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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Minion Blog Tour {Review, Guest Post, Giveaway}

I'm super thrilled to have the Minion Blog Tour stopping by today! Below, you can check out my Review of this fun middle-grade book, an awesome Guest Post from the author, and enter the Giveaway to win a signed hardcover copy...

(Sidekicked companion)
by John David Anderson
June 24, 2014
Walden Pond Press

John David Anderson returns to the world of superheroes he created in Sidekicked with an entirely new cast of characters in Minion, a funny and emotional companion to his first breakout tween novel—perfect for superhero fans who also love the work of bestselling authors Rick Riordan, Louis Sachar, and Frank Cottrell Boyce.
Michael Morn might be a villain, but he's really not a bad guy. When you live in New Liberty, known across the country as the City without a Super, there are only two kinds of people, after all: those who turn to crime and those who suffer. Michael and his adoptive father spend their days building boxes—special devices with mysterious abilities—which they sell to the mob at a price. They provide for each other, they look out for each other, and they'd never betray each other.
But then a Super comes to town, and Michael's world is thrown into disarray. The Comet could destroy everything Michael and his dad have built, the safe and secure life they've made for themselves. And now Michael and his father face a choice: to hold tight to their life or to let it unravel.

by John David Anderson
Walden Pond Press
With not nearly enough power comes way too much responsibility. 
Andrew Bean might be a part of H.E.R.O., a secret organization for the training of superhero sidekicks, but that doesn’t mean that life is all leaping tall buildings in single bounds. First, there’s Drew’s power: Possessed of super senses – his hearing, sight, taste, touch, and smell are the most powerful on the planet – he’s literally the most sensitive kid in school. There’s his superhero mentor, a former legend who now spends more time straddling barstools than he does fighting crime. And then there’s his best friend, Jenna – their friendship would be complicated enough if she weren’t able to throw a Volkswagen the length of a city block. Add in trying to keep his sidekick life a secret from everyone, including his parents, and the truth is clear: Middle school is a drag even with superpowers. 
But this was all before a supervillain long thought dead returned to Justicia, superheroes began disappearing at an alarming rate, and Drew’s two identities threatened to crash head-on into each other. Drew has always found it pretty easy to separate right from wrong, good from evil. It’s what a superhero does. But what happens when that line starts to break down?

watch the Minion book trailer

Last year, John David Anderson’s super-charged superhero adventure Sidekicked thrilled and entertained readers (especially this reader!), and Anderson returns to this superhero and villain filled world in Minion.

Minion, a companion, not sequel or prequel, to Sidekicked, is set in a whole new city with a whole new cast of characters. In New Liberty there are no Supers, only the haves and the have-nots. Thirteen year old Michael and his adoptive father live in the have-not side of town, yet pretty much have what they need. Michael’s father, a brilliant, mad-scientist type, works for the local mob thugs, creating special little black boxes with big abilities. Michael and his father like their life and Super-less town the way it is, but their comfort and security is threatened when a new breed of criminal mastermind appears in New Liberty and brings a Super (the Comet) hot on his tail.

Once again, John David Anderson delivers an exciting, laugh-out-loud, pitch-perfect middle-grade adventure that will have young readers enthralled from beginning to end! Minion, with its focus on the world of villains and bad guys, is a bit darker than its companion, but has a lot of surprising depth and heart.

Anderson has a real knack for spinning a wildly funny and delightfully oddball story; he clearly knows and gets his intended audience and this shines through on every page. I seriously laughed out loud through this entire book! And the humor isn’t just silly, it’s downright clever. With its high crime rate, lack of a Super, and mix of devious; bumbling; amusing villains, New Liberty makes for an oddly engaging setting. As awesome as the Super filled world of Sidekicked is, there’s just something so fun and exhilarating about exploring the world of bad guys, and from the mob boss Tony, to his competition Mickey, to a human porcupine and boulder, to a creepy evil mastermind called the Dictator, the baddies in Minion do not disappoint!

The sometimes villain (he’s only robbed a few banks and only took what he and his dad needed), but mostly good guy, Michael, is such a likable, endearing character! He has a super cool, super persuasive superpower, but is still relatably and amusingly awkward, but in a totally adorable and charming way. From his time spent as an orphan, to his complex relationship with his father, his first encounter with puppy love, and his struggle with wanting to be a good guy in a villain filled city, Anderson infuses Michael’s story with a great deal of heart, emotion, and depth.

Both Michael and readers are thrown some wicked fun curve-balls and twists, leading up to an explosive and exciting ending!

My Final Thoughts: John David Anderson takes the world of Superheroes, Villains, and superpowers to some heart-racing and breathtaking places in this series. Minion is an excellent companion to Sidekicked and, while both can be read and enjoyed separately, young readers will no doubt want to devour them together!


Tips For Young Writers
by John David Anderson

Part of the joy of writing middle grade novels is connecting with young readers and learning about their aspirations. Not surprisingly, many young people I meet tell me they want to be writers. (More want to be video game testers or high-powered Wall Street executives, but what are you gonna do?) This one goes out to any young readers, age seven to thirteen, who have dreams of someday being writers themselves—just a few things they can do, right now, to make those dreams come true.
If you want to be a writer…
  1. Ask adults what books/authors have made a significant impact on their lives. Make a list. There may be some that you can go ahead and start reading now (give Lloyd Alexander a try), but most of them you are probably going to have to wait a bit for. That’s all right. Good books, like fresh-baked cookies, are worth waiting for.
  2. Get in trouble. Not serious trouble. Don’t get arrested or anything. But it’s important to have a little bit of drama in your life. It gives you a better understanding of motive, character evolution, and cause-and-effect. You probably don’t need to make any extra effort towards this—it will happen naturally at some point. When it does, make a note of how it felt (both doing whatever you did to get in trouble and paying for it afterward).
  3. Learn at least one new word every day. This should come naturally (provided you are an avid reader—and if you are an aspiring writer, that’s pretty much a given), but if it doesn’t, I’m sure there’s an app for it.
  4. Put a poster of your favorite author on your wall. Why the heck not? We do it for sports figures and movie stars, why not authors? Every day, look at said author and say “You’re going down, mister (or missus)! I’m going to write twice as many books as you!” A little authorial trash talk never hurt anyone.
  5. Keep a book with you at all times. Also keep a notebook or scrap of paper to write down any cool ideas you have. Tape them to your wall. You can try keeping a journal, but that’s hard for me to recommend personally because I’m not disciplined enough to do it myself.
  6. Take an interest in the world around you. Yes, I know, the ones inside your head are more interesting, but every good writer knows how to draw parallels between the worlds they imagine and the one we are all forced to live together in. Just don’t watch the local news—it’s depressing. You can read the paper, but don’t forget to do the jumble.
  7. Stop and look. I admit I don’t do enough of this. But sometimes you need to bend down and stare at something, taking in every facet and fiber of its being, whether it’s a can of Coke or a blade of grass or your sister’s ugly feet. Really look at the thing. Then later try to describe what you saw to its most infinitesimal detail.  
  8. Find a physical activity you enjoy. Writing can lead to a sedentary existence. Practice good health habits now and carry them into adulthood. I enjoy hiking and biking and playing an approximation of tennis (we play with a five bounce maximum). Plus, breaks for exercise can recharge your imaginative batteries.
  9. Find your look. It’s never too early to start cultivating your authorial persona. For me it’s four-day old blue jeans, a t-shirt with some dorky pop-cultural reference emblazoned on it, and mildly brushed hair. Maybe your look is sweater vests. Or berets. Or a clown nose. That would be cool.
  10. Take risks. I don’t necessarily mean cliff diving or shark wrestling. I mean push yourself to try something that’s a little out of your comfort zone. Even if you don’t like it or aren’t good at it, it will still give you something to write about, either now or when you’re older.
  11. Acquire a (healthy) addiction. Most of the writers I know are addicted to something. To be honest, for most of them it’s caffeine (which is not so good) and for the heroes of my youth it was even worse stuff. For me it’s chocolate and Atomic Fireballs—also not terribly healthy. It would be good if you could get addicted to celery. Or giving to charity. Or exercise. If all else fails, just get addicted to reading.
  12. Cultivate patience. Writing requires tremendous reserves of patience. It is not an instantly gratifying process. And patience will help you with most everything else in life as well—school, relationships, parenthood, traffic, amusement park lines, etc.
  13. Love people. And stuff. But mostly people. Good writing requires strong characters with complex emotional responses, and caring about people basically counts as primary research. Plus, you will need the people you love to support you while you try to make it as a writer someday. Like, literally support you. With cash.
  14. Finally, of course, write. Every day. Something. Just write. Draw. Paint. Dance interpretively. Shape your boogers into interesting sculptures. Whatever you do, be willing to express yourself. Be creative. The world is essentially run by creative types. Yes, we sometimes sit in the dark corners out of sight, but rest assured, we are the puppet masters.
So that’s it. I would have given fifteen, but I don’t want to spoil you. Good luck in your future writing endeavors, and I hope to see your poster on my wall someday.

Thanks so much for this wonderful post, John David Anderson!

John David Anderson writes novels for young people and then, occasionally, gets them published. Besides Minion, he is the author of Sidekicked, and Standard Hero Behavior. He lives with his patient wife and brilliant twins in Indianapolis, Indiana, right next to a State park and a Walmart. He enjoys hiking, reading, chocolate, spending time with his family, playing the piano, chocolate, making board games, chocolate, not putting away his laundry, watching movies, and chocolate. Those aren't his real teeth.
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July 18 Small Review


Robert D. said...

I would be called, Robot Rob and I would use any mechanical part to upgrade my robot body lol.

Carl Scott said...

I think I'd be FattMann and I'd smother you with my rolls of belly fat. Gross!!

Yvonne said...

Muahaha! My superpower would be Teleportation and my name would be The Procrastinator....hence the need for my superpower so I won't always be late.

anne s. said...

Photorrific Phelps and I would have photographic memory!