffed, locked in an airtight water tank, there's nothing he can't get himself out of. He learned the art from his father a man who just two years ago was murdered, and Max's mother went to jail for the crime.

Now a mysterious man has shown up backstage after one of Max's shows, telling Max that not only is his mother innocent, but his father is still alive. He can provide only one clue: a slip of paper with eight digits written on it. It is this clue that will lead Max from his home in London to the exotic and deadly Central American country of Santo Domingo and the impenetrable fortress on the sinister Isla de Sombra.

Max Cassidy can escape from anything–but given the chance to finally know the truth about what has torn his family apart, escape from Shadow Island is the last thing on his mind.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


As geocaching becomes more popular, we looked into having a cache hidden here at the library. We discovered, however, that we are too close to some other caches in town. Letterboxing is fun, but hiding a box of toys in the library could also turn out badly - or at the very least, require frequent maintaining.

Guestbooking, on the other hand, requires no special equipment or coordinates. You simply hide a guestbook of some sort at your location and disseminate a hint as to where to find it. When people do find it, they sign the book, perhaps adding a quote or picture of some sort. That, we can handle! As we 'speak', our guestbook is being made ready to hit the shelves. If you are familiar with the location of our library, we invite you to stop by and see if you can find it - and as a hint, just think about how you would find anything else in the library! (And no, we don't mean ask Miss Ami.)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Teen Cafe - T-Shirt Redesign (or) See, I Knew I Was Saving That for a Reason!

We don't usually blog about events before they happen, but we are hoping to snag a few more ideas from our brilliant readers:) Since Miss Ami is, as they used to say, in a delicate condition, and may or may not be around for the latter half of Summer Reading, we are trying to prepare as much as possible beforehand. This particular program is slated for the end of July - just don't ask us what's for supper tonight, 'kay?

The general plan is to provide ideas and supplies for teens to redecorate/redesign/repurpose old t-shirts. Because many of the regulars to Teen Cafe are also SRP Volunteers, and they have a whole stash of shirts from previous years, and because we also had a stash of SRP shirts that were never picked up last year, those are what you will see featured here. We are mostly looking for no-sew ideas, as the idea of supplying 30 or so sewing machines doesn't seem too feasible.

First, because Miss Ami was a child of the 80's, we have this one:

You can also fringe the sleeves.

Another very simple one - wear a different color tank under it. We may cut more slits around the collar. If you are better at cutting than we are (no opposable thumbs, remember!) you can try cutting shapes instead of just slits.

A necklace/scarf made by cutting horizontal stripes about 1" thick and then pulling them tight to make them roll up. We connected them with a strip cut from the bottom, but we're not sure how to describe the loop-and tuck can just hot glue the ends if you like!

These two are made from the same shirt. For the necklace (or belt) we cut off the bottom hem, then cut around and around so we had one long continuous strand about 1" thick. We cut that into thirds and braided them, then added chunky wood beads that have been sitting around forever.
We didn't want to waste the top picture, so we used fabric glue to attach it to posterboard, then added jewels and glitter. This would be fun to do with a t-shirt that had a funny saying, or a favorite rock band on it. We are trying to find our scrap cork board to make a bulletin board this way.

This is the one that started the whole project. Miss Ami (when she is not fat) and Miss Lisa both like 'skinny shirts', but the SRP shirts always come in 'boy cuts'. Just cut an inch or so off each side, make some slits, and voila! You can lace it or tie it - yes, both look kind of weird together, and the pretty ribbons don't exactly match the shark motif, but you get the idea. Wouldn't those bright yellow shirts for this year's theme look awesome with yellow and red ribbons?
We had seen ideas for shopping bags that required sewing the bottom, but then Karl from Tulsa sent us this idea - just fringe and tie the bottom. That looks even sturdier than sewing. Use strips from the sleeves as added handles. We left the hem on, but you can cut that off and add pony beads to the bottom. 

That gave us an idea for a pillow we wouldn't have to sew, either. We did 'cheat' and hot glue the neckline, but that would be pretty easy to hand sew. Again, we left the hems, but you could take those off and add beads.

Most of these only took a few minutes - the braiding took forever because we kept getting tangled! (Thumbs!!!) Thanks to everyone who sent ideas and web sites to check out - now, what else have you got for us???

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Note on Covers - Patricia Wrede

We finally had a chance to read Thirteenth Child, the first in Patricia Wrede's "Frontier Magic" series. For some books, the author's name is enough to sell it: Patricia Wrede = magic and adventure with great character development = automatic library buy. Still, we're not sure about the cover:

Thirteenth Child (Frontier Magic Series #1) by Patricia C. Wrede: Book Cover
Thirteenth Child (Frontier Magic Series #1) by Patricia C. Wrede: Book Cover

It's nice, but a bit understated (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). For someone who is already a fan of Wrede, or who already likes the genre, it may be just right. We can't see it catching the eye of someone who is just browsing, though. The sequel, on the other hand:

coming this August

Ooh - we want this book! Fantastic colors, perfect font, and a girl-slash-woman who looks a little bit scary, a little bit scared, but definitely like someone you don't want to mess around with or underestimate. Yep, perfect cover, guys! Now for the we move the series to YA, or leave it in JF? That's the problem with series where the main character grows up on us. Wherever it lands, we get this one first!