September 19, 2016

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Posted by at 1:00 am in Reads | Permalink

Ahoy, matey! Today be International Talk Like a Pirate Day. To celebrate, check out some of these pirate-themed books:

  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Pirate’s Plot by Ellen Miles
  • The Pirate’s Son by Geraldine McCaughrean
  • Nick of Time: An Adventure Through Time by Ted Bell
  • Stowaway by Kristiana Gregory
  • Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
  • Jack Plank Tells Tales by Natalie Babbitt
  • Peter Raven Under Fire by Michael Molloy

So tally ho, make ye enemies walk the plank, and don’t forget to talk like a pirate!


September 16, 2016

Percy Jackson and the Olympians Trivia Quiz

Posted by at 1:40 am in Percy Jackson, Trivia | Permalink

Lightennigtheif_130Are you a Percy Jackson fan? Test your skills with this Percy Jackson trivia quiz!

  1. What was the Roman (not Greek!) name for Percy’s father?
  2. What is the first hint we get of who Percy’s father really is?
  3. Which monster is Percy’s namesake famous for killing?
  4. Which three planets are named after Percy’s father and uncles?
  5. Why is the entrance to the underworld in L.A.? (Feel free to be creative with this one.)
  6. Where did Percy stab Ares, and what classical hero is this a reference to?
  7. On his travels in Sea of Monsters, Mr. Jackson meets Circe. What does she turn him into?
  8. Annabeth teaches Percy about “hubris” — a key element of the Icarus myth. How did Icarus die?
  9. Which famous pirate do Percy and Annabeth meet?
  10. Who was the original hero associated with the quest for the Golden Fleece?
  11. (ULTRA OBSCURE) What old man was changed into a rock by Hermes for betraying him?

Read on to check your answers. Continue reading

September 15, 2016

Book Review: Dear Dumb Diary

Posted by at 1:23 am in Dear Dumb Diary, Reads | Permalink


Jamie Kelly is your average middle-schooler with an average (but evil) best friend, Isabella, and an average (but sickeningly beautiful) nemesis, Angeline. Okay, maybe I’m being dramatic, but Jamie is dramatic . . . and did I mention hilarious?

In the Dear Dumb Diary books, Jamie warns us not to read her diary in disclaimers such as, “Only a super gross person reads another person’s diary.” And, “If you are Angeline, I did NOT give you permission, so stop it.” Each book is like a mini-journal which follows something going on at the time in Jamie’s life.

Like right now, I just finished Book 4: Never Do Anything Ever in which Jamie starts collecting money for an online charity to channel her “inner beautiosity.” Which is basically because Angeline has been collecting money for charities and Jamie wants to outdo her (and attract the attention of her super-cute crush, Hudson). It backfires, thanks to Jamie’s aforementioned friend Isabella — but I can’t reveal exactly how things go wrong! You’ll just have to read it for yourself!

Besides an overall entertaining story, each of the little daily occurrences and descriptions are wickedly funny. For instance, Jamie is paired with a bunch of misfits on her team in gym class, and she refers to one guy as “That Ugly Guy Whose Name I Forget” . . . or as she calls him for short, “TUGWNIF.” You feel like you are reading something slightly naughty or mean . . . but then you remember this is someone’s “diary” and you’re not supposed to be reading it . . . and somehow it’s okay! It’s hard to describe, so I can only recommend you read the series!

And if you’ve already read any Dear Dumb Diary books, give me a shout! What are your favorite books of the series? Let me know which ones I should check out next!

— Ratha

September 14, 2016

12 Books for When You Are 12

Posted by at 1:24 am in Reads | Permalink

Recommend me!Being 12 can be downright confusing. You’re not a teenager just yet, but not really a kid anymore. Everything is changing: your friends, your family, your likes and dislikes, even your body. (Whaaaaaat? Gross!) Talk about having your world turned upside down! But that’s why we have great books. Get inspired by extraordinary characters and their even more extraordinary tales in this list of the 12 best books for when you are 12.

The Golden Compass
12-year-old orphan Lyra Belacqua has lived her whole life scampering around Oxford with her daemon, Pantalaimon. But when she stumbles across a dangerous conspiracy, she is forced to flee to the unknown North—where armored polar bears battle, children are being abducted and experimented on by a mysterious and sinister society, and Lyra uncovers dark truths about her past, and the universe, that could completely alter the course of the future.

The Ear, The Eye, and the Arm
Tendai, Rita, and Kuda have been holed up in their mansion far too long—but when they escape to explore the world outside, they find themselves confronted with dangers beyond their wildest imagination. In the world of 2174 in Harare, Zimbabwe, the siblings find themselves kidnapped by gangsters and bounced from one awful situation to the next…all while being pursued by a strange detective agency their parents have hired. This bizarre, funny, and downright fascinating tale of the future will take you on one wild ride and have you wondering what the world will look like in 158 years.

The Graveyard Book
Brad is anything but normal…but you could probably say it’s because of how he was raised. You see, Brad was raised as the only living thing in a graveyard. His whole world has been ghosts and other supernatural beings. As he grows older, his love for his graveyard family—and fear of the outside world—grows.

Artemis Fowl
Artemis Fowl is no ordinary 12-year-old. He’s a brilliant criminal mastermind, and has done a pretty good job managing his family’s criminal enterprise. He’s also on the hunt for something very, very valuable…fairies. When he captures fairy Holly Short, he thinks he’s landed on a goldmine. What he fails to realize is that Holly and her fellow fairies are anything but the gentle fairies of lore: they’re armed, and they’re ready to fight! But are Artemis’ intentions really all bad?

A Wrinkle In Time
Meg’s father has been missing for over a year. One dark and stormy night, a Mrs. Whatsit visits the family and reveals that she is a magical being who can read thoughts. She informs Meg that her father isn’t just missing on this planet—he’s lost somewhere in the fifth dimension, and it’s up to Meg, her brother Charles, and her friend Calvin to rescue him from whatever evil is holding him captive. This wild inter-dimensional tale is an absolute must-read!

The Giver
In Jonas’s world, everything is in perfect order. Nobody fights, nobody hurts, nobody is poor, nobody gets sick. At the age of 12, each member of his community is given their career assignment. Jonas is assigned a very unusual job, however: he is to be the new Receiver of Memories. It’s no easy task for anyone, let alone a 12-year-old. He begins training under The Giver, who is the only one who knows of what life was really like before everything was perfect…and now that Jonas knows the truth, will he let things continue to be the way they are? Or is there meaning, and even happiness, in imperfection?

The Dark is Rising
On his eleventh birthday, Will Stanton learns that he is actually the last of the Old Ones, immortals who fight the great forces of evil. To save the world, he must first find the six Signs of the Light and unite them. But the world of magic and good and evil that Will has discovered is far more complex and sinister than he ever could have imagined…

Island of the Blue Dolphins
Karana has lived on Ghalas-at, also known as the Island of the Blue Dolphins, her entire life. She lives in the village with her father, the chief, and her brother. After a trade agreement goes terribly wrong, ending in many deaths, her fellow villagers leave—but Karana and her brother Ramo are left behind. Karana will have to rely on her survival skills and strength to stay alive until someone comes to rescue them, but soon tragedy strikes again and Karana must learn what it truly means to be brave…and be human.

Al Capone Does My Shirts
Moose Flanagan, age 12, has to move with his family to Alcatraz Island in 1935. His father got a job working at the infamous prison, and his autistic younger sister Natalie can go to a special school nearby in San Francisco. Moose is pretty miserable—he had to give up a pretty great life back in Santa Monica, and his life now is lonely and frustrating. But he’s about to make a friend (or two) in the most unlikely of places…

A Long Walk to Water
Two parallel stories—one taking place in 2008, and the other in 1985—explore the lives of two different people and how they collide. In Sudan in 1985, Salva’s classroom daydreaming is violently interrupted by what begins a harrowing journey of survival and escape. Over 20 years later, Nya spends must walk eight hours a day to collect water for her family, most of which is contaminated. How these two tales intertwine is both heartbreaking and heartwarming, and will give you so much hope for how we can love one another.

Counting By 7s
12-year-old Willow Chance is a genius who is a sponge for information. She leads a pretty quiet life, and finds comfort in counting by 7s. But when her world is turned upside down by tragedy, she will be challenged in ways she never could have imagined—and through it all, she shows the power of survival, finding hope, and finding family where you least expect it.

The Thing about Jellyfish
After her ex-best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy must have been a rare jellyfish sting because things don’t just happen for no reason. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory–even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy’s achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, and complicated friendships.

Have you read any of these books? What other books do you think every 12-year-old should read? Share in the Comments below!

September 13, 2016

Book Characters I Want to Meet

Posted by at 1:10 am in Reads, Writing Prompt | Permalink

Here is my list of the five book characters I’d most want to meet in person:

Charlie_and_the_chocolate_factory_25. Willy Wonka (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl)
Thanks to Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, now I’d love to meet the genius behind everlasting gobstoppers, an entirely edible landscape, and all the rest of the mouthwatering wonders described by Dahl!


Charlottesweb4. Charlotte A. Cavatica (Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White)
I don’t think any explanation is necessary beyond what E. B. White says at the end of the book: “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.”


Secretletters3. Victoria (Secret Letters from 0 to 10 by Susie Morgenstern)
You may have never heard of this book, but it’s one of my absolute favorites. It’s about a boy named Ernest who lives a dull, dreary existence until Victoria moves into the neighborhood and throws back the curtains and lets in the sunlight on his life by her sheer exuberant presence. I’d be very curious to experience whatever adventure she would bring to me.


Hpcos2. Dobby (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)
While he’s far from the grandest character in the series, you’d be hard-pressed to
find one who is more unerringly selfless and good-hearted. He’s also hilariously funny.


Thebadbeginning1. Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket)
Fine, this is a bit of a cheat, but I’d argue that this elusive man in a bowler hat is as much a character in his books as he is the alleged author of them. And with all of the unresolved mysteries, Lemony Snicket is the #1 book character I’d want to meet in person. I’d love to corner him in a room and interrogate him — and by “interrogate,” I mean “ask him all my burning questions about VFD, and in the event that he refuses to answer, threaten to torture him with my own ill-conceived definitions of sophisticated vocabulary words, in the style of his writing but not nearly as clever.” Take that, Mr. Snicket! I’ll get you to talk if it’s the last thing I do!

What about you? Which book character would YOU most want to meet in person?

— Karen

September 12, 2016

10 Problems Only Vegetarians Understand

Posted by at 1:38 am in Writing Prompt | Permalink

Peep says Hi.Attention, all vegetarians! You’ve made the choice, stuck by your principles, educated your friends, and some might say saved countless animals all over the country. You are a vegetarian and you are strong. But even though you are super-proud and empowered by your choice, there are still just some problems only a vegetarian would understand, so this one’s for you!

10 Problems Only Vegetarians Understand

10. The smell of bacon. (Either it makes your mouth water, or grosses you out.)

9. You still have nightmares of chicken nuggets and their lives … before.

8. Try getting a decent meal when your family goes out to a steakhouse.

7. McDonald’s Happy Meals. So delicious, but you’re still hungry after not having a “main course.”

8. You have to explain to every new friend you eat lunch with why you are a vegetarian. Maybe you should just pass out pre-typed notes…

7. Your dad likes his steaks medium-rare. Ew.

6. Your mom’s always making you eat eggs and beans and tofu to make you get your protein.

5. Explaining to people that yes, hot dogs are, in fact, meat.

4. You end up eating a lot of “sides” at family BBQ’s.

3. Thanksgiving.

2. Your friends like to loudly announce it to everyone when you’re out to eat “Oh, she can’t eat that. She is a vegetarian!”

1. People try to trick you or tempt you into eating meat. Not cool!

Stay strong and be proud. And list your grievances below in the Comments!

-Ratha, Writer

September 10, 2016

Create a Caption: Monkey

Posted by at 1:57 am in Create a Caption, Writing Prompt | Permalink

Create a captionSometimes I think I should work a little less and make a few more friends — because I find myself talking to my stuffed animal friend, Monkey, a lot.

I guess Monkey was thinking the same, because one day I came home and found him working on the computer! I can’t imagine what he was thinking — can you?

Monkey Thoughts
Photo Credit: Davin Cheng

Leave a comment telling me what you think Monkey was thinking — or what he said after I saw him!

— Nancy

September 9, 2016

Book Review: A Mango-Shaped Space

Posted by at 1:12 am in Reads | Permalink

Imagine if  words and sounds drew colored shapes in front of your eyes — wonderful colors no one else could  see!

It’s called synesthesia and it’s what Mia, the main character and narrator of A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass has been hiding from everyone (even her best friend!) since she was 8-years-old, when she was called a “freeeeaaak!” (She was at the chalkboard for math and offered to put the numbers in their correct colors. Because we all know what those correct colors are, right? Wrong-o! The classroom laughed and pointed. Sad.)

Mia finally has to come clean five years later when she’s nearly failing Math and Spanish. See, the colors get her confused. Like, if the English word “mother” is purpley-red but the Spanish word “madre” is green — it doesn’t make sense they’re the same thing, right? Of course everyone thinks she’s nuts or sick with an incurable disease. Even her best friend is miffed.

I’d easily recommend this book. We all feel like freaks about something, and I like the fact that Mia learns more about herself, meets people who have similar colorful visions, and understands she doesn’t have to hide it. In fact, she finds that once people understand, they think it’s cool. (I wonder what color my name is!)

Let me know what you think!

— Jessica, Staffer

September 8, 2016

Eric Luper Reading Superhero

Posted by at 1:46 am in Authors | Permalink

EricLuperEric Luper is the author of the Key Hunters series. He loves excitement and is always looking for his next adventure. Eric has been on a tour of the ultra-secret PEZ® headquarters, rebuilt a castle in France, explored the tunnels under Paris and Istanbul, escaped hungry crocodiles in Costa Rica, and rafted down the Colorado River. He lives with his family in Albany, New York.

And . . . he is a reading superhero! Read his story to find out how he became a reading superhero, and how YOU can too!

Read Eric Luper Reading Superhero!

September 7, 2016

Books Whose Titles Are Too Short

Posted by at 1:30 am in Reads, Writing Prompt | Permalink

Have you noticed a lot of book titles have the main character’s first and last names in them? Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key.

So I thought it would be fun to re-title some of my old favorite books whose titles are just too short:

Holes Holes becomes . . .Stanley Yelnats Breaks the Family Curse
Walktwomoons Walk Two Moons becomes . . .Salamanca Tree Hiddle Goes on a Journey to Search for Her Mother
Hoot _10552675 Hoobecomes . . .Roy Eberhardt Saves the Owls
Swindle Swindle becomes . . .Griffin Bing Pulls Off the Heist of the Century
Tangerine Tangerine becomes . . .Paul Fisher Thinks His Parents Are Lying to Him

What new titles would YOU make up for your favorite books?

— Sonja