Tag Archives: mystery

Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye (Tania Del Rio & Will Staehle)

13 Jan

Triskaidekaphobia, schmriskaidekaphobia.  It may not bode well for Warren the 13th, but Squinks, today, on a decidedly lucky Friday the thirteenth (tempting fate, my paraskevidekatriaphobic friends), you get some goodies, including an introduction to my new friend, Warren.

 

Warren the 13th - Book 1 

Squinklethoughts

1.   I would be way too terrified to ever enter an ancient, dilapidated house – though why I would be compelled to even approach one is beyond me.  But I really enjoyed walking the corridors alongside Warren as he fulfilled his duties as bellhop, valet, and about six hundred other occupations at his family’s rickety hotel.  If you like places with corners that are dark, dank, dusty, and lit  by “a tarnished chandelier that clung to the ceiling like an insect” (not to mention odd creatures lurking in those dark, dank, dusty corners), then I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy Warren’s ancestral home.  (Twelve generations is enough to consider Warren the 1st an ancestor, right?  I’ll have to look that up.)

2.   About the guests at the Warren Hotel … Well, I use the term “guests” loosely.  The mysteries in The All-Seeing Eye begin right away when a tall, thin figure – the first guest in years, might I add – strides into the lobby.  Warren bows to him, and then … silence.  Crickets.  (No, seriously, there were probably crickets outside the hotel chatting away to one another wondering what on earth would have possessed Paleface to visit the hotel.)  I like stories that introduce mysteries and conflicts right away.  It just makes me feel like I’m getting my money’s worth on the ride.  It doesn’t mean every single story has to be that way, but when I encounter one like this, I really appreciate it.  Plus, it leaves room for my favourite literary phenomenon: mysteries upon mysteries upon mysteries upon … (I know some readers dislike this very thing, so just a heads up.)

3.   Tania Del Rio got me in the feels with this gem: “That was the main reason Warren worked so hard: because he knew his father had worked hard, and his father’s father had worked hard, and his father’s father’s father had worked hard, and so on.”  Truth, right?  I mean, even with the words I’m typing right now, I wonder … would Mom and Dad be proud?

4.   Puzzles, secret codes, and (did I mention) mysteries?  Need I say more?

5.   If you’ve been keeping up with my squinkle journey, then you’ll know by now that I LOVE illustrations and that I scour the middle-grade section of bookstores for my Next Great Read.  The All-Seeing Eye stands apart from many books out there because not only is it a great MG story (that, by the way, I would totally recommend to readers who are MG-at-heart like me), it has some gorgeous two-colour illustrations.  And, you know, I think I like Warren a little more now that I’ve seen him.  I can’t draw to save my life, so I’m always enamoured by those who can.  I tip my hat to Will Staehle.

 

Warren the 13th IG 

6.   Students of mine who stalk me on Instagram are well aware of my love for words, names, and etymology, in general (a linguistics background will do that to a person).  It may seem like a small thing, but I love the names in this book.  Warren, Rupert, Annaconda, Petula, Scalene, Friggs, even Sketchy!  It’s a cornucopia of delightful monikers!

7.   Warren has wanderlust.  (Who wouldn’t if you were stuck doing six thousand jobs in a dingy hotel?)  Kindred spirit.  That is all.

 

Warren the 13th 2  

8.   It’s taken a really long time for the sequel, Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods, to pop up, but wait no longer … well, no longer than March 21.  (That’s not that long, right?)  In the meanwhile, click this.  No, THIS.  Enjoy a short story and some puzzles to tide you over until the pub date of Book 2.

 

Warren the 13th SS 

9.   One last serious note.  I highly regret passing on getting a galley of this book at a previous BEA.  I, as you all know, judge books by their covers.  Why would I not, when so much work goes into them?  Well, I didn’t have a lot of time to thumb through this galley, so I passed up Warren and his friends all because I thought the book would be too scary for my taste.  (Maybe I had just seen the cover of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and was completely influenced.)  So, let this be a lesson kids: Do not pass up on a book without thumbing through it first.  Otherwise, you’ll miss out on getting to know people like Warren with his six million jobs.

 

4.5 Squinkles

 

Tania Del Rio’s Online Corners
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Chapters

Will Staehle’s Online Corners
Website | Facebook | Chapters

 

Thank you, Quirk Books, for sending me a copy of
Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye in exchange for
an honest review.

All Squinklethoughts expressed herein are entirely my own.

Nick and Tesla’s Solar-Powered Showdown (Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith)

14 Jun

This is the sixth book in a wonderful series that I can’t recommend highly enough to all my students. “Science Bob” Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith’s books are truly embraced by my kids who love science, experiments, adventure, and really awesome characters.

 

Nick and Tesla's Solar-Powered Showdown 

Squinklethoughts

1.  I love that you don’t have to have read the other books in the series to enjoy this one. I’m sure that will be a selling point for some of you. The authors even add little footnotes on some pages to tell you in which book you can find the previous experiment or mishap the characters are referencing. Or they may be gently nudging you to read the rest of the series because the other books are just as great as this one. Take it how you will.

Nick and Tesla - Book 6 - Ch. 3

2.  Nick and Tesla’s relationship doesn’t annoy me at all, as some literary sibling relationships do. Maybe it’s because they’re twins or that they’re equally delightfully nerdy. Whatever the formula is, it works, and I’m glad. They bounce ideas off one another and sometimes don’t even need words to communicate. Super cool.

3.  I’m not a huge fan of their friends, though I’m glad they’re loyal to Nick and Tesla. There’s one particular scene with Silas’ dad that really had me fuming. Argh. All in all, I enjoyed the dialogue and scenes between the two siblings more than their scenes with others.

4.  I love how smart Nick and Tesla are.

5.  I hate how much smarter Nick and Tesla are than I was at their age … and even now because – who am I kidding? – I wouldn’t be able to come up with any of their ingenious devices.

6.  I hope this isn’t the end of this series, or at least of this story arc. I’d hate to have to say goodbye. Also, I’d love for Books 3, 4, and 5 to magically make their reappearance in our library. It’s been weeks since they’ve been checked out, but nary a return …

7.  There are some really cool activities at Nick and Tesla’s official website.  Check it out here.

 

4 Squinkles 

Bob Pflugfelder’s and Steve Hockensmith’s Online Corners
Bob’s Website | Steve’s Website | Nick and Tesla’s Website
Bob’s Twitter | Bob’s Instagram | Steve’s Twitter

 

Thank you, Quirk Books, for sending me a copy of Nick and Tesla’s Solar-Powered Showdown in exchange for an honest review.

All Squinklethoughts expressed herein are entirely my own.

Bookcation 2016 #1: Poptropica: Mystery of the Map

14 Mar

Hello, Squinks. Let’s get back into the swing of things, shall we? This year’s March Break Bookcation will include a slew of some loved and hotly anticipated middle-grade titles. If you’ve read or are planning to read any of them, drop me a line!

D’abord, let me introduce you to Poptropica, a fabulous new graphic-novel adventure series that I think you will really love. I haven’t gotten my hands on this yet, but from the excerpts I’ve read, I just know that this book will be completely unputdownable.

 

Poptropica - Mystery of the Map

 

First, the concept of the series was conceived by the brilliant mind of Jeff Kinney (that’s right the same guy behind the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series), and it is written by Jack Chabert … which is the nom de plume of Max Brallier (and you’ll remember him from the The Last Kids on Earth, which many of you just devoured). Second, it all begins with three kids – Oliver, Mya, and Jorge – on a hot-air-balloon ride, which goes swimmingly … until they crash-land on an unknown island. And when I say unknown, I mean the rest of the world has no idea it even exists. Or that there are extinct animals and some rather angry-looking Vikings. How could you not love this premise?

 

Poptropica - Excerpt Panel

 

The first book of the series, Poptropica: Mystery of the Map, just pubbed on the first of March, so you can bet it will be in our library soon. While you’re waiting, check out these videos to whet your appetite; then head over to Poptropica’s official website for some more fun activities.

Have you read Mystery of the Map already? How did you like it?  Let me know!

Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile (Marcia Wells)

14 Oct

I was very happy to discover the Eddie Red Undercover series last year, and after reading it with some of my Squinks this past month, I’m happy to tell you that they loved it as well.

 

Eddie Red - Mystery on Museum Mile

 

Eddie Lonnrot is in grade 6 at a private school that he loves to attend. But financial troubles are threatening his attendance for the next school year. How will he find enough money to pay for tuition? Luckily (or maybe not), a situation presents itself in the form of helping to catch a mastermind art thief and his cohorts that have the NYPD stumped. And luckily (though not for the thief), Eddie has a photographic memory, which is just what the detectives need to nail the Picasso gang. With a little bit of reluctant acceptance from his parents and a lot of support from his best friend, Jonah, Eddie Red is born.

Squinklethoughts1. When I read books like Eddie Red Undercover, I always find myself lamenting over the fact that I didn’t have these books to entertain me while I was growing up. I would have loved to have immersed myself in Mystery on Museum Mile if for nothing else but that it was really fun and easy to read.

2. Eddie’s a great character who knows his place. He celebrates his skills, but he knows his shortcomings. He handles Jonah and his sometimes-wacky ways, which I give him a lot of credit for – I definitely do not have the same kind of patience he has. I wasn’t particularly fond of that one scene where he begs his mom to let him work with the NYPD, but I could see how a sixth-grader could do it. I also like that he celebrates his love of knowledge. Eddie likes many of the things that I do, including solving puzzles, looking at maps, and learning languages, which endears me to him. And the fact that he draws so well when I draw so NOT well only makes me applaud him more.

3. I don’t know anyone (adult or child) who doesn’t want to someday visit New York City or who didn’t enjoy his or her trip there. I, for one, really love it when I get the chance to explore the Big Apple because it just doesn’t run out of things to see and do and experience. I liked learning about Fifth Avenue and the various museums on Museum Mile, including the Neue Galerie, which I hear about far less often than the Guggenheim or MOMA.

 

Eddie Red - 5th Ave

 

4. The illustrations in this book are fantastic. I’m really really terrible at drawing, so I always appreciate artists who can draw faces and people without requiring divine intervention of some sort. The only thing I wish is for there to have been more of a variation of pictures. Although there were a few other things, most of the illustrations were of people. At some point, it’d be nice to see what else Eddie sees to really enhance my appreciation of the story.  All that aside, Marcos Calo does a truly phenomenal job.  I encourage you to look at his other works.

5. Wells is funny. The one-liners that Eddie has, especially in reaction to Detective Bovano, are just chortle-chortle funny, which is my kind of humour. It wasn’t only once or twice that I heard giggles from a student reading this book because he had just read another one of Eddie’s gems about Bovano warming up to him.

6. One of my Squinks wants to know what happens to Detective Bovano at the end of the story. We’d like to think that he’ll pop up every once in a while in the other books – maybe if Eddie visits a spaghetti place or something. We had fun coming up with names of these pasta restaurants. “Sauce Boss” and “Meatballs for Mobster Nappers” were at the top of our list.

7. The next two books, Mystery in Mayan Mexico (April 2015) and Doom at Grant’s Tomb (April 2016), will definitely find a home in our school library.

 

Eddie Red - 2nd and 3rd

 

8. Eddie Red is über cool.  You should definitely check him out.

 

4 Squinkles

 

Marcia Wells’ Online Corners
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Chapters

Thank you, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for sending me a copy of Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile in exchange for an honest review.

All Squinklethoughts expressed herein are entirely my own.

A to Z: G is for the Gypsy King Trilogy

7 Apr

G is for the three lovely books in the Gypsy King trilogy by Maureen Fergus.  If you haven’t discovered this witty Canadian author, you really must carve out some time for her!  You’ll fall in love with The Gypsy King and you’ll quickly look for the next two: A Fool’s Errand and Tomorrow’s Kingdom.  Lucky you, they’re already out, so you don’t have to endure months of agonizing waiting like I did.

 

G - Gypsy King Trilogy

 

Azriel and Persephone are one of my all-time favourite couplings.  I just adore Azriel and how much he adores Persephone!  Why can’t more people be as charming and sincere as he is?

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