Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads

Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads, written by Bob Shea and illustrated by Lane Smith, is a nominee for the 2016-17 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

The town of Drywater Gulch has a bit of a problem with a gang known as the Terrible Toads. What they need is a sheriff. And that’s just what they get. A kid sheriff rides into town–slowly–on his tortoise. Now, this sheriff doesn’t seem to know much about the Toads, but he knows an awful lot about dinosaurs. How can that possibly help the town, though?

As it turns out, this sheriff’s knowledge of dinosaurs may help to catch the Toads and rid the town of these pests for good. How, you ask? Read Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads to find out!


Reading this through the eyes of an adult is very different from reading it as a kid, I imagine. While the book is funny, I think a lot of the humor may go over the heads of most young readers. They may like how the kid uses his knowledge of dinosaurs to fight crime, but I doubt they’d see the understated humor in the book’s situations and dialogue.

I don’t think this book would be my pick for a K5 or 1st grade storytime. Not only wouldn’t my younger readers understand some of the humor, but it’s just a tad uncomfortable having to explain to students why a gang of outlaws might be kissing cattle. (Honestly, I’m not sure why they would be, and I really don’t want to have that conversation with my kiddos.) If students want to take this book home to read with their parents or by themselves, that’s fine, but I will not be handling cattle-kissing questions on my story carpet.

If you’d like to promote this book in your classroom or library, feel free to use the book trailer below.

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The Map to Everywhere

Fin, a young thief living in the treacherous land of Khaznot Quay, is a boy who is easily forgotten. Seriously. As soon as someone meets him, they forget he ever existed. Pretty handy if you’re a thief, especially one surrounded by pirates, con artists, and, well, other thieves. Not so much if you need help looking for something…or someone.

Marrill is a girl who’s just been handed a shock, and she’s trying to make sense of her new circumstances. That is going to be much more difficult after she sees a huge ship sailing through what was a parking lot just minutes ago. So what does Marrill, girl adventurer, do? She climbs aboard the ship…and quickly realizes that she can’t find her way back home.

Marrill does have a bit of hope, though. The ship she’s currently on is home to a wizard, Ardent, and his companion, Coll. This unlikely pair is looking for a mysterious map. The Map to Everywhere. This map will lead anyone wherever they need to go. So what’s the problem? Well, the map is in pieces, and it could be quite the quest to find the pieces and put them together. Marrill, Ardent, and Coll will have to navigate the magical waters of the Pirate Stream to even attempt their mission.

And that’s where Fin comes in…

Marrill and company sail into Khaznot Quay. After getting herself into a sticky situation, Marrill encounters Fin (who is also in a sticky wicket of his own). Unlike everyone else he’s ever met, Marrill actually remembers him, and Fin is eager to hold onto that tenuous connection to someone. He stows away on Marrill’s ride, and joins the crew’s search for the Map to Everywhere (an object that he’d also like to get his hands on).

Also, Fin would kind of like to get away from the Oracle, an evil wizard who spreads sorrow wherever he goes. Fin has something that the Oracle wants, and this shadowy figure will stop at nothing to claim his prize. It seems he is also searching for this powerful map, but what he wants to do with it could be devastating for everyone, everywhere.

Now, Marrill, Fin, Ardent, and Coll are on the hunt for the pieces of the Map to Everywhere, each for their own reasons. Can they work together to complete this dangerous puzzle before everything is torn from them? Will they succeed in their quest to bring the Map together, or will the Oracle beat them to it? Will Marrill ever find her way home? Will Fin find what he’s looking for? Nothing is certain, but one this is clear. We’re in for one heck of an adventure!

To learn more about this fantastical tale, go to http://www.themaptoeverywhere.com/.

 

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?

Dangerous Waters: An Adventure on Titanic

Patrick Waters wants to work. He wants to be seen as valuable to his family, particularly his big brother James, who has a job in the engine room of the new ship, Titanic. One night, Patrick gets the chance of a lifetime. He finds a way to sneak aboard and work on the Titanic himself, but he’s not exactly cut out for the engine room. (He’s only twelve, after all.) Instead, Patrick finds a place as a steward on the mammoth ocean liner, and this position will change his life forever…

Patrick catches the eye of a wealthy passenger, Harry Elkins Widener, and eventually becomes the man’s private steward, not realizing that this new job will lead him down an intriguing and dangerous path. Harry is in possession of a rare and valuable book, and there are a couple of nefarious types on board who will do anything to steal such a prize.

Patrick isn’t sure what’s so special about this old book, so he does whatever he can to learn more. It seems this book may have the key to unlocking the most powerful force in the world, and some people will do anything–even kill–to learn its secrets. Patrick does his best to help Harry protect the book, but the Titanic is on a path that could put Patrick’s quest–and his very life–in jeopardy…

As the Titanic makes its way to its eventual demise, Patrick is trying to keep himself, his brother, Harry, and his precious book safe. In the process, Patrick discovers his own strengths and what really matters to him.

Will Patrick be able to save Harry’s book from those bent on stealing it? And will he be able to save himself from the tragedy that is to come? Join Patrick on his adventure aboard the Titanic when you read Dangerous Waters by Gregory Mone!

The Day Dirk Yeller Came to Town

The Day Dirk Yeller Came to Town, written by Mary Casanova and illustrated by Ard Hoyt, was nominated for the 13-14 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

Normally, I’m not a fan of westerns. (Yes, that tends to include picture books.) I made an exception, however, for The Day Dirk Yeller Came to Town. As a matter of fact, I challenge any book lover–particularly my fellow librarians–NOT to love this book. It’s wonderful on so many levels!

The whole town is scared when news spreads that the infamous outlaw Dirk Yeller is coming to town. Everyone but Sam, that is. Sam sort of understands Dirk Yeller. He knows what it’s like to search for something to ease his restlessness, so he decides to step in and show Dirk what he really needs to do to fix his twitchin’ and jumpin’ and scaring everybody with his orneriness. It seems the cure for a restless, curious mind can be found at the local library! (Who knew!)

Dirk vows to return to town soon, but this time it’s not to stir up trouble. No, sirree! He needs to check out more library books…not to mention the pretty librarian! (Check out the end papers to see how that part of the story turns out!)