Friday, March 24, 2017

The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman

Image result for the evil wizard smallboneMagic, young apprentice...evil wizard...seems pretty straightforward right?  Well not so much. Set in a coastal Maine town, Sherman's novel mixes realistic fiction with fantasy in just the right amount to enthrall both lovers of fantasy as well as realistic fiction in equal measure.

Nick is a tough cookie. he has to be, he lives with a bully older cousin and an uncle who doesn't know how to spare the rod. Could Nick help his case by not getting into trouble at school so much? Sure. Nick doesn't learn his lesson though so he seizes his chance one bitterly cold night and runs away and ends up in a strange house with an even stranger old dude who just so happens to be a wizard-an evil wizard if you believe the denizens of Smallbone Cove.

Before long Nick is learning a thing or three about magic and beginning to tolerate life with Smallbone, his quick temper and his menagerie of animals. Journeys to Smallbone Cove are exciting too and You can't escape your past though and Nick finds he has big choices to make when his former life catches up to him.

This is a slightly irreverent read as you may expect. Insults and barbs fly back and forth regularly so I would recommend it for ages 9+ simply because I think most kids at that age have enough sense to know not to go around repeating the stuff they read in books. Some read alikes are Rick Riordan's Magnus Chase series, Kelly Barnhill's The Girl Who Drank the Moon and Holly Webb's Rose.

Friday, March 10, 2017

I Am Drums by Mike Grosso

Image result I judged this book by its cover (really cool, vibrant and eye-catching).  Plus, I love books about kids who are into music. I think there is just so much boy/girl drama that one can take. Not that this book doesn't have any...but more on that later.

Girls aren't into drums right? I used to think so years ago until I saw a music video with Lenny Kravitz's drummer (will never forget how cool she looked in one of his videos, afro flowing and drumsticks flying). Some of the characters in this book think girls shouldn't play drums either. It's a good thing that the protagonist is no shrinking violet

 Sam (short for Samantha) is a sixth grade drummer who  desperately wants to get better at the drums. However all is not well with her family and her dad is always mad...the last thing he wants to hear about is noisy (and expensive) practice. Sam chances upon a drum tutor and thinks up ingenious ways of earning cash.

Sam has other issues at school however, some of which  she may not be able to solve by herself. My take away from this book is that it is never too late to ask for help. I think even as adults we sometimes hesitate to ask for help lest we be perceived as weak or a screw up. This book is apt for kids in grades 4 and up.  Some read alikes are Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo, A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban and Ten Good and Bad Things About My Life (So Far) by Ann M, Martin.