A children's book blog by Miriam Rainwater

A children's book blog by Miriam Rainwater

"TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they'll have with twenty-six. Open your child's imagination. Open a book." ~ Author Unknown

Monday, May 30, 2011

Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Disgusting Sneakers

Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Disgusting SneakersOn the day of the Disgusting Sneaker Contest, Phoebe Eastwood, last year's champion, walked into the Brown Detective Agency.  She had on shoes.  
Encyclopedia immediately knew something was afoot.  
All year phoebe had prepared for the defense of her title by wearing the same pair of sneakers.  She had them in really disgusting shape.
"I want to hire you," she said, laying twenty-five cents on the gas can beside Encyclopedia.  "Some girl swiped my right sneaker."

Only Encyclopedia Brown could run into such as crazy mystery as The Case of the Disgusting Sneakers. Donald J. Sobol's imagination shines in this compilation of short mysteries.  The last of the recent Encyclopedia Brown Kindle releases that I'll review on this blog for awhile, Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Disgusting Sneakers had some of my favorite mysteries. I read it more than once as a kid, even though I already knew the answers.  You just get a good feeling when Encyclopedia beats Bugs Meany once again!

The mysteries included in Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Disgusting Sneakers are:
The Case of the Fifth Word
The Case of the Teacup
The Case of the Broken Vase
The Case of the Three Vans
The Case of the Rented Canoes
The Case of the Brain Game
The Case of Black Jack's Treasure
The Case of the Missing Shopping Bag
The Case of the Disgusting Sneakers
The Case of the Smuggler's Secret

Which is your favorite Encyclopedia Brown book?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Mysterious Handprints

Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Mysterious Handprints On Sunday afternoon, Encyclopedia received the treat of treats.  He went with his father on a real police case.  Clarence Heiden had reported a pair of valuable bookends missing.  He had asked Chief Brown to investigate the theft personally...

In Donald J. Sobol's new book, Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Mysterious Handprints, the boy detective goes on adventures that have made the series bestsellers for years. On March 23, 2011, Yearling published a Kindle edition. Lively drawings by Gail Owens illustrate ten cases that Leroy Brown (Encyclopedia) solves, all while invites readers to decipher each puzzle in their own mind. In the title story, odd handprints will make a wheelchair-bound guest a suspect in the theft of his host's valuables. But leave it up to Encyclopedia to recognize the red herring, absolve the innocent, and make a true accusation against the culprit. 

Bugs Meany comes back as always, and Sally the girl detective does her work.  While Sobol's earlier stories were better in my opinion, these were also very fun to solve and each was still a unique challenge. 

Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Mysterious Handprints includes the following mysteries:
The Case of the Blond Wig
The Case of the Battle Cries
The Case of the Stolen Tools
The Case of the Angry Girl
The Case of the Albatross
The Case of the Prize Pig
The Case of the Hard-luck Boy
The Case of the Giant Watermelon
The Case of the Fighter Kite
The Case of the Mysterious Handprints

Other than Encyclopedia Brown, what is your favorite mystery story and why?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of Pablo's Nose

Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of Pablos NoseDesmoana came to the front door herself.  "What do you want?" she demanded, giving Pablo an unfriendly look.
Pablo accused her straightaway.  "About an hour ago you stole my nose didn't you?"
"No, but I should have," Desmoana retorted. "I'd have improved your looks."

Stolen noses, masked men, and smoke signals are all apart of this newest Encyclopedia Brown Kindle release from Yearling on May 4, 2011. Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of Pablos Nose by Donald J. Sobol is a good choice for critical thinkers or for getting children to start problem-solving. Each short mystery is full of clues that make solving the mystery with Encyclopedia Brown a ton of fun.

Without giving too much away, I'll just say that this time around, Encyclopedia uses wordplay to figure out a safe's combination, one of the presidents to catch a forger, and a wallet full of money to prove that a thief was blind. As usual, a good and fun workout for the brain. Pencil illustrations by Eric Velasquez occur at key moments in the text.

The mysteries included in this volume are:
The Case of the Sleeveless Lock
The Case of the Smoke Signals
The Case of the Peace Offering
The Case of the Masked Man
The Case of the Organ-Grinder
The Case of Pablo's Nose
The Case of the Carousel Horse
The Case of the Wilford Whammy
The Case of the Racing Reptiles
The Case of the Unknown Thief

While I found this particular selection of mysteries much more difficult to solve than some of the others in previous books I've reviewed, I still enjoyed Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of Pablos Nose.  I am rating it only for 10-12-year-olds this time, however, since I feel that the solutions might be discouraging to the 6-9 age range this time around.

Will you figure out what happened to Pablo's nose?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Slippery Salamander

Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Slippery SalamanderOne Monday night Chief Brown sat at the dinner table, staring at his plate of spaghetti.  So far he hadn't slurped up a single strand.  Encyclopedia and his mother knew the reason.  
The chief wasn't eating because he had come up against a crime that he couldn't solve.  
Encyclopedia waited for his dad to tell him about the case.  Whenever Chief Brown was stumped, Encyclopedia creacked the case for him, usually by asking just one question.  
At last Chief Brown looked up.  "There was a theft at the aquarium today..."

Remember the boy detective Encyclopedia Brown and his crazy mysteries?  On April 13, 2011, Random House released Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Slippery Salamander by Donald J. Sobol.  Parents will remember these stories and the fun in solving the mysteries right along with Encyclopedia.  Answers to each case are found in the back of the book.

Mysteries to solve in this Encyclopedia Brown book include:
The Case of the Slippery Salamander
The Case of the Banana Burglar
The Case of the Dead Cochroach
The Case of the Roman-Numeral Robber
The Case of the Runaway Judge
The Case of the Peacock's Egg
The Case of the Umpire's Error
The Case of the Calculating Kid
The Case of the Presidential Auction
The Case of the Stolen Surfboard

Which is your favorite mystery and why?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Dragon of Cripple Creek Giveaway WINNER!

And the winner of The Dragon of Cripple Creek Giveaway is Simone and I and her son, Eli!  Hope you greatly enjoy reading this great new release!

And for those of you who might have missed the review, read it here.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Sleeping Dog

Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Sleeping DogTo a visitor, Idaville looked like an ordinary seaside town.  It had churches, two car washes, and three movie theaters.  It had bike paths, sparkling white beaches, a synagogue, and plenty of good fishing spots.  
But there was something out of the ordinary about Idaville: for more than a year, no child or grown-up had gotten away with breaking a law.
From coast to coast, people wanted to know: How did Idaville do it?

Anyone from my parent's generation who was an avid reader should remember the Encyclopedia Brown series.  Since my mom loved them as a child, she introduced me to them growing up and I enjoyed them just about as much.  Now they are coming out on Kindle, so I will be reviewing a bunch of them over the next couple of weeks to give you an idea about which ones your children might enjoy.  They are still in print, as well, for those of you who don't have a Kindle.

In Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Sleeping Dog, Donald J. Sobol gives readers ten new mysteries to solve with the ten-year-old crime-solver of Idaville.  His real name is Leroy, but only his parents and teachers call him that.  Everyone else knows that his brain is more full of fact than a reference book, and they fondly call him Encyclopedia.

The mysteries are short enough (organized by short chapters) to keep a child's attention but present a challenge to them.  The answers are in the back with an explanation of how Encyclopedia came up with the conclusion.  These books are great for children who need practice reading for details; if you don't look for details in these books, you might just miss that necessary clue!

The mysteries in Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Sleeping Dog include:
The Case of the Shower Singers
The Case of the Invisible Writing
The Case of the Stolen Fan
The Case of the Sleeping Dog
The Case of the Fig Thieves
The Case of the Mouse Show
The Case of the Tied-up Twins
The Case of the Wilford's Big Deal
The Case of the Fake Soup Can
The Case of the Shoeshine War

I was able to solve seven out of the ten.  How many will you solve?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Side of the Car

My Side of the Car One little girl and her dad had been trying to visit the zoo for a very long time.  It seemed that something had always come up... once mom ended up in the emergency room instead, once the grandparents (who hate the zoo) came for an unexpected visit.  Will they ever make it to the zoo? Sadie wonders.

Released by Candlewick Press on April 26, 2011, My Side of the Car by Kate Feiffer tells the tale of one girl's hope about a long-awaited trip to the zoo and how her opitimism shines throughout every discouragement. She and her father wonder about their weather situation all the way to the zoo, but as readers discover, Sadie's cheerful attitude and giving spirit keep her day looking bright and filled with people happily walking their dogs and eating ice-cream cones.  Some of the excellent things about this text is the use of repetition and hyperbole,

Jules Feiffer, the author's dad, created the illustrations for My Side of the Car. He illustrated The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster, the first book I reviewed on this blog. What makes this book extra special is the fact that the story is based off of a real conversation that Kate and her dad had many years ago.

What are your favorite memories of a trip to the zoo?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Charlie the Ranch Dog

Charlie the Ranch DogEars drooping, eyes plead,
Tail wagging, tongue hanging out.

Charlie is a basset hound ranch dog.  Breakfast is his life, especially when bacon is involved.  Charlie has a friend named Suzie.  And it seems like young, agile Suzie is always out-doing old, uncordinated Charlie. 

New from HarperCollin's Children on April 26, 2011, Charlie the Ranch Dog by Ree Drummond is the story of one dog's quest to be of help when all of life seems to be working against him.  Will he find a way to be helpful on the ranch?

Diane deGroat's illustrations bring the story to life with a humorous twist and show reader's just how Suzie always gets the best of Charlie.  Story and pictures combined will have your child laugh again and again.  My favorite part of Charlie the Ranch Dog was the language.  All of the words used are perfect for the target age--something that I realize more and more is (unfortunately) a rare find. This book can be easily read by children in second-fourth grade, but preschoolers will enjoy it as a lap read.

Have you ever had two dogs that competed to be helpful to you?

Monday, May 9, 2011

What Genres/Target Ages Interest You?

I am currently reading several books to make posts on in the next few days.  While I am reading, however, I wanted to get feedback from all of you as readers.
--What genres interest those of you who are following?
-- What ages are your children?
-- What has been your favorite book that I've reviewed so far and why?

Please take a few moments and leave me feedback on what types of posts would better serve you!

And while you're at it, DON'T FORGET TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY! (http://the26letterimagination.blogspot.com/2011/05/dragon-of-cripple-creek-review-and.html)

Sunday, May 8, 2011


PreviouslyAlthough previously published in 2007, Previously by Allan Ahlberg was released by Candlewick Press on April 12, 2011 in Paperback edition.

Previously takes a unique look at history and the traditional nursery rhyme characters.  Starting with Goldilocks, the text shows readers how previously she had run into Jack who climbed the beanstalk and how nursery rhyme character after nursery rhyme character had been in each others' pasts until the story makes a full circle back to Goldilocks again.  Previously interweaves the tales of Goldilocks, Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack and Jill, The Frog Prince, Cinderella, and The Gingerbread Boy to illustrate how the people and places that make up history are all related and dependent upon one another. Bruce Ingman's painted illustrations blend the various nursery rhymes together while throwing in a bit of humor.

Previously has an updated twist to some of the old nursery rhymes as well, including Prince Charming's ride to the ball in a "milk-white Mercedes" and Jack and Jill's breakfast spent "arguing over the free gift in the cornflakes box."

I am choosing to give this book four stars out of five because the ending does seem to be a bit of a stretch for me.  However, overall, Previously is a great teaching tool and a cute tale-told-backwards.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Dragon of Cripple Creek--Review and GIVEAWAY!

The Dragon of Cripple CreekReleased on April 1, 2011 by Amulet Books,  The Dragon of Cripple Creek by Troy Howell is one of the best middle grades novels I've read in a long time!  While written for ages 9-12, this book would also be a perfect family read-aloud. Troy Howell is the cover illustrator for the bestselling Redwall series by Brian Jacques.  The Dragon of Cripple Creek is his debut novel and is available in both hardcover and Kindle editions.

Katlin Graham's passion for gold has caused her to look for gold things all her life.  She even has gold fillings in her cavities. And Kat is always curious.
But Kat is also hurting.  Things haven't been easy since her mom fell and ended up brain dead in the Home and her dad lost his job.  The hunt for her dad's new job to pay the bills sends Kat's family into the rowdy, historical town of Cripple Creek, Colorado.  While on the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine tour, Kat wanders off the trail to explore a closed-off tunnel, and after an accidental fall, she discovers a unbelievable secret.  Deep down beneath the mine lives a dragon named Ye--the last dragon on earth.
While in the mine, Kat steals a gold nugget from Ye, proving Ye's declaration that "greed is what is wrong with the world."  Later, when Kat is back in her world, she accidently lets the gold nugget roll out of her pocket for all to see.  A media-frenzy begins, until the town is swarming with gold seekers. Kat is horrified.
Kat knows that she must ask her brother, Dillon, to help her return the gold and save her dragon friend.  Can they make it to Ye in time or will the gold-hungry townspeople kill him first?

Besides having an excellent storyline that mixes the Wild West with Medieval dragons, The Dragon of Cripple Creek contains believable characters with names that make you chuckle like "Rex Havick."  Literary allusions also spot the text, including works of literature such as Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Tolstoy's War and Peace, and Yeat's "The Folly of Being Comforted." 

Another wonderful thing about this book is that while it ends positively, it doesn't end sappily.  In fact, there's a bit of sadness at the end.  But it's a good sort of sadness that reveals truth about life to children without being depressing.  I was impressed by the author's way of wrapping up ends yet still leaving questions in order to challenge young readers to think about their world, the effects of a greedy heart, and the meaning of friendship and sacrificial love.

There are a few negative elements, however. A few times throughout the book, Kat gambles with dice several times, and (although he warns her), Kat's father doesn't stop her when he finds out she is cheating other children out of their pocket change.  When the dragon comes out of the cave at the end of the book, one of the terrified townsmen gasps, "What in hell's kennel" while another man starts praying the Lord's Prayer. In a moment of frustration, the dad says that his family has "been to Hades and back."  Parents may wish to discuss these elements of the story with their preteens.

But because, overall, The Dragon of Cripple Creek was such a great book....

The Twenty-Six Letter Imagination is holding a giveaway!

The Dragon of Cripple Creek
by Troy Howell
Released on April 1, 2011
From Amulet Books

Giveaway Rules:
1. You must be (or become) a follower to enter.
2. You must comment below to receive one (1) entry.
3. The giveaway will close on Saturday, May 21st, 2011 at 5 pm. EST.
4.. Winner will be randomly chosen.
5. Winner will be announced on the blog and will have one week to provide a mailing address before the book is given away to a different winner.
 6. Residents of the U.S. only, please. 
In order to receive extra entries, you may consider the following...

* You may receive one (1) extra entry for posting a link to this giveaway on Twitter using the hashtag #26letterdragon or tagging @26lettersblog
* You may receive one (1) extra entry for "liking" "The Twenty-Six Letter Imagination: A Children's Book Blog" on Facebook.
* You may receive one (1) addition entry for posting a link to this blog on Facebook and mentioning this link in your comment.
* You may receive (5) extra entries by posting about this giveaway on your own blog and providing me the link to your blog entry in your comment below.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Say Hello to Zorro!

Say Hello to Zorro!Written and illustrated by the lead character designer for Despicable Me, Carter Goodrich, Say Hello to Zorro! made me laugh aloud. 

In this new release from Simon and Schuster, Mister Bud's life is perfect until another dog, Zorro, shows up. That's when the trouble starts.  Suddenly there's exceptions to Mister Bud's routine, and he is less than amused. 

The simple storyline is more for entertainment value than a moral lesson, although it contains a great picture of friendship once Mister Bud and Zorro realize that they can make life at home a lot more exciting if they tackle it together.  My favorite example is when they realize that walks can be more fun if both of them chase Slim the cat. 

Say Hello to Zorro! is sure to become as much of a favorite with your children as the movies (Finding Nemo, Monster's Inc. and Ratatouille) that Goodrich has helped to create.

What is something that your children know is more fun with two?