Monday, November 14

Reviews of the Week 11/14

What?? Two five-star ratings in one post?? I know, crazy. But there were some serious favorites that I read this week. Granted, they are biased favorites, because they appeal to my personal preferences, but I think a lot of other people will like them, too. Obviously. So see what you think!


Nanette's Baguette
Mo Willems

My rating: ★★★★½

ISBN: 978-1484722862
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Date of publication: October 25, 2016
Age: 4 - 8 years
Format: library book

Themes: rhymes, frogs, France, baked goods, family relationships

"Today is the day Nanette gets to get the baguette! Is she set? YOU BET! Our plucky heroine is on her first big solo trip to the bakery. But . . . will Nanette get the baguette from baker Juliette? Or will Nanette soon be beset with regret?"

Ridiculously impressive. As you might expect from Willems, of course. In this case, it would be the writing. The number of words that he found that rhymes with Nanette's Baguette...seriously, it's pure genius. Here's my favorite line (after Nanette stops to say hi to Georgette, Suzette, Bret, and Mr. Barnett), "'Gotta jet! I've got a baguette to get,' says Nanette to the quartet." Seriously, nearly every line in the book is like that! The man is a genius.

The illustration is a bit of a new style for Willems; he photographed handcrafted cardboard-and-paper constructions to create his Parisian setting. I liked it well enough, it worked for the story and added a lot to the humor, though it may not be my favorite favorite. The other small complaint that I've heard around the interwebs is Willems' use of frogs to portray his French characters. While I know Willems loves France, I'm sure it wasn't to be rude (maybe to be funny?), but it probably wasn't the best choice, aesthetically or culturally. Overall, I still love the book and it would definitely make an awesome read aloud what with the almost tongue-twisting rhymes. Check it out!

Find it at your library or on Amazon

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea
(A Narwhal & Jelly Book)
Ben Clanton

My rating: ★★★★★

ISBN: 978-1101918265
Publisher: Tundra Books
Date of publication: October 4, 2016
Age: Grades 1 - 3
Genre: Humor, Graphic Novel
Format: library book

Themes: narwhals, jellyfish, friendship, humor

"Narwhal is a happy-go-lucky narwhal. Jelly is a no-nonsense jellyfish. The two might not have a lot in common, but they do they love waffles, parties and adventures. In this, their first book, there are three parts. In the first, Jelly learns that Narwhal is a really good friend. Then Narwhal and Jelly form their own pod of awesomeness with their ocean friends. And finally, Narwhal and Jelly read the best book ever—even though it doesn't have any words...or pictures!"

Oh my, I just want to hug this book and eat some waffles—so, so funny! This beginner graphic novel is a perfect introduction into illustrative story telling. Seriously, Clanton's simple drawings do so much in the way of communicating emotion and action; the story is told just so perfectly. And what a hilarious story it is! Narwhal is just so happy-go-lucky and Jelly is so opposite that you know the two together make for some awesome adventures. Love, love, love. I seriously can't think of any complaints. Great for boys and girls, reluctant and voracious readers alike. A crowd-pleaser, for sure. It even includes educational asides about narwhals and jellyfish. So, boom, it's educational, too.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

Disenchanted: The Trials of Cinderella
(Tyme #2)
Megan Morrison

My rating: ★★★★★

ISBN: 978-0545642712
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine
Date of publication: October 11, 2016
Age: Grades 5 - 8
Genre: Fantasy
Format: library book

Themes: magic, classism, labor laws, romance, friendship, business dealings/ethics,

"Ella Coach has one wish: revolution. Her mother died working in a sweatshop, and Ella wants every laborer in the Blue Kingdom to receive fairer treatment. But to make that happen, she'll need some high-level support...

"Prince Dash Charming has one wish: evolution. The Charming Curse forced generations of Charming men to lie, cheat, and break hearts—but with the witch Envearia's death, the curse has ended. Now Dash wants to be a better person, but he doesn't know where to start...

"Serge can grant any wish—and has: As an executive fairy godfather, he's catered to the wildest whims of spoiled teenagers from the richest, most entitled families in Blue. But now a new name has come up on his list, someone nobody's ever heard of... Ella Coach."

I laughed, I cried, I loved this book. The depth of story, what with the look into labor laws and inequality between classes, was heartbreaking and well-researched. And yet, the touch of romance, the humor, the love between family just made it so heartwarming, too (oh my gosh, Cinderella's stepmom is so kick-butt awesome). These range of emotions make it easy to get hooked on the story and characters, cheering them on until the end. And yes, sorry-not-sorry, it is a cheesy happily-ever-after. I love a good fairy tale, okay?

I admit, there's a lot of personal favoritism behind this review because, as a whole, it appeals to my preferences. But even from a more critical perspective, it's not just a fluffy fairy tale retelling to brush aside. Yes, there's fairies and a Prince Charming, but it's almost historical fiction, too; it's easy to see echoes of America's own Industrial Revolution. Some may complain about a slow start or flat characters, but I'm still in love. A wonderful sequel to the first Tyme novel (which I also gave five stars).

Find it at your library or on Amazon

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