Monday, February 27

Reviews of the Week 2/27

Ah, Monday again. How was your weekend? I'm gonna brag about mine for a bit because, first of all, I got a new t-shirt (courtesy of GiftedShirts--thanks!) that is not only so incredibly comfy that I literally wore it all weekend...but it's book-themed, too. The "My Weekend is All Booked" is basically my new favorite, I'm not even kidding. And it just makes so much sense because I did, in fact, spend all weekend reading the most amazing book. Like, I'm still reeling from it. Yep, I've got a new 5-star review today. So. Good.

Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm
(Duck and Hippo #1)
Written by Jonathan London, illustrated by Andrew Joyner

My rating: ★★★

ISBN: 978-1503937239
Publisher: Two Lions
Date of publication: March 1, 2017
Age: 3 - 7 years
Format: ARC from publisher

Themes: friendship, rain, sharing, animals

"Duck and Hippo may be completely different, but they are best friends. When playful Duck invites careful Hippo to go for a walk in the rain, they have trouble sharing Duck’s umbrella. But Duck and Hippo won’t let that stop them. Soon they are puddle-jumping and sailing down the river! Until…WHOOOSH! A terrible wind sends the umbrella flying up, up, up into the air, with one friend holding on. What will Duck and Hippo do now?"

This book was a bit of an odd duck (forgive the pun). It is immediately reminiscent of Frog and Toad both in storyline and formatting. Indeed, even though the book is clearly printed as a picture book (large hardbound book, with large scale illustrations), it felt like I was reading an early reader; Duck and Hippo have several adventures together in the rain, dragging the story along. I almost wonder if it had been printed as an early reader (with chapter breaks, even) that it would've felt better. Nevertheless, the message behind the story is cute and the illustrations are perfect—soft, colorful, and fun. I'm not wowed by it, but the illustrations and many sound effects might make for a good storytime choice. See for yourself when it's released this week!

Find it at your library or on Amazon

Snail Has Lunch
Written and illustrated by Mary Peterson

My rating: ★★★

ISBN: 978-1481453028
Publisher: Aladdin
Date of publication: September 13, 2016
Age: Grades 1 - 3
Format: library book

Themes: snails, ladybugs, gardening, food, trying new things

"Snail is a merry little mollusk in his rusty bucket. Day after day, rain or shine, Snail doesn’t move—and that suits him just fine. But when his bucket is turned over, his life takes a topsy-turvy turn. A journey through the vegetable garden with this adventurous friend Ladybug proves delicious—red, juicy strawberries…YUM!—and dangerous when he comes face to face with a gopher, then a rabbit, and an unfortunate nibble on a hot red pepper. Can Snail find happiness in this big, new world—or will he wish he never left his bucket?"

Not quite a beginning reader (what with vocabulary like "ruminating") nor a very challenging chapter book, this story is really something in between. There's heavy emphasis on speech bubbles, which are interspersed with the narrative lines. I can see it along the lines of Princess in Black in terms of structure, but less exciting in its story. It's cute and humorous, but not really anything that stands out. And the illustrations are okay—a bit too simple and digital-looking for my tastes. Would I recommend it? Am I glad I read it? Sure. But it's not anything I'd rush to put on my shelves.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog
Written by Adam Gidwitz, "illuminated" by Hatem Aly

My rating: ★★★★★

ISBN: 978-0525426165
Publisher: Dutton Books
Date of publication: September 27, 2016
Age: Grades 5 and up
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Format: library book

Themes: God, miracles, friendship, storytelling, power, Medieval France, adventure, religion

"1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children. Their adventures take them on a chase through France: they are taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. On the run to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned, their quest drives them forward to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel, where all will come to question if these children can perform the miracles of saints.

"Join William, an oblate on a mission from his monastery; Jacob, a Jewish boy who has fled his burning village; and Jeanne, a peasant girl who hides her prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne's loyal greyhound, Gwenforte . . . recently brought back from the dead. Told in multiple voices, our narrator collects their stories and the saga of these three unlikely allies begins to come together."

Ah, sometimes, no summary can do a book justice. There are so many intricate, impressive, meaningful layers to this story. This book is pure genius. Okay, so I'm a bit behind the ball on this book. Yes, I realize that this book has received more starred-reviews than I can count and won a Newbery honor and has received so much good buzz...but yes, I'm only just now reading it. If this is on your to-read list, wait no longer! Go and read now.

I'm going to attempt in some small fashion to explain the elements that make this book so amazing. First of all, it's beyond unique. Yes, yes, we have a Canterbury Tales motif going on here, but really...this book is like nothing I've ever read. Not only is the format in this fantastic storytelling setting with multiple character voices and points of view, but the story itself goes above and beyond. Three children who are venerated as saints? Who do everything from challenge the deep religious biases of the day to conquer a farting dragon? Yeah, it's a big pile of unique.

Which brings me to the second of all: it's so well-researched. The amount of crazy uniqueness in this book (as I just mentioned) could have quickly derailed it and made it lose all credibility and believability in about two chapters. Instead, I eagerly read through the amazing stories and finished the book in about two days and came to afterword by the author that shares the most amazing aspects of his six-year research and writing journey for this book. Yes, like, I'm writing in run-on sentences, it just gets me so excited. I may admit that it had a bit of a slow start with some "what-the-heck?" moments, but it all ties together so beautifully at the end.

And in my third of all: it tackles some very deep and thoughtful topics. I don't know that I've read a juvenile fantasy that deals so much with religion and God. Indeed, I know I haven't read a kids' book that answers the question, "Why does a God that is good let bad things happen?" Not only is there a healthy dose of theology to keep things thoughtful, but the characters themselves are very well-developed. Their beliefs and actions are so raw, it really jars you as a reader. Really, this book is for ALL ages and I highly recommend that you go and get this book now. Like, look-how-long-this-review-is-and-I'm-still-reeling recommend it.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

No comments:

Post a Comment