Showing posts with label middle grade. Show all posts
Showing posts with label middle grade. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

[Review] - Goosebumps SlappyWorld: Fifth-Grade Zombies by R.L. Stine

I've never been hush about my love for Goosebumps. Yes, I'm a soon-to-be 40-year-old who still collects middle-grade books, and I'm proud of it. I still remember finding the original two books Welcome to Dead House and Stay Out of the Basement at a small Walmart in the summer of 1992. Back then, I was a few weeks shy from officially becoming a fifth-grader, and my 11th birthday was just around the corner. I don't know what attracted me to the books more, the creepy covers or the author's name - R.L. Stine. If my memory serves me correctly, I was already reading Fear Streets novels before Goosebumps, so the name R.L. Stine was already a permanent fixture in my young mind. By the time school rolled around in late August, I quickly learned I wasn't the only Goosebumps fan in my class. It seems every middle-schooler read these books to death in the '90s, and I guess kids still read the original 62 Goosebumps books, which would explain why Scholastic has continued to published new editions with new covers.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

[Review] - Goosebumps SlappyWorld: Monster Blood Is Back by R.L. Stine

Available on AMAZON.

If you're nearing 40, as I am, then more than likely, you grew up reading the Goosebumps books written by R.L. Stine (author of the popular teen Fear Street series). Just in case you don't know what I'm talking about, let me give you a history listen. Goosebumps was a hugely popular children's book series throughout the 1990s. From 1992 to the end of 1997, R.L. Stine published 62 Twilight Zone-like stories that gave every young reader nightmares. Goosebumps quickly became a brand name, starting with the Fox Kids television series that ran for 74 episodes. Spinoff books soon followed, such as Give Yourself Goosebumps, Tales To Give You Goosebumps, and Goosebumps 2000, and a slew of merchandise (bookmarks, games, toys, etc.). As fans became older, they moved on to other things, which resulted in the downfall of the franchise. After a hiatus, R.L. Stine returned to the world of Goosebumps with the spinoff series Horrorland in 2009, followed by two other spinoffs, Most Wanted and SlappyWorld, and two film adaptations, Goosebumps and Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

[Review] - Middle School: Field Trip Fiasco by James Patterson & Martin Chatterton

New in bookstores this week from Jimmy Patterson Books (Little, Brown, and Company) is Middle School: Field Trip Fiasco by James Patterson and Martin Chatterton. It's the 13th installment in Mr. Patterson's popular Middle School series for middle graders.

The Middle School series centers on Rafe Khatchadorian, a kid with a wild imagination. In this installment, the Advancement of Writers and Contemporary American Artists (IAWCAA) has picked Rafe to attend an educational art trip with other students from around the country. It's a week-long "Camp Culture" in California, and at the end of this event is an art exhibit. Sounds exciting, right?

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Review - Goosebumps SlappyWorld: My Friend Slappy by R.L. Stine


Everyone's favorite ventriloquist's dummy is back in Goosebumps Slappyworld: My Friend Slappy by R.L. Stine. To be more precise, Scholastic released the book on October 6th, 2020, and due to unfortunate events, I am just now getting around to read to review it.

My Friend Slappy is the 12th installment of the newest incarnation of the Goosebumps franchise. Goosebumps SlappyWorld debuted in 2017 with Slappy as the narrator, and occasionally he plays the villain within whatever story he's telling. The main character in this tale is 6th grader Barton "Sluggs" Suggs. When he's not being bullied by his classmates Kelly and Travis, he's hanging out his only real friend, Lizzie Hellman. Well, that's until his father gives him a special present - a ventriloquist's dummy named Slappy!

Barton quickly learns that Slappy isn't your typical dummy, as he can walk and talk just like a human being, but there's a twist - Slappy is pure evil. Yep, that's right! At first, all Slappy wants to do is terrorize Barton, but he changes his mind once he learns the boy needs a best friend to show him how to get back at Kelly and Travis.

In the world of Goosebumps, the saying "Best Friend Forever" isn't a good thing, and poor Barton's new pal becomes a living nightmare for him.

Final Thoughts

I don't know about other Goosebumps readers, but I was starting to get a Slappy fatigue. Don't get me wrong, I love the character, but each new story involving a ventriloquist's dummy feels the same. A 12-year-old protagonist would either receive Slappy as a gift or somehow stumble upon Slappy by themself. Then Slappy comes to life and turns the kid's life upside down.  


My Friend Slappy starts with the exact formula, but thanks to a few interesting twists, the story has a different outcome. Barton is the protagonist in this tale, and he's more fleshed out than typical your typical Goosebumps character would be. The poor kid has to deal with bullies and Slappy at the same time.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Goosebumps SlappyWorld: My Friend Slappy. It's one of the better entries in the Slappyworld series, but the "shocking" ending could have been better.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Review - Goosebumps SlappyWorld: Diary of a Dummy

I was a few months shy of being an 11-year-old during the summer of 1992 when I first ventured into the haunted world of Goosebumps by R.L. Stine after stumbling upon Welcome to Dead House and Stay Out of the Basement at a Walmart. I had no clue how popular the series would become until I saw other middle graders reading the books. Then it became a phenomenon when the low-budget anthology series debuted on Fox Kids in 1995. The love for all things Goosebumps disappeared by the start of the new millennium. Scholastic relaunched the Goosebumps franchise in 2008 with R.L. Stine returning to write the spinoffs Horrorland, Most Wanted, and SlappyWorld.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Review - Middle School: Master of Disaster

Available on AMAZON and WALMART!

When dd FedEx start delivering packages on Sunday?

I was surprised when I received the book Middle School: Master of Disaster by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts a day before its release. And, no, it's not an ARC! I had pre-ordered the book on last month while I was ordering a few other things.

Middle School: Master of Disaster is the 12th book in James Patterson's popular children's book series Middle School. However, this isn't your typical Middle School story starring Rafe Khatchadorian. Instead, we (and I'm referring to the readers) are getting short stories featuring characters from almost every James Patterson's children's book series, such as Max Einstein, Jamie Grimm, Jacky Ha-Ha , PottyMouth and Stoopid, The Kidds, and Rafe Khatchadorian.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Review - Unbelievably Boring Bart

Jimmy Patterson; 260 pages; $13.99; Amazon

It's been difficult for me to keep up with all the new releases, especially those written (or co-written) by James Patterson, as he practically has two or three new titles a month. Last week, I stumbled upon Unbelievably Boring Bart written Mr. Patterson & Duane Swierczynski at my local Walmart store. I didn't even know the book even existed. From my understanding, the book was released last week.

Published by Jimmy Patterson Books, Unbelievably Boring Bart centers around Bartholomew "Bart" Bean, a middle schooler who believes he's the most boring person in the universe. A few months ago, his dad, Bill, made him move from their home in Philadelphia to the hot weather of Rancho Verdugo, California. His dad is the gym teacher at his new school, which makes gym class extra difficult for Bart, as sports and exercise just doesn't intrigue him. Instead, Bart would rather be on his laptop (a hand-me-down from his mother, just before she left his father) working on the coding for his greatest invention - a video game app called Hecklr. It's similar to Pokemon Go, but with spider-like aliens.

Similar to his old school, Bart is bullied by several students. His only real friend is CyberGirl03 who he had met on the SlapTalk messaging app. CyberGirl03 is actually a girl named Aaliyah who lives in a nearby apartment building. Bart always sees her on the third-floor balcony in the afternoons, but he has never met her. She doesn't attend his school because she takes her school courses on the internet.

After sending CyberGirl03 his game to test out, he decides to make a few adjustments, which means he has to spend several late nights working on the new coding while his father is asleep. Later, somehow his game gets leaked to the public! First his classmates are all downloading and playing the game, and then the entire town begins playing it.

Now, the creator of Hecklr is the most popular person in the town, but poor Bart must keep his identity a secret.

Final Thoughts

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Review - The Magic of Finkleton

The Magic of FinkletonThe Magic of Finkleton
BY: KC Hilton
ISBN: 978-1-456-57029-3
Pages: 184
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

After their house is mysteriously burnt, the Finkles learn that their Uncle Harry had died the exact same night, and he left all his belongings to them, including his general store. The Finkles pack up what didn’t burn in the fire and move to Finkleton to start a new life. The three children are Jack, Lizzy, and Robert, who are all uniquely different from another. Jack is the oldest and thinks he is the brightest. He enjoys numbers and organizing things. Lizzy is the bookworm of the family, and Robert is the youngest.

The family moves into the apartment above of the general store. Lizzy is sad that all of her books were burnt in the fire, but instantly became happy when her father told her that Uncle Harry had a library in a secret room in the store. Most of the books are non-fiction, and Lizzy wants to read them all. Robert investigates the store and finds a strange room filled with hourglasses that are labeled and has a string attached to each of them, but one of the strings was broken.

The family reopens the store, with a few customers complaining about all the rain because Finkleton use to have the perfect weather for farming. A stranger named Mr. Lowsley shows up several times asking about land he could buy. Robert doesn’t like this man, and believes that he is up to no good.

Then, Robert pulls on a wood lever hidden in the store and the rain suddenly stops. Did Uncle Harry control the weather in Finkleton? Why does Mr. Lowsly want to buy land in Finkleton?

When I received this book in the mail, my first thought was “This is a dazzling cover.” After reading the page and a half prologue, I was hooked into the world of Finkleton. It was a nice change to read an original book that doesn’t involve vampires and werewolves. I got a kick out of the kids bickering back and forth in the beginning of the book and enjoyed it when they started to work together to solve the mystery of Uncle Harry’s store. The Magic of Finkleton is a great read for both children and adults!

*I would like to thank the author for sending me a copy to review.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Review - Joe-Joe Nut & Biscuit Bill

The Adventures of Joe-Joe Nut & Biscuit Bill
Case #2: Mineral Mischief
BY: Renee Hand
PUBLISHED BY: North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.
ISBN: 978-0-87839-415-9
Pages: 74
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

After saving a young lion, Arsalean, from bullies, Detective Joe-Joe Nut and Detective Biscuit Bill are called upon by the Moo household. Maple Moo’s rare mineral, a combination of benitoite and neptunite minerals, is missing from her collection. The mineral is very valuable. The last time Maple Moo saw the mineral is when she showed it to her friends, Candy Cardinal, Brutus and Betty Blue Beaver, Liam the Llama, and Huckleberry Moose, who all collect rocks. The detectives suspect foul play is at hand.

Detective Joe-Joe Nut and Detective Biscuit Bill visit each suspect, looking for clues to solve the mystery. Who stole the valuable mineral?

The Adventures of Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill: Case #2: Mineral Mischief is a fun mystery for both children and adults to read. I enjoyed each illustration of the animal characters, especially the squirrel detective, Joe-Joe Nut. The plot is simple, Maple Moo’s mineral is missing and the detectives are there to solve the mystery. Besides being a fun story, children can learn amazing things about minerals. There are two fun experiments, parental supervision is required, in the back of the book, along with a rock cycle chart. Overall, I loved reading about the Mineral Mischief, and I recommend the book to everyone.

About the Author
Renee Hand is an award-winning author, educator, tennis coach and various other things. She has been writing for over twenty years and has been a published author for five years with six works published. She writes for various chronicles and newsletters, as well as writing book reviews for various authors of children´s books on her blog,

Renee has also received awards for her works. For Magic Hearts she won a Best 2006 Fantasy Romance award. Her second romance novel Seduction of the Lonely Heart won a National Literary Award for Best Romance of  2007.  She is thankful for these two awards. Book 1 of her new children's series, The Crypto-Capers in The Case of the Missing Sock, won a preferred choice award for 2009 by Creative Child Magazine.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Review - Garfield and the Teacher Creature

Garfield and the Teacher Creature
BY: Jim Kraft
ISBN: 0-8167-4928-0
Pages: 78
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

Garfield and Odie decide to runaway after Jon announces that he is taking them to the vet. The pets pack their bags and leave. They stumble upon an abandon school. They sneak in through a broken window.

Inside, Garfield and Odie find a ten-year-old boy named Andy. He is not alone, he has brought along his wisecracking hamster, Sherman. Soon, they start to hear footsteps and strange sounds. They realize that they are not alone - there is a creature in the school!

I found this book at my local thrift shop last weekend. I’m a big Garfield fan, so this was a real treat for me. A few years ago, I read Garfield and the Mysterious Mummy, in which I found at a thrift shop too. Garfield and the Teacher Creature is a great book for children and for Garfield fans.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Review - Bless This Mouse by Lois Lowry

Bless This Mouse
BY: Lois Lowry
PUBLISHED BY: Houghton Mifflin
PUBLISHED IN: March 2011
ISBN: 978-0-547-3909-3
Pages: 151
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

Hundreds of mice lived in the Saint Bartholemew. More litters were being born and the population was getting too high. Their leader Hildegarde was worried that this may bring upon the Great X - the exterminator. The Great X had happened before and many of their kind had died. Hildegarde was determined to protect her colony.

The mice tried their best to not be seen, but some of the church members saw them. The mice attempt to destroy the phone book fails, and Father Murphy calls the Great X. Hildegarde orders the colony to leave the church and take refuge in the cemetery. Will the mice be able to live n the church again?

I read Bless This Mouse in one sitting. It was a delight to read. The characters are funny and charming, even though they are mice. I can easily see this as a computer-animated movie. I recommend this book to every one of all ages.

*I would like to thank Houghton Mifflin and Netgalley for sending me a copy to review.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Review - Last Look

Last Look (A Puffin Novel)Last Look
BY: Clyde Robert Bulla
ILLUSTRATIONS BY: Emily Arnold McCully
PUBLISHED BY: Weekly Reader Books
ISBN: 0-690-03965-4
Pages: 81
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

Every summer Monica and her friends, Fran and Audrey, attend Madame Vere’s School, a private summer school for girls 6-12. This was their last year of classes.

A new student named Rhoda arrives at the school. She is from New York and her mother is a famous actress on Broadway. No matter what Rhoda does, Monica, Fran and Audrey don’t like her.

One night Monica is, awaken by a rusting sound. She finds a piece of paper with newspaper-cutout-letters on it. It read, “Monica, tell no one. RHODA In DANGER. GO to HAUNTED House. Tuesday at Mid Night. go alone.

I stumbled upon this book at a thrift shop. I am glad that I picked it up, it is a fast, fun read. The illustrations are spooky helping the mystery plot thicken page by page. If you can find Last Look, read it.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Review - Spooksville: The Dangerous Quest

The Dangerous Quest (Spooksville)Spooksville: The Dangerous Quest
BY: Christopher Pike
PUBLISHED BY: Pocket Books
ISBN: 0-671-00268-6
Pages: 117
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

Welcome to the strange town of Spooksville, where not everything is what it seems. Watch, weird nickname for a kid, is suddenly ill. Someone has put a wicked spell on him. His friends Adam, Bryce, Sally, Cindy are going to find the underlying cause of it. They kids have been through many terrifying adventures, and this one is no different.

They follow a strange man that had bumped into Watch shortly before he became ill. They watch him go into the cemetery and jump through the tombstone of Madeline Templeton. She was a famous witch and her tombstone was the portal to other dimensions and times.

The kids follow the man through the portal and in up in a mirror Spooksville with copies of themselves living there. Will they save Watch and return home?

I have read many Christopher Pike books over the years, but this is my first in the Spooksville series. Despite being book 20, I found it easy to follow the plot. I would have to say that the Goosebumps books by R.L. Stine inspired the Spooksville series. Overall, I found The Dangerous Quest fun to read.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Review - Christmas Village

Christmas VillageChristmas Village
BY: Jack Gilhooly
PUBLISHED BY: McNeil & Richards
ISBN: 978-0-982-56021-1
Pages: 88
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

The Wilson family is spending Christmas with Grandpa and Grandma. Rudy and Amanda are excited about seeing their grandparents and their even more excited about unwrapping presents. After the adults went to bed, the kids sneak downstairs to look at all the gifts under the tree.

Rudy starts playing with the light switches to Grandpa’s miniature Christmas village. Rudy and Amanda are zapped into the village. There, they go by different name and have new parents. The villagers are upset that the library has gone missing. One day it was just lifted up into the air.

The kids find away to return to their Grandparents house. Over the next few days, they keep returning to the little village.

The Christmas Village is a cute story for kids. The two main characters, Rudy and Amanda, act just like normal children at Christmas. They have their minds on one thing: Gifts! While reading the book, I kept thinking of the Chillogy episodes from the Goosebumps television series. They both involve kids going into a miniature town. The only difference is that the Christmas Village is meant to charm you, not scare you. Yes, there is a message of giving just like any other Christmas story. Overall, I enjoyed reading the book and I recommend this to every one of all ages.

*I would like to thank the author for sending me a copy to review.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Review - Graveyard School: The Abominable Snow Monster

Abominable Snow Monster (Graveyard School)
Graveyard School: The Abominable Snowmonster
BY: Tom B. Stone
PUBLISHED BY: A Skylark Book
ISBN: 0-553-54218-4
Pages: 99
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

Due to the success of the R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series in the early 1990’s, other publishing houses tried to copy the format into their own series. The Graveyard School series came from that time.

The kids at Grove Hill call their school Graveyard School because there is a cemetery behind the playground. Several snowstorms have hit the small town. One playground afternoon, sixth-grader Kyle stumbled upon a strange glass eye near the cemetery. He had the idea of using it on his snowman. The other kids in his class were building snow statues, but Kyle was going to make a scary snowman.

Kyle’s snowman was tall - taller than the slides. He carved out a wicked grin for the face and used shark teeth. He found two strange branches and used them as arms. All of the kids were scared of it.

A strange thing happens. The student’s snow statues were destroyed, but one survived. Kyle’s snowman.

This is the first book in the series that I have ever read. It is a short book, but fun to read.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Review - R.L. Stine’s Ghosts of Fear Street: House of a Thousand Screams

R.L. Stine’s Ghosts of Fear Street: House of a Thousand Screams
BY: P. MacFearson
PUBLISHED BY: Pocket Books
ISBN: 0-671-00190-6
Pages: 112
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

Jill and her family inherit Uncle Solly’s house. He was a famous magician. There is one catch; the house is on Fear Street!

At first, Jill loves the house, but then she starts seeing weird, nasty creatures. Are they poltergeists?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Review - My Sparkling Misfortune

My Sparkling Misfortune
BY: Laura Lodd
Pages: 187
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

Normally a fairy tale is in the point-of-view of the young princess or prince, but not in “My Sparkling Misfortune.” The main character is Lord Arkus, the villain. Lord Arkus, along with his sidekick Shork, captured a gormack - an evil spirit to help him destroy his enemy - Prince Kellemar. To Arkus’s surprise, he didn’t catch a gormack, but he caught a sparkling - a good spirit.

When a sparkling is caught, they are bound to their owners for 6 years. Lord Arkus was stuck with it.

Lord Arkus asks for a new castle, supplies and a army, so he could be ready to battle with Prince Kellemar and his men. Soon, he is befriending King Osmund because the king believes only a good man would have a sparkling.

The King gives Lord Arkus his own castle and men. Arkus becomes engaged to the king’s daughter. Everything is going his way - he has own castle and army. He is read to battle Prince Kellemar, but Shork thinks Arkus is becoming too nice. Will Arkus become a hero?

This is a cute fairy tale with a twist. Each chapter has a wonderful illustration. Both girls and boys will like reading about Lord Arkus and the sparkling.

* I would like to thank Dream Books LLC for sending me a copy to review.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Review - Badhat: A Wild Western Legend

Badhat: A Wild Western LegendBadhat: A Wild Western Legend
BY: Harry McLaughlin
ISBN: 9780615368542
Pages: 130
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

After crows destroy his crop, Badhat, a prairie dog, drifts around the wild west. He stumbles upon a small town called Dagnabit. Badhat scares off a gang of gophers, and he becomes a local hero. The town offers him a job as sheriff, and he takes it.

A young prairie dog calling himself The Kid, starts following Badhat around. The Kid wants to be a deputy.

Just when Badhat starts to adjust to the sheriff life, Rumpus and his gang of gophers come up with a plan to run Badhat out of Dagnabit.

This is a hilarious spoof of the western genre. The author has done a wonderful job creating fun characters that kids will enjoy reading. Badhat: A Wild Western Legend is a fast read, just under 130 pages. It reminded me of some of the cartoons I watched as a kid. Reading Badhat was a pure delight.

I would like to thank the author for sending me this copy to review.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Review - How to Train Your Dragon

Kid Konnection is a a weekend feature related
to anything about children books.

How to Train Your Dragon
BY: Cressida Cowell
PUBLISHED BY: Little, Brown and Company
ISBN: 0-316-01098-7
Pages: 214
Ages: 9-12
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

In the first book in the series, on the island of Berk, eleven-year-old Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, the son of the Viking chief, must follow the rite of passage and capture a dragon from a cave. Hiccup, along with other children, are led by Gobber the Belch to catch their own eggs. Whoever can’t find an egg and train a dragon, will be kicked out of the tribe forever.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Review - Tales of Wordishure

Kid Konnection is a a weekend feature related
to anything about children books.

“Tales of Wordishure” has seven cute stories that children and adults will enjoy reading. In the first story, “The Skipping Stone of Wordishure,” Edward goes to collect squishberries for his grandma. He puts his basket down for a few seconds so he can skip a stone across the water. His basket of squishberries disappears.

Philip’s sister is missing in “Three Princesses of Wordishure.” He gets Princess Irelynd, Princess Tara and Princess Ashtyn to help him find her.

Micah discovers a well worn book in his attic in the story “The Treasure Map of Wordishure.” He takes the book with him to the Oldwood Creek, where he runs into his best friend, Jonah. Inside the book is a map with some Xs on a hill. They follow the creek in search of treasure.

While playing the game ‘Seek the Lost’ in “Bigby The Giant of Wordishure,” Bigby must help the Humblebees find their missing hive.

In “The Tree Fort of Wordishure,” Gideon and his friends build a tree fort in the willow tree named Fordywinx. When the kids learn that today is Fordywinx’s birthday, they go in search for the prefect gift.

One day the wind blows away Melody’s music lyrics in “The Silent of Song of Wordishure.” With the help of Preston the gopher, Melody hunts down her lost pages.

All the characters from the previous stories join forces to help fix the cracked bell in “The Church Mice of Wordishure.”

I enjoyed reading the “Tales of Wordishure.” These are wonderful stories, filled with beautiful illustrations. You’ll enjoy exploring the world of Wordishure with your children.

Note: I would like to thank the author for sending me this book to review.