Sunday, April 23, 2017

Into the Lion's Den: a Devlin Quick Mystery by Linda Fairstein

Cover image for Into the lion's denDevlin Quick is the daughter of the NYC police commissioner.  She, like her mother, has a nose for crime solving, so when a  friend believes she has seen a page cut out of a valuable book in the NYC Public Library, Devlin is on the case.

This is the first in a new child detective series.  I liked it okay but I didn't love it.  Devlin is a strong girl character, but I didn't like how she was cavalier about rules.  She seems pretty a-moral, and her friends have to keep reminding her that breaking the rules really isn't OK. What's more, her mother, the Police Commissioner, who you would think would be uber-strict about such things, was actually rather permissive. After Devlin totally disobeys her mother, and almost gets herself killed, her mother just beams with pride at her brave little daughter. I could see how kids might like it.  Devlin gets to do all kinds of cool things, and never gets in trouble, so in that way it is a wish fulfillment story.  Still, I don't imagine I will bother reading any more in the series. (312 p.)

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones by Wendelin Van Draanen

Cover image for The secret life of Lincoln JonesLincoln and his mother escaped an abusive situation and have started a new life in a new town. Lincoln's mother has a job as a caregiver at a nursing home, and every day after school Lincoln goes to Brookside and spends his afternoons with his mother and the residents. The home cares for Alzheimer's patients, and things can get pretty crazy sometimes, but Lincoln admires how his mother and the other caregivers take care of the "oldies".  Life is more complicated at school.  Lincoln is so afraid that the other kids will find out where he spends his afternoons, that he keeps to himself and spends all his free time writing stories in his notebooks.  Then Candy shows up, noses her way into Lincoln's life, and everything changes.

I really like Van Draanen.  I think I would be willing to read about anything she wrote.  Lincoln is one of the nicest kids in recent literature.  He isn't perfect, or goody goody, but he is just a nice boy who is making his way through a rough situation.  Van Draanen's descriptions of the residents of the home is sometimes humorous, but always sympathetic. Interestingly, she often parallel's the resident's behavior with the behavior of the kids at Lincoln's school.  This is a great read, and I wish it had received more national attention.  261 p.(maybe the cover is partially to blame.)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Hilo #3: The Great Big Boom by Judd Winik

Cover image for The great big boomSo here is number three in the Hilo series.  I looked back at my review records, all three in the series have received starred review, which is rare for comic books.  They really are a delight.  In this one Hilo and DJ must find a way to figure out where Gina was taken at the end of book 2.  They find her on the home world of their new friend, Polly, the warrior cat.  Polly's clan is in trouble and Hilo and DJ stay to help bring peace to their world. In the process, DJ learns more about friendship, and Hilo learns more about his past. (193 p)


Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Force Awakens, a Junior Novelization by Michael Kogge

Image result for the force awakens junior novelThis is just what the title suggests.  It is a retelling of the movie, The Force Awakens, written for a middle grade audience.  It was surprisingly well done. The story is true to the movie, but adds a few little details that were left out of the movie. For instance, how does Poe Dameron get back to the rebel base?   How did Rey learn to fly a star fighter?  What happened to Finn before his fateful battle at Jakku?  You can find the answers in this book.  Kogge keeps the degree of detail for the combat scenes appropriate for the target age group.  He resists making Rey and Finn's relationship a romance, and keeps it at a friendship. I actually haven't ordered the paper form of this book for my collection yet, but I will when I get back to work tomorrow. (192 p.)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Hilo 2: Saving the Whole Wide World by Judd Winick

Cover image for Saving the whole wide worldHere is the second in the Hilo comics series.  In this one Hilo returns to Earth and moves in next door to DJ. He Constructs a fake grandparent so the onlookers won't wonder why a kid is living alone and a secret lab where he monitors openings to the void through which evil minions might invade the earth. When a destructive force greater than any they have yet encountered lands near DJ's house, Hilo, Gina and DJ will need all the help they can get to defeat it.

These are really fun action comics that will appeal to both the Avatar crowd and the Calvin and Hobbes readers.  Hilo is so chipper and likeable that he is hard to resist.  Winik manages a nice balance of plot, character development and action.The third in the series received a starred review so that is next on my comic book reading list. (192 p.)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cover image for Cinder Cinder is a teenage cyborg  and some say she is the best mechanic in New Bejing.  She lives with a guardian who basically owns her, and her two daughters.  One of the daughters is Cinder's friend, but the other is as cold-hearted as her mother.  One day Prince Kai comes to Cinder's stall at the bazaar and asks if she can fix his droid.  Soon Cinder is sucked into castle intrigue involving a devastating plague, an evil lunar queen, and the mystery of Cinder's own origins.

As much as I love children's literature, sometimes I crave for something written for an older audience.  I had heard of this series because Ms Meyer came and spoke at the library a while ago.  When I saw this on my OverDrive app I decided I would try it.  It turned out to be a really fun read.  There is a little more intensity than a middle grade novel.  YA novelists have no qualms with killing off major characters, and the descriptions of the plague wards are not at all cheery, but Cinder is a endearing strong female character, and her crush on Kai and his crush on her is pretty adorable.  I will probably read the next in the series when I get tired of Kiddie Lit again.(390 p.)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The King of Kazoo by Norm Feuti

Cover image for The King of KazooBing's familiar, a bluebird named Gypsy, brings troubling news.  There is a new hole in Mount Kazoo, and Bing has a feeling it is something sinister.  Her father, King Cornelius, is too busy trying to improve his public image to listen, until he realizes that saving the people from whatever danger lurks in the mountain will bring him the fame and glory he craves.  As they set off on their quest, Bing wonders if her biggest problem isn't the earthquakes, the wild Kroakers, or even the giant homicidal robot, but her father's king-sized ego.

This graphic novel is a bit sillier than the ones I have read recently.  It is funny and action packed, so I think it will have a pretty broad appeal.  Feuti does a good job with his visual storytelling, and it is nice that his illustrations are in color.  It isn't my favorite of the graphic novels I have read this year.  but I will probably end up recommending it to kids who liked Baby Mouse, Adventure Time or some of the other more less serious graphic novels.(203 p.)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Word of Mouse by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

Cover image for Word of mouseIsaiah is the smallest, and perhaps the most cowardly of all the mice at the "horrible place," a research laboratory. It is amazing, therefore, that when 97 genetically altered mice try to escape, Isaiah is the only one who is not caught.  Despite his bright blue color, he is accepted into a nearby mischief, or mouse family group, and discovers that his scientifically augmented abilities come in handy in the outside world.  He soon finds that he has become a leader among mice, but what he really wants is to find a way to free his family from the lab.  In the end it is not his agility, his intelligence, or even his ability to speak with humans, but his ability to look past differences with an open heart that is the key to his success.

This book was about what you would expect form Patterson/Grabenstein.  There is a lot that would appeal to children, but it seemed a little heavy handed and melodramatic to me. Part of that impression might be because of the reader in the audiobook I listened to.  His inflection was a little over-the-top.  Because I listened to the book instead of reading it I didn't see any of the illustrations, but the story worked fine without them.  This is a good book for kids who are transitioning from intermediate to longer fiction who like animal stories and haven't yet developed a sophisticated taste in literature.