If You’re a Monster and You Know It

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If You’re a Monster and You Know It by Rebecca Emberley and Ed Emberley

A great pick for a preschool Halloween party, this book will have kids wiggling and giggling to the silly monster movements.  Set to the same song as If You’re Happy and You Know It, children will immediately be able to sing right along.  Children will be growling, snapping their claws, stomping their paws, and twitching their tails along with the monsters in the book.  Those monsters are done in neon-bright colors against a black background, creating a very dynamic book for children to enjoy.  I recommend finishing up with some black paper and bright colored scraps and letting the children create their own monsters to take home.

Completely child friendly, this book will have even the most reluctant listeners paying attention and playing along.  Happily, the song takes more enthusiasm than skill, so everyone can join in and not have to worry.  The Emberleys have created a book that fills a niche in story times, a monster book that is non-scary but not babyish.  What a treat!

Appropriate for ages 2-4.  Make sure to have this one in your trick-or-treat bag for fall!

You can listen to the song here.

Reviewed from copy received from Scholastic.

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Monsters of Men – An Amazing Conclusion

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Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness

In this thrilling conclusion to the ground-breaking series, readers will finally find out what happens when the indigenous Spackle army arrives to do battle and what effect the arriving ship from the convoy will have.    Both Todd and Viola have obstacles to overcome in this novel, ones that drive them apart.  Todd learns to control his Noise, making him almost silent in a world where men’s thoughts are heard aloud.  But there is a price for that silence and it could be his relationship with Viola.  Viola is battling an illness that has her feverish and weakened due to the marking band on her arm.  Women are dying from the infections the bands cause, and nothing seems to be working.  So Todd keeps Viola at arm’s length so that she doesn’t know how close he is growing to Mayor Prentiss.  Viola keeps Todd away so that he doesn’t know how ill she is.  All of this sets up the riveting conclusion to this series.  This book brings war directly into the reader’s view.  There is no turning away as beloved characters are threatened, surrounded by battle, scarred and even die.  Everyone is faced with terrible choices that will decide the future of the planet as a whole.

As readers of the first books know, Ness is not an author who can be trusted to keep characters readers love alive.  He breaks the rules, brings back villains, and returns characters thought lost to life.  Through it all the effect of Noise and information is felt.  The Spackle use it to communicate as one and the humans struggle with its impact and how it is being used.  It is a world of constant contact and sharing, one that overwhelms and frightens.  It is a brilliant play on our over-connected online worlds and the effect they are having on all of us.

Ness has built a world here that is less about the land itself and more about the people who live on the planet.  While the setting is critical, it is mostly because of the unique effects of it upon the humans and Spackle who live there.  Ness excels at creating characters who are interesting, conflicted and true to themselves even as they grow and change.  The other thing he excels at is action sequences, terrifying changes to circumstance, and pacing.  This all creates a book that is impossible to put down.

I finished this book with tears rolling down my face and my eyes red from trying to read through my weeping, because I just could not stop reading long enough to wipe my eyes.  It is a series unlike any other and a finale that will shock and thrill.  Appropriate for ages 15-17.

Reviewed from library copy.

Reviewed on many other blogs.

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National Book Award Finalists

Here are the finalists for the Young People’s Literature category of the 2010 National Book Award.

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (my review)

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine (my review)

Dark Water by Laura McNeal

Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (my review)