Sunday, June 30, 2013

IT'S SUMMER, What Are YOUR Kids Reading????

GREAT SUMMER READING FOR KIDS! (or how to avoid hearing:"I'm bored. there's nothing to do.")

We Scramble to line up OUR summer reads, but what about the kids?

Here are a few GREAT books for younger children, designed not only to entertain, but many of them secretly teach a lesson, too!  Tome Tender has been reading and reviewing books for children, from easy-to-read beginner books to chapter books full of young adventure, whimsy, and imagination!

This is only the first in a series of postings we hope to share in an effort to help spread our love of reading.
We'd love to hear your thoughts and any suggestions!

First Reads:
Children's Book : Nellie's Magic GlassesChildren's Book : Nellie's Magic Glasses by Sarit Gilor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nellie's Magic Glasses by Sarit Gilor is simple, sweet and to the point! Little Nellie is starting school and is uncertain about wearing her new glasses, until she learns of the magic they possess!

This can be read aloud or by a younger reader all by themselves! The hidden message that being different can be magical is a wonderful way to help children accept their uniqueness.

Perfect for younger children!

Publication Date: May 16, 2013
Number of pages: 16
Age Group: 4 on up!
My Rating: 5 stars
Available at: Amazon

 Children's Book: The Merry Adventures of Charlie the Choo-ChooChildren's Book: The Merry Adventures of Charlie the Choo-Choo by Sarit Gilor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A little train has decided to do some traveling. With his bright colors and rainbow colored smoke billowing, his adventures take him to new places while meeting new friends who are very different from him.

The Merry Adventures of Charlie the Choo-Choo by Sarit Gilor is a beautiful way to introduce a young child to the joy of books that they can read themselves or be read together! Bright illustrations and simple words will capture and hold a young mind!

Publication Date: June 12, 2013
Number of Pges: 16
Genre: children's Fantasy/fiction
Age Recommendation: 4+
My rating: 5 stars
Available at: Amazon

Middle Grade Reading:

Ned FirebreakNed Firebreak by Brian Clopper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How do I describe Ned Firebreak by Brian Clopper? Quirky? Exciting? Fantastical? Sometimes Silly? Sometimes Funny? Creative? Sometimes Scary? Sometimes Informative? Always Enchanting? Always Fun? Witty as Heck? Nope, not enough on their own, Ned’s tale is ALL of the aforementioned descriptives!

We meet young Ned as he awakens from a long coma, with huge chunks of his memory fuzzy or gone. You see, Ned is part of a father/son family business, per the brochures, they are dragonslayers who save fair princesses from the clutches of evil dragons, then protecting them within the enchanted “princess reservation.” But, where is Ned’s father? Why can’t her really remember him well? How can he find him and save the family business before it goes under? And why is everyone so vague at times, avoiding talking too much about the past year while Ned was in his coma?

What can I say about Brian Clopper? (See descriptives above.) What a gift this author has! I laughed, I loved the characters, I loved the story, I was definitely under its spell! Brian Clopper managed to straddle a fine line with his characters, the princesses were not totally helpless, Ned wasn’t an uber hero, evil was evil and good was good, evil could even be swayed to be good, the characters often worked together, shared ideas and accepted each other’s differences with ease. (A hidden lesson on “playing nice?”) The author wasn’t afraid to use “big” words, then give several other words that fit the bill. (Language Arts?) Through it all, Ned Firebreak is larger than life, with such a diverse cast of characters, from a brave, but sweet fairy princess to princess sisters who cannot go far from each other, to a rather nasty princess who charms the boys to do her bidding. ( Gee, they sound like girls I knew in school) You’re going to love Sir Franklin, Fairbanks with his “pun” magic and Mink, the magical talking sword with the sharp tongue.

This is another perfect book for encouraging ALL younger readers to find the joy and magic in the written word, (as well as Grandmas who love to escape reality for a while)! I REALLY need to thank author Brian Clopper for allowing me to read and review this book and strongly recommend it for all ages!
Publication Date: May 6, 2013
Publisher: Behemoth Books
Age Recommendation: Younger Readers on up!
Rating: 5 Stars
Find this book at Amazon

Graham The GargoyleGraham The Gargoyle by Brian Clopper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Looking for a great story for middle-grade readers? Take a look at this delightful tale from Brian Clopper, an author with a gift for creative story-telling! Graham the Gargoyle is an enchanting tale of a young gargoyle preparing for his big flight test while dealing with the impending death of his beloved grandfather. Not to worry, there is nothing dark and ominous here, on the contrary, this is a sweet story of a young gargoyle, kind of an outcast, facing the same things that human children face, insecurity, impending loss and bullying and how he triumphs against the odds. His best friend is loyal, smart and a troll, another outcast, but Ot always has Graham’s back!

Graham’s grandfather is dying, or “crossing over”. (By the way, for all of the pages written about gargoyles, not one ever explained what actually happens to older gargoyles, until now.) Graham learns that when a gargoyle ages, they start to become too stone-like to move and they go to the human realm to become a guardian against evil, protecting others from atop their perches on human buildings. Seriously, what a wonderful way to help ease the fear of dying!

Brian Clopper loves his work, it shows through in his easy style of writing, the way the story unfolds and the characters from his imaginary realm of “Cascade” come to life as real as any “mortal” child. With its short chapters, Graham the Gargoyle is a perfect book for younger readers, bedtime reading or summer reading!

This is a wonderful story to encourage reading for children! It flows smoothly, but gently challenges a young reader's mind. Brian Clopper has done an outstanding job here!

Publication Date: August 20, 2011 (Second Edition)
Publisher: Behemoth Books
Number of Pages: 108
Genre: Children's Fantasy
Age Recommendation: *8+
Rating: 5 Stars
Available at: Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Flenn's Folly (Graham the Gargoyle #2)Flenn's Folly by Brian Clopper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Following on the heels of her brother, like any pesky little sister, Flenn pretty much has her own book while saving the day for her big brother, Graham! Graham the Gargoyle 2: Flenn’s Folly by Brian Clopper is absolutely delightful! Filled with tons of action, adventures galore and a cast of characters in all sizes and shapes, the mythical land of Cascade is being turned upside down and inside out, one village at a time. Once again, Graham gets caught up in the middle of it all, but this time, he unknowingly gets Flenn involved! Blord makes his own kind of trouble and Medusa is trying to get the Mummy’s attention, but going about it in all the wrong ways. If that isn’t enough, there is something terrible happening in many of the other isolated villages. The villagers are getting fuzzy, insubstantial, like mist, fading away, like so many other creatures, they seem doomed to become only memories. With everything else going on, how will Flenn and Graham save their neighbors? What will it take to bring these creatures back? Have they all forgotten how Cascade came to be? Are they guilty of repeating the history from Earth that brought them here in the first place? So many questions...

Brian Clopper’s realm of Cascade is a place where the imagination can run free, and anything can happen! Its citizens are creatures from fantasy, myth and a colorfully creative mind that are really just like you and me. Even the plants become more than just things of beauty, ask Flenn! But the true hidden gem of each story from Mr. Clopper, there are lessons to be learned by young and old alike, disguised as fun reading!

Publication Date: October 10, 2012
Publisher: Behemoth Books
Series: Graham the Gargoyle, #2
Number of Pages: 291
Genre: Children's Fantasy/Fiction
Age Recommendation: Middle Grades
My Rating: 5 stars
Available at: Amazon

Irving Wishbutton and the Questing AcademyIrving Wishbutton and the Questing Academy by Brian Clopper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How does author Brian Clopper create his quirky and FUN tales, aim them toward a younger audience and completely captivate this not-so-young-reader?? How does he flesh out his characters to be so completely endearing, yet fun, brave, flawed and totally unique? Believe it or not, Mr. Clopper tells us in his own clever way with his novel Irving Wishbutton and the Questing Academyand he manages to do so while being completely entertaining and whisking the reader off to a world where anything can, and just may happen!
Irving Wishbutton started as an idea in the mind of his author. He had no name, no face, he was a ‘smudge,’ just a shadow of the character he would become, so naturally, he must be enrolled in the Questing Academy, a newbie in the world of fictitious characters! He really doesn’t understand who or what he is or how he just ‘knows’ some things, like what a dog is. Irving learns he will ‘graduate’ from the Academy when/if his book is published. Of course, authors have ‘real’ lives, too, and Irving’s author frequently takes breaks from writing to do ‘real world’ things, things revolving around his family, things that obviously help fuel his creative mind! Have you ever wondered how characters get their names? How their personalities are created? How they evolve from a ‘smudge’ into “well-developed and fleshed out characters who feel real?” How about the plot? The twists, the turns, the change in direction, the lessons learned, do you think they are the sole workings of the author? Just maybe, this is a joint effort between author and the characters!

In his own way, Brian Clopper has probably created the best “How to Write” book ever, and he did it in a fun way, full of surprises, full of characters, twists, turns and tons of imagination! Younger readers will love this leap into a world full of fantasy where the mind can run free! Books like this spread the joy of the written word to all ages and just MAY spur a young reader into becoming a young author!

I need to thank both Brian Clopper and Irving Wishbutton (and probably Mr. Clopper's family)for allowing me the chance to read and get lost in this book!

Publication Date: June 21, 2012
Publisher: Behemoth Books
Number of Pages: 301
Genre: Children's Fantasy
Recommended Age: 9 to 90
My rating: 5 HUGE Stars and a few 'buttons'
Available at: Amazon

Monsters in BoxersMonsters in Boxers by Brian Clopper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wild, crazy and over-the-top fun, fantasy and adventure! Monsters in Boxers is everything a fun read for kids should be! There’s “kid” humor, heroic monsters, evil monsters who are less scary than bumbling. For younger readers, I think the “nightmare” factor has pretty much been eliminated by author Brian Clopper’s clever writing. We meet a group of kids who have their own secret club, complete with a clubhouse, The Garage of Doom, deviously disguised as an ordinary garage with mismatched yard furniture and a donated mini-fridge filled with “the sacred beverage.” The kids receive a mysterious email, followed by an even MORE mysterious package that contains boxers, as in underwear! These are NOT ordinary boxers, they turn the wearer into magical monsters whose abilities seem to match each child’s personality perfectly! Their mission? Save the world from the monsters that are unleashed in the Chaos Storm! Can these kids rise to the occasion and take on the forces of evil? Will they win?

From page one the pace is frantic, the dialogue so perfect with just enough snark and attitude, I thought I was sitting in the back row of a fifth grade classroom, or better yet, listening to a group of kids after school, taking in the banter, the teasing and still feeling the friendship and loyalty these kids have for each other as they brave the onslaught of evil with determination and grit!

Monsters in Boxers is a trip into a world made for kids to get lost in with its over-the-top silliness and imagination! Even the chapter headings had me laughing!

Publication Date: November 5, 2012
Publisher: Behemoth Books
Number of Pages: 196
Genre: Children's Fiction/Fantasy/Adventure
Age Recommendation: Middle Grades
My Rating: 5 Stars
Available at: Amazon

Norton the VampireNorton the Vampire by Brian Clopper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Without a doubt, author Brian Clopper has found a way to teach younger readers the joy of books! Norton the Vampire is full of colorful characters from werewolves to centaurs, with ghouls and poltergeists thrown into the mix! In class, Norton's teacher (a centaur) assigns a project, each student must do a Career Day report, telling what they want to be when they grow up. Norton's choice causes quite stir because he desperately wants to become a lifeguard at Oracle Beach. And we all know what happens to vampires in the sun, right? His mom didn't mean to crush his dreams, but I think she did, in the name of love.

His friends?? They showed their loyalty to Norton as they followed him on his quest to find a way to make his dream a reality, against all odds and maybe not making all of the best decisions. There MUST be a way to help poor Norton, because that's what friends do. With determination, imagination and the help of an awesome teacher, can Norton live his dream?

What a delightfully engaging book, filled with magical beings in a magical realm that just happen to act just like true friends would, always having your back! Each character is colorful, dimensional, and like all of Mr. Clopper's characters, uniquely charming in their own way!

Children NEED books like Norton the Vampire to fuel their minds while allowing them to believe in the fantasy of make believe!

I feel like I'm always thanking this author for sharing his gift, but I mean it!

Publication Date: October 8, 2012
Publisher: Behemoth Books
Number of Pages: 125
Genre: Children's Fantasy/Fiction
Age Recommendation: A great book for reading together-any age/Read alone 7-11 (Okay, Adults will love it, too!)
My Rating: 5 stars
Available at: Amazon

Overrun (Turncoats #1)Overrun (Turncoats, Book 1)by Brian Clopper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Is Overrun, the first book in the Turncoats Series just another YA zombie apocalypse book? That would be a HUGE NO!!! Are there drooling zombies chomping away on the living? Well, yes. Are there survivors on the run, facing danger at every turn? Yes, again. Has the world gone a little crazy? Definitely. So, you ask, what is so different about Overrun by author Brian Clopper? There is non-stop action, there are unlikely heroes, but the big difference is in the presentation and writing style of the author, who kept the yucky stuff just shy of nightmare level, but managed to create a larger than life sci-fi/horror adventure that is suitable for younger teens on up!
Nathan is a normal teen, in a normal family, living a normal life until his sister’s late best friend comes to him and tells him he is going to be the key to saving the world from horrors that are yet to unfold. Did I say late best friend? Yes, Trina died in an accident a few weeks before and she has become the walking dead, with a fully functioning brain, she just doesn’t breathe, eat or sleep, and she’s a little cold to the touch, that’s all. Trina has had visions of good and evil and she has returned to play her part in Nathan’s “mission.” So begins their journey, along with Nathan’s mom, his sister and the neighborhood old lady, who, by the way is one zombie-kicking granny!
Mr. Clopper sets the stage for the apocalypse quickly with a unique twist on HOW people became zombies, from there, the action runs non-stop! With the proper amount of blood and guts, emotional outbursts, some lighter moments and several unanswered mysteries, the race for survival is on and Nathan and Trina are running blind as to what they need to do, but I could feel their resolve strengthen with each page as Nathan, in particular, faced down zombies to save the ones he loved!
I loved the plot, loved the characters, and how I was left with just enough mystery to care about what happens in the next book!

Publication Date: June 8, 2012
Publisher: Behemoth Books
Series: Turncoats, Book 1
Number of Pages: 299
Genre: YA Sci-fi/fantasy
Recommended Ages: 12 & up
My Rating: 5 stars
Available at: Amazon

SPECIAL NOTE FROM BRIAN:  HE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR WHAT YOUR KIDS THINK ABOUT HIS BOOKS! This is just a sampling of his fantasy books for Middle Grade students and YA readers and he is working hard on even more!  For Tome Tender Fans,  Brian is generously offering a free review mobi of the book that sounds the most interesting to you and your child from the books listed above to help SPREAD the WORD and get kids reading!  You may contact him by clicking on the following link:   Brian Clopper's Website 

Island of Fog (Island of Fog, #1)Island of Fog (Island of Fog , #1) by Keith Robinson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Somewhere, beyond the fog is another world, full of mystery, sunshine, and a deadly virus, but is that all? Eight children have lived their lives on a tiny island with their families, isolated from the outside world, learning of it only through books. Can you imagine not having electricity? No cellphones? For these children, even indoor plumbing with hot water is only something they’ve “heard” about! Island of Fog by Keith Robinson is a fantasy adventure that begins when Hal and his buddy Robbie make a discovery that causes them to question everything they have ever known about their lives! And then, there is the island bully, what’s going on with him? One by one these children each begin to notice that they are changing, no just growing up, but REALLY changing-into monsters, or really, into creatures out of fairytales and fantasy! True to form for a group of twelve-year-old kids, they (almost) fearlessly set out to solve the mystery of their freakish abilities! Can they trust anyone over twelve? Who is this stranger who has come into their midst? Should they hide what they are learning about themselves from the adults? Are they freaks meant for a laboratory? What would happen if they could stop the fog? Each and every question they raise adds fuel to their burning desire to ferret out the answers and sends them on the beginnings of an adventure they could never have dreamed of!

Author Keith Robinson must have channeled his inner child when he sat down to create Island of Fog! The world he’s built is like a kid magnet, full of imagination and endless possibilities for a young mind to latch on to. His characters? You’ll find them all wherever middle grade kids are gathered! Their personalities are as diverse as the forms they take, but they learn to work together and utilize the strengths of each child. Even the island bully isn’t as tough as he pretends and gets called upon to be part of their “gang.”

Island of Fog is fun, its adventurous, its creative, its wonderful reading for ALL ages and, as Book One of the Island of Fog series, it’s the start to something fantastic! A Great Chapter Book for Summer Reading! My ONLY complaint? How come kids get all the cool creatures to shift into?

Publication Date: July 27, 2009 (3rd edition)
Publisher: Unearthly Tales
ISBN: 098439060X
Series: Island of Fog, Book 1
Number of Pages: 224
Genre: Children’s Fantasy/Adventure
My Rating: 5 Stars
Available at: Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Dark Spell by Gill Arbuthnott
Rating: 3 Stars

Feeling strange and not fitting in always seemed to be an issue for Callie Hall but suddenly even stranger abilities start manifesting. It seems with extreme emotions Callie thinks she is making things happen. When her grandmother and another older woman, in her small Scotland home town, tell her she's a witch its the last thing she wants to hear.

Callie and her friend Josh take a trip to an ancient castle and somehow awaken a dark spirit, a spirit bent on evil.

Now Callie not only has to learn to control her power but she must do it in time to send the dark spirit back where it belongs.

This was a clean, young tween friendly story. The characters relationship is purely platonic and supportive of each other.

Plot wise, I found the story intriguing and slightly suspenseful but not in a horror sort of way. Ultimately, Dark Spell is a story about a young girl coming to terms with her new abilities, abilities that make her unique and different from those around her...Making Dark Spell a coming of age story with a paranormal/witchy twist.

This ARC copy of Dark Spell was given to me by Floris Books - Myrick Marketing & Media, LLC in exchange for a honest review. This book is set for publication on August 1, 2013.

Written by: Gill Arbuthnott
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Floris Books
Publication Date: July 1, 2013
ISBN-10: 0863159567
ISBN-13: 978-0863159565
Rating: 3
Genre: Paranormal
Age Recommendation: 10+

Gill Arbuthnott Weblog

Find this book on:
Barnes & Noble

TwerpTwerp by Mark Goldblatt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mark Goldblatt could very well still be a sixth grader at heart! Twerp is the perfect book to engage pre-teens, tweens, and even grandparents with its delightful cast of characters who are as real as real can get! Young Julian Twerski is a boy growing up in New York in the late 1960’s, when it was still okay to play all day, hanging with your buddies, and just being a kid, following the crowd, having fun! But what happens when you follow the crowd and you become part of something so terrible that you won’t even talk about it, even though it cost you a one week suspension from school? If you are fortunate enough to have a teacher like Julian did, you end up having to keep a journal of your day to day activities until you finally get to the heart of the assignment and must face the full reality of what you did. You must admit you were part of a group of bullies who were brutally cruel to a defenseless, mentally impaired young boy.
Twerp is written through the eyes and mind of Julian, no filters, just a boy’s view of the day to day life in the neighborhood. There are laugh out loud moments, gasping moments and moments that make you proud of Julian for his frank honesty. I actually re-read parts to my husband, they were THAT good! His journal entries are true gems, innocence and daring intermixed equally, as he details his day to day life, until he knows he can no longer avoid writing about ‘the incident.’
I honestly cannot think of anyone who wouldn’t benefit from the pure entertainment and joy of reading this book, just the walk down memory lane, revisiting the adventures and pains of youth are a trip well worth taking, the lesson learned, priceless.

An ARC edition was provided by NetGalley and Random House Children's in exchange for my honest review. Publication Date: May 28, 2013


  1. Wow, this is an excellent guide to children books!! Incredible idea!

    1. Thank you! And thank you for your contributions!