Friday, January 12, 2018

The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary--What a Terrifically Cool Book!

Hey, guys, did you see The Last Jedi? What a silly question--of course you've seen it! This is just about the perfect GUY movie!! Epic space battles! Super-speed vehicles! Outnumbered good guys taking on massive amounts of bad guys! And a handsome. cocky good guy insulting a powerful bad guys right to his face! (witness the early scene when Poe Dameron calls General Hux "General Hugs") Plus, to keep this from being just an empty action movie, there are characters who gain (and lose) wisdom through hard choices. So, yes, even if you're not a Star Wars fan, this movie is you, guys, and I'm sure you've already seen it. If you haven't, then don't read any further. Stop whatever you're doing and go.



OK, if you've got to do homework or celebrate your grandmother's birthday, then I'll make an exception. Otherwise---


The Last JediOK, while they're out watching the movie, let's talk about a terrific book based on that movie. It's The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary by Pablo HidlagoEvery time a new Star Wars movie comes out, DK Publishers puts out one of these Visual Dictionaries and every one of them is great. They have lots of cool photos of the people, spaceships, creatures, equipment, weapons, etc. from that movie along with captions that explain a lot about that person, spaceship, piece of equipment, etc. Plus this book has a section that fills in what has happened between the last movie and this one, a very cool map of the galaxy and the backstories of the characters. That means you get to learn a lot of great info like:

  • What did Luke Skywalker do between the fall of the Empire and his training of new Jedi?
  • What does General Hux literally have up his sleeve?
  • Why do those skimmers leave red trails on the surface of Crait?
  • Where did Captain Phasma get her armor?
  • How many layers of fur does a Wookie have?
  • And what exactly are those thingies in the breast pockets of First Order officers  that look like pens?

You'll find out this plus a whole lot more!! This is one terrific book and you'll have lots of fun with it. And the best part is that you DON'T have to start at the beginning and go straight through. You can jump around and look at whatever interests you and take as much time doing that as you like--though I bet you're going to want to read the entire book at some point. So run to your local library and get a copy--NOW!!

Give the Seal of Approval as One Terrific Book, the Iron Guy Does

Sunday, January 7, 2018

It's a New Year--Believe It or Not!

Happy New Year, everybody! 2018 is here and there are a lot of exciting things that will happen in this blog over the next few months. There are a lot of books I want to tell you about, I'm going to help some other bloggers choose the best nonfiction of 2017 and the Iron Guy, in truly MANLY fashion, will confront one of his worst fears.  Yes, it's going to be a lot of fun here--but let me get into that another time. I've got a couple of cool books to talk about.

The first is Ripley's Believe or Not! Out of This World Edition 2018
Ripley's Believe It Or Not!Guys really enjoy these types of books--you know the Guinness Book of World Records or the Weird But True Facts, which are full of fun, strange, goofball or unbelievable bits of fascinating information. Well, this one can stand there with all the others. There are some pretty weird facts here, like:
  • Dinosaurs actually swallowed rocks. Why? Look at page 56 to find out!
  • Who Mario in Mario Cart was named after. (p.24)
  • The cockroach artist (p. 68) and what's unusual about penguin mouths (p.72)
  • The man who does yoga on a BMX bicycle--on a cliff 300 feet above the ground! (p.80)
It's a lot of fun to go through this book and see all the unusual things in here but the great thing about Ripley's Believe It or Not is that you're not required to believe everything you read. Of course, the editors really want you to believe what you see in this book and everything looks like it could be real. That's why they call it Believe It or Not! But sometimes you just gotta wonder. For example, on page 47, there's a picture of a pink grasshopper. Could it be real? I'm sure it could but---what if it's just a photographic trick? Should you believe it? Or not? That's the great thing about this book--you gotta take a look and decide!

Well, reading this book just led me naturally to this next one, Who Was Robert Ripley? by Kirsten Anderson. We all know how great these Who Was...? and What Was...? books are and I've talked about several of them before. (see the Who Was... label under this post to find past reviews) This was a terriific book , taken from a terrific true-life story.
Young Roy Ripley had everything going against him. Born in 1890, he developed big front teeth that stuck out, making it hard for him to talk, and was funny-looking with big ears. You can imagine how the other kids treated him. Yet he had three great passions--sports, particularly baseball, a talent for drawing and a collection of weird facts. Against the odds, he took his talent to big cities to work for newspapers and to pitch baseball--but during his first pro game, his arm broke! So he turned to his drwaing and during a slow season for sports, pulled out his collection of weird facts--like the man who swam the English Channel on a mattress! He published his first collection of cartoons and strange facts in 1918 and they became a hit! Eventually, his "Believe It or Not" feature became not only a nation-wide hit but part of American life. But this is more than a typical inspirational story--this book is really interesting, showing not only his life story but lots of cool stuff about his times. And lots of weird facts, like the woman who rode skates on her hands! Was everything he said true? Well...often it was but it often depended on how he worded things. Check out his statement that "Lindbergh was the 67th person to cross the Atlantic" and you'll see what I meant. Was it true? Yes...but...
Guys, you gotta read this! Like all the Who Was.. books, they are good, full of fascinating information, have good timelines in the back and can be read quickly.
(PS--I remember reading these features as a boy and they are still publishing Believe It or Not features today! And there are Believe It or Not Odditoriums across the world. Check their website at

All right. This looks like it will be a good year for reading, so the Iron Guy wishes you Happy Reading in 2018---

---and a MANLY New Year!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Holiday Blasts from the Past (Plus Two New Ones)

Greetings, holiday-loving and book-reading guys! Every now and then, when the Iron Guy gets too busy to read, he goes back into the vaults and brings out some books that I've recommended before. I call these Blasts from the Past and today I'm going to tell you about a few holiday books. All of them are picture books but don't let that scare you off. They are not just cutesy little stories for three-year-olds; they are really good for guys of any age. Even grownups!

First there's Hanukkah. It's over now but that doesn't mean you shouldn't read these truly terrific books. They are wonderful and inspirational in the best sense of the word. with guys overcoming difficulties in really bad circumstances. And they're based on real stories! See the original reviews here.

Then, of course, there's Christmas.  The first book is How Santa Really Works by Alan Snow. (what an appropriate name!) Come on, boys, haven't you always wondered how he gets all that stuff into one sleigh, even if it is magical? Or how does that big, fat guy get down those narrow chimneys? You'd be surprised! (I sure was!)

And have you wondered what Santa does or where he goes those other eleven months of the year? Then you should read Where Does Joe Go? by Tracey Campbell Pearson and find out. This book is a lot of fun for younger and older reader guys (and grownups!) and you will get a smile out of it.

And we have Kwanzaa as well. The best Kwanzaa book I've ever read is Seven Spools of Thread by Angela Shelf Meadearis. It's a great story--seven brothers, who argue all the time, find out that their father's will says that they have to spin seven spools of thread into gold by nightfall or they will all be turned out of their house as beggars. How can they accomplish such an impossible task? In an unexpected way that uses the seven principles of this marvelous holiday. It's a book you'll remember for a long time. (see the original review here)

Have a happy holiday season and don't forget that you can still rescue a book from The Island of Semi-Neglected Books.

And to get you rocking for the holidays, here's a video I posted way back in 2008. Watch it and enjoy.


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Island of Semi-Neglected Books

Hey, guys, the Iron Guy is back! I'm sorry I haven't posted anything for a while but we've been as busy as Santa's elves on December 23. That means I haven't had time to read very much, so I don't have anything new to share with you. But I thought I'd do something to promote a bunch of books that don't get the attention they deserve.

Do you remember The Island of Misfit Toys from the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer TV special?
(btw, do you ever watch it on broadcast TV or do you watch it other ways?) There's this island where toys that no one wants. like the ostrich-riding cowboy, live and get forgotten each year. (It's a sad scene that could make even a MANLY MAN like the Iron Guy sniffle) It all turns out OK; Rudolph gets Santa to pick them up and deliver them on Christmas Eve. So that got me thinking about some books that are really terrific but don't get checked out as much as they should. These live on The Island of Semi-Neglected Books. They deserve to be checked out by boys who would really, really enjoy them but, for whatever reason, they don't get much notice and stay on our shelves. Well, the Iron Guy is here, like Rudolph, to make sure that they aren't forgotten this holiday season. And what are these books? I'm very glad you asked.

The Copernicus Legacy books by Tony Abbott

I'm always surprised that these books don't get checked out more often. They are T-E-R-R-I-F-I-C! Action, suspense, a world-wide conspiracy, 500-year-old secrets, time travel, puzzling clues and one of the most memorable villains you'll ever meet.

The Alvin Ho books by Loren Long

You want to read something REALLY funny? Go check out any of these books about second-grader Alvin Ho and his PDK. You'll laugh out loud. You will!

The Akimbo books by Alexander McCall Smith

These books are short and could be read quickly and, believe me, once you start one of these stories about Akimbo, who lives on a nature preserve in Kenya, you won't stop. (there's a scene in Akimbo and the Snakes in which he is trapped in a truck with a deadly black mambo snake--one of the scariest things I've ever read!)

The Legends books by Howard Bryant

Man, oh, man I could spend all day talking about these terrific books. There are three of them and each one is about a different sport. (football, basketball and baseball) They have incredible stories of teams, individuals, stamina, determination, athletes who changed the game, athletes who changed our country, last-minute wins, comebacks against all odds and--well, there's a whole lot more.

OK, guys, now that you've seen them, here's your chance. Don't let these books just sit on the shelves over the holidays! Come check them out and let them go to a good home. (at least for three weeks!)

All kidding aside, you will really enjoy these and that's why I'm enthusiastic about seeing these get checked out. And if you need some more incentive, any boy who sends in a review (or more than one) of any of these books gets to pick a prize (or prizes) out of our ultra-cool prize box. The more reviews you send, the more prizes you get. But the reviews have about books in these series. Got that? I'll keep this offer going until Wednesday, January 3, 2018. Plenty of time to read and review, especially with the holiday break.

All right, then! Head on down to your local library and let's rescue some of them from The Island of Semi-Neglected Books!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Beastly Beaman Claims His Prizes!

Greetings, all you reader guys! The third contestant in the World Series of Reading Contest came by last night to claim his well-deserved prizes. This mighty contestant is none other than Beastly Beaman, who sent us two reviews that covered seven books. He claimed two items out of the ultra-cool prize box, which were the books Questors by Joan Lennon and The Roar by Emma Clayton. (this book got the most comments I've ever had about a book)

Well done, BB! Please keep sending more of those great reviews. As I've said before, all reader guys are always on the lookout for new reads and who would be better to tell us about them than another boy? So keep them coming, BB!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Another Review from the Awesome Aaryan!

Hey, everyone, we are lucky today because our new friend Aaryan sent us another review! This ought to be good because it's about Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets by Dav Pilkey. All guys enjoy Dav Pilkey's books, especially this series, so let's hear what Aaryan said about this one:

Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets by Dav Pilkey

I like the book Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets a lot. It is amazing because it is funny that they have talking toilets and the princibal plans for the teachers to get eaten by the the toilets. In the book it is funny when George and Harold did some adjustments to the other kids projects and make them not work. I don’t like is that the book is mainly only about George, Harold, Captain Underpants and Mr. Krupp. The tilte gave a great hint what the story is about. The characters have very good names that I can say and most of the characters in the story have names. That’s why I like the book Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets a lot.

Thanks, Aaryan! As I said, I have not yet met a boy who didn't like these books and there's probably some boy out there who has not read them yet, so I bet he'd like your recommendation. Keep these reviews coming!

PS--how do you guys like the new background?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

And Aryan Claims His Prizes!

Our third-place winner, the fabulous Aaryan, came in and claimed his prizes today.

He's holding a copy of Guardians of the Gryphon's Claw by Todd Calgi Gallicano (and it's signed by the author!) and he's wearing his other prize, a Wimpy Kid button. He also brought us a review but I don't have time to post it today. Next week, though!

Well done, Aaryan! I look forward to posting your review and getting many more.