It's Monday, What Are You Reading? 4-1-13

Hosted by Jen & Kelle at Teach Mentor Texts.

Happy first day of April!  Whether you're thinking April Showers or April Vacation, April gets us one giant step closer to sweet, sweet summer!  Here in Maine we are getting a little anxious for some sun to warm our backs.

Books I Read this Week:

Case File 13: Zombie Kid (Vol. 1) by J. Scott Savage
Harper, 2013
276 pages
Recommended for grades 4-7

Nick, Carter and Angelo call themselves the Three Monsterteers.  The trio love Halloween and all things spooky and supernatural.  When Nick's aunt Lenore dies his family flies across country to attend her funeral.  While staying in Lenore's house Nick finds all sorts of things that lead him to believe his aunt was involved in voodoo.  Dare he hope...a Voodoo Queen?  The night before leaving for home Nick finds himself in a cemetery where he stumbles/is pushed into a crypt.  It is during this nighttime cemetery visit that Nick acquires an amulet that turns him slowly into a zombie.
Back at home Nick, Carter and Angelo keep Nick's zombie status a  secret and think it is pretty cool.  Until Nick starts to literally fall apart.  Afraid people will start to notice and afraid that this condition might be permanent, the boys set out to break the curse. 
There are a few issues older readers might have with the logic behind some of the storyline, and there are some minor gross-out scenes, but for its intended audience, this book works.  I enjoyed the characters' personalities and the humor throughout.

Road Trip by Gary and Jim Paulsen
Wendy Lamb Books, 2013
Realistic Fiction
128 pages
Recommended for grades 6-8

It's never good when a book review starts:
I'm a big fan of Gary Paulsen, however....

...however, I'm not a fan of whatever it was that this book was meant to be.  

Ben's family is on the Border Collie rescue group's e-mail list, and are notified of a puppy new to a shelter.  Ben's dad decides that taking a two day road trip to get the puppy is just what he needs to keep his mind off things (a new real estate deal).  Without talking it over with his wife he packs up his son and their older dog for the trip.  On the way Ben decides to pick up his tough-guy high school friend to join them on the trip.  Not too long after that the truck they are traveling in starts making funny noises.  At the small garage they bring the truck to the trio meet Gus, the owner of the shop.  Gus proceeds to go up one side of Ben's dad and back down the other for not taking care of his truck, and for basically being a moron about it.  At this point I would be looking for another mechanic to give my business to.  Not Ben's dad, they end up asking Gus to loan them his school bus, and then take Gus with them.  Yeah...Next up they come across a girl and guy having a spat.  The girl joins them.  They are pulled over for speeding.  The police officer lets Ben's dad drive his cruiser while the officer takes the wheel of the bus in a drag race...
The ending is even more of a let down than the rest of the story. 
Other issues:  The cover looks like it will appeal to students as young as third grade, as will the topic of story and shortness of the book.  But the repeated mentions of a crack house and the description of the girl's work uniform, among other things, make this book a big mismatch with its cover.
There are lots of issues in this book that could be hashed out in a longer text that has made up its mind about which one it wants to explore.  I found this book to be all over the place, without any real direction.

Poseidon by George O'Connor
First Second, 2013
Graphic Novel: Greek Mythology
78 pages
Recommended for grades 7+

O'Connor's Olympians series is truly amazing.  The way he delves into the background and personality of each different god provides so much information for readers to soak up.  In this volume we begin with the three brothers Hades, Poseidon and Zeus drawing sticks to divide the cosmos.  Each brother draws what he seemed meant to, with Poseidon returning to the sea.  Now, I've read the Percy Jackson series, and O'Connor's books would have come in pretty useful beforehand.  Whatever it was I read on Greek gods as a child did not stick.  I was learning new things on each page of this text.  And O'Connor nicely inserts panels from previous volumes as he mentions events that other gods are featured in.  
The artwork is alive and emotional.  The information at the end of the book gives readers an even fuller picture of what O'Connor uncovered while researching, gives more insight on the process he took as a writer, and generally connects O'Connor with the reader on a level separate from that found in the graphic novel panels.

On another note, there is a lot (a lot) of "romance" in this book.  So much that I would hesitate giving this book to students under 7th grade.  6th if you are brave.  There is also blood and gore in one particular section of the book.  The scene is pretty awesome though, and actually had me with my mouth open in shock, I just didn't see this stuff coming!  

Books I'm Currently Reading:

I'm Currently Listening to:

On Deck:

Thanks for stopping by!  I'd love to hear your thoughts!


  1. I really appreciate the very honest comments. There are so many good books to read, it's nice to have help weeding a few out. I always need graphic novel recommendations, though, so I'll check out Poseidon. I also realize I didn't write what I'm reading this week so I'd better revisit mine!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Lee, and thanks for assuring me that it is okay to write less than stellar remarks about a book. I sometimes feel like I only read positive reviews, and it makes me worry that my thoughts might be ill received. Glad to know you appreciate it :) I'll stop by later to see what you read this week!

  2. Sad about the Paulsen book - it just goes to show that you really do need to read 'em all and just can't go along with a trusted author! I hope the Spinelli book proves not to be a disappointment.

    1. Hi Tara, it does go to just never know! Same with new books by authors you haven't enjoyed in the past, authors grow and change and evolve who they are as well as their writing. The Spinelli book is something else! I have so many notes and jottings about it that I won't know where to begin with it! It's going to be a challenge to review that book!

  3. Case File 13 looks really fun! I am also interested in the Olympians graphic novel series. I will have to add those to my list. Thanks for the heads up about the Paulsen book. I am never quite sure about his books. Some I love and some not so much. This one just sounds like one I would have abandoned.

    1. Case File 13 is a fun one, and the next one will be out in September, right in time for Halloween! I've learned so much from the Olympians series, they are very well written. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Bummer about the Gary Paulsen book. I'll be curious to hear your reaction to Hokey Pokey book as there seems to be lots of mixed reviews on that one, even from ardent Spinelli fans. Hold Fast and Water Castle are near the top of my TBR. Thanks for sharing!

    --Lorna (@notforlunch)

    1. There are mixed reviews for Hokey Pokey, I have mixed reviews swirling around in my head. One minute I'm on one side of the fence on this book, the next minute I'm clear on the other side. I am just as anxious as anyone to read my own review! Haha
      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I really want to read My Life as a Cartoonist, and the Water Castle. I enjoyed Hold Fast very much.

    1. I'm going to have a giveaway soon for a copy of The Water Castle! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Case File 13 intrigues me. I am going to look into it. Odd Duck is a terrfic read and on my To Purchase list. I know my students will love the humor. I am also reading the second Astronaut Academy. Great post.

  7. Hi Julee,
    Odd Duck looks just as cute as her last couple of books. My last class loved Bake Sale! Are you enjoying Astronaut Academy? Thanks for stopping by!

  8. I read an advanced copy of Hokey Pokey, and enjoyed it, but it took me awhile to get into. Fantastic ending. Perhaps more of an adult read than student. I'll be interested to see what you think!

    1. The more I get into it the more I am in awe of it. I just want to talk to Spinelli about it! There is so much to say :) Thanks for stopping by!!


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