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Science, Mystery and Mayhem!

Frankie Dupont AND THE SCIENCE FAIR SABOTAGE (Frankie Dupont Mysteries Book 3)

Written by Julie Ann Grasso

Illustrated by Alexander Avellino

FRankieScienceFair,picEleven year old Frankie Dupont’s parents are off for the day to attend an awards ceremony. Frankie’s dad leaves him in charge of his detective agency. Sounds strange? Well, Frankie has already proved his mettle in assisting his father in previous investigations.

Shortly after they leave, Frankie gets a call from his cousin Kat and her friend, Amy Appleby, to assist in solving a mystery at the science fair being held in Enderby Manor. Seven kids are competing in a science contest in which all the entries must be made from recyclable materials. The winner will receive $300 and a ticket to science camp. Seven contestants have employed creativity in projects such as a musical instrument made from drinking cans, Lego blocks made from Stevia, a balloon recycling center and cloned blue salmon. Upon his arrival, Frankie discovers that Angus and Archie Appleby’s robotic chip has been stolen while they were arguing over how to assemble their robot made from household items. Frankie has the scene secured and methodically proceeds to interview each of the contestants in order to collect clues and solve the mystery.

Middle school readers will enjoy the adventure as the clues are revealed by Frankie as he investigates. But things are not as they appear on the surface. Readers may be surprised by the end result of the investigation and the just rewards that follow. Recommended for Encylopedia Brown fans in the eight to twelve-year-old age range.

Barbara Ann Mojica, Author
P.O. Box 112
Craryville, NY 12521-0112
Tel/Fax: 518-325-5199
www.LittleMissHISTORY.com

Book Review: Runaway Smile

Runaway Smile: An unshared smile is a waste of time (Niditales Book 1)

Written by Nicholas C. Rossis

Illustrated by Dimitris Fousekis

RunawaySmile,pic

Readers who take the time to read the Prologue will discover the secret of this book. Plot is simple: a little boy wakes up one morning and finds that he has lost his smile. Shortly after, the reader is introduced to a set of quirky characters that will definitely make him smile. The boy’s dog, wears glasses, reads Proust and drives a car. A clothes-eating monster lives in the bedroom closet and ants windsurf across the boy’s breakfast cereal, but the boy is steadfast in his search to find the missing smile.

The boy meets several adult characters on his way to school. A workman, a man walking his gold;-) fish, a king being photographed, the greatest salesman in the world, and a clown, each display smiles that they are unwilling to share with the boy. At school, the boy asks his teacher, but she replies that a classroom is no place for a smile and proceeds to pass out a test! By this time the poor boy is completely disheartened. When he gets home, he asks his mother how to find his smile. She reveals the secret.

The sepia-toned illustrations in this book are done beautifully; they capture the spirit and humor of the tale. A poem, “Ode to a runaway smile,” included at the end portrays the cleverness and wit of the author. Adults will understand all the nuances of this story. The simple illustration on the cover is a bit misleading as to the underlying story. Young children will enjoy the pictures but probably won’t grasp some of the concepts without adult guidance. I feel the book is best suited for independent readers who enjoy different kinds of books with an unusual plot so I would especially recommend it for ages ten and older.

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

Book Review: Wishapick, Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk

Wishapick Blog Tour Header Image

Book and Soundtrack Review: Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk

HOPE FOR TOMORROW

Wishapick Tickety Boo And The Black Trunk

Written by M.M. Allen
Wishapick Music and Lyrics by Deborah Wynne

I agreed to review this book as part of a blog tour, and was really delighted once I opened it. Targeted for a middle-grade audience of 9-12 year old children, this well-written book contains elements of adventure, fantasy, magic and humor in just the right combination.

Jack and his younger sister Lilly are the main protagonists. Since his father’s death two years before, Jack has remained angry and sullen. In the opening scene, readers feel this tension between them when Lilly accidentally breaks the spy drone Jack has built for a science project. But Lilly has a surprise for Jack; she has overheard their mother talking on the phone and now knows the location of the key that will open the mysterious black trunk his father left behind. Their mother has expressly forbidden them to open it. Jack cannot contain his curiosity. When he opens the trunk he falls inside, and down into a black hole surrounded by snakes. Unknown to Jack, Lilly follows him inside. So the adventure begins….

The siblings will meet a fascinating cast of animal characters including snakes, possums, skunks, and wolves. They will learn the meaning of their mother’s mantra, “Breath of all good things.” The mystery of their father’s death will be revealed, and they will discover the value of embracing hope versus despair while displaying courage and teamwork.

This book reminds me a bit of Charlotte’s Web and Alice through the Looking Glass, but this plot is unique and the language colorful. Length of the book is under 150 pages, one that I feel is just right for a middle-grade audience. As a bonus, readers may purchase a companion CD with music that matches the various moods and scenarios presented in the book. Listening to the music and closing one’s eyes, the reader can easily feel transported inside a Disney movie.

I highly recommend this Five Star Readers’ Favorite book to middle-grade readers interested in a humorous, imaginative adventure fusing realistic and magical elements with characters with whom they can easily empathize. Librarians and teachers could use this book as a read aloud to open up discussion on many topics relevant to this audience.

Barbara Ann Mojica
LittleMissHistory.com

Book Review – Bored No More

Jesper Jinx (The Jesper Jinx Series Book 1)

Written and Illustrated by Marko Kit

jesperjink,picInteresting series of short stories exploring the hijinks of eleven year old Jesper, who always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Jesper has a twelve-year-old sister, who is often the victim of his shenanigans. Jesper introduces himself by relating an episode in which he sabotages his sister’s favorite drink. Then the book switches to the voice of a children’s book author and his narration of what happens when he literally bumps into Jesper. It turns out that Jesper wants that author to record his strange experiences. There is a catch; the author can never publish them or allow anyone else to read them. Do you think that author keeps his promise? Will you, as the reader, keep that secrecy promise?

The next two stories reveal what happens when the family’s white cat meets Jesper’s watercolors, and a mysterious new student from Spain becomes a willing protege. Jose Maria studies the pranks Jesper and his friend Oliver commit in their classroom. Middle school readers will love the pranks and the humorous dialogue as well as the clever names like Miss Parrot, Mr. Llawandorder and Mr. Playfair-Eales.

Simple line drawings are a bonus and add appeal to early advanced readers or reluctant readers. I think fans of the Wimpy Kid series will also enjoy this one. Recommended for middle school readers. Look forward to reading more of this series.

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

Middle Grade Reading: A Rose by Any Other Name…

Bex Carter #1 Aunt Jeanie’s Revenge

Written by Tiffany Nicole Smith

BexCarter,pic

First book in the series about twelve-year-old Bex and her struggle to fit in a difficult situation. Not only is Beth having the usual coming of age issues with school and peers, but she is living with Aunt Jeanie and her family because Bex’s mother disappeared long ago and her father is in prison. While her aunt is obsessively concerned with “fitting in with society,” Bex enjoys sports and really wishes to be left alone. Things get tough for Bex when she is forced to audition for the “Silver Rose” group. Bex hates the idea, but she really needs to have her own space, the bribe her aunt holds in front of her.

Much of the story involves the adventures and pranks that Bex must endure, and her struggle to walk the line between what is truly right and wrong. Middle school and young teen readers will be sure to find many situations that parallel their own at home and school. Throughout the tale, many of the characters grow and change. The book is both serious and humorous with a good mix of the traditional and modern.

This book will appeal to readers nine and older. There is just the right mix of dialogue, shift from first person to third person narrative is well done. Can’t wait to see what happens in Bex’s next adventure.

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

Book Review: Nerds and Ninjas

The Secret Path of Ned the Ninja: Reluctant Hero

Written by Kea Alwang and Melissa Mertz

NedtheNinja,pic

Ned is a bright fifth grader who admits to being a nerd and a klutz. He is taunted in school by Jared Beck, appropriately named Beck the Bonebreaker. When his parents can take no longer take the bullying and taunting, they enroll Ned in karate class. Ned paints a pathetic but humorous scene of his first day in class. The only saving grace is finding that he has a crush on one of the students, Adrianna. Ned is thrown into the fray with no leniency for being a new student. At first Ned is tempted to quit, but he changes his mind when the Tora Khan appears in his bedroom to give him a one to one training lesson. Is it a dream?

The next morning, Ned awakes and is still not sure when strange things begin to happen. When Ned gets to school, he discovers that he is no longer the person everyone knows. Ned learns that fears limit our capabilities. If one can take away fear by redirecting thoughts, limitations can be overcome. Our minds can be made to re-channel our fears and weaknesses.

Ned is such a likable character. He is funny, vulnerable, sincere and honest. Middle grade readers will empathize and grow with this character. The details of karate class keep the story line novel and interesting. Both sexes will enjoy the read. Recommended for all ages eight and up. I read the fifty five page book in one sitting.

Barbar Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

Book Review: The Halloween Grump

Mr. Boggarty:The Halloween Grump (Spooky Adventure for Kids 9-12)

Written by Tevin Hansen

Mr.Boggarty,pic

 

The question on the cover sets the main plot. Can Trix and her friends escape the Lime Green Ghost of Lincoln County? At first, I found the layout strange. The author chose to introduce each of the main characters in a separate chapter. Then he proceeds to explain Halloween customs in different countries. Finally, he gets to the subject of eggs and the plot that the five friends have hatched for this upcoming Halloween. Last, bit not least he sets the scene with each of their customs and moves to Mr. Boggarty’s house on Halloween night.

Trixie, Frank, Darby, Darren, and Preston crouch behind the tree in Mr. Boggarty’s front yard and prepare to ring the doorbell. When Darren “chickens out,” Trix cautiously turns the doorknob and the five friends find themselves inside. At first the house seems normal, but soon they see a lit jack-o-lantern on the table. Deciding to throw their rotten eggs inside the house, they are paralyzed with fear when the door slams shut and the lights go out.

Suddenly the fifth-graders are confronted with a bright green flying ghost. He orders them to kneel down and informs them he has just stolen the soul of Mr. Boggarty. He gives them a history lesson about the Great Depression But the worse news is yet to come. The children have been selected to be the new Demons of Lincoln County; they will be sent to school to learn how to be ruthless, evil and diabolical creatures who prey on poor farming communities like the one they live in now. The ghost’s brothers and sisters will arrive at six o’clock to whisk them away forever. As a thunderstorm rages outside the house, the five friends await their fate.

The plot has a ending with a surprise twist. Hansen takes his time building up to the main plot, but keeps the suspense going once the children arrive in the house. Middle grade students will enjoy the diversity of the characters, the humor, and the scary story line. Good choice for a Halloween party or a classroom read aloud. The dialogue is easy to read and the length of just over 130 pages is a good fit for reluctant readers.

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

Book Review – O.K. is Great!

O.K. IS GREAT

Written and Illustrated by David Tiefenthaler

Cover Design Robin Ludwig, Design, Inc.

O.K., jpg

What a great story for children in middle grades covering so many of the issues facing pre-teens and teens in today’s world. Issues covered are fitting in, cyberbullying, sibling rivalry, peer relationships, and moving. Otis Kashwonkee, (yes, that’s his name) goes by the nickname, O.K. That would be fine if it were not for the fact that Otis doesn’t seem to excel at anything and the O.K. initials indicate to Otis that he is just ordinary. When his parents tell him that they are moving to the suburbs, Otis must add a new problem, adjusting to new friends and a new school.

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