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It’s Giveaway Time!

Hi there BookTasty friends!

Yeah! You read it right! It is definitely giveaway time! Whoot!

Being a middle school librarian, my heart has a special place for middle grades fiction. In fact some of my favorite authors write primarily for those readers in the middle school years!

One of the most popular authors in my library right now is I Funny by James PattersonJames Patterson. Yes! The very same James Patterson who writes adult thrillers also writes middle grade books. His Daniel X books are rarely checked in and it’s the exact same with his Middle School series! Additionally, Patterson’s humorous I Funny has a hold list a mile long and it’s popular among both my boys and girls.

Well, I Funny has a new sequel called, I Even Funnier, which releases TOMORROW Monday December 9!!

Middle schooler Jamie Grimm has big dreams of being the best stand-up comic in the world – and he won’t let the fact that he’s in a wheelchair get in his way.

I Even Funnier by James PattersonAfter winning the New York state finals in the Planet’s Funniest Kid Comic Contest, Jamie’s off to Boston to compete in the national semi-finals. But when one of his best buddies runs into trouble at school and a sudden family health scare rears its head, Jamie has to put his comedic ambitions on hold and stand by the people he cares about. Can Jamie pass up the big competition for the sake of his friends and family?

To celebrate the release of I Even Funnier I’m giving away a copy of BOTH I Funny and I Even Funnier! YAY! Thanks so much to the people at Little, Brown  for donating both books for this giveaway! I’m so excited to be able to host this giveaway!

Okay! So, how do you enter the giveaway? Well, there is just one step to enter. The only thing you have to do is fill out the form below.

All entries must be completed by Sunday, December 15, 2013  (midnight Eastern Standard Time). This giveaway is only open to U.S. residents. I will announce the winner on Monday December 16, 2013 on a special winner post. That person will have 48 hours to email me their mailing address or I will select another winner.
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Middle School Scheming: Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald

Aloha!  Welcome back!

Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading by Tommy GrenwaldToday’s review is for the second 2012-2013 Florida Sunshine State book I’ve read this summer.  There are fifteen total so I still have quite a way to go, but I’m not worried.  It is summer after all!

Charlie Joe Jackson may be the most reluctant reader ever born. And so far, he’s managed to get through life without ever reading an entire book from cover to cover. But now that he’s in middle school, avoiding reading isn’t as easy as it used to be. And when his friend Timmy McGibney decides that he’s tired of covering for him, Charlie Joe finds himself resorting to desperate measures to keep his perfect record intact.

First let me say that Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading is really fun.  Yes, I know I’m a librarian so I shouldn’t be excited about a book that gives kids tips for not reading, but this is such a cute book!

I know for a fact that my students are going to love this one.  It is written in the same style as Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and my students love those so much that this one will be an easy sell!  Even my reluctant readers will approve because of the fun illustrations and super short, but not choppy, chapters.

In between each chapter Charlie Joe Jackson gives the reader one of his 25 Tips for Not Reading, which are hilarious and break the story up in a good way.  Even one who loves reading as much as I do got a kick out of Charlie Joe’s reasons why sports are better than reading!

Charlie is your average middle school boy.  He is funny, smart (but not super smart), mischievous and just a nice guy.  He just doesn’t like reading.  Charlie’s scheming does get himself and his friends into trouble, but that’s a normal part of middle school.  He actually reminds me of a student I had years ago who is now in high school probably still planning ways to get out of reading!

What I really liked about Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading is that there isn’t some cheesy moral at the end.  Charlie doesn’t wake up one day realizing the fault of his non reading ways and suddenly learn to love books.  He just doesn’t, but that is okay because he does learn some other equally important lessons along the way.  I would have been disappointed if it ended up being a bait and switch and I know my students wouldn’t have appreciated that either.

Overall, Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading was a fun, cute and humorous.  There were even times when this book had me chuckling and reading paragraphs out loud to my husband, so if you’re looking for a light and fun middle grade read I highly recommend this one!

Author: Tommy Greenwald

Publisher: Roaring Book Press (July 5, 2011)

Format: Paperback

Length: 240 pages

Series: First in a series

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book: Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Third Wheel (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #7)

Waiting On WednesdayHi! I hope you’re having a wonderful day today!

It’s that time of the week where I post about a book I am eagerly anticipating.  This The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinneyweekly event is called Waiting on Wednesday and is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

This week I’m spotlighting the soon to be newest installment of Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, The Third Wheel!  If you don’t already know (you must not know any middle schoolers) this book series  is a pretty big deal.  I seriously can’t keep them on my shelves, which is fine with me!  A new Wimpy Kid book means more of my students reading and an increase in my circulation!  You can’t go wrong with that!  Seriously, if Jeff Kinney just keeps writing new additions to this series, my job will be that much easier!  (Thanks Mr. Kinney!)

So, this new Wimpy Kid title will answer some serious questions:

Will Greg finally get a girlfriend?
Can Manny become any less annoying?
Will Rodrick ever give Greg a break?
We can’t wait to find out!

I know my students are going to be asking me about this book as soon as school starts in August, which means I’ll have three and a half months of telling them that The Third Wheel is scheduled to be released by Amulet Books on November 13, 2012 (which also happens to be my birthday!).

Are you waiting on a specific book this week?!  Leave a comment with the title – I always love to hear about some upcoming new reads!

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Book Trailer of the Week: Chomp

Book Trailer of the Week is my weekly event where I get to showcase my love to book trailers! Every Friday I highlight a young adult or middle grades book trailers.

Chomp by Carl HiaasenI think book trailers are fabulous methods of marketing and I love to use them frequently in my Media Center and school to promote books and reading.  This week’s book trailer is for the newest Carl Hiaasen middle grades novel, Chomp.

Wahoo Cray lives in a zoo. His father is an animal wrangler, so he’s grown up with all manner of gators, snakes, parrots, rats, monkeys, snappers, and more in his backyard. The critters he can handle.  His father is the unpredictable one.   When his dad takes a job with a reality TV show called “Expedition Survival!”, Wahoo figures he’ll have to do a bit of wrangling himself—to keep his dad from killing Derek Badger, the show’s boneheaded star, before the shoot is over. But the job keeps getting more complicated. Derek Badger seems to actually believe his PR and insists on using wild animals for his stunts. And Wahoo’s acquired a shadow named Tuna—a girl who’s sporting a shiner courtesy of her old man and needs a place to hide out.   They’ve only been on location in the Everglades for a day before Derek gets bitten by a bat and goes missing in a storm. Search parties head out and promptly get lost themselves. And then Tuna’s dad shows up with a gun . . .

If you haven’t read any of Hiaasen’s middle grades fiction, you absolutely must.  They’re full of mystery, adventure, animals, and humor! And his books’ covers are always AH.MAZE.ING!  Check out the trailer for Chomp to see what I mean!

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Best in Show: Showoff by Gordon Korman

Happy 2012! This is my first post/book review of the new year!

There is no way I can’t start this review without referencing one of the funniest movies ever, Best in Show. It relates I promise!

The movie and this book (although not connected in any way) are both centered around a dog show. (See, I told you it’d all relate!)

The fourth SWINDLE book, centering around a dog show that goes horribly awry!

The heroes of Swindle, Zoobreak, and Framed are back – and this time, things have gone to the dogs! When Luthor goes berserk at a mall dog show, he’s accused of ruining the career of the three-time best-in-show beagle. Griffin always knew that Luthor’s viciousness was simmering just below the surface – so why does he feel bad enough to spring him from the pound?

Showoff by Gordon KormanGriffin and his team have a new plan. This one involves New York City, a sinister saboteur, a reclusive dog-trainer who’s quit the business, an international dog show, and a whole lot of dye. But if they pull it off, no one will even notice their sting operation…right?

To start I really, really love Gordon Korman. He is such a prolific author, with over seventy-five books written, and is so good at his craft! Korman writes for kids/teens and seems to know what they want. In fact, the Swindle series is hugely popular among the most difficult portion of readers at my school—teen boys. Although there is no waiting list for these books, they are consistently off the shelf and going home with a student (Thank you Korman for making my job that much easier!).

Now, I must confess that I have not read the first three books in this series, but that being said, I really enjoyed Showoff and feel that this series is written in such a way that the reader could read them out-of-order and not be lost.

The characters in Showoff , although fun to read about, didn’t have much depth to them. For example, each character’s personality could be completely explained in one word. But this doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy what I read, because I really did like the story and trying to figure out if Griffin and his team of friends would manage to pull off their wild plan. I did appreciate how every one of Griffin’s friends have their own special skill or talent that makes them essential to the success of the scheme. Plus, Luthor (the dog) is a lovable character despite his sometimes scary security dog behavior!

Korman set this story in the middle of a dog show and dog show culture. I’ve always loved watching dog shows on TV and have been interested in the type of culture that breeds (haha get it?!) in this unique environment. Maybe that’s why I hold Christopher Guest’s Best in Show as one of my favorite movie comedies ever. Korman manages to pull a little bit of that same eccentricity and humor into Showoff.

Overall the story is entertaining and adventurous with a hint of mystery added in and I think that it is a fun read and would be enjoyed by readers in the early middle grades and older.

Author: Gordon Korman

Publisher: Scholastic Press; January 1, 2012

Format: Advanced Reader Copy

Pages: 248

Series: Fourth in the Swindle series

YA/MG: Middle Grades

Buy the Book: Showoff (Swindle)

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Refreshingly Refreshing: Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar

Starting high school is never easy. Seniors take your lunch money. Girls you’ve known forever are suddenly beautiful and unattainable. And you can never get enough sleep. Could there be a worse time for Scott’s mother to announce she’s pregnant? Scott decides high school would be a lot Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubarless overwhelming if it came with a survival manual, so he begins to write down tips for his new sibling. Meanwhile, he’s trying his best to capture the attention of Julia, the freshman goddess. In the process, Scott manages to become involved in nearly everything the school has to offer. So while he tries to find his place in the confusing world of high school, win Julia’s heart, and keep his sanity, Scott will be recording all the details for his sibling’s knowledge and enjoyment. While navigating his first year of high school and awaiting the birth of his new baby brother, Scott loses old friends and gains some unlikely new ones as he hones his skills as a writer.

So, I’m a girl.  Duh.  Due to this fact I tend to prefer books with girl main characters. I guess it’s because I like to be able to relate to the main character and its more difficult for me to do so if the character is a guy.  This means that I am naturally drawn to books about girls and I have to make myself read books with male main characters/narrators. Which is why I was skeptical when I first decided to listen to  Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar.  Within the first chapter, however I was completely and absolutely hooked by Scott and his story.

Lubar has created a witty, smart and likeable character so much that Scott quickly became one of my favorite YA male characters ever. The way Scott tells his story is so refreshingly sweet and humorous.  His journal entries to his unborn brother are so hilarious I found myself chuckling and pausing my audiobook to tell my husband about them.  Additionally, Scott’s unintentional concern for overlooked people (like Mouth) is so heartwarming (but not in a sappy way) that I wished he was someone I knew when I was his age.

Scott’s insecurities (He is not very good with his hands, so feels left out when his brother and dad work on cars together) and struggles (to show his annoyance towards Mouth or swallow it and be friendly instead) make him a very realistic kid. We all have those insecurities and conflicts within us—I know I do!  Which brings me to another thing I appreciated about Scott—relatability!  I totally related to Scott as a character, even though he is a guy.   Multiple times I found myself responding to a situation in the story with feelings of recognition and personal understanding while remembering similar experiences I had as a teenager.   Also, I appreciate that Scott matures and grows more confident in himself as the year progresses.  You see this exemplified in his developing friendship with Lee, the new girl.

Speaking of Lee, I also enjoyed the supporting characters a lot.  Lee, Mouth, Wesley, Mr. Cravutto and Bobby are all huge players in Scott’s life and my only complaint is that I wish I got to know more about each of them (especially Lee).  I’d honestly love to see what Scott and Lee’s sophomore year of high school looks like.

I think of this book as a more mature Diary of  Wimpy Kid.  It has a similar journal style and is equally as funny.  Recently, I recommended it to an 8th grade student who was looking for something like the Wimpy Kid books but was worth more AR points.  He checked it out over the break so I’m hoping to find out what he thought of it when we return to school.

Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie is recommended for all readers (older middle school and up) looking for a lovable main character and a humorous, touching and overall refreshing read.

Author: David Lubar

Publisher: Full Cast Audio (March 30, 2006)

Format: Audiobook; 6 hours and 55 mins.

Series: standalone

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Ask a Question, Any Question! The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Did you ever have that one kid in class that was just weird?  Totally nice person, but they were just a little strange?

Maybe you were that person.  Or not.

Anyway, Tommy knows exactly who that person is.  Its Dwight.

Dwight does a lot of odd things like wearing his socks pulled up above his knees, picking his nose, or making people to call him “Captain Dwight”. The only cool thing about Dwight is that he’s pretty good at origami.

One day Dwight comes to school with his own Origami Yoda that he designed himself.  Dwight sticks Origami Yoda on his finger and invited people to ask Origami Yoda questions, like a Magic-Eight Ball.   This starts controversy among the students; some believe Origami Yoda is an oracle, while others think it’s just Dwight being lame again.

To discover the truth, Tommy’s begins an investigation into the “realness” of Origami Yoda.  With the help of his friends, Harvey and Kellen, Tommy gathers stories of other students’ experiences with Origami Yoda.  Tommy’s goal?  Figure out if Origami Yoda is real or not before he decides to make a big move based on Origami Yoda’s advice.

Tom Angleberger has written a pretty hilarious story. I really like the book’s format which is told in different journal entries by students who have had encounters with Yoda.  Each entry explains why the students believe Yoda gave good, bad or ambiguous advice.  After each story, Harvey and Tommy both provide their thoughts and Kellen draws illustrations.

The problems Tommy’s classmates come to Origami Yoda with are perfect for middle school aged readers; they’re funny because they’re so relatable. My favorites were “Origami Yoda and the Embarrassing Stain” and “Origami Yoda and Shakespeare’s Head”.  Everyone, middle school or not, can relate to the Embarrassing Stain, but the Shakespeare’s Head story reminds of how my students used to always knock my tiny globe off the corner of my desk and freak out when it would pop in two (it was already broken they just didn’t know it…hehehe….). I definitely laughed out loud on multiple occasions.

Whats also nice to see is that although Tommy starts off being one of the guys who rags on Dwight, throughout the book Tommy begins to realize that Dwight might not be as strange as he seems to be.

I think readers will enjoy meeting each student and hearing more about Dwight and his Origami Yoda.  It’s a super quick read with a sweet and romantic ending.

Also, the author has included directions for making your own Origami Yoda.  AWESOME!

Such a fun and cute book.  Plus the cover is pretty cool.