Saturday, September 24, 2011

Kid Konnection: Hound Dog True & More

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you a new middle grade book that touched my heart.

Summary: A story about small acts of courage from the author of A Crooked Kind of Perfect.

Do not let a mop sit overnight in water. Fix things before they get too big for fixing. Custodial wisdom: Mattie Breen writes it all down. She has just one week to convince Uncle Potluck to take her on as his custodial apprentice at Mitchell P. Anderson Elementary School. One week until school starts and she has to be the new girl again. But if she can be Uncle Potluck’s apprentice, she’ll have important work to do during lunch and recess. Work that will keep her safely away from the other fifth graders. But when her custodial wisdom goes all wrong, Mattie’s plan comes crashing down. And only then does she begin to see how one small, brave act can lead to a friend who is hound dog true. -- HMH

When I was at BEA this year, I was super excited to receive a copy of HOUND DOG TRUE by Linda Urban . I was a huge fan of Ms. Urban's prior middle grade novel A CROOKED KIND OF PERFECT -- you can read my review here, and it's one of those books that I always recommend to tween girls. Needless to say, I couldn't wait to read Ms. Urban's new novel.

Admittedly, I had very high hopes for HOUND DOG TRUE because A CROOKED KIND OF PERFECT is a book which is very near and dear to my heart. And to set out reading HOUND DOG TRUE with that mentality was probably a tad unfair. While I did enjoy HOUND DOG TRUE, I didn't love it. It's not that there was anything specific about the novel that I didn't enjoy -- it was a cute story with some wonderful messages. It's just that HOUND DOG TRUE didn't resonate with me as much as I had hoped.

HOUND DOG TRUE tells the story of Mattie, a young girl who is extremely insecure. Mattie is kind of a loner and doesn't have many friends, partially due to the fact that she is always the new girl at school. Rather than trying to fit in at yet another school, Mattie decides to "hide" by being her uncle's custodial apprentice. (This does lead to some funny stories!) It isn't until she decides to step out of her comfort zone that she learns what friendship is all about.

When I read HOUND DOG TRUE'S description, I was expecting to relate to Mattie because, like her, I moved around quite a bit as a child and was always the "new girl" at school. However, Mattie was a lot more bashful and insecure than I ever was and she kind of created her own little world. My heart went out to her and I could relate to some of her feelings, but I admit that I found her to be a bit different... and sometimes immature. Having said that, her odd behavior was what made her interesting and definitely provided some humor in the story.

As a parent of a middle grader, I appreciated so many of the messages in  HOUND DOG TRUE. In fact, I do think it would make a great mother/daughter book club pick. Some of the themes in this story include friendship, parent/child relationships, insecurity, fear, shyness, self-awareness, and courage.

I enjoyed many things about HOUND DOG TRUE and I definitely recommend it to tween girls. It was a very sweet and funny story and I liked that it focused on courage -- not exactly a theme in many reality fiction books for tweens.

And now for something a little different... I'm going to share with you a fun new app for your iPhone or iPad. The National Geographic Weird but True iOS app is  designed especially for kids, and I have to warn you that it's a kind of addictive. My kids and I couldn't stop reading all of the very strange factoids.

The Weird but True app is a fully interactive random fact generator which was inspired by the popular National Geographic Kids book series of the same name. (The book series was actually inspired by a successful feature in National Geographic Kids magazine.) Along with the collection of facts, you can save your favorites to look at later. And you can also rate each fact on the Weird-o-Meter scale and see a collection of the weirdest true facts as voted on by the users. Facts can be shared via email as well.

There are loads of entertaining facts (and even some gross ones!) and this app definitely proves the saying that "truth is stranger than fiction." For example:

- New Zealand has more sheep… than people. (Baaa!)
- Parachutes were invented before airplanes (Look out below!)
- Honeybees can be trained to detect bombs (Bzzzzz….. BOOM!)
- A sneeze travels 100 mph (Bless you!)
- Some honeybee queens… quack (Duck! It’s a bee!)

Both of my kids enjoyed playing (or dare I say learning) with this Weird but True app. In fact, they were so excited by the facts that they were grabbing for my iPad at the same time -- oh the horror! Once they calmed down, I had my chance to "play." I must say that I liked reading the facts and seeing some gorgeous photos, and I thought it was a lot of fun to swipe or shake my iPad to bring up new facts.

Overall, the Weird but True app was a big hit in our household! I definitely recommend it for kids of all ages (and especially those ones who are interested in fun science facts.)

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


rhapsodyinbooks said...

I can't seem to get Mr. Linky to react to me today, but I have a Kid Konnection post today on "In the Night Kitchen" by Maurice Sendak for Banned Books Week.

Beth F said...

The National Geo app has me a bit jealous that I don't own any i-gadgets! I wonder if there is a Droid app.

bermudaonion said...

I reviewed Hound Dog True today too! I liked Mattie but thought she was immature too. It was a cute story.

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

Your review got me all curious about A Crooked Kind of Perfect. I'm patiently waiting for the day I get an ipad. The NG app does sound really cool.

Anonymous said...

Its really hard to read another book by an author or a piece that you absolutely adore. Such high expectations!!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

I'll be looking for that "Weird But True" app! As much as I'm not an e-reader person, I'm a definite app person ... have found that my younger son will read the early readers ("I Can Read") on the iPad (but won't sit to read print editions). Whatever hooks them!