Tag Archives: children’s books

New ‘Harry Potter’ E-Books To Have Animated Illustrations

It’s been eight years since the last Harry Potter novel was released, but now they’re all being released in a completely new way. Harry Potter e-books are now available, and according to The Associated Press, Apple has exclusive animated versions.

Enhanced e-book versions of the novels, exclusively for Apple products, includes more than 200 illustrations, many of which are animated or interactive. Other, non-animated versions of the e-books are available through author J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore web site.

Included in the enhanced e-books are author annotations similar to the ones Rowling’s written and included on her Pottermore web site, but there aren’t as many in the e-books as there are on Pottermore. The enhanced e-books also don’t include audio.

However, the illustrations are in full color, and the interactive illustrations are hidden; readers have to figure out what’s interactive for themselves. One example: during a scene at a meal, you can swipe to see all the food on other parts of the table.

The e-books cost $10 apiece, or $70 for the whole series.

As a kid, I read the paperback versions, but when I read the series to my eventual children, it certainly seems like the e-books are the version my kids will get to know.

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Jack Black, David Oyelowo Voicing Audiobooks

Having recently listened to an audiobook (stay tuned for a review coming next week!), i know the value of the perfect person voicing the book to which you’re listening. That’s why this news is all the more significant. ‘

According to Entertainment Weekly, actors Jack Black and David Oyelowo are both voicing audiobooks.

Jack Black is reading and recording The Little Shop of Monsters, a picture book created by Goosebumps and Arthur creators R.L. Stine and Marc Brown. The book already came out this Tuesday.

David Oyelowo is voicing the latest James Bond novel, Trigger Mortis. You might think he’s the first black actor to voice Bond, but actually he’s not. Hugh Quarshie did the famous spy’s voice in the Dr. No audiobook that was released in 2012. But that doesn’t mean the concept of a black actor playing Bond is lost on anyone. In fact, there are several talks and much speculation about Daniel Craig’s next replacement being a black actor. But for now, it’s Oyelowo who holds all the cards.

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Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Recap: When Jacob Portman’s grandfather mysteriously and suddenly dies in some kind of animal attack, it’s Jacob about whom everyone worries. The two were close, and Jacob was at his grandfather’s side shortly after the attack. Jacob claims to have seen the beast, which he can only describe as a monster. No one believes him, so 16-year-old Jacob Portman starts seeing a therapist. Soon after, Jacob and his father take a trip to Wales, where his grandfather spent some time as a child. The hope is that the more he learns about his grandpa, the sooner he’ll be able to let go.

On his journey, he discovers an old house where his grandfather spent time as a child: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. It’s in horrible shape. As it turns out, the home was bombed during WWII, killing all of the children inside. But Jacob insists his grandfather was one of those children and survived. That’s when Jacob discovers a time portal that transports him to the day of the bombing in 1940. Jacob befriends the friends of his grandfather and spends every day for weeks learning about this alternative world of peculiar children with special powers, time travel, and villains who are trying to take over.

When he learns that his own life is in danger, he has to choose: should he continue his life in present day with his parents? Or should he move permanently to the 1940 loop, where he has friends and a purpose?

Analysis: What sets this book apart from other adventure, fantasy novels are its pictures. Author Ransom Riggs wrote the book based upon pictures he collected. The pictures are creepy, and looking at the cover of the novel, I anticipated a thriller or ghost story that I wouldn’t necessarily enjoy. I was pleasantly surprised to learn the book wasn’t scary at all; rather, it was fun, exciting and full of surprising twists. The book moved in directions I didn’t expect and did a good job of incorporating the odd photos, including a levitating girl and another girl holding what appears to be a ball of glowing light.

Upon finishing Miss Peregrine, it was surprising to me to learn that it’s a young adult fiction novel. It doesn’t read like one. Yes, it’s a coming-of-age tale at heart, and it’s about teenagers, but some of the issues Jacob must deal with are adult, and the end of the novel is pretty dark. It was so good and well-written, I was surprised to learn it was meant for teens rather than adults, who might possibly appreciate it even more. It also sets up nicely for the sequel — which I have yet to read, but can’t wait to.

MVP: Jacob. Despite being 16 years old, he has some tough decisions to make, and ultimately he does what’s not only right for me, but what’s wrong for everyone — whether they know it yet or not. He is mature for his age, and as the book continues, his confidence grows. I believe he’s the kind of person most teenagers aspire to be like.

Get Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children in paperback for $5.71.

Or on your Kindle for just $3.99.

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Rainn Wilson Narrating New Dr. Seuss Book

If you thought Harper Lee was the only classic author releasing a new book this summer, you thought wrong. A posthumous Dr. Seuss book is also out now.

According to Inquisitr, actor and comedian Rainn Wilson is narrating the audio version of the new book, What Pet Should I Get?, which came out earlier this week. Dr. Seuss’s widow, Audrey Geisel, found the book’s manuscripts and drawings for the book two years ago, but estimates he worked on it sometime between 1958 and 1962.

This is not the first of Dr. Seuss’ books to be released posthumously. Reviews have stated that the new book doesn’t have any particular message or lesson that it’s trying to get across.

Get What Pet Should I Get? in hardcover for $10.09.

Or on your Kindle for $9.59.

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Movie vs. Book: Insurgent

**Spoiler Alert: Because of the popularity of both this book and movie, this review does include spoilers. 

Insurgent picks up where author Veronica Roth’s Divergent left off — with Tris, Four, Caleb, Peter and Marcus living in the Amity faction, waiting to decide their next move after narrowly escaping the attempted takeover and attack lead by Jeanine. Tris is still reeling from the death of her parents, and tensions continue to run high between Four and Tris and Peter. But when Erudite and Dauntless traitors arrive to search for Abnegation, Tris, Four and Caleb escape and meet up with the Factionless. After that, all hell breaks loose as factions try to combine to either fight off or fight for Jeanine and whatever plans she has. But Tris learns Jeanine has an important secret that involves her parents — one that she must find while also protecting the lives on the innocent.

That general story holds true in the movie version of the bestselling novel. That said, I have never seen a movie that veers so differently from the novel upon which it’s based. First of all, the movie leaves out Marcus almost entirely. As Four’s father, Marcus is the one from whom Tris learns how important her parents’ secret is. Much of the book involves Tris backing Marcus and working to get her hands on that information — a move that causes some friction between Tris and Four. But with Marcus barely in the movie, all of that friction is gone.

Not to mention, the movie objectifies that secret into a box, which Jeanine is working hard to unlock. It seems like we’re to believe that Jeanine doesn’t know what the secret is and needs a Divergent to open it by passing simulations for all five factions. In the book, Jeanine does make Tris do simulations, but it’s not to unlock a box of secrets. In the book, the reason is so she can figure out a serum that will actually affect Divergents.

The way the secret comes out is completely different in the movie than In the book. In the book, Jeanine has the secret information hidden on her computer. The information is accessed near the end of the novel as part a team effort between Tris, Christina, Marcus and several others infiltrating Jeanine’s facility and computer. But that entire section is left out of the movie.

On top of all this, three of the four major deaths in the book are either left out or changed in the movie. Lynn’s death is left out entirely. Four kills Eric in both, but in the book, Eric is put on trial and then killed. There is no trial or Dauntless leaders in the movie. Then there’s Jeanine’s death.  In the book, Tori kills her, despite Tris trying to fight Tori on it. But in the movie, Evelyn kills Jeanine, with no fight from anyone.

These are just the major changes. There are lots of other minor ones. Not having read the third book in the series, Allegiant, it’s hard for me to determine if and how these changes may affect the third movie. And granted, the movie was still excellent, action-packed and exciting. But it was so different from the book, I found myself having a hard time cheering at the end.

Get Insurgent in paperback for $10.68.

Or on your Kindle for $3.99.

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Real-Life Hogwarts On the Way?

There are no more books and no more movies, but now Harry Potter fans have something to look forward to: a real-life Hogwarts may be on the way.

According to Entertainment WeeklyCollege of Wizardry is a four-day wizard school LARP (live action role playing) event that allows people to play wizard dress-up — learning the “magical arts,” meeting creatures and doing it all in a castle in Poland.

Yes, this is a real thing, a very real thing. So real, in fact, that College of Wizardry has a crowd funding site to raise the $50,000 it costs to host three sessions in November. One of these LARP events already played out for real in November 2014, and the sessions for April 2015 are already sold out.

But wait — there’s more! Now the founders are hoping to raise $1 million dollars by the end of their campaign, which is April 29th. If they do it, they plan to use the money to buy a castle.

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Lost Dr. Seuss Books To Be Released Soon

It’s been more than 20  years since the famed children’s author died, but Dr. Seuss’s (real name: Theodor Geisel) wife and friend will be releasing some of his recently discovered lost manuscripts as soon as this summer.

According to The Wall Street Journalthe author’s wife and former secretary found the manuscripts in Geisel’s office, complete with some black-and-white illustrations, in 2013. The first release will be What Pet Should I Get, due out on July 28th. The book includes characters from Seuss’s One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.

At least another two books are expected, but publishers have not announced dates or titles.

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Harry Potter E-Books Now Available

Unless you’ve checked out J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore web site, it’s been impossible to download e-book versions of the Harry Potter series….until now.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the Harry Potter e-books are now available via Oyster, a site considered to be a type of Netflix for books.

In addition to the seven books in the series, fans will also be able to download HP counterparts, including Rowling’s Quidditch Through the Ages, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

The best part? Readers can pick their house before reading — each house has its own color settings and typography in the e-book!

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Chris Colfer To Pen More Books in Series

It was just about this time last year when I told you Glee star Chris Colfer would be writing more books in his The Land of Stories series. Well, now he has even more to write.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the actor will be penning two more Land of Stories books — The Mother Goose Diaries and Queen Red Riding Hood’s Guide to Royalty — to be released in 2015 and 2016, a perfect project for him as Glee comes to an end next year.

But that’s not all. In addition to the new books in the series, Colfer also plans to write two picture books based on the Land of Stories series and two companion books to be released as part of a holiday box set next year.

Colfer is already a bestselling author from the first books in The Land of Stories series. As long as they continue to sell well, Colfer may not need to rush to find his next acting job after Glee ends. It seems like he’s doing just fine.

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J.K. Rowling Updates ‘Harry Potter,’ Plans More Detective Novels

rowlingWhen Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling ended her acclaimed children’s book series about the most famous wizard of all time, fans worried that would be the last we’d hear from the bestselling author. But time and time again, she’s proved us wrong.

First, she created Pottermore, a web site with games, stories, and details about the universe of Harry Potter. Then she wrote an adult novel, The Casual Vacancy. She penned a Harry Potter spin-off story collection called “The Tales of Beedle the Bard.” Then came two adult crime detective novels under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. And now there’s more.

Earlier this month, Rowling released on her Pottermore web site a new Harry Potter story, the first she’s written and released since the seventh and final Potter novel was released in 2007. According to Huffington Post, the online story describes Harry Potter and his friends in their 30s. It details what they’re up to now, how they look, and how they’re faring. It’s written in the form of a gossip column, penned by Rita Skeeter, a well-known character from the novels.

The story was such a huge deal for Potter fans that it crashed the Pottermore web site. It’s also led to speculation that J.K. Rowling would write another Potter novel. But so far, that’s just speculation.

In fact, it’s Rowling’s adult crime detective series that she’s more focused on at the moment. She’s already released two novels, The Cuckoo’s Calling and the recently-released The Silkworm, under the Robert Galbraith pseudonym. It was recently reported that she would pen seven novels in the so-called Cormoran Strike series — the same number of books she wrote in the Harry Potter series. But according to Time, she’s changed her mind and now plans to write more than seven Cormoran Strike novels, as Nolan Feeney explains:

“I really love writing these books, so I don’t know that I’ve got an end point in mind,” Rowling said at a crime-writing festival, the BBC reports. “One of the things I absolutely love about this genre is that, unlike Harry, where there was an overarching story, a beginning and an end, you’re talking about discrete stories. So while a detective lives, you can keep giving him cases.”

Rowling is apparently already halfway through the third novel in the series and has ideas for the fourth. Could this be her new legacy? Will Potter fans ever get more than the latest 1,500-word story about it?

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