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MG Review: Vordak, Time Travel Trouble

I always make sure and come home from ALA with books for Thing 1 and Thing 2, kind of my penance for going away for several days.  So this year I waited in line and got books signed by Vordak, a dastardly super villain.  I will only stand in line for Jonathan Maberry and my kids.  Just saying.

When I got home, my kids scoured through my posters and books and called dibs, and the first book that Thing 1 – the tween – chose to read was Vordak: Time Travel Trouble.  This is what she has to say about it.

Me: Who is Vordak?
Tween: An evil villain, but he is not very good at it.  He has attempted 38 times to try and destroy Commander Virtue and all 38 times he has failed.

Me: Does he have any special powers?
Tween: No, he makes all kinds of stuff like an acid pit and a piranha pit.

Me: So who is Commander Virtue?
Tween: He can fly, he has super strength.  And he has a cool costume.  That’s  not really a power, but it is cool

Me: Why do you think people would like reading the Vordak books?

Tween: Because it is about time traveling, and time travel is cool – like bowties.  You get to see what happens before and after you were born.  Vordak is trying to prevent Commander Virtue from becoming a superhero, so he goes back in time 35 years.

Me: Who do you think would like the Vordck books?
Tweens: People who like superheroes, time travel, and funny things.  Vordak is very funny.

 Vordak made a “Reading Rules” poster for ALA. You can buy it at the ALA Store.

Like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Origami Yoda books, the Vordak series (yes, it is a series) is a hybrid between the graphic novel/comic book format and a chapter book with fun illustrations and snappy dialogue.  It is a great cross promotional series for the very popular Despicable Me movies.

MG Review: Professor Gargoyle (Tales from Lovecraft Middle School #1) by Charles Gilman

Robert hopes this new year at a new school will be different, but he has no idea just how different it will be.

“Tales from Lovecraft Middle School is the spine-tingling series about a haunted middle school where monsters roam the halls, mysteries lurk behind every door, and strange transformations take place before your very eyes.” – from the official website, Lovecraft Middle School

In fact, the only familiar face at Lovecraft Middle School is his former tormentor, Glenn, and what promises to be a different year starts out quite the same – with Glenn throwing gummy bears at him in an assembly.  But when Robert is approached by Karina and told to stick up for himself, he gets his first glimpse of what may be wrong with Lovecraft Middle School.

Lovecraft Middle School is made out of recycled materials, the only problem is – they may have recycled a haunted house.  Oops.  There are no shortage of strange happenings, from a rat infestation to a giant squid coming out of Robert’s locker.  But the strangest thing of all may be who Robert finds on his side as he tries to fight off the supernatural powers that roam the hallways.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0sYsb46INo]

Tales from Lovecraft Middle School is a quick, fun read for fans of Goosebumps or the TV series My Babysitter’s a Vampire (Disney channel).  It has just enough tension to keep you on the edge of the seat, but no real gore or nightmare inducing scenes.  Well, a teacher does turn into a monster and eat a hamster whole.  Okay, and they enter into an alternate dimension full of thousands of spiders.  Actually, there is just enough creep factor to make you at least peek under the bed before going to sleep.  The tween and I read it together out loud and she is not into horror, but she was intrigued and liked it.

There are some pencil line illustrations that will help bridge the gap for those moving from chapter books to middle grade fiction.  Each edition of the series comes with a fun morpho cover that gives you a sneak peek at the horrors that await inside.  This series should be a hit with MG readers, and when they are ready to move onto a little bit meatier of a title, put The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire LeGrand or Coraline by Neil Gaiman into their hands.

The exquisite corpse art game would be a perfect tie-in for this series.  And writing classes could encourage readers to take their own tale from Lovecraft Middle School.

Professor Gargoyle.  Tales from Lovecraft Middle School #1.  By Charles Gilman.  Published by Quirk books.  ISBN: 978-59474-591-1. A discussion guide is available.

MG Review: The Odd Squad: Bully Bait by Michael Fry (reviewed by tween reviewer Kicky)

Nick is the shortest seventh-grader in the history of the world (he’s pretty sure), doesn’t fit in with any groups or clubs (who needs ’em?), and spends more time inside than outside his locker (they’re roomier than you’d think). 

Things only get worse when a well-intentioned guidance counselor forces Nick to join the school’s lamest club–along with fellow misfits Molly and Karl–in her quest to cure all three of their “peer allergies.” What starts off as a reluctant band of hopeless oddballs morphs into an effective and empowered team ready to face whatever middle school throws at them, including bullies, awkward romance, zany adults, and a brave new world of surprising friendships. 

Renowned cartoonist Michael Fry brings an unforgettable cast of characters to life in an illustrated novel brimming with honesty, humor, and heart.
  (Synopsis from Goodreads)

 The Odd Squad: Bully Bait by Michael Fry. Published 2/12/2013 by Disney Hyperion. ISBN: 9781423169246

What Kicky has to say:

Karl, Molly and Nick join the safety patrol at school to stop a bully named Roy from picking on them.  But Roy has a secret that he doesn’t want anyone to know, which makes the safety patrol even more curious.

Describe the book in 3 words:
Funny.  Teaches life lessons. Teaches friendship.

What stood out to you in this book?
Some people aren’t what they seem because once you get to know them, they become nicer to you.

What did you think of the characters?
I thought that they had interesting personalities that were different. They were different because Molly was sort of a tall, crazy person who didn’t like to be called names.  Karl is a bit of a chubby, scared guy who just goes along with whatever anybody else says.  Nick is short and he likes to be different by not doing what other people say but doing what he wants to do.  And Roy, he is a mean person but in the end he turns out to be really sweet.

Do you recommend it?
This is a book I recommend because it had many interesting facts about bullying. Also, because it was full of very funny things like stealing stuffed pigs .Plus, it included very helpful life lessons. I loved it and everyone should read it.

Who Would Like this Book?
People who liked the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and people who have an active imagination.

What I Have to Say:

It was interesting not only as a librarian, but as a mom to watch my daughter read this book.  She starts a lot of books but finishes very few of them.  She is supposed to read 10 pages a night for school, her dad and I make her read at least 20, after which she often stops. The first night she sat down to read The Odd Squad she read the first 47 pages.  The next night she invited a friend to spend the night and then proceeded to ignore said friend while she finished reading the book.  Fear not, that friend was none other than Christie, my co-blogger, so we were happy to let her read.  At one point when I looked over at her reading she had the biggest smile on her face.  Twee readers who like comedy and comic drawings with their books will love this one.  your Diary of a Wimpy Kid readers will also love this book. Highly recommended.

Michael Fry is a cartoonist and there are fun drawings throughout the book, which is a popular feature in today’s MG lit.

Tween Review: The Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell (reviewed by tween reviewer Ceci)

The Dork Diaries Series is out of this world! If there is a movie, I NEED to get it! Nikki a 13 going on 14 year old girl, transfers to a new school. There is going to be trouble for Nikki Maxwell. There’s a new mean girl Mackenzie Hollister and Jessica Adams and they are cruel. If you call Mackenzie mean, well then you’re bonkers crazy. She is a devil, the wicked witch of the west! Nikki also has a new crush … BRANDON!

The worst part is that Brandon doesn’t know and Mackenzie pretends to like him just to drive Nikki nuts.

Whenever Brandon sits next to Nikki in bio, she gets all blushy because he always brushing his bangs out of his eyes.

Nikki has 2 bffs awesome Chloe and fantastic Zoey and get this sometimes she thinks she doesn’t deserve them. Isn’t that crazy.

There you go hope you like reading DORK DIARIES as much as I did. Peace.