Monday, October 17

Reviews of the Week 10/17

Yeah, I had Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier last week, and now I'm back with even more terrifying ghosts: the newest Lockwood & Co. book! Oh man, so good, so worth the wait...


Book-O-Beards: A Wearable Book
Written by Donald Lemke, illustrated by Bob Lentz

My rating: ★½

ISBN: 978-1623701833
Publisher: Capstone
Date of publication: February 1, 2015
Age: 1 - 6 years
Format: library book

Themes: interactive, beards, mustaches, rhymes

What makes Santa's "ho ho ho" jollier? Or a pirate's "arrrgh!" more intimidating? Beards, of course! With colorful illustrations, catchy rhymes, and interactive dialogue, this is a completely wearable board book of six BEARD masks. What bearded fellow will you best impersonate?

This book is by no means new, and it's gotten plenty of praise all over, but I only just finally got my hands on it. And it was SO worth the wait! It had my whole family laughing as we all took turns (baby included—SO FUNNY) wearing various styles of facial hair. The illustrations are bright, bold, and cartoonish, adding to the humor. The rhymes aren't perfect (for example, rhyming "large" with a pirate's "arr" making it "arrgh"—pirates don't say "argh!" I mean, really!) but they keep the flow going. Altogether, this is an absolutely hilarious book that I would've LOVED to use in my Mustache storytime but am certainly happy to share with friends and family. I definitely recommend it.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

We Are Growing!
(Elephant & Piggie Like Reading!)
by Mo Willems & Laurie Keller

My rating: ★★★

ISBN: 978-1484726358
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Date of publication: September 20, 2016
Age: Grades 1 - 3
Format: library book

Themes: superlatives, grass, growing, friendship, self-confidence

"Walt and his friends are growing up fast! Everyone is the something-est. But . . . what about Walt? He is not the tallest, or the curliest, or the silliest. He is not the anything-est! As a BIG surprise inches closer, Walt discovers something special of his own!"

I had high hopes for this book, what with its endorsement from Elephant & Piggie (my all time favorites!), but I was disappointed. That is not to say it was bad (not at all!), it's just not up to my expectations. This is a fine beginning reader that explores superlatives and finding what you're good at—a great lesson for kids. All of the text is in word bubbles, which I actually prefer because it helps kids understand who is talking (thus practicing character voice) and it carries better emotion (with lots of CAPS or !!!). The illustrations are cute, if a bit wacky; I didn't know blades of grass could be so crazy happy. My biggest source of disappointment was the lack of humor. The best joke was Elephant's intro to the book (so it came from Willems) while the story itself was rather unexciting. It's a fine title to peruse if given the opportunity, but I'm not in a real rush to recommend it. I am glad, though, that Elephant & Piggie did make a new appearance and are helping kids explore more books.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

The Creeping Shadow
(Lockwood & Co. #4)
Jonathan Stroud

My rating: ★½

ISBN: 978-1484709672
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Date of publication: September 13, 2016
Age: Grades 4 - 8
Genre: Horror
Format: library book

Themes: ghosts, hauntings, experiments, business practices, friendship, London

"After leaving Lockwood & Co. at the end of The Hollow Boy, Lucy is a freelance operative, hiring herself out to agencies that value her ever-improving skills. One day she is pleasantly surprised by a visit from Lockwood, who tells her he needs a good Listener for a tough assignment. Penelope Fittes, the leader of the giant Fittes Agency wants them—and only them—to locate and remove the Source for the legendary Brixton Cannibal. They succeed in their very dangerous task, but tensions remain high between Lucy and the other agents. Even the skull in the jar talks to her like a jilted lover. What will it take to reunite the team? Black marketeers, an informant ghost, a Spirit Cape that transports the wearer, and mysteries involving Steve Rotwell and Penelope Fittes just may do the trick..."
If you haven't read the other books in this series, just stop. Go and read them right now. And then read this one. Not only would they be a perfect read before Halloween, they're just plain amazing. In this, the newest adventure of Lockwood & Co., I most appreciated the greater depth into which Stroud explore the origins of the Problem (where all these ghosts are coming from). He's starting to bridge the whole of the series together in a very satisfying and intriguing way. Lucy's and Lockwood's characters benefitted from further growth, making me love them even more. And! Of course, the ghosts and hauntings were positively terrifying. With a good dose of humor, it makes for an awesome read.

I didn't particularly love the ending (a lot of sweeping under the rug until the next installment of the series) which was frustrating because the ending in this book is just HUGE. So yes, I marked off a half star (also because I still love book 3 the best), but don't let that stop you. Just read it.

See all my reviews for Jonathan Stroud's books (including the rest of Lockwood & Co.) here.

Find it at your library or on Amazon