Bob and Joe Switzer were just two boys having fun; riding in airplanes, practicing magic tricks and inventing stuff. They liked to problem solve by thinking up interesting solutions to problems.
Joe liked magic tricks and read in the magazine Popular Science about how ultraviolet lamps, called black lights, made some substances glow in the dark. The brothers made some glow-in-the-dark paint and figured out ways to use them to jazz up Joe’s magic act. Then they figured out something really unique, how to get colors to glow in the daylight – and a legend was born.
You see day-glo colors all the time now, on signs or in markers or even on clothes, but none of that was possible until Bob and Joe got curious and then got to work. I loved reading about these guys! Author: Chris Barton
Here’s a fun book for Percy Jackson fans. Rick Riordan (Senior Scribe, Camp Half-Blood) has compiled “three of Percy Jackson’s most dangerous adventures never before committed to paper” as well as confidential interviews with Percy Jackson, Annabeth Chase, and Grover Underwood. Author: Rick Riordan
I liked the character interviews the best – great questions are asked. Percy, Annabeth and Grover are really put on the spot! For example:
Who would you least like to meet in a dark alley – a Cyclops or an angry Mr. D?
If you had to trade Riptide for another magic item, whose item would you choose?
Of all your Camp Half-Blood friends, who would you most like to have with you in battle?
Lucinda and Tyler are nothing but angry when their mom reveals that she is leaving for the summer. Then an unexpected letter arrives inviting the kids to spend the summer on a distant relative’s farm. How convenient.
The kids are hustled off to a train station and are soon on their way to the unknown – a place called Ordinary Farm. During the train ride, the kids open a package from the farm and discover a homemade handbook with weird instructions in it like, “It should never be forgotten, even in the most routine tasks of care and feeding, that these animals are large and dangerous. Even a belch from a content cow can throw out a six-foot flame.” Now, I’m a city kid and I know cows don’t breath fire. It turns out this farm Lucinda and Tyler are going to is no ordinary farm.
And the distant relative, Uncle Gideon, well, he’s no ordinary farmer either. Nor is Ragnar or Mr. Walkwell or Mrs. Needles or any of the other people who live and work on the farm. Uncle Gideon has a very good reason for inviting Lucinda and Tyler to the farm, if only they can figure out what it is. Can you keep a secret? Uncle Gideon hopes Lucinda and Tyler can.
This one reminds me a little bit of Fablehaven…magical creatures living in a secret place, a brother and sister that need to unravel the secrets of the place and an old relative who has all the answers but doesn’t seem to want to share them all. The book jacket says that this is the authors’ “first” book about Ordinary Farm so I think we’ll be seeing some more. This book lets you know what Ordinary Farm is all about but there are still secrets at the end – questions that will be answered and bad guys to be outwitted in future stories.
Who doesn’t want what looks to be a summer full of feed buckets and mucking stalls to turn into a summer full of much, much more? Authors: Tad Williams and Deborah Beale
The Dragons of Ordinary Farm on Downloadable eBook
If it’s dragons you like, try The Dragon of Trelian or Timothy and the Dragon’s Gate or Hatching Magic. Read some good books, get some ideas and then try to draw some. The Dragon Drawing Book will help you get started.
Amy and Dan are still hard at work following the 39 clues. (If you haven’t started this series yet read the blog post The 39 Clues #1 Maze of Bones.) This time the clues lead Amy and Dan to places all over Egypt. The kids meet an old friend of their Grandmother’s and some old enemies too – those rotten Cahill relatives just keep turning up. This time the kids really have to decide just how far they should take the advice they were given when they started the clue hunt, “trust no one.” Does that include your Grandmother’s best friend? Does that include…each other? Another fast paced adventure that finds Amy and Dan locked in an ancient tomb. Author: Jude Watson
13 year-old Lyza lives in New Jersey in 1968 with her Dad and her hippie sister. Lyza’s mother has abandoned the family and they are trying to keep it together with just the three of them. As Lyza says about the time since her mom left, “our family began to unravel/like a tightly wound ball of string.” This book is written as a series of poems that make Lyza’s experiences seem even more real. It’s kind of like reading her diary or listening in on her thoughts.
Lyza’s grandfather’s death is another emotional blow for a family already on the edge. While cleaning out his house, Lyza discovers something curious, an envelope labeled, “for Lyza only.” In the envelope are old maps and clues that may lead to the pirate treasure of Capt. Kidd – a treasure that might be buried somewhere in Lyza’s hometown.
Lyza recruits her best friends Malcolm and Carolann to help her understand the clues and old maps. The kids operate in secret, doing their research by day and sneaking out at night to do their digging.
For Lyza, there are some mysteries she can’t solve by herself, like the reason her mother left. Other mysteries, like the whereabouts of Captain Kidd’s treasure, she just might be able to unravel with the help of a few good friends.
This story is set during the Vietnam war. Lyza has a lot of loss around her. Her mom has left, her Grandpa dies and boys from her town are dying in the war. All of this could make a person sink into despair, but instead, Lyza chooses to be alive. She chooses to grab the adventure that is handed to her. I really liked that about her. Life is unpredictable and sometimes very hard. But it IS life and life has all kinds of wonderful things and good surprises in it too. You can’t really have one without the other. I liked reading about a girl who is learning how to handle both. Author: Jen Bryant