Book review: Best Pirate, by Kari-Lynn Winters, illustrations by Dean Griffiths

Winters, Kari-Lynn.  Best Pirate. Illustrations by Dean Griffiths. Pajama Press Inc., 2017. $17.95. ISBN 978-1-77278-019-2. 32 pgs. Ages 3-8. P6 Q5

On the first page we meet Augusta, a puppy pirate who can’t seem to do the right thing no matter how hard she tries. On an adventure to prove herself worthy to her father the Captain she ends up face to face with her enemy, one of the dreaded Pirate Cats.

Verdict: I was ready to love this book with its mixture of pirates and animals but found myself disappointed. The story seemed to be leading to a lesson of kindness and friendship then failed to deliver. I gave this book a Popularity Rating of 6. Though I don’t think it is one of the better Pirate or Animal genre picture books it is a popular genre and is sure to have some readers who enjoy it. I gave the quality a 5 because I love the illustrations but feel the arrangement of the text is confusing and a bit jumbled.

November 2017 review by Michelle Cottrell

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Book review: Zog and the Flying Doctors, by Julia Donaldson, illustrations by Axel Scheffler

Donaldson, Julia. Zog and the Flying Doctors. Illustrations by Axel Scheffler. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2016. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-338-13417-9. 32 pgs. Ages 3-9. P9 Q9

A beautifully written and illustrated book from the creators of A Gold Star for Zog, and Superworm, Zog and the Flying Doctors is another sure to be hit. The story follows a young princess who is a doctor, a knight who is a surgeon, and a dragon who is wonderful at flying (but hasn’t yet perfected landing) on their adventures. Unfortunately when they stop to say hello to her Uncle, the King, he informs her that Princesses aren’t meant to be Doctors and locks her in the tower. Not content to spend her days sewing and wearing “frilly dresses” she sets out to prove to the King that Princesses can be anything!

Verdict: This book does a great job delivering a message in a fun way. The rhyming text and fun illustrations make it a quick and enjoyable read. It would be a wonderful read-aloud. I gave it a 9 for Popularity because it will engage readers for different reasons. Any child interested in knights, dragons, and princesses will enjoy it. Also, this would be a great book for a child who feels they aren’t accepted for who they are. The rhyming makes it an easy read and the humor is a plus as well. I found myself smiling as I read it more than once because it is such an engaging book. The rating of 9 for quality is due to the detailed illustrations as well as the placement of the text. Though the text was around the pictures I never felt as though I was searching for the words or missing any of them. I am excited to buy this book to add to my kids’ collection as well as reading it in the library during story time.

November 2017 review by Michelle Cottrell

Book review: The Twelve Days of Christmas, illustrated by Emma Randall

Randall, Emma. The Twelve Days of Christmas. Penguin Workshop, 2017. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-515-15763-5. 32 pgs. Ages 3-9. P7 Q9

Beautiful illustrations accompany this holiday classic and give it new life. Each page is filled with gifts of the 12 days of Christmas. Illustrator, Emma Randall does a phenomenal job of recreating a story that has been done many times in a new and beautiful version.

Verdict: This would be a wonderful addition to any school or home library. The thick pages and beautiful illustrations are engaging and make this a sturdy book that could be enjoyed for many years to come. The popularity rating of 7 is due to engaging pictures in a holiday classic. The quality rating of 9 is due to the high quality binding and engaging illustrations.

November 2017 review by Michelle Cottrell

Book review: The 12 Days of Christmas, by Greg Pizzoli

Pizzoli, Greg. The 12 Days of Christmas. Disney Hyperion, 2017. $16.99. ISBN 978-148475031-5. 48 pgs. Ages 3-8. P9 Q8

A fun twist on an old favorite. The original text accompanies illustrations of a young elephant who is given gifts by another young elephant. Meanwhile the child’s parent watches on with increasing alarm as the gifts become more numerous and intrusive.

Verdict: I love the illustrations! They are simple yet full of wonderful expression, especially by the parent who isn’t too sure what to do with 10 lords a leaping or any of the other gifts. I found myself giggling throughout and enjoyed the story from a new perspective. I gave this book a popularity rating of 9 because of the illustrator’s other works which would make this a more desirable book fans of his work as well as the humor factor which make it a fun read aloud. I gave it a Quality rating of 8 because of the illustrations and fun perspective.

November 2017 review by Michelle Cottrell

Book review: Never Say Die, by Anthony Horowitz

Horowitz, Anthony.  Never Say Die. (Alex Rider series, #11) Philomel Books, 2017. 349 pages. $17.99. ISBN 9781524739300. Ages 13+. P8Q7

This book about a brilliant teen spy is packed with crazy adventure! I haven’t read the other books, so sometimes felt like I was missing something about his motivations, but I still enjoyed it very much and felt like the character of Alex was believable, even though unbelievable things happen to him. It was really fast paced, and I got carried along and wanted to see what would happen next.

VERDICT: Any teen who likes action/ adventure movies or books will love this one.

January 2018 review by Siletz Public Library volunteer.

Book review: The Truth about My Unbelievable Summer

Cali, Davide. The Truth about My Unbelievable Summer. Illustrated by Benjamin Chaud. Chronicle Books, 2016. Unpaged. $12.99. ISBN 9781452144832. Ages 6-9. P7Q8

I loved this book for its amazing pictures (I really liked the main character who looks like a hipster-kid). The typical back to school question elicits tales of a wild adventure including a treasure map, a trip to the beach, a hot air balloon and an unexpected twist. The story is a tall tale, and left me smiling!

VERDICT: Kids will like looking through this fun story for the wonderful pictures, and every kid will identify with being asked in school about what they did during the summer. The picture book format expands the rich, complex vocabulary of the story, making this a good conversation starter for elementary school students.

January 2018 review by Siletz Public Library volunteer.

Book review: Bobby Lee Claremont and the Criminal Element, by Jeannie Mobley

Mobley, Jeannie. Bobby Lee Claremont and the Criminal Element. Holiday House, 2017. 229 pgs. $16.95. ISBN 9780823437818. Ages 8-12. P8Q8

Bobby Lee Claremont, age 13, decides to leave New Orleans after losing his mother to consumption and realizing that he has no future in that city. He embarks on a life of crime by robbing the poor box at the Sisters of Charitable Mercy Orphanage. He buys a train ticket to Chicago, since it looks like the best bet for a clever kid who wants to join a gang and cash in on the illegal alcohol business that prohibition created. His plans don’t quite work out though- he gets thrown in with some nasty gangsters on the train, and finds that the life of crime may not be for him. Together with two quick witted African American boys (the grandsons of a train employee), Bobby Lee gets to the bottom of a murder mystery. I really enjoyed this fast paced adventure, with its villains, believable characters, jazz musicians, and train culture. Bobby Lee learns a lot about the Jim Crow laws that were in place at the time, and comes to believe that segregation and racism are very wrong. The author’s note gives further information about Jim Crow laws, segregation on trains, and gangsters in the 1920s.

VERDICT: I think young readers will find this a fast and fun read. It could be used in the classroom to provide background in a history class as well.

January 2018 review by Carol Schramm.