Reviews

Seafaring sorts: Compass South

Larson, Hope. Four Points Book One: Compass South. Illustrated by Rebecca Mock. Margaret Ferguson Books/Farrar Straus Giroux, 2016. 224 pages. Hardcover $15.34, ISBN 978-0-374-30043-2

 

TL;DR: Do I recommend this? Yes

 

Genre: Historical Fiction/Adventure Story (Graphic Novel)

 

Part of a series? Yes — the Four Points series

 

Plot Summary:

Cleopatra and Alexander are twins living in New York in the 1800s. Their father, a jack-of-all-trades who takes work whenever and wherever he can find it, has disappeared. When it looks like they are on their own, they join the Black Hook Gang, only to find themselves forced to turn them in when police catch Alex and Cleo. After some double-dealing adults and an assisted escape, the twins decide to impersonate a rich San Franciscan’s missing twin boys so that they can win the reward money. Cleo shears her hair, and they set off for San Francisco. In New Orleans, they meet another pair of red-headed twins bound for the same man. After a scuffle, one twin from each pair ends up together and on two separate boats headed round the Cape for San Francisco. Can Alex and Cleo (“Pat”) escape Luther of the Black Hook Gang? Will they find their father?

 

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

This was a solid historical fiction/adventure graphic novel. The period felt very well-researched but not dry, and the moments on the sea were exciting. It was sometimes tough to know which set of twins was being featured, but it could be figured out as the chapters went on.

 

Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

This book would be a great recommendation for kids looking for a solid adventure story. This is also a fun book to hand to kids who are twins; while it is true that it can be tough to tell which set of twins is talking when, each twin is also very different, and their personalities set them apart clearly. This could also be a solid book club choice, but be prepared for readers to want to know what happens after this volume! (Ideas from myself)

 

Grade Level: 4-8 (Titlewave says 5-8, but I agree with SLJ’s assessment that 4th and up are a good fit)

 

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Booklist starred 5/15/16

School Library Journal starred 6/1/16

 

Reviews referenced:

Kirkus Reviews. (2016, March 30). Compass south (Review of the book Compass South). Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/hope-larson/compass-south/

Publishers Weekly. (2016, April 25). Compass south (Review of the book Compass South). Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-374-30043-2

Trischitti, J. (2016, June 28). Compass south by Hope Larson  |  SLJ review (Review of the book Compass South). School Library Journal. Retrieved from http://www.slj.com/2016/06/reviews/books/compass-south-by-hope-larson-slj-review/

 

 

Reviews

Shake, rattle, and roll: Bone: Out from Boneville

Smith, Jeff. Bone: Out from Boneville. Graphix, 2005. 138 pages. 2005 Hardcover $22.99, ISBN 978-0-439-70623-0; 2015 Hardcover $12.79, ISBN 978-0-545-80070-9; Tr. $11.09, ISBN 978-0-439-70640-7; PLB $17.61, ISBN 978-1-41557-850-6

 

TL;DR: Do I recommend this? Yes

 

Genre: Fantasy (Graphic Novel)

 

Part of a series? Yes — the Bone series

 

Plot Summary:

Fone, Phoney, and Smiley Bone find themselves stuck in a desert. Smiley and Fone have helped their cousin Phoney escape from the mob that ran him out of town. Phoney, enraged by the townspeople’s attitude towards his wealth, refuses to accept the situation while Fone tries to stay on task and Smiley tries to keep everyone calm (these opening actions help readers to know how each will handle the adventure ahead!). The cousins end up separated, and Fone winds up in a magical valley in uncharted territory. There, he meets big bugs, rat creatures, a dragon, and more. Will he be able to make it home, or does something have it out for him?

 

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

This one is mega-popular at my library. Volumes are either checked out or being perused in-library constantly. Since I’ve also heard that it’s one of the most challenged books in schools, I wanted to know how those two things lined up. As I read, I really couldn’t see why it has been challenged as often as it has, so I turned to Google. Apparently, Smiley and Phoney’s smoking and drinking were the source for a lot of parental concern, as was “violence or horror” (“Case Study: Bone,” n. d.). I was surprised that Thorn’s depiction has not yet garnered enough complaints to count … if anything was going to jump out at me, it was how Thorn is illustrated. In any case, I don’t really “get” why this was banned, and I think it’s a fun adventure for readers. While I don’t plan to continue reading the series just yet, I was so sad that it ended on the cliffhanger that it did! The adventure is nonstop, and the intrigue unfolds slowly enough (but excitingly enough) to maintain tension throughout the book.

 

Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

This would be a great book to hand off to a student who enjoys fantasy and historical fiction. While the Bones are clearly not realistic characters, the setting of the novels is reminiscent of a late 1800s or early 1900s town; Phoney’s schemes and plots sound like an Industry Baron’s attempts to scam his town out of money. It would be fun to read this alongside a unit on the Industrial Era if only to make those connections. I also think this is a great recommendation for any kid who is looking for another fantasy read after finishing Land of Stories or Gregor the Overlander. (Idea from myself)

 

Grade Level: 3-6

 

Awards and Starred Reviews:

n/a

 

References:

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. (n. d.). Case study: Bone. CBLDF. Retrieved from http://cbldf.org/banned-comic/banned-challenged-comics/case-study-bone/

John (screen name). (2013, March 1). Bone — parent content review (Review of the book Bone: Out from Boneville). The Eclectic Dad. Retrieved from http://eclecticdad.com/2013/03/01/bone-review/

Neary, L. (2014, Sept. 24). Too graphic? 2014 Banned Books Week celebrates comics. NPR. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2014/09/24/350881667/too-graphic-2014-banned-books-week-celebrates-challenged-comics

Reviews

Retelling Time! The Jumbies

Baptiste, Tracey. The Jumbies. Algonquin Young Readers, 2015. 234 pages. Hardcover $13.61, ISBN 978-1-61620-414-3; Tr. $5.96, ISBN 978-1-61620-592-8

 

TL;DR: Do I recommend this? Yes

 

Genre: Folktale Retellings

 

Part of a series? No.

 

Plot Summary:

An intricate tale, Baptiste’s novel adapts a Haitian folktale into a middle grade novel. Corinne isn’t afraid of anything … not the dark, not the bullies, and certainly not the Jumbies that everyone else fears in the forest. As her father says, Jumbies are nothing but a fairytale…until, of course, the day a Jumbie follows her out. Will Severine, the Jumbie woman, steal Corinne’s father from her? Will the Jumbies destroy Corinne’s village? Or will Corinne harness the power within herself to save her family and her people?

 

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

A novel about friendship, bravery, and empathy, this story is a powerful addition to any library’s middle grade collection, particularly with a focus on folktale retellings. When so many retellings nowadays reflect Western versions of Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, and other “Disney” topics, this exciting Haitian story (based on “The Magic Orange Tree”) really offers something new. The development of the novel is a bit slow, but once the Jumbies creep out of the forest, the story launches forward, full steam ahead! Hand this one to your readers who want to read fairy tales in a new light.

 

Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

A fun book club exercise would be to talk about stewardship of the earth. Green activities such as planting something on campus (a tree! Or, if not possible, maybe some flowers or other small plants), holding a recycling drive, or other eco-friendly activity would be a great way to act upon the message of stewardship that runs throughout the novel. (Ideas from myself)

 

Grade Level: 3-6

 

Awards and Starred Reviews:

n/a

 

Review referenced:

Bird, E. (2015, Apr. 28). Review of the day: The jumbies by Tracey Baptiste (Review of the book The Jumbies). School Library Journal. Retrieved from http://blogs.slj.com/afuse8production/2015/04/28/review-of-the-day-the-jumbies-by-tracey-baptiste/

Kirkus Reviews. (2015, Jan. 20). The jumbies (Review of the book The Jumbies). Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/tracey-baptiste/the-jumbies/

Publishers Weekly. (2015, Feb. 9). The jumbies (Review of the book The Jumbies). Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/tracey-baptiste/the-jumbies/

Uncategorized

Catch-up Post: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

This blog is going to house my 45 books read this semester for my materials for tweens class, but I also want to use this site to hold my thoughts/reviews/whatevers for any MG or other young read book I’ve read! So, here is the first in a short series of books that I read this summer for another class.

As I wrote on my main blog,

Wonderstruck was gorgeous, although given Selznick’s work, that’s no surprise! I loved the overlapping stories of the boy in the 1970s and the girl in the 1920s. I especially loved how her story was told largely in graphic format. What a great read!

The illustrations, per Selznick’s usual, are stunning. I particularly loved how the girl’s scenes played out exclusively in illustration.Selznick does a great job with the story, and it’s one that I highly recommend!

Themes/Major Plot Points:

  • Being Deaf
  • Family
  • Death of a parent
  • Grief and loss
  • Adventure
  • Runaways
  • Theatre
  • Museums