Monday, October 10

Reviews of the Week 10/10

My fravorite read this week? Ghosts, by Raina Telgemeier. Perfect, short, sweet read that can get you in the right mood for Halloween! I'd add it to my ghost-story book list and middle-grade spooky book list for sure.


Hotel Bruce
Written and illustrated by Ryan T. Higgins

My rating: 

ISBN: 978-1484743621
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Date of publication: October 18, 2016
Age: 4 - 7 years
Format: ARC from publisher

Themes: travel, forest animals, family relationships, hospitality

"When Bruce gets home from a southern migration trip with his goslings, he is tired. He is grumpy. And he is definitely not in the mood to share his home with the trio of mice who have turned his den into a hotel. There's a possum pillow fight wreaking havoc in one room, a fox luring guests into a stew in the kitchen, and a snuggly crew of critters hogging the bed. Bruce growls and grumbles and tries to throw them all out, but the entrepreneurial mice just can't take a hint. Bruce is in a little over his head, especially once the goslings join the staff. Will this grumpy bear ever get his quiet, peaceful den back to himself?"

I loved Higgins first Bruce story, Mother Bruce. Like, if you haven't read it yet, shame on you. Seriously. But to be perfectly frank, I did not love this second as much. Now, don't worry, though! Because I still love Bruce and I did enjoy this story. The illustrations are still spot on, detailed, and full of wonderful color and texture. And I loved the little side comments and jokes. The humor is still my favorite part.

I think, though, the reason that I didn't love it as much was because the spotlight wasn't fully on Bruce this time (hilarious, grumpy-yet-lovable Bruce!). The story jumps between all sorts of hotel guests and their little funny incidents. The story felt more jumbled to me. But that's just me. It's easy to tell that kids who loved the first will love this one, too. So give it a go. Actually, read both of the Bruce books!

Find it at your library or on Amazon

Full of Beans
Jennifer L. Holms

My rating: 

ISBN: 978-0553510362
Publisher: Random House
Date of publication: August 30, 2016
Age: Grades 3 - 6
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: library ebook

Themes: truth, the Great Depression, Key West, earning money, New Deal

"Grown-ups lie. That’s one truth Beans knows for sure. He and his gang know how to spot a whopper a mile away, because they are the savviest bunch of barefoot conchs (that means “locals”) in all of Key West. Not that Beans really minds; it’s 1934, the middle of the Great Depression. With no jobs on the island, and no money anywhere, who can really blame the grown-ups for telling a few tales? Besides, Beans isn’t anyone’s fool. In fact, he has plans. Big plans. And the consequences might surprise even Beans himself."

It's a short book, but there's a lot packed in. Almost too much. Between the issues of lying, bootlegging, poverty, leprosy, child stars in Hollywood, FDR's New Deal, tourism, fire-fighting, stray dogs, and fever PLUS the joys of marbles, movies, Cuban cuisine, artistry, and a too-happy ending...needless to say, it didn't feel like one cohesive storyline. More like a bunch of stories. The characters are awesome; a variety of fun/brave/scary characters inhabit the island and I enjoyed meeting each of them (even if the great variety also contributed to the jumbled feel of the book).

Overall, it does provide great insight into a lot of historical elements that affected Floridians in the Great Depression. I, myself, knew nothing about the leper colonies or Key West's New Deal deal before this book. And I learned a lot more about Depression-era Hollywood, family life, and community hardships. So I'm torn with this book. If you love historical fiction, give a go. It's a chock-full, fun story.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

Raina Telgemeier

My rating: ★½

ISBN: 978-0545540629
Publisher: Graphix
Date of publication: September 13, 2016
Age: Grades 4 - 8
Genre: Graphic Novel, Horror, Realistic Fiction
Format: library ebook

Themes: sisters, ghosts, Day of the Dead, Hispanic culture, family

"Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn't happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister's sake—and her own."

Another fantastic story from Telgemeier! While yes, this is technically a ghost story, she still gives it a realism that makes relating to the protagonist easy. The issues and struggles that Cat goes through make for a book that invokes real emotion. Besides, of course, the wonderful humor and spunk woven throughout the storyline as well.

And I can't go without mentioning the art, of course. I did enjoy Telgemeier's depiction of a ghost and thought that it encourage the celebratory feeling that goes with the Day of the Dead. The emotions of the characters were not only evident, but spot on. Really, the story is made that much better through her drawings. Ooo, especially the first overlook of the coast. Check it out:

It's a perfect read for all ages before Halloween (I mean, Day of the Dead!) and perfect year-round for the lessons in sibling love and support. My only complaint was that it was too short. Highly recommended.

Find it at your library or on Amazon