Reviews

Friendship to the max! Unicorn Power by Mariko Tamaki

Tamaki, Mariko. Unicorn Power. Illustrated by Brooke A. Allen. Amulet Books, 2017. 239 pages. Hardcover $12.89, ISBN 978-1-41972-725-2

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes

Genre: Fantasy/Adventure Fiction

Part of a series? Yes! This is the first Lumberjanes novel; it draws heavily on action that has happened in the comics.

Book Summary:

One day the Lumberjanes find themselves face to face with UNICORNS! While Ripley is stoked beyond belief with this find alone, April notices a HUMONGOUS mountain that is recorded on zero maps. April knows she can earn a super-rare badge … and if all of them explore, they will all earn it together! But there’s a weird broken sign on the ground that nobody reads, and some weird weather, and … well, will this mission go smoothly? Or is this bound to turn out like a campfire tale?

Reader’s Notes:

I read Beware the Kitten Holy, so I’m familiar with the Lumberjanes, and I really enjoyed this book. It was a fun romp through the wacky woods outside their camp for hardcore lady-types. I’d absolutely hand this off to a Lumberjanes fan.

Grade Level: 5-8

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews starred, 08/15/17

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Reviews

Once upon a time … The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Chainani, Soman. The School for Good and Evil. Read by Polly Lee. Harper, 2013. 488 pages. Hardcover $15.44, ISBN 978-0-06-210489-2; PLB $13.86, ISBN 978-1-48982-456-1; TR $6.84, ISBN 978-0-06-210490-8

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes

Genre: Fantasy, fairytales

Part of a series? Yes — The School for Good and Evil series

Plot Summary:

Sophie of Gavaldon knows that when the mysterious schoolmaster comes to steal children (one for the princess school, one for the witch school), she’s a shoe-in for the role of the princess. She’s given her life to good deeds — just look at her best friend Agatha. Nobody likes Agatha!

Imagine Sophie’s shock when the schoolmaster does come for her … and drops her off in the School for Evil, sending Agatha into the hallowed halls of the School for Good! Is this a terrible mistake, or do the girls have more to learn about what makes “good” and “evil” so?

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

While this book does not probe as deeply into “good” versus “evil” as I would have liked, this is still a delicious fairytale. Well, as an older reader, I struggled with some issues that felt a bit straw-feminist like to me? (Agatha’s early loathing of Tedros was fun, but it does not sustain itself over the course of the fairy tale. It feels like something she must grow out of…)  As well as some spoilers [Chainani plays with heteronormativity in ways that uphold heteronormativity, so I am not fully comfortable with that], but over all, I would hand this one off to a student who enjoys fantasy and stories about schools of magic.

Grade Level: 5-8

Awards and Starred Reviews:

n/a

Readalikes?

If you love Sophie’s need to be the BEST, pick up The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire LeGrand. There’s a similar “pity best friend” plot line where the best friend (much like Agatha) is the better of the two kids. (Victoria of Cavendish does turn nicer a bit faster than Sophie does, but still — the plot is similar.)

Chris Colfer’s Land of Stories series delivers on fairytale retelling and having ordinary children fall into a storybook world. Colfer’s series is contemporary fiction whereas the girls of Gavaldon appear to live in a more rustic era, but the “brave new world” feeling is similar.

Reviews

Magazine! New Moon

New Moon. Location. Duluth, MN: New Moon Girl Media. 6 issues yearly. $40.95 per year

 

TL;DR: Do I recommend this? Yes

Publication: Magazine

Brief Description:

New Moon is a magazine for and by girls ages 8 and up. It features “Herstory” (history) sections, health topics, fiction with girl protagonists, letters to the editor, “How Aggravating!” (a complaints-about-life Dear Abby type section), “Howling At the Moon!” (for things girls want to celebrate), poetry, art, and articles. The magazine focuses on imparting on girls the importance of “girl power” and feminism.

Genres/Subjects: History, current events, health, fiction, poetry, art

Reading Level: ages 8-16

Programming/Lesson Ideas:

Since I currently work in two single-sex schools that share a campus, I would love to highlight this magazine with girls. It’s a great alternative to the Teen Vogues and others of that ilk that girls start picking up young. We do not carry those magazines, but by offering these patrons a magazine that focuses on their strengths and women’s history, I can help them work on their confidence and awareness of women in the world.

Personal Thoughts:

I was a New Moon Girl way back when, so I have some intense nostalgia for this magazine. When I came across one a few months ago, I was transported back to waiting eagerly for my bimonthly magazine. Flipping through, submitting work for publication, and rereading favorite articles was how I spent a lot of time as a tween. I would love to inspire more girls to check out this awesome magazine! Having it in the library would be a great way for me to help more girls discover this empowering publication.

Review read:

Parents’ Choice. (n. d.). New Moon: The magazine for girls and their dreams (Review of the magazine New Moon). Parents’ Choice. Retrieved from http://www.parents-choice.org/product.cfm?product_id=24004&StepNum=1