Reviews

ARC Alert!! Peter & Ernesto: A Tale of Two Sloths by Graham Annable

Thank you to Netgalley and First Second for an ARC of this book! Below is my honest review.

Annable, Graham. Peter & Ernesto A Tale of Two Sloths. First Second, c2017. Hardcover $14.59, ISBN 978-1-62672-561-4

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes!

Genre: Animal Story/Graphic Novel

Part of a series? Not at this time

Book Summary:

Peter and Ernesto are two best friends. Happily watching the clouds from their canopy of trees, everything changes when Ernesto decides he loves the sky so much that he needs to see it from EVERYWHERE. Peter, a bit of a worrywart and certainly a homebody, sees no reason to leave the tree. Ernesto sets off alone, ready for adventure, and Peter worries until all he can do is follow. Will Ernesto see the sky from everywhere? And will Peter find his friend?

Reader’s Thoughts:

This book is the SWEETEST. Peter and Ernesto are two adorable sloths, and the animals each encounters along the way are interesting, funny, and diverse. The themes of home, friendship, and adventure are fun in this novel. I look forward to having this to offer our readers looking for some non-scary adventure that they can really get into.

Grade Level: K-3

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Reviews

ARC ALERT!! Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter by Marcus Sedgwick

Thank you to Netgalley and First Second for the ARC! Below is my honest review.

Sedgwick, Marcus. Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter. Illustrated by Thomas Taylor. First Second, 2018. Hardcover $20.54, ISBN 978-1-25015-984-7; PLB $19.36, ISBN 978-1-54901-896-1 ; TR $12.79, ISBN 978-1-62672-026-8

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes

Genre: Fantasy (Graphic Novel)

Part of a series? Yes; this is the first.

Book Summary:

Scarlett Hart’s parents were truly amazing monster hunters. Following their death, Scarlett is determined to be just as great a hunter. That’s more easily said than done, however, given that she is too young to actually be a monster hunter, and her continued attempts at catching monsters for the reward money lands her in danger of getting arrested. That and her dwindling funds make for a tough situation.

Reader’s Notes:

This is a really great first installment. It has adventure, humor, and creepiness galore. It’s a fun adventure with a female protagonist who refuses to give up. Highly recommend!

Grade Level: 5-8

Reviews

ARC Alert, and the clock is ticking down! Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Thank you so much to Netgalley and Rick Riordan presents for an ARC of this book. Below is my honest review.

Chokshi, Roshani. Aruh Shah and the End of Time. Rick Riordan Presents, 2018. Hardcover $14.64, ISBN 978-1-36801-235-5

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes!!! NOW IMMEDIATELY GO READ IT … well, okay, read it when it comes out! Its book birthday should be March 26th 🙂

Genre: Fantasy, and Mythology retelling!

Part of a series? Yes; this is the first of a new series!

Book Summary:

Aru Shah struggles a bit with the truth. Maaaybe she exaggerates things sometimes, but when your mom is always off at museums or dig sites or historical conventions and you live in a museum and everyone else at your new school is super rich and connected, maybe YOU would fudge the truth a bit, too. Fast-forward to Aru needing to light a cursed lamp that she’s been forbidden to light just so three bullies won’t expose her lies to the entire class. Well, turns out the lamp was cursed! The Sleeper has been released, and if Aru doesn’t stop him in 9 days, Lord Shiva will dance the world to its end. Cool.

Enter a pigeon guide, a new soul sister, and a thrilling adventure through the Otherworld, Kingdom of Death, and more. Can Aru stop the Sleeper?

Reader’s Comments:

WHAT THIS IS SO GOOD. Unsurprisingly, it’s a great pick for Percy Jackson fans, but it’s also just straight up a great book. Humor, great references (was that a Doctor Who reference I spotted?), gross jokes, and quick wit. Such a great read!

Grade Level: 3-6

Reviews

Return to the Sweet Life: The Candymakers and the Great Chocolate Chase by Wendy Mass

Mass, Wendy. The Candymakers and the Great Chocolate Chase. Little, Brown and Company, 2016. 533 pages. Hardcover $16.29, ISBN 978-0-316-08919-7; PLB $13.06, ISBN 978-1-53791-619-4; TR $7.69, ISBN 978-0-316-08918-0

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes!

Genre: Mystery

Part of a series? Yes — this is the sequel to The Candymakers

Plot Summary:

Logan, Miles, Philip, and Daisy can’t believe that after these few months, Harmonicandy is finally about to go into production. Each child also is grappling with issues in their personal lives — does Daisy have a brother? How can she balance being a spy with having normal friends? How can Miles find out more about his family without upsetting his father? How can Philip feel closer to his mother’s memory while continuing to build his own future? And how is Logan to deal with the sympathy from everyone who knows that he did not win the contest when Philip’s win was the only way to save the factory? Things go from tricky to bananas when — once the first Harmonicandies are made and shared at the Kick-Off — Logan realizes that they do not use the same chocolate from the original Harmonicandy batch in the contest, rendering their win moot. If they can’t reproduce those exact Harmonicandies, they are disqualified! How to find the winning chocolate, and what will everyone do if they can?

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

This book is a wild ride. It feels more disjointed than the first Candymakers book, but our beloved narrators are just as unputdownable as ever. The team embarks on a road trip to find the mysterious chocolate (and Daisy’s family … and Miles’s family … and Philip’s family …), and characters from other Mass novels find their way into cameos here. It’s a fun read with good questions about stewardship and what’s right.

Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

This still delivers as a solid mystery, and I’d also hand this to Mass fans for the cameos she provides.

Grade Level: 3-7

Awards and Starred Reviews:

n/a

Reviews

Despair and darkness: Gregor and the Marks of Secret by Suzanne Collins

Collins, Suzanne. Gregor and the Marks of Secret. Scholastic, c2006, p2007. 343 pages. PLB $13.36, ISBN 978-1-42874-501-8 ; TR (mass market) $6.84, ISBN 978-0-439-79146-5

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes!

Genre: Fantasy

Part of a series? Yes — the Gregor the Overlander series (The Underland Chronicles).

Plot Summary:

It is summer vacation in the Overland, which means that Gregor now has a great deal of free time to spend with Ripred for echolocation lessons. Gregor is less than thrilled with this development, particularly as his echolocation skills are not particularly strong. Ripred surprises Gregor with the news that he wishes to kill a creature who is dangerous, unstable, and who has the potential to be extremely powerful. The next day, Gregor is attacked by three rats who smash his flashlight and show him just how important echolocation is. Ripred goes missing, but Gregor is unsure of how to (or if he should) inform Vikus of Ripred’s intentions before his disappearance. During a birthday party, a bat scout drops off one of Luxa’s crowns, informing her that a nibbler had given it to him and said that Luxa would know what it meant. Luxa makes light of the delivery in public, but as she and Gregor know, it means that the mice are in grave danger. When Luxa, Gregor, and their bonds go to find the mice, the entire colony is empty, save for one dead mouse, her body hiding a strange carving on the ground. They return to Regalia, pack up for a “picnic” (so that they may escape Regalia and search for the mice without alerting the Council) only to need to take Hazard, Boots, Howard, and Nike along. They are soon trapped by an earthquake, and the peril is real. Traveling through Hades Hall to the Firelands in order to return safely to Regalia takes them through some dangerous lands with even more perilous inhabitants … what Gregor and his friends encounter in Hades Hall is enough to push the Underland past the brink and into a full-scale war. Will Gregor and his friends be able to help the nibblers? Or is all lost in the Underland?

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

This book begins to take Gregor into more intense territory — there are absolutely some scenes (highlight here for spoiler >>>) for instance, a mass grave of mice, as well as a massacre that happens on the page that make me hesitate to hand this to a young reader. That said, the book is gripping, and Gregor grapples with some very real ethical dilemmas. A strong fourth installment to the Underland Chronicles that ends on a serious cliffhanger.

Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

n/a

Grade Level: 3-6

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Horn Book Magazine starred 10/01/06

Kirkus Reviews starred 05/15/06

Reviews

Blood-curdling adventure: Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods by Suzanne Collins

Collins, Suzanne. Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane. Scholastic, 2005. 358 pages. PLB $13.36, ISBN 978-1-41568-450-4 ; TR (mass market) $6.84, ISBN 978-0-439-65624-5

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes!

Genre: Fantasy

Part of a series? Yes — the Gregor the Overlander series (The Underland Chronicles).

Plot Summary:

After his last adventure in the Underland, Nerissa handed Gregor a scroll to “reflect upon” while he was in the Overland. As well as his worries about the missing Queen Luxa, this prophecy has kept Gregor pretty occupied of late, particularly since he literally must use a mirror to read Sandwich’s prophecy. The eerie prophecy calls for a curse and a cure…but what can it mean? This question is soon answered when Ripred informs Gregor that he and Boots MUST return to the Underland in order to help a cohort determine how to fix a plague affecting only mammals (warmbloods) of the Underland. Gregor’s mom refuses to let him go, but the “escort” the rats send to ensure Gregor’s arrival in the Underland prove very convincing. Gregor and Boots may go to the Underland…with Gregor’s mother Grace in tow. Quickly, Gregor learns that this was never meant to be a short trip; instead, Gregor and his sister are needed for all of the Underland to seek the cure to this plague and save those whose lives hang in the balance … particularly Ares, Gregor’s bond, as well as other friends from his last adventure. Seeking the cure out in the jungle with Ripred, two other rats, Boots, her cockroach friend Temp, and other assorted adventurers, Gregor must focus on the task at hand while also wishing for his friend Luxa to be found. Will the party find the cure? Can the sick warmbloods be saved?

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

I still love Gregor’s voice — hearing him ask “How you doing man?” of his Underland friends is pretty funny, especially given the Regalians’ formal speech. Ripred has a nice role in this one, and he can be counted upon for both his battle know-how and his own (rather dark) sense of humor. There is real peril and loss in this novel, but it is handled well.

Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

n/a

Grade Level: 3-6

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Horn Book Magazine starred 04/01/06

Reviews

Once Upon a Time: The Wishing Spell; The Land of Stories, Book 1

Colfer, Chris. Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell. Little, Brown, and Company, 2012. 438 pages. Hardcover $16.20, ISBN 978-0-316-20157-5; Tr. $8.54, ISBN 978-0-316-20156-8; PLB $13.71, ISBN 978-1-48985-276-2

 

TL;DR: Do I recommend this? Yes

 

Genre: Fantasy/Fairytale Retellings

 

Part of a series? Yes — The Land of Stories series

 

Plot Summary:

Twins Alex and Conner Bailey couldn’t be more different. Alex loves school and homework, and Conner struggles with classwork, accidentally napping instead of listening when his teacher talks. To make matters worse, life at home continues to drag the twins down. After losing their father the year before in a car accident, the kids have had to move out of their beloved home and into a rental down the street. Their mother has to work long hours to pay bills, and their grandmother cannot spend as much time with them as they would like. To their surprise, they get a real birthday treat when their grandmother comes to visit. She gives them her beloved copy of The Land of Stories, a book filled with the fairy tales that had united the family when they visited her at her home. Within the week, however, the book begins glowing and vibrating, and the twins find themselves literally pulled into the book! Will Conner and Alex ever get back home, or will they live in the Land of Stories forever? Furthermore, will the characters in the book be just like they’ve always imagined, or will they be more complicated?

 

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

An engaging read, The Wishing Spell is the first in a series that I literally cannot keep on my shelves. Kids are always checking out a volume, and I am peppered with questions during library time about whether or not I have certain books (and when they’ll get back!). With such enthusiasm for the series in my own library, I knew I had to give it a shot. Colfer’s use of familiar fairy tale figures is inventive, and readers with any familiarity with these characters will enjoy new interpretations. Conner has a smart mouth that provides comedic relief as well as getting them out of tough spots, and Alex’s cleverness helps them escape risky moments, too. The text could be clunky at times, and events were either much more complicated or resolved far too quickly for the story’s demands, but overall, it was an enjoyable read.

 

Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

This would be a super fun book club book, especially since so many readers at varying levels have read the books. Rewriting our own fairy tales would be a great activity, especially if we could connect them or have the same protagonists moving through each story on their own question. It wouldn’t be quite an “exquisite corpse” game, but rather, we could assign the group the names and basic qualities of our protagonists, and use those characters in each of our retellings. (Idea from myself)

 

Grade Level: 3-6

 

Awards and Starred Reviews:

n/a

 

Review referenced:

Eisenhart, M. (n. d.). The wishing spell: The Land of Stories, Book 1 (Review of the book The Wishing Spell). Common Sense Media. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/the-wishing-spell-the-land-of-stories-book-1#