Sunday, September 25, 2011

Magic Kitten readalikes

I recently talked with a group of first graders who all loved the Magic Kitten series. And I realized that there are a whole huge pile of books about magic kittens. And since I like creating booklists about esoteric topics here is my list of early chapter books about magic kitten (with a little bit of branching out at the end). (all summaries are from the publisher) (picture is of one of my adorable cats. His name is Furygosa and he's the sweetest little magic user in the world.)

Tiger Taming by Julie Sykes
When animal lover Max sets up a pet-sitting business, he finds himself looking after some very unusual pets. Max can't wait to take care of Miss Warble Itchy's black cat, Tiger. But a witch's cat can really be a handful-- talking back, drinking forbidden bat juice, and getting kidnapped by an angry wizard.

Paw Power by Kitty Wells
After Maddy buys a set of three ceramic cats at a mysterious flea market stall, one of the statues comes to life to help her stop a school bully.

Katie the Kitten Fairy by Daisy Meadows
When Katie's kitten is missing, her fairy friends help her find it.

Fashion Kitty by Charise Mericle Harper
After a stack of fashion magazines falls on Kiki Kitty's head while she is blowing out the candles on her birthday cake, Kiki turns into Fashion Kitty, a feline superhero who saves other kitties from fashion disaster.

Babymouse : Queen of the world! by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
An imaginative mouse dreams of being queen of the world, but will settle for an invitation to the most popular girl's slumber party.
(not about a kitten but I always like adding things to book lists that are slightly out of the exact specifications that will lead off into other passions!)

If you want to branch out to more middle grade fiction you can add in some of my favorites!
No Flying in the House by Betty Brock and Wallace Trip
Annabel Tippens seems like an ordinary little girl, with short blond hair and very good manners. But Annabel is actually quite unusual. Instead of parents, she has Gloria, a tiny white dog who talks and wears a gold collar. Annabel never wonders why her life is different, until one day a cat named Belinda tells her the truth -- she′s not just a little girl, she′s half fairy! But now that she knows the truth, will her whole life have to change?

Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander
Jason and his magic cat Gareth travel through time to visit countries all over the world during different periods of history.

And this list only has one familiar cat! If I opened the list up to all witch's cats it'd really explode.

What do y'all think? Do you have any favorite magical cat books? I'd be especially grateful for more very early chapter books because it seems that all the first graders are devouring everything I have!

Sunday Links

So my good friend Hummingbird Heart* has started a series on her blog called Origin Stories where she and some friends write blog posts about books that inspired us as children and how they have shaped who we have become. Her first one is on Enders Game and her second is on Harriet The Spy. I'm going to write one (I have a couple of books in mind, don't worry - I'll link over when I write it) - there are so many books that have made me who I am today and so many things to say about those books! Anyway - if you want to read some beautiful love letters to/about books then click on over.

New York Public Library has a children's librarian who has done some great youtube book recommendations! Her astronaut recommendations are below:

I'm inspired! I might have to make some of my own!

The Huffington Post, of all places, made a great infographic about banned books week. I can only hope they start adding previous years in because it really is a fun visual!

*Not sure if you wanted real names on other people's blogs, HH, so I'm sticking with this!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Reel Life Starring Us by Lisa Greenwald

Title: Reel Life Starring Us
Author: Lisa Greenwald
Publisher: ABRAMS
Pub Date: 09/01/2011
Reviewed from: egalley received from publisher
Grades 4 and up

Ok, this one was fun. I've been meaning to read My Life In Pink and Green for ages - I have a coworker who raved about it! So I absolutely jumped at the chance to read Lisa Greenwald's new book. Reel Life is one of those rare books that tackles huge issues but very much does it as just something that happens when you tell a good story as opposed to being a book about huge issues. The new girl Dee and the most popular girl Chelsea are thrust together to do a project for school. Dee wants to be friends! Chelsea does too but her friends think Dee is weird because she's so into filming everything. Chelsea is dealing with a lot of stuff - her father just lost his job, boy issues, mono - and while she wants to be friends with the new girl she isn't quite strong enough right then to actually stand up to her old friends. And she's dealing with so much stuff personally that she keeps being an absolute poop head to Dee. I hate feeling preached too (who likes that?) so it's nice when the book just is a great story and there are always important things to learn from great stories.

I especially liked the boy sub-plot. Chelsea's friends are all convinced she has a crush on a certain guy and she doesn't think she does and she spends a lot of time angsting about that but when she finds out that the guy actually likes someone else she gets super jealous for a bit - not because of sour grapes and suddenly now she likes him but because she was still thinking and it jolted her to realize that it isn't just her decision. That isn't an angle I've seen often.

Anyway - if you or one of your patrons is in the market for a good school/friendship book with a heavy dose of film trivia, this is the book for you!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Friday Fun

Friend who had read my last blog post: So what book are you listening to nowadays?
LP: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - I'm absolutely loving it!
FWHRMLBP: Oh! More undead audiobooks!
LP: More like nonfiction medical narrative with racial overtones?

Friday, September 02, 2011

Undead Audiobook Roundup part 1

I feel like Twilight has made the Paranormal Romance genre both explode and also become a bit taboo for the discerning YA reader, ya know?  Who wants to admit to reading VAMPIRE ROMANCE?  Well I recently listened to a whole bunch of books and and then I realized that all of them were about the undead and half of them also had a romantic component to them.  So here is a quick round-up of all the fantastic undead audiobooks I've heard recently.

Insatiable by Meg Cabot narrated by Emily Bauer.
I totally got the impression that Meg Cabot read through Mark Reads Twilight or other criticisms of Twilight before writing this.  Meena Harper is, in many ways, the anti Bella Swan.  She has the ability to tell hwo people are going to die so when she finds out that the man she's falling for is a vampire, the last thing she wants is to be turned into a vampire.  She wants life.  She wants a future that includes her friends and her family and sunshine.

Insatiable is quintisential Meg Cabot.  Fun, quirky, deceptively light (she always packs quite a bit of substance into her fluffy reads, if that makes any sense), and fantastic.  Highly recommended.

Four and a half out of five stars.

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride, narrated by Jonathan Todd Ross and Chris Sorensen.
At first I was nervous that this book had a severe case of Women in Refrigerators syndrome.  (Spoilers here - but really only for the first disc so unless you're super strict I don't know you'd care?) The first female we met was quickly killed off and the second female we meet has already been kidnapped and then gets drugged and tortured some more right in front of us.  YAY FEMINISM!  But things calmed down a little after that.

Sam LaCroix doesn't even know he's a Necromancer until the had of the local Necromancers comes into the fast food resteraunt where he works and gets super upset at him for not presenting himself to the magical council and then spends the rest of the book trying to kill him.  Not so much fun, yes?  But this book is.  I loved Sam's family (I really love seeing a happy non disfunctional family in a YA book.  Yes there were secrets that shouldn't have been kept so long and Sam totally overreacted when he found out about them but if he hadn't overreacted and instead confided in his mother, she would totally have saved the day right then and there goes the second half of the book.)

The audiobook narration is good.  There are two male narrators, though, for the two main POVs of the book, but I didn't even realize that until haflway through because the voices were so similar.  I had just assumed one guy was doing two slightly different character voices.  Not a criticism - the two POVs were different enough that I was never confused - just an observation.

Three stars!  Fine holiday fun!

Sabriel/Lirael/Abhorsen by Garth Nix narrated by Tim Effing Curry

These books almost deserve their own post - phenomenal.  Tim Curry needs to quit all his other jobs (and I love all his other jobs) and just read books to me.  Seriously.  Best audiobook narrator ever.  And the books!  So good!  Everybody has been telling me to read them for AGES but I read Mister Monday by Garth Nix and wasn't terribly inspired to read more Nix books after that?  But Oh.  OH!  So.  There is the Old Kingdom (magic, the walking dead, modern technology just doesn't work) conected to a more regular world that reads like a pre WWI England.  Sabriel has been at a bording school in the regular world for most of her life, only visiting the old Kingdom on holidays.  Then her father goes missing and Sabriel goes to find him and discovers the depth of her magical inheritance and oh.  OH!  So.  I'm a sucker for a good world building and the world of the Old Kingdom is perfect.  Flawless.  The magic is divided into two kids - Charter Magic which is the "good" magic and flows from charter symbols that can be used to do most any magical whatnots and free magic which is dangerous and corrupts.  Sabriel's father (and Sabriel and more) is the Abhorsen which is basically the head necromancer in the land.  Necromancy is free magic and therefore forbidden but there is one necromancer, the Abhorsen, who works for and with the Royal family to keep all othe necromancers and The Dead in check.  And there are bells and cats and really?  Just read it.  Or better yet listen to it.  Because every fantasy lover needs to read or listen to these books.

Five enthusiastic stars

I still have 3 more series to discuss but I'm going to stop here for the moment.  Five books in one post is quite enough, thank you!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Wisdom's Kiss

Title: Wisdom's Kiss
Author: Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Pub Date: 09/15/2011
Reviewed from: egalley received from publisher

Ok, so, I just realized while finding the Goodreads link that the author of this book ALSO wrote Princess Ben which I've heard of but never read. HA! That's also on the cover! That's the trouble with reading ebooks on my phone. The screen is plenty large enough to do the actual reading but apparently I miss important details on the cover. Seeing as how the dowager Queen in this book is Queen Ben I'm assuming this is a sequel to that. (insert frantic Novelisting here) Hmm - well nothing is saying sequel but same country, one character the same. WHATEVER - the point of this tangent* is that you don't have to read Princess Ben in order enjoy Wisdom's Kiss. I'm thinking that a couple of things Queen Ben alluded to would be more fleshed out and now when I read Princess Ben** I'm going to know that she ends up alive and a Queen. But knowing the Fantasy genre I don't think that was ever in doubt. So. Read Princess Ben first if you want to or go straight to Wisdom's Kiss if you want to. I don't think I am missing out on anything doing it this way.

*is it considered a tangent if this is how I begin my review? Does this make the rest of the review a tangent? WHY DOES ANYONE EVER READ THIS WEBSITE? Questions for the ages.

**The audiobook is currently waiting for me on the hold shelf when I get to work tonight but I'm wondering - I would not have been able to follow Wisdom's Kiss in an audiobook.  The formatting and different POVs would have confused me?  Whatever - I'll try it.OK! REVIEW, LP! STOP TANGENTING!

This book was, in a word, fantastic. I try not to read other people's reviews before I write mine but I accidentally read a blog's "twitter style" review of this the other day and they didn't like it. Lack of characterization, they said. What? The characters were the best part of this - and that is saying a lot since I loved the plot, the format, and the writing style as well. BUT the characters! You've got these great characters - Princess Wisdom (who is just way to exuberant and impetuous to ever be a solid ruler but oh she's wonderful), Trudy (who has the gift of foresight but is somewhat terrified of it and is desperately in love with her childhood friend Tips), and Tips (who left Trudy to "be a soldier" but he has a secret and there may be trouble in his future).  I fell in love with them all.  I loved how they grew and changed and learned to live with what new things life threw at them.  LOVE them.

I loved the format.  Letters, journal entries, a memoir, an encyclopedia, and a play.

Basically if you love fantasy and strong women (oh the strong women) and great plot lines, don't dismiss this.

On a last feminist note, I love that (super huge spoiler here so stop now) neither Trudy nor Queen Temperance end up with love interests in order to be happy.  I mean there's a follow up encyclopedia entry that mentions their later lives and a husband and children for one but the actual story ends with them finding happiness through friendship and their jobs and lives.  LOVE that.  LOVE LOVE LOVE that.