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Dare to Doodle

Debbie Glade gets doodly with today’s review.

The Pirates vs. Ancient Egyptians in a Haunted Museum ($6.99, Nosy Crow, Ages 7 and up) is the fourth book in the Mega Mash-Up series by Nikalas Catlow and Tim Wesson with more due out December. Basically the reader draws his way through the comic-style book to put his own mark on the story. There are a handful of pirate and Egyptian characters living separately. But both groups run into some financial distress, and they each have maps to the city’s abandoned museum where a valuable statue of a Golden Howler Monkey is housed. The real fun starts when the two groups of robbers both search desperately for the treasure and collide inside the museum. Kids can read the book and doodle their way to the end to find out who gets the treasure and what happens after that.

Due to the nature of the subject, this story may appeal to boys more than girls. What works so well in Pirates vs. Ancient Egyptians is that the story is silly, fun and easy to read and stirs the imagination of the reader. Plus readers get to draw and participate in the story. They can create original art and also add to what’s there already. (There are some drawing tips and a picture glossary.) Reluctant readers will have so much fun with this book, they won’t even realize it is helping to hone their reading skills. Another bonus? This humorous book is really affordable and would make a great gift for a themed birthday party.

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A Million Books and Counting

Debbie Glade reviews a special picture book based upon a true story, featuring extraordinary collage illustrations.

Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books ($16.99, Dial Books, Ages 3 and up) is a treasure in itself. Based upon the true story about how people in Alexandria Egypt got together to save their library from rioters, this teaching book will impress and inspire all who read it.

The True Story:

At the start of 2011, a revolution began as the people of Egypt marched in protest against the leadership of President Hosni Mubarak. Ismail Serageldin, Director of the Alexandria Library, closed the library during the protests. But tensions grew and chaos ensued as more than 800 Egyptians died in the streets during the revolt. A large group of residents who marched to the library holding their protest signs, formed a ring around the library and held hands, successfully prevented rioters from burning the building to the ground.

The Book:

Author Karen Leggett Abouraya tells the true story of this revolution and the saving of the library in an almost poetic fashion, while best-selling author/illustrator Susan L. Roth’s magnificent cut paper collage illustrations depict the story in a most colorful and creative way. (This type of collage art reminds me of another wonderful book I reviewed called Mirror.) The Alexandria Library that was saved houses more than one million books. What I love about this book is: 1) it educates children about the facts of a true, modern-day revolution; 2) it shows children the powerful possibilities when cooperating with others; 3) it promotes the respect of books and reading and; 4) it introduces young readers to a culture that may be very different to theirs. Along with the marvelous collage illustrations that are meant to be studied and admired are photos of the library in the back of the book and factual information about  this library and the ancient library that once stood in its place. I highly recommend this inspiring book for all children around the world.

For more information, visit the Hands around the Library website.

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One Camel, Two Kids and Five Skies!

In  Adventures With Kazmir The Flying Camel: The Five Skies by Gina L. Vivona, readers will find enough amazing exploits to keep them turning the 121 pages and will be sad to say good-bye to the well-developed characters at the story’s end.  And while I do not usually review self-published titles, I am so glad I agreed to read Vivona’s book because it was so original, entertaining and imaginative. Don’t forget, too, to visit the fabulous website with a sample chapter, fun stuff to do, a parent’s page and more! If you purchase the audiobook you will also be treated to a narration by three-time Emmy Award-winner Bryan Cranston along with wonderful, mood-setting music that will transport you instantaneously to a magical land where anything can happen.

The story: involving a camel, a kidnapped prince and his power-crazed evil uncle promises action, adventure and even danger for an archaeologist’s daughter, Michael-Ann on a dig with her dad, in Egypt. Without giving away too much, I can tell you this fun fantasy takes place not only in ancient and present day Egypt, but in five unique settings known as the Five Skies.  I will also share that the kidnapped prince is being held in a no man’s land only reached by collecting and piecing together five fragments of a shattered mirror. Each part of the mirror can be found in one of the Five Skies, but reaching these remote places proves more than a challenge for 12-year-old Michael-Ann and Kazmir who have taken on the daunting, perilous task of rescuing the prince. Vivona has woven a wonderful tale for pre-teens full of fluffy clouds (Rain Masters), gigantic spiders (Wish Weavers), Optionators and unimaginably inventive locales that beg to be revisited over and over because of just how amazing they are.

By the time the book ends, Michael-Ann will have experienced such a multitude of emotions and escapades that returning to the dig will certainly open her eyes to the richness of life and love with which she is blessed.

The best part: Adventures With Kazmir The Flying Camel is available as an Audiobook, MP3, paperback, Kindle, and eBook.  For more information, visit www.KazmirTheFlyingCamel.com. Proceeds benefit the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles.

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