Student Review: Desmond Pucket Makes Monster Magic

21 Sep

Desmond Pucket Makes Monster Magic 

Have you ever heard of Desmond Pucket?  If not, well let me tell you about him.  He is a monster maker.  He is very good at scaring people with his creations, which include paint-filled balloons, confetti cannons, and more.  In the beginning of the story, readers are told that he is really good at special monster effects and pranks that scare other people.  Then, a school disciplinary officer named Mr. Needles stops Desmond from going on the Mountain Full of Monsters ride at Crabshell Pier.  So Desmond has to be Mr. Perfect until school ends, or else he could get expelled!  This is no easy task.


Desmond Pucket Makes Monster Magic - Excerpt 

Some things about this book that readers might like are the illustrations because there are lots, and they’re all really cool.  Also, the book is easy to read and the text is big.  Lastly, it is a short book, so it doesn’t take too long to finish, which is good because the story is very interesting, and you just want to find out more!  Something I wish the author, Mark Tatulli, had done is make the book a little longer, but I am glad there are more books in the series.  I think people who believe in monsters and those who like pranks will enjoy this book.

Alex P., grade 6



1. It’s hard to find books sometimes that can appeal to a wide range of readers, but this is one of them.  It’s a great book for students in elementary school, young and old alike.

2. Tatulli’s voice is engaging and very funny – definitely a plus when it comes to MG books.

3. The drawings are fantastic.  They look hand drawn (and I suppose they are), and that adds to their appeal.  I’ve found students trying to make their own versions of some of the doodles, which is a great sign that they’ve taken a liking not just to the illustrations, but to the story itself.

4. Both my boys and girls liked this book, but I’ve found that my boys tended to laugh out loud much harder and louder.  Make of that what you will.

5. One of the things I missed out on by growing up in the previous century is the extension of the reading experience through activities, events, and (especially) websites.  There’s an entire site dedicated to Desmond Pucket that is chock full of information and handouts that my kids have enjoyed exploring.  Take a look at the trailer below, too.




4 Squinkles 

Mark Tatulli’s Online Corners
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Chapters


Thank you, Andrews McMeel Publishing, for sending me a copy of Desmond Pucket Makes Monster Magic in exchange for an honest review.

All Squinklethoughts expressed herein are entirely my own.

Coming Soon: Pottermore Revamp

16 Sep

In a press release last Friday, Pottermore announced that a “newly imagined and redesigned website will launch in the coming weeks”.



What does this mean? Among other things:

  • More original content [Yay!]

  • Features, articles, and news from the Wizarding World from the Pottermore Correspondent (a professional journalist hired by Pottermore) [Why didn’t I get into journalism?]

  • Integration among the literary canon, the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and the stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (opening in London in 2016) [Now I really need to fly across the pond …]

  • Core new writing by J.K. Rowling (as is currently the case) [Love this.]

  • A new logo featuring Rowling’s handwriting [Love this, too.  See the gorgeous version below.  Any guesses what that background is?]

  • New imagery and a new palette [Think: new interpretations of how aspects of the Wizarding World look and new colour schemes.]

  • Socially shareable content [Hello, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.]

  • Better designs for viewing Pottermore on devices other than computers [Yesss … Pottermore on the go!]

  • No more mandatory registration [NOT a fan of this.]


Pottermore - New Logo - Colour


Everything seems great EXCEPT the last one. In keeping with the whole getting-a-letter-only-if-you-are-magical concept, I like that not just anyone can get onto Pottermore. It’s not that time-consuming to create an account and get sorted into a house. And really, the best part of the journey was seeing where in the Wizarding World I fit in. I really hope that getting rid of the mandatory registration doesn’t mean getting rid of wands choosing their wizards and magical folk being sorted into houses.  Being a student at Hogwarts is great, but there’s something special about belonging to a house.

So before the changes are afoot, go visit the website and explore Pottermore as it is now. Don’t forget to get sorted to see which house you belong to.

As for me? Proud Hufflepuff here.


 All images taken from

Coming Soon: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: The Illustrated Edition

14 Sep

Hello, Squinks!  I hope your first week back at school was great and that you’re settling in with your classmates and teachers nicely.  What books did you pick up over the weekend?

I’m here today to whet your appetites about a book I’m super excited for.  It really needs no introduction, except to tell you to expect a few copies in our library when it comes out on October 6!


Harry Potter - Illustrated Edition 

If the cover is this awesome, can you imagine how much cooler the pictures on the inside must be?  Hypable has a great article with some of the other wonderful illustrations by Jim Kay, so check it out here.

And if you want even more, Bloomsbury’s got a 15-page preview for all of us!

Once you’re done oohing and aahing over the gorgeous images that accompany J.K. Rowling’s words, head on over to Bloomsbury UK’s site for fun stuff like:


  Harry Potter - Name Generator      Harry Potter - Best Friend


I can’t wait to share this new book with you all in less than a month!  And if you haven’t gotten sorted into your houses yet, what are you waiting for?

The Little Paris Bookshop (Nina George)

9 Sep

Of all the stories I read this year, I think the Little Paris Bookshop has given me the biggest book hangover yet. When I was done with it, I simply handed it to my mom and said, “Read it. Trust me.” And she did. And she loved it, too.


Little Paris Bookshop 


1. The title hooked me right away. “Paris” and “bookshop”? Yes, please. (My site tagline is “Bouquets de Bouquins” … Doesn’t that tell you something?) Someday, I’m going to go to Paris and be chuckled at for my franglais and my accent québécois, and I will drink my café and have un temps merveilleux.

2. The cover is gorgeous. You know me: I absolutely judge books by their covers. And this one has cotton-candy colours of sunset with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Just delicious and completely enticing.

3. There is a map! I can’t begin to tell you how much that fact made reading this book much more pleasant. I seriously think that all books should have maps in them. A writer’s imagery, no matter how well done, can only allow me to visualize individual scenes in my head, but I need them all stitched up in a map, so I know where the characters geographically are. Jean and his companions travel down the River Seine, and it was great to see where along the waterways each chapter occurred.

4. I am a fan of bittersweet moments. I don’t always like them in my own life, so when I encounter characters like Jean, whose life has been full of some sweet but mostly bitter moments, I’m hooked. And that he was the cause of his own sufferings? Captivatingly cathartic.

5. The narrative is particularly beautiful. I’m not sure if it can be wholly attributed to Nina George or to the translators, but there are many lyrical phrases in the book that made me smile.


Little Paris Bookshop - Quotes 

6. I know some people didn’t like this story. They thought it was overly simplistic or overly cloying or overly clichéd. I understand – if what they were looking for was a story of grand gestures and perilous adventures and harrowing revelations. For some, they couldn’t connect to Jean or understand his current place in life, but I think it’s because some people skate over the 20 years (and counting) that Jean spends in misery. Once we’re past gut-wrenching moments, it’s often way too easy to forget what it meant to live each minute with heartache. (Being bullied all through elementary school? Oh, yeah, it wasn’t that bad. Eating by yourself at lunch throughout high school? Oh, well, it wasn’t terrible.) Twenty years: that’s 10 512 000 sorrowful minutes that Jean lived through to get to where he is in the story. And this is what I truly appreciate about the Little Paris Bookshop – the author and the book itself appreciate what it means to live practically an entire life with a gnawing feeling in your stomach and an empty hole in your heart.

7. For me, this story speaks to all those quiet moments in the morning, by yourself, smiling at a happy memory from 20 years back, and finding your eyes full of tears. This was all about those lazy summer days of sipping iced tea at Starbucks, flipping through a magazine, only to be greeted by an article outlining the successes of the girl who made your school years a living hell. This was about that poignant feeling I get now, after waving thanks to my student’s grandfather for dropping him off at school, and remembering that I don’t have my grandpa anymore.

8. I love the concept of a book apothecary. Can you imagine being able to read people as easily as Jean Perdu does? And, on top of that, being able to make people’s lives a little better by prescribing the perfect livre du moment? As a school librarian, I try my best, but after reading about Jean’s perfectly tuned skills, I know I’ve got a long way to go.

9. This is a great story about the moments, choices, people, and books that leave indelible footprints on our hearts.

10. You really need to read this book.  Read it now, then re-read it after five years to see how much more it resonates with you.


5 Squinkles


Nina George’s Online Corners
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Chapters


Thank you, Penguin Random House (Crown) and Blogging for Books, for sending me a copy of the Little Paris Bookshop in exchange for an honest review.

All opinions and suggestions expressed herein are entirely my own.

Life Between Summers (Episode 2015-2016)

8 Sep

Hello, Squinks!

Can you believe it’s September already? This school year, I’ve got big plans for us to explore worlds both strange and familiar; befriend characters (some good, some bad); and live lives completely unlike our own—yet so incredibly recognizable nonetheless.  By the time June rolls around, I’m absolutely positive that all of you will have been changed for the better, thanks to the journeys we will take.

This is it, Squinks.  Adventure awaits.

This is the beginning of your next Life Between Summers.


Peter Pan Map


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 77 other followers

%d bloggers like this: