Thursday, November 26, 2020

Ghost Hunter's Daughter by Dan Poblocki

Genre: Middle Grade, Mystery, Horror
Source:  I purchased a copy

I loved this book. I am hoping my students will as well. I have this author's Shadow House Series on my shelves so this is a great addition.  Claire lives with her aunt because her mother is dead. She is popular at school because her dad is a well known ghost hunter with his own popular show. Lucas lives with his grandmother because his parents are off working on the east coast after it was destroyed by Tsunamis.  Claire's father goes missing while on an investigation. Claire learns this from the weird kid Lucas. Everyone knows his grandmother can speak to the dead and now, so can Lucas. Lucas gives Claire a message from her dead mother about her father. The two set out to rescue him.  But there is a lot at stake here.  The story is based on one town's resident ghost.  The kids act just the way you would expect them to.  They leap into a situation before they look. It is possible that they and everyone they involve in this hunt for her father will fall victim to the ghost of this town.  I didn't see the ending coming.   This will keep you on the edge of your seat like it did me. I could not put the book down. I read it in one sitting from cover to cover.  Highly recommended.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Dragon's Winter by Kandi J. Wyatt


Scout the area.

Plan the escape.
Rescue the slave.
What could possibly go wrong?

Mere's continuing her apprenticeship in San Valencia, but when a strange illness affects everyone in the dragon colony including dragons, she's forced to help a pregnant girl find safety. 

Rescuing slaves is all in a day's work for Jareem, until a new slaver in town takes exception to Jareem's interference. Now, sick and with a wounded dragon, Jareem must free the slave and find Mere and the pregnant girl before the slaver.

The clock is ticking. The baby's due any day, and the slaver's persistent. Mere and Jareem must reach beyond who they believe themselves to be in order to bring the former slaves home in one piece.


When I read most books the first question I ask myself is if this is a book I would put on my shelves for my students, and why.  I have every book in this series so far. My students love them.  When they found out Kandi was a teacher that was another boost.

The first thing I thought after finishing this book was that my students today would be able to make connections. That is important to me.  The idea that slavery still happens around the world is appalling. However, this is very prevalent in this book.  The idea of standing up for what is right no matter what the risk is something we want our kids to learn.  

I felt very at home in the world Kandi has created. I have said before she is a master at world-building. You don’t just read about these places, people and dragons.  You walk beside them throughout the story.  You are there alongside them fighting for what is right.

As far as her characters go, they are all not only believable, but lovable.  I absolutely felt like I was on an adventure with friends.  One more thing. When Kandi creates her antagonist he is a character that you love to hate. This is a book that I highly recommend to young and old alike.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Guest Post by Kandi J. Wyatt

 Kandi J. Wyatt has long been one of my favorite authors. Her fantasy dragon series has kept my students reading book after book.  Yesterday we revealed the cover to her newest addition to the series.  Today she has written a special post that is really geared toward my number one reader, my students. As a teacher she knows what students like.  This post is perfect because our next unit my students will be writing a story. Of course, in November there is always NaNoWriMo.  Please help me welcome Kandi J. Wyatt.

Your teacher gave you an assignment to write a story, or maybe you have a really cool idea for a story, but what now? Well, it’s really not as difficult as you’d think. In essence there are only five things you need for a story.

First, you need a genre. Genre is your category that you write in. If you’re writing a story, you’re most likely using fiction. There are many genres in fiction to choose from—Western, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Thriller, Horror, Mystery, Historical Fiction, and Romance to name a few. Each of the genres have different aspects to them, but as long as you understand the main ideas, you’re good to go.

After a genre, you need a setting. Setting is where and when your story takes place. Is your mystery taking place in a haunted house in the 2000’s, or is your science fiction happening on a new planet in the year 3500? Either way, you need a place and a time. Place can be as big as a country, a world, or a planet. It can be as defined as a woods, castle, space ship, or haunted house. When will decide what can happen. If your story takes place in the medieval times with knights and kings, you’re not going to have someone show up with a machine gun—unless you have a time traveler who comes from the future.

Your next two important pieces are your characters. Wait? You said two pieces and only listed one thing. Yep. You need at least two characters—an antagonist and a protagonist. It’s easy to remember these names. If you’re pro-something, you’re for it. Your protagonist is the good guy in your story. If you’re anti-something, you’re against it, so your antagonist is the bad guy.

To build a character you need to know their physical traits but also their personality. What are they like? How do they react to things? Are they easy-going or do they fly off the handle at the slightest provocation? You’ll also need to know what their goals are, why they do what they do. This will help with the final thing you need in order to write a story—plot.

Your plot is what happens. In the Western it’s telling how the good guy helps the town and defeats the bad guy. It’s how the boy gets the girl in a romance, the journey in a fantasy. Remember for a good story, bad things need to happen. Your protagonist can’t get what he wants right off the bat. He needs to work for it.

Now you know the elements that make up story. What I’ve done with my middle school students is Roll-a-Story. It’s something that a college professor created and shared at a writer’s conference. I then created my own versions. These worksheets will walk you through finding your genre, your setting, your character, and your plot. Try it out. I’d love to read what you come up with. You can share your stories with me via my email address.