My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.)

My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.) by Peter Brown is a nominee for the 2016-17 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

Bobby is convinced that his teacher, Ms. Kirby, is a monster. She stomps, she roars, and she has no appreciation for paper airplanes. (Bobby, of course, is perfectly innocent.) To forget his problems with Ms. Kirby, Bobby goes to the park, but he runs into something here that he doesn’t expect…Ms. Kirby.

At first, Bobby is very nervous around his teacher. After all, he never expected to see her at his favorite spot. Eventually, though, he realizes that maybe she’s not so monstrous after all. She may even be kind of human…and fun!

Will this day at the park change how Bobby views Ms. Kirby, or will he still see her as a monster when they return to school on Monday? We shall see!

My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.) is an excellent book to show that there’s maybe more to teachers–and students–than meets the eye. Teachers and students alike will appreciate the transition from monster to human as Bobby realizes that teachers are a little different outside of school. Maybe this book could foster a little more understanding between these two groups and a realization that we’re not so different.

A fun writing exercise might be to have students write their own stories of how teachers view students, perhaps My Student Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.). Of course, teachers could have a lot of fun with this as well!

My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.) is a perfect book for fans of Mike Thaler’s Black Lagoon books and would make a wonderful read-aloud at any age level.

Here’s a short book trailer I created for this fun book. Feel free to use in your own library or classroom (but remember to give me credit).

The Vengekeep Prophecies

In The Vengekeep Prophecies, author Brian Farrey introduces readers to the Grimjinx family. This family of thieves is rather notorious in the town of Vengekeep, but no one can ever really prove that they’ve done anything wrong. Young Jaxter Grimjinx is supposed to be a master thief like everyone else in his family, but he has a bit of a problem. He’s clumsy. So clumsy that he can’t pick a simple lock. So clumsy that he sets a house on fire during his first solo job. A life of thievery doesn’t look promising for Jaxter.

But Jaxter is skilled at one thing that his family values. He can create natural mixtures that break low-level magical locks. Pretty handy when his family runs into trouble beyond their skills. And trouble is definitely on its way…more trouble than the Grimjinx clan has ever seen.

Each year, a tapestry is unveiled in Vengekeep that reveals a prophecy. This prophecy provides a sort of guide for the town on how they should proceed during the year–what troubles to avoid and the like. Well, this year, the tapestry is especially disturbing. It foretells the utter destruction of Vengekeep and essentially states that the Grimjinx family may be the town’s only salvation.

Jaxter knows his family isn’t really hero material, but they may not have an option this time. Even though they did so without intending to, the Grimjinx clan set events in motion that could actually level Vengekeep, and it’s up to them–or, more specifically, to Jaxter and his friend Callie–to set things right.

Jaxter and Callie set off on a mission to ultimately destroy the magic surrounding the tapestry. Their journey will be perilous, and they will encounter both friends and foes–and it won’t always be easy to tell the difference between the two.

Will Jaxter and Callie be able to get what they need before Vengekeep is destroyed, or will their efforts be for nothing? Will Jaxter Grimjinx be the savior Vengekeep needs, or will he be its ultimate end?

The Son of Neptune

Warning:  If you haven’t read the entire Percy Jackson & the Olympians series (The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan’s Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, and The Last Olympian) and The Lost Hero, read those before starting with The Son of Neptune.  All of these books are beautifully connected, and I wouldn’t want you to miss out on something important.

In The Son of Neptune, Percy Jackson has just risen from a very long sleep. He doesn’t remember much of anything. He only knows his name and that he’s fighting two gorgons (sisters of Medusa). His only hope of surviving is to get to the camp for demigods that’s nearby. Something about Camp Jupiter seems familiar, but it seems a little off to Percy…and the residents of the camp think there’s something a little off about Percy as well.  He’s not exactly welcome with open arms, especially when it becomes clear that he is a son of Neptune (a bad omen at Camp Jupiter).  In this Roman camp, people seem to recognize that there something a bit Greek about Percy, and Romans and Greeks don’t exactly have a history of getting along.  Percy knows his true place isn’t at Camp Jupiter, but he soon discovers that he has a part to play in helping the camp survive…

Immediately upon arriving at Camp Jupiter, Percy encounters two young demigods who become his instant friends:  Hazel and Frank.  Hazel is a daughter of Pluto who is hiding a bunch of secrets, including where (or when) she came from and her role in Gaea’s war against the Olympus.  Frank is seen as a bit of a loser and is still waiting to learn who his godly parent is.  When the answer he’s always waited for finally arrives, Frank is less than pleased with his father’s identity, for it means that his life is about to get a lot more complicated.  (He’s not wrong.)

Percy, Hazel, and Frank are sent on a quest to prevent Gaea’s giant Alcyoneus from taking the war against Olympus to the next level.  There’s a bit of a problem, though.  (Isn’t there always?)  The three demigods have just a few days to make it from San Francisco to Alaska, and they have to battle lots of monsters along the way.  They’ve also got to make a few important pit stops to communicate with potential allies (who may or may not have their own agendas).  On top of that, once they deal with Alcyoneus, who cannot be killed in his home, they’ve got to return to Camp Jupiter to help save the camp from the monsters on their way to destroy it.  Easy peasy, right?  Yeah…not so much.  On this journey, secrets will be revealed, old (and new) foes and friends will be encountered, and the young demigods will encounter Death himself.  Will they be able to complete the nearly impossible task before them, or will Gaea find a way to further her cause against Olympus?  Will Percy regain his memory?  If he does, what will it mean for his life at Camp Jupiter?  To find the answers to these questions and more, read The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan!

It should go without saying that I thoroughly enjoyed The Son of Neptune. It is a great book for readers ages 9 to 99.  The things that I loved about Riordan’s previous books also apply to this one:  fully developed characters, an intricate plot, tons of action, friends and enemies in unexpected places, and a liberal dose of humor.  I can’t wait to see where the third book, The Mark of Athena, takes us.  It should be an interesting ride.

By the way, The Mark of Athena is scheduled for a fall 2012 release.  In the meantime, I urge you to read Riordan’s Kane Chronicles series–The Red Pyramid and The Throne of Fire.  If you’d like more information about Rick Riordan and his amazing books, visit http://www.rickriordan.com/home.aspx.

The Lost Hero

Notice:  It might not be a bad idea to read the entire Percy Jackson & the Olympians series before starting this book.  Trust me!

In The Lost Hero, we are introduced to three new demigods:  Jason, Piper, and Leo.  At the beginning, they have no idea who they really are or what they can do.  After a treacherous field trip to the Grand Canyon, however, things begin to change–especially when their gym coach turns out to be a somewhat unpredictable satyr.  The three teens are spirited away to Camp Half-Blood where, one by one, they are claimed by their godly parents.  Even this is not without its conflict.  (I won’t tell you who their parents are.  That would really ruin things for you.  You’ll just have to read to find out.)

Shortly after Jason, Piper, and Leo arrive at Camp Half-Blood, they are sent on a quest–and we all know how wonderful those usually turn out, don’t we?  They must stop something truly evil from coming to life and destroying Olympus and the world as they (and we) know it.  This could prove to be a bit difficult, especially since Jason has a touch of amnesia, Piper and Leo are hiding some pretty important details, and all of the gods of Olympus have gone silent.  To sum up, things are bad, and they’re about to get much, much worse.

Can our heroes succeed in their quest?  Why were these three demigods chosen for this all-important task?  Why does Jason constantly refer to the gods and goddesses by their Roman names?  How are these events connected to Percy Jackson and his actions in the Titan War?  What will they have to do–or give up–to defeat the evil that is rising?  Read The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan for the answers to these questions and more.  (I will warn you that some of these questions may be answered, but about a million more will pop up to replace them.  Awesome.)

Just like the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, The Lost Hero (and the rest of the Heroes of Olympus series, I hope) is great for upper elementary, middle, and high school readers.  Adults will enjoy it, too!

For more information on Rick Riordan and his wonderful books, visit http://www.rickriordan.com/home.aspx.

The Last Olympian

Caution!  Read the first four books in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series before continuing with this post!  You’ve been warned!

In The Last Olympian, Percy Jackson is about to turn sixteen.  For most kids, this might not be a big deal, but Percy is dealing with a prophecy saying that he’ll either save or destroy the world on his sixteenth birthday.  No pressure.  He’s facing war with the dreaded Titan lord Kronos, and the gods are battling the vicious monster Typhon, who is storming his way toward Mount Olympus.  The situation seems hopeless most of the time, but Percy has faith that good will triumph over evil.

Percy and his friends know that the fate of Western Civilization rests in their young hands.  Are they strong enough to battle the Titans and their powerful armies of monsters?  Will hope survive against all odds?  And just who is the last Olympian?  Read The Last Olympian to find out if a bunch of half-blood teenagers can save the world.

The Battle of the Labyrinth

Warning!  Read The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, and The Titan’s Curse before continuing.  Spoilers ahead!

As The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan begins, Percy Jackson is attending orientation at yet another high school.  As one would expect, things don’t go well.  He is attacked by demon cheerleaders and is forced to flee a fiery mess.  How will he explain this one to his mom?

The forces of Titan lord Kronos are growing more powerful, and Percy and his friends must venture into the mysterious labyrinth to find some way to save Camp Half-Blood, Mount Olympus, and the world as they know it.  This quest is not without its perils.  Percy and the gang encounter hideous monsters, legions of ghosts, old enemies, new friends, and a few gods and goddesses.  Who can they trust?  It is unclear who is working for Kronos and who is on the side of the Olympians.

As war between the Titans and the Olympians looms ever nearer, Percy and friends  must work to rally all who seek to save Olympus.  Can they do it?  Will they even survive that long?  Read The Battle of the Labyrinth, book four in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, to find out!

The Sea of Monsters

Warning! Read The Lightning Thief before reading this review! I don’t want to spoil anything for you!

In The Sea of Monsters, Percy Jackson is about to end a pretty uneventful year at this year’s boarding school…or so he thinks. One horrible game of dodgeball later, and Percy is fleeing from monsters once again. He also learns the sad news that a mysterious poison has nearly destroyed his beloved Camp Half-Blood, his sole safe haven as the son of Poseidon.

Percy, Annabeth (daughter of Athena), and Tyson (a newcomer to Percy’s life who isn’t exactly what he seems) go on a quest to find the one thing that can save Camp Half-Blood: the Golden Fleece. Along the way, they run into your average, run-of-the-mill, terrifying monsters and dead Confederates, reunite with an old foe, and find help in the unlikeliest of places. They’ve also got to save Grover, Percy’s satyr friend, from marriage to a Cyclops.

The Sea of Monsters is a thrilling, often funny, tale of bravery, loyalty, and an ongoing quest to save the world from unspeakable evil. What will become of Percy and his friends? I’ll leave it for you to find out. Happy reading!