The Adventurers Guild: Zack Loran Clark + Nick Eliopulos

Book: The Adventurers Guild
Author: Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos
Pages: 320
Age Range: 9-12

AdventurersGuildI accepted a review copy of The Adventurers Guild because I think it's a great title. After reading it, I do think that it's a fun book. The Adventurers Guild is set in a world in which most of civilization has fallen to various Dangers (monsters, etc.). Teenage friends Zed and Brock live in one of the few remaining safe places, a walled town called Freestone. As the story begins, Brock and Zed are preparing for the annual Guildculling, a ceremony in which teens are assigned to a profession. Both boys hope to be assigned to one of the four High Guilds, though this is a stretch for Zed who comes from poverty and is the only person in town who is half-elf. Brock, son of two Merchants, expects his path to be more smooth. However, the Guildculling offers surprises for both boys and (could this possibly be a spoiler, given the book's title) they end up in the Adventurers Guild.

The Adventurers Guild is made up of fighters who protect Freestone's citizens, and who are the only ones to ever venture outside of the city's walls. Becoming Adventurers thus exposes Zed and Brock to exciting new things, as well as unexpected dangers. Each boy has a secret, also, which complicates his situation. 

The world that Clark and Eliopulos has created is basically medieval (with guilds, hand-crafts, armored soldiers and flagons of ale), with the addition of magical characters such as elves and dwarves. Magic is certainly not ubiquitous, but it can be learned, and the elf-blooded Zed turns out to have innate abilities. Freestone is protected by magic, and part of the plot involves a quest to an abandoned druid shrine to acquire a powerful protective artifact. These things are set against a post-apocalyptic world in which the boys, traveling outside the wall, are scared the first time they see a squirrel. The occasional references to a long-gone world (like worn stone that was once a road between cities) added enjoyment to the story for me. 

The Adventurers Guild is clearly aimed at boys, with the two viewpoint characters male and regular references to "breaking wind", spitting, and belching. There are strong female characters, though, as well as economic and other diversities that should make this book appeal to a wide range of kids. There's a minor plotline to do with one of the boys having a crush on a girl, but this is far from central to the storyline. Loyalty to friends and comrades is a much stronger theme in the book. 

The Adventurers Guild ends on something of a cliffhanger, and it's clear that Zed, Brock, and their friends will be experiencing other adventures. I expect this novel, with fighting, scary creatures, politics, and magic to be a hit with fantasy-loving middle grade readers. Recommended, and certainly one that libraries will want to purchase. 

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (@DisneyHyperion)
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Give Me Back My Book!: Travis Foster and Ethan Long

Book: Give Me Back My Book!
Authors: Travis Foster and Ethan Long
Pages: 56
Age Range: 3-6

GiveMeBackMyBookGive Me Back My Book is the story of two friends, Redd and Bloo, who fight over ownership of a green book. Only when the rather smug Bookworm makes off with the book do the two friends find a way to work together. Give Me Back My Book is part celebration of reading, part illustration of the way kids sometimes bicker, and part introduction to the components that make up books. 

Personally, I found the third element, the instructive bits about what makes up a book, a tiny bit off-putting. But when I read the book aloud to my daughter, the humor outweighed that. Here's an example (Redd is making the case that the book is his book):

"There are letters on each  page
and they are gathered together
to form words that have meaning
when you read them!"

Then on the facing page, Bloo basically has a tantrum, stomping his feet, shaking his fists, and saying: "ALL books do that!" You just have to smile as you read it. 

Bloo's reactions are definitely read-aloud-friendly. My daughter pronounced the book "hilarious" (though, interestingly, she didn't feel that it was necessary for me to write about the book).

The illustration style of the book is unusual. According to the front matter, Travis Foster created Redd and Bookworm digitally, while Ethan Long created Bloo. Mr. Long assembled the images, adding photos for the green book and various art supplies that are used later in the story. So we have cute, cartoon-like characters reading and interacting with real books. 

Give Me Back My Book! is a bit quirky, but I think that librarians will find it useful for preschool storytime. And kids, if they are anything like my daughter, will pronounce it hilarious, even as they are learning about table of contents, spine, and illustrations. Recommended for library purchase. 

Publisher: Chronicle  (@ChronicleKids
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Literacy Milestone: "I'm Reading! (And I DON'T want to be interrupted)"

LiteracyMilestoneA

Here's a small milestone for the readers among you. The other day I was driving my daughter home from her child care. We had been having a discussion while walking to the car. Foolishly, I tried to continue the discussion after we were in the car. After a moment or two she responded, in an exasperated tone: "I'm reading!". As in, "please don't bother me, these car rides are my reading time. So what if I'm reading El Deafo for the fourth time - I still don't want to be interrupted." The next day this scenario was repeated, except that she said: "I'm in my book now" when she no longer wished to be disturbed by conversation.

ElDeafoYou reap what you sow, people. That's all I have to say. We've all been there - so engrossed in a book that we respond irritably to any interruption. I can hardly be surprised when my daughter acts like this. 

Mind you, when we got home she still didn't want to talk to me because I had previously promised some device time, and she chose that over continuing the reading. And then friends invited her over, and she was out the door for that. So that's the pecking order, I guess. Friends, device, book, talking to Mommy. Ah well. At least I'm on the list somewhere. And the readers among you all know that I'm actually ok with coming after books, at least some of the time.

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: August 11: The #Cybils Awards, Diverse #BookLists + #GirlsWhoCode

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #BookLists, #Cybils, #DiverseBooks, #GirlsWhoCode, #JoyOfLearning, #Math, #reading, #STEM, bookmobile, coding, gender roles, growing bookworms, learning styles, reading choice, schools, and writing.

Book Lists + Awards

The 2017 Are Coming Soon! | | Bloggers select kid-friendly + well-written titles

MadreGooseRT @NCTE: Colorful Poetry: 22 Diverse Poetry Picture Books for Kids via

10 to Promote a | from

on + from + more

If You Like This Classic Children's Book You'll Love This Book from

Diversity

What Color Is the Past? History, + Books for Kids — examples + musings from  

Seeding Book Deserts with | on  https://t.co/BtP7bBQkqp

Events + Programs

DearDragonRT @JoshFunkBooks: The theme for 's 9th Annual Be-a-Famous Writer Contest: ! Your K-4 Class Can Submit On 10/15! http://ow.ly/kBKb30ehxDk

Authors, Illustrators Share Talents, Pass On Love of , Then Pass Out Their Books

Falling in Love w/ (nonprofit + tutoring ctr for kids):

Love it! School Bus-Turned-Bookmobile Rolls Across Georgia | Jan L. Wilson  https://t.co/Ar76uYm65h 

It's never too late! Some ideas for celebrating National Book Lovers Day by Jess Butterworth

Growing Bookworms

AllSeeingEyeGiving "freedom of choice, guidance from librarians ... comics + engaging visuals"  

calls out who assign to kids but don't read themselves

Kidlitosphere

Happy 14th blogiversary to at Waking Brain Cells | that's a LOT of reviews + news over the years https://t.co/UPmtu56i22 

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

BedtimeForFrancesThe Grown-Up Joys of Children’s Books: Saturday essay in  

Exploring Story Elements with Kids | Tips from |

Parenting

How Dads Can Engage in Their Child's In the New School Year - guest post  https://t.co/xMwmY4x0WG

Schools and Libraries

What Parents Wish Would Ask Them About Their Child | "What are they passionate about?" +more  

A Tale of Two Puzzle Workers, a reminder for + readers that kids are different + learn differently

How a Ditched Awards + Assemblies to Refocus on Kids and |  https://t.co/y8KRCf6Lk6

STEM

FriendshipCodeSome thoughts (MAJOR RANT) from on how teach + reviews of some books

is Universal: Interview with Education Leaders +  

Reshma Saujani On Closing the Gender Gap in Tech |

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match: Elizabeth Eulberg

Book: The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Pages: 240
Age Range: 8-12

ShelbyHolmesMeetsThe Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match is the second book in Elizabeth Eulberg's series about Shelby Holmes, pint-sized but brilliant detective, following The Great Shelby Holmes: Girl Detective. The narrator of the books is 11-year-old John Watson, who moved recently to Harlem, and lives in the same apartment building as Shelby (where the building manager is named Mrs. Hudson, of course, and Police Inspector Lestrade is Shelby's nemesis). Shelby, as any astute reader would expect, solves mysteries large and small through her powers of deductive reasoning. Sometimes, however, her rather oversized ego does get in the way.

As The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match begins, Watson and Shelby are starting a new semester, Watson first, at the Harlem Academy of the Arts. Watson has balance making new friends with his growing loyalty to Shelby. Shelby, for her part, is showing increasing reliance on and loyalty to Watson, even as she tries to teach him to be more observant. Shelby finds a new teacher's behavior suspicious, and soon teases out a mystery to be solved. This reveals a new and unexpected rival, and real danger for Watson and Shelby.

I'm not sure how many middle grade readers will be familiar enough with the Sherlock Holmes stories to appreciate the Holmes-related details in The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match (Shelby's use of a disguises and a school called Miss Adler's, for example). I'm sure there were other details that went over my head, too, as I am far from from an expert. But I think that the Shelby Holmes books will hold up for middle grade readers anyway. 

Shelby is annoying, but her deductive reasoning is spot and, as she tries to teach Watson, informative. Watson is wholly likable, with multiple dimensions of realistic but not overdone diversity (he's black, his parents have recently divorced and he misses his dad, he's Type 1 diabetic, and he loves to write). Watson humanizes Shelby, and provides an accessible entry point into her world of mystery-solving for young readers.  Here they are, talking together:

"Shelby pointed a finget at me. "There's something off about him. He looks at me in a weird way."

WHO DOESN'T? I wanted to ask, but I bit my tongue. But seriously? I'd seen nothing but weird looks for Shelby from kids and teachers today.

"Hold on." I narrowed my eyes at her. "What exactly were you doing after school?"

Her eyes darted sideways.

Oh, she was so busted.

"Please tell me you weren't stalking our new teacher."

"It's called tailing a person of interest," she replied with a sniff." (Page 28-29, ARC)

I did find Watson's ability to make friends right away a bit unrealistic, in light of his friendship with known weird girl Shelby. But of course his much nicer personality is part of the whole point of the Watson/Holmes dynamic, so I'm prepared to let that go.

I enjoyed The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match (as I did the first book). I appreciated the characters, I didn't see all of the twists coming, and I thought that the stakes of the mystery were aimed just right for middle grade readers. I also liked Watson's relationship with his busy but concerned single mother, and I liked Watson's identify as someone who wants/needs to write. I certainly recommend this series for middle grade mystery fans, and I think that adult Holmes fans will enjoy it, too. 

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books 
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).