Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Benjamin Franklinstein Lives!

Founding Fathers, zombies and Franklinstein - best idea for a book yet!

Seriously, well actually there is nothing serious about this book at all, Benjamin Franklinstein Lives! is a very very funny book.

Here's the "what if" question - what if Benjamin Franklin put himself in suspended animation and woke up in our world? Victor, our main character, finds this when Ben wakes up in his basement. Victor doesn't really like problems in his life, and Ben is definitely a problem. Especially since he needs so much re-charging. He's also incredibly curious about everything in our modern world. And he certainly has a way of interfering in Victor's science fair project.

But why did he awake now? What happens to the Custodian who watched over him? And where is the secret society that protected him?

I really want to know more about the secret society Ben was a member of - the Modern Order of Prometheus. You might just find out more here . . . even if it appears closed, I'm sure you are clever enough to figure out how to enter . . .

Want to find out more? Read the first two chapters here.

The fun continues at the Franklinstein website found here. Be sure to check out the authors, one of whom is a real, live, genuine middle school teacher! Both our authors, Matthew McElligott and Larry Tuxbury, host a series of videos on Famous Inventors Who've Never Heard Of! Here's the first:

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Journal of Curious Letters by James Dashner

"What if every time you made a choice that had a significant consequence. a new, alternate reality was created - the life that would've been?"

I love stories about alternate realities. Just one little change makes every thing different. This is the stuff of real science as well - the science of quantum physics. Quantum physicists study the behavior of matter and energy as well as space and time by looking at the smallest things in our world - molecules, atoms and even smaller. One very cool quantum theory is the idea that there are many worlds or realities branching off each other. This is just the "what if" question asked in this story.

Thirteen-year-old Tick is a smart kid but a bit of a loner whose entire life changes the day he receives a very strange letter. The letter tells him he is needed to save lives and do important deeds, but first he must solve a series of riddles to prove his abilities and dedication. He decides to play along and suddenly everything changes. Truly scary things threaten him as he tries to puzzle out the series of clues in the riddles. What will be revealed to him at the end? Are there really alternate realities? Can he change the way things are - or should be? Can you solve the riddles faster than Tick?

This book is the first in the series call The 13th Reality, written by James Dashner, who also writes The Maze Runner series. Tick's adventures continue in The Hunt for Dark Infinity and The Blade of Shattered Hope. Hang on - it's a wild ride!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Missing on Superstitio Mountain by Elise Broach

Elise Broach is one of our favorite mystery writers. We love Masterpiece and Shakespeare's Secret. When I saw this brand new mystery, I had to read it all in one day!

Superstition Mountain is not only a real place, it is a very famous place. Many people have disappeared here in strange ways much like the Bermuda Triangle. The Lost Dutchman Mine is also here and many explorers have tried to find it over the past one hundred years. They are all hoping to find the valuable gold hidden long ago.

When the Barker brothers - Simon, Henry and Jack - move to Superstition, Arizona, everyone warns them NOT to go exploring the mountain. But it is summer, they are bored, and then their cat runs away so they just have to find her. Instead of their cat, they discover three skulls lined up in a row on the edge of a cliff. Along with their new friend, Delilah, they just can't let this mystery go unsolved so they begin to research. Unfortunately they soon find themselves caught up in even more strange and creepy mysteries from the past!

All of the characters in this book are terrific and I can't wait to see what they discover next, since this book is the first is Elisa Broach's new Superstition Mountain series.

Click here to read the first chapter of Missing on Superstition Mountain by Elise Broach.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Phantoms in the Snow by Kathleen Benner Duble

During World War II, the American Army formed its first ski division. Most of the soldiers were very young. Some were already skiers while others had never been on snow before. The U. S. Army knew it would need trained alpine soldiers when they fought the Germans in the mountainous regions of Europe. These skiers were brave soldiers; in fact, their Tenth Mountain Division suffered some of the highest casualty rates during the war. Phantom in the Snow is based on their real life stories.

In 1944, fifteen-year-old Noah was orphaned and sent to live with his only known relative. His uncle, James Shelley, was an alpine soldier training at Camp Hale, Colorado. In order to give Noah a place to live, his uncle told the Army that his nephew was sixteen-years-old and gave him legal permission to enlist. Noah had grown up on a Texas ranch where it never snowed and his parents were pacifists who did not believe in war or violence. Noah finds himself at odds with his family values, as he begins his dangerous alpine training of skiing, shooting and mountain climbing.

Eventually Noah is shipped to Italy with his division and comes face-to-face with the reality of war. This book is both an excellent story of a boy finding his own courage and the story of a little known part of World War II.

Click here to listen to the story of the real Phantoms during World War II. After the war, many of the Phantoms went back to Colorado and the mountains and became ski instructors, Olympic ski coaches, and founded many of our famous ski resorts. Today, you can also ski on the old trail systems the Phantoms used in their training.

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

What would you do if the you lost the one thing that mattered most?

Sixteen-year-old Jessica is a runner. She loves to run. She loves being part of her high school track team. And then one terrible day, as the team returns from an away track meet, a truck hits their school bus. One teammate dies. Jessica survives but her lower leg does not.

This book is an unflinching and deeply realistic portrait of a very determined girl. The reader follows Jessica's journey from her hospital bed, to physical therapy, to coming home and then back to school. Everyone has to re-adjust - her parents, her sister, her friends, her teachers, the other kids at school that she really doesn't know, and her coach who feels responsible but wants to help. Jessica has to learn to care for her leg and how to adapt to her artificial one.

Jessica is not some superhuman - she gets angry and depressed and embarrassed - but she's not a quitter. Her competitive spirit eventually keeps her going. Along the way she learns a lot about herself, her true friends, and some people she didn't know well. And she finds a way to back to her dream of running like the wind.

The Running Dream is an excellent and inspirational book. You will meet characters who seem very real. The problems they face are real as well - no medical insurance, lawsuits, and the expense of a good prosthesis or artificial leg. Along the way you may shed a tear or two, but I promise you, the last tears will be tears of joy.