The Award-Winning Blog, Bookworm Blather…

Yeah, that’s right. My blog won an award! Middle Shelf Magazine granted Bookworm Blather a Best of the Blogs Award in this month’s issue (page 51). The award honors blogs that “promote and exemplify the spirit of middle grade books.” If you haven’t heard of Middle Shelf yet, it’s a pretty cool online magazine that’s all about middle grade literature. I am quite impressed with it. Our Emblazon group even ran an advertizement in it this spring. And…the magazine’s free! Click on the image below to check it out.

Meanwhile, I’m going to proudly display this award on my sidebar. I’m very honored. Thanks to whoever nominated my blog!!

Best Blogs Badge

Independence Day for Authors and Readers

Michelle Isenhoff:

I’m glad I have friends who caught me up on the Amazon vs. Hachette dispute that developed this week while I was camping without internet. It’s one battle in the war Amazon is raging against the traditional book publishing establishment. In a nutshell, Amazon has leveled the playing field for ALL authors, something I greatly appreciate. If you’re interested in what’s happening, here’s a concise, insightful post by my friend and fellow author, Alan Tucker.

Originally posted on Our Great Escapes:

Photo by Jason Smith, Dreamstime Stock Photos

Photo by Jason Smith, Dreamstime Stock Photos

A petition was created last night/this morning on to help clear some of the air surrounding the Amazon vs. Hachette dispute and Amazon vs. the Big Publishers in general. Here’s the link so you can read it in full and sign if you feel it’s appropriate for you. I signed it to show support for my readers and also in support of letting all sides of this story see some light of day, not just the Hachette side.

I watched an hour and a half video last night from the New York Public Library regarding this increasingly nasty dispute. One of the participants (the man next to the moderator on the left side) writes The Passive Voice blog and expressed some of his opinions in finer detail in a post here (since the moderator kept feeling the need to cut him off)…

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Secret of Haunted Bog (Monster Moon, 2), by BBH McChiller

MMGM is hosted each Monday at Shannon Messenger’s blog.

haunted bogLast week I reviewed book one in the Monster Moon series. When we finished reading it for homeschool last fall, my boys begged me to buy the second one. So we set aside our scheduled book for two weeks and purchased The Secret of Haunted Bog. They were totally caught up in the continuing story and especially appreciated the scenes that featured Vlad the Pirate Rat, their favorite character. They can’t wait for book three, due out soon. Somehow, both of these books were overlooked on my blog schedule. I’m fixing that oversight! Here’s the review I left on Amazon last fall:

In this spooky adventure, AJ, Emily, and their friend Freddy are back for more fun. This time they find themselves in a haunted bog outside Chinatown. But is it really haunted, or could it be hiding something?

After devouring the first book in the series, my tween boys enthusiastically jumped into this one. They weren’t disappointed. The authors’ unique wit and haunting style continue in the same kid-pleasing manner. The setting is colorful and unique. The characters are old friends. And the plot kept my boys engaged and guessing. And this mom was pleased to find yet a second spine-tickler without any spiritual or gory negatives.

Grab a copy for 2.99.

The Curse at Zala Manor (Monstor Moon, 1) by BBH McChiller

MMGM is hosted each Monday on Shannon Messenger’s blog.

Zala manorMy boys loved this book! We read it out loud together for homeschool last Halloween (yeah, somehow I missed posting it on here) and they complained every time we had to stop. Our final day we just kept reading, covering the last 30% of the book all at once.

This is not literary fiction, so don’t expect it. But it is easy to read and very, very fun. It’s a plot-driven adventure that will keep 8- to 12-year-olds sprinting through the pages. Included within them are a freaky old manor with hidden passages and bricked-up rooms, an even freakier graveyard, riddles, an eccentric aunt who drives a pink hearse, a talking rat, and a 300-year-old pirate mystery. Oh yeah, and monsters. Lots of them. It’s a Halloween story, after all. And it’s a kid-pleaser.

It was also a mom-pleaser. While scary and silly aren’t my person favorites, I AM NOT A TWEEN. In this case, I was more concerned about the story diving into spiritual or gory content. It did neither. The zombie was a little gross, but it wasn’t disturbing. And witchcraft, happily, was simply not included in the story. Kudos to the authors on both accounts! It was also very readable–engaging, fluid, and well-paced.

In conclusion, this is a perfect Halloween story if you want suspense, monsters, and fun minus the negatives that come with the holiday. Based on this and my boys’ overwhelming enthusiasm, I rate it 5 stars. A wonderful read for tween boys.

Grab a Kindle copy of Zala Manor for just 1.99!

The authors have created a free AR-type (Accelerated Reading program) downloadable quiz.

The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo


MMGM is hosted each Monday on Shannon Messenger’s blog.

despereauxThis is an ebook I borrowed from the library over spring break. I only grabbed it because I figured the eight I packed wouldn’t be enough and I knew it had won the Newbery (2004). It happened to pop up when I was randomly browsing the library website. I wasn’t searching for it. It didn’t really even look appealing to me, so I read my other eight books first. When I did finally reach Despereaux, I was only three pages in before I set it aside. NOT because I hated it, but because it was one of those shining moments when you discover greatness. You know, a light-goes-on-and-music-starts-playing-in-the-background kind of greatness. Three pages and I knew—this was brilliant. I would save it for a homeschool read aloud.

I love surprises like that.

So, when we got home, I pulled out my Kindle. My older son wasn’t thrilled. He’d seen the movie and gave a half-hearted shrug when I asked how it was. We started the book to yawns and rolled eyes…

Despereaux was different from all other mice, and that’s what gets him banished to the deep dark of the palace dungeon. Despereaux was different from all other mice, and that’s what saves him from the deep dark of the palace dungeon…and saves the rest of the kingdom. That is the heart of the story. So simple, it seems, yet so complex. Those differences inspire an absolutely compelling story of bravery, love, chivalry, honor, forgiveness, and second chances. I won’t say any more. You have to read it yourself. It’s absolutely superb.

So what did my boys think?

“Keep reading, Mom!”

That was the standard mantra every single day for two weeks, coming in stereo from both sides of the couch, and not just because math came next. We LOVED this book. Kate DiCamillo has an unmatched skill for spinning out a tale thread by thread in the most beautiful, colorful way—a way that speaks directly to the reader and sucks them into the story. By page three.

Here’s the link on Amazon so you can read the first few pages yourself.


I made a frog pond

Michelle Isenhoff:

This isn’t my usual kind of post, but I loved this idea by an amazing kid and wanted to share it with my readers. Thanks for granting permission, Josie!

Originally posted on Animals and Art:

Last year our house was getting built. There was a puddle with a million tadpoles in it near the garage. The water was black there were so many tadpoles. Then it got  hot and the puddle dried up. I was sad when I saw it. All the tadpoles died. But Frank the guy who built our house told me he scooped up a bunch of the tadpoles when he saw the water going and he put them in the spring. He saved some!

Now we live in the house. The puddle came back. This year I didn’t want any of the tadpoles to die. My mom and dad (and Erik) helped me make a frog pond.

I read about frog ponds at Save The Frogs click here and I read some books about frogs too.

First we dug out the area where the pond was going to go. Frogs like…

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The Swift


Before I get to todays MMGM, here’s a reminder that the Emblazon summer reading contest started yesterday. It’s for kids ages 9-14 and runs through August 15. (There are prizes!)


SWIFT_CVR_eI mentioned this release a few weeks ago and told you I was putting it to the top of my reading list. That’s because I read Alex Banks’ first MG book, Jump Boys, and was so impressed with the quality of the writing, editing, and formatting that I jumped at the chance to read this ARC. I liked it even more than Jump Boys!

The Swift had me from the start. I love history. I love fantasy. I love the Atlantic coast. And I love the nostalgia of the days of sail. This adventure included them all.

Peter’s life changes completely when his father dies at sea. Pete was supposed to be on that ship, but he skipped out for a hockey game. The guilt turns him sour and gnaws away at his relationships with his mother and his twin brother, Henry. Shortly afterward, Gramps, whom Pete idolizes, begins to slip away to the grip of Alzheimer’s. And then the bank calls up the loan on their house. With everything falling apart around him, Pete and Henry ransack the old attic for items to sell only to stumble upon a ship in a bottle and a family mystery that will transport them back three hundred years.

This is a fantastic adventure, a real kid-pleaser complete with pirates, treasure, battles, and more. I had a few minor complaints. I had trouble following all the short, common names of minor characters at the beginning (Bruce, Mike, Tom, Sam). But when I reread, they were all there and explained, so I guess that’s my own fault. Also, Pete’s self-pity started to grate on my nerves. (Just like a one of my own kids in a funk, right?) And finally, we meet Captain Sam, a big, jolly, happy-go-lucky sort, right in the middle of a naval battle, and there was just a little too much light-hearted laughter while facing eminent death and destruction. Perhaps without it the battle would be too heavy for kids, but I know I wouldn’t be cracking jokes.

See? All my complaints are minor. Now for the good stuff! The artistry of the prose and imagery…well, I’ll just show you…

“It made me feel weird, like a puny dingy out on the wide sea, to watch Mom’s body shake with silent tears.”

“Sometimes ya have to stop fighting the sails, Paedar, and just let them out. Let them out. Let them fill with wind. Then let the wind take ye whithersoever it will. Because sometimes lad, the wind is God’s own breath and it’ll take ye where He wants ye to go.”

“He put a tin whistle to his lips, and began to play a tune. It sounded like the wind through the sails on a frozen day at sea. Like the cries of the gulls that circled overhead on clear days.”

“The sails flapped to and fro, then the air just stopped. The sails drooped and hung like day old laundry hung out to dry.”

“I knew now just how stupid I’d been—love wasn’t limited, it didn’t get all used up if you gave it away. In fact, with how full my heart felt just then, I finally understood that the more you gave your love, the more you got in return.”

Beautiful, isn’t it? Did you notice how many of Banks’ word pictures actually enhance the setting? Or how cleverly she inserts positive messages in a tough situation? This is good stuff by a writer well-versed in the craft.

Grab a Kindle copy of The Swift for 2.99.