Book review: Forest of Wonders, by Linda Sue Park

Park, Linda Sue. Forest of Wonders. (Wing and Claw series, book 1.) HarperCollins Publishers, 2016.  $16.99.  ISBN 9780062327383.  343p.  Ages 8 – 12.  Q8P8

Park Forest of WondersFinally a fantasy book based on the art of the apothecary!  The main character, Raffa, has no desire to become a knight or win a princess’ heart (no princess in this book!), but to become the best at his trade and prove to his father he is old enough to treat patients on his own.  On a journey to save his best friend from pain and maybe death, Raffa uses his knowledge of chemistry to get him out of perilous situations while gaining valuable insight into the morality of using his particular skills to deceive others.  Raffa’s decisions are made easier with the help of an adorably chatty bat he heals and then befriends.  The villain of the novel is entirely unexpected making a typical fantasy storyline, with atypical characters, even more worth the read.  Looking forward to the second book!

June 2016 review by Terri Lippert.

Book review: Anyone but Ivy Pocket, by Caleb Krisp, Illustrated by Barbara Cantini

Krisp, Caleb.  Anyone but Ivy Pocket. Illustrations by Barbara Cantini. Greenwillow Books, 2015.  $17.99.  ISBN 9780062364340.  382p.  Ages 8 – 12.  Q7P8

Krisp Anyone but Ivy PocketIvy Pocket is a 12 year old orphan who has become an English lady’s maid.  Ivy was abandoned by her recent employer with the instructions “DO NOT FOLLOW ME!”  Ivy takes this as a sign of her employer being “barking mad” and strives to find employment elsewhere (a challenge given all suitable patrons have witnessed Ivy’s behavior with her previous employer).   Ivy is wonderfully self deluded and thinks all of her mishaps and misadventures are due to the ignorance of people around her and not of her own making.  The humor lies in how she interacts with those around her.  She is blunt and seemingly as uncaring as she is ignorant.  I found myself wondering if she has deluded herself on purpose, and maybe this is the point.  The author’s sense of humor and mischief are prevalent on every page.  The only downside to this extremely entertaining book is the heavy use of hyperbole, which may confuse younger and/or more literal readers.

June 2016 review by Terri Lippert.

Book review: Book Scavenger, by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

Bertman, Jennifer Chambliss.  Book Scavenger.  Henry Holt,  2015.  $16.99.  ISBN 9781627791151.  354p.  Ages 9 – 12.  Q8P7

Bertman Book ScavengerWhat could be better for a book-loving young girl, whose family has lived all over the United States, than a nationwide Book Scavenger Hunt?  It isn’t until Emily’s family moves to San Francisco, which is the home of the man who created the Scavenger Hunt, that Emily’s favorite past time turns mysterious and dangerous.  With help from her new friend Matthew, Emily uncovers a secret plot to derail the Hunt and its founder.   While attempting to solve the mystery, Emily ventures all over San Francisco.  The author seemingly is up on the historical facts of the city and provides lots of interesting information.  Additionally, the author accurately depicts what it is like to be a child who has had to move to a new location every year and the challenges she faces forming and maintaining relationships because of her family’s nomadic lifestyle.

June 2016 review by Terri Lippert.

Book review: Shrunken Treasures: Literary Classics, Short, Sweet, and Silly, by Scott Nash

Nash, Scott.  Shrunken Treasures: Literary Classics, Short, Sweet, and Silly.  Candlewick Press, 2016.  $15.99.  ISBN 9780763669720.  40p. Ages 8+.  Q8P7

Nash Shrunken TreasuresI would not have thought “The Odyssey” could be condensed into a 2 page ditty with colorful pictures, but I was wrong!  What intrigued me the most about this book is I wanted to see if the author could summarize a classic novel and make it kid friendly.  If the vocabulary isn’t always kid friendly (for the most part it is), the pictures are, and there is a generous amount of humor and silliness, “No wussie was Ulysses”.  At the end of the book the author provides a brief description of the book and/or author he based his stories off of, so the reader can get some background information on the classic novel.  Worth the read and hopefully the children and adults who read this book will venture on to the original!

June 2016 review by Terri Lippert.

Book review: Time for Cranberries, by Lisa H. Detlefsen, illustrated by Jed Henry

Detlefsen, Lisa H.  Time for Cranberries.  Illustrated by Jed Henry.  Roaring Brook Press,  2015.  $17.99.  ISBN 9781626720985.  32p.  Ages 3 – 7.  Q8P8

Detlefsen Time for CranberriesA great book for learning what it takes to grow and harvest cranberries!  The setting is Wisconsin, but still useful information for Oregon folks who have their own local cranberry farms.  Colorful pictures display the labor (and hazards) the family endures to grow and harvest the berries. The story wraps up with the family enjoying the “fruits” of their labor – Cranberry Pie for Thanksgiving!  The book has two cranberry recipes (Cranberry Sauce and Cranberry Pie) and a glossary at the end of the book.  Lots of new farming terms!

June 2016 review by Terri Lippert.

Book review: A Dragon’s Guide to Making Your Human Smarter, by Laurence Yet and Joanne Ryder, illustrations by Mary Grandpre

Yep, Laurence and Joanne Ryder. A dragon’s guide to making your human smarter. Illustrations by Mary Grandpre. (Dragon’s guide series, book 2.) Crown Books for Young Readers, 2016. 294 pgs. $16.99. ISBN 9780385392327. Ages 10-14. P7Q8

Yep Dragons Guide HumansIn this sequel to A dragon’s guide to the care and feeding of humans, the adventures of Miss Drake, a three-thousand-year-old dragon, and Winnie, her pet human, continue, with each narrating alternating chapters.  Winnie and her mother, having inherited money and a sizeable house in San Francisco, should now be safe from her scheming grandfather Jarvis.  To ensure this, Miss Drake has enrolled Winnie in the prestigious Spriggs Academy, an all-girl school where both natural and magical students take lessons from Sir Isaac Newton and go on field trips to visit the Loch Ness monster, Nessie.  Winnie spends much of her time teaching Miss Drake about the current century, dealing with the mean girls at school, and keeping knowledge of the secret magical world from her mother.  While Winnie is otherwise occupied, Miss Drake works to waylay the thugs sent to kidnap her.  The multiple story threads combine gracefully, making this a welcome addition to magical school stories such as the Harry Potter and Hogwarts series or Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci series or her Witch Week and for slightly more advanced readers than Debbie Dadey’s  Bailey School Kids series or Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch series.  I thoroughly enjoyed the story despite not having read the first book in the series.  Highly recommended for school and public library collections.

June 2016 review by Jane Cothron.

Book review: Grayling’s Song, by Karen Cushman

Cushman, Karen. Grayling’s song. Clarion Books, 2016. “Uncorrected proof.” “Publication date: June 7, 2016.” 224 pgs. $16.99. ISBN 9780544301801. “Ages 10-12.” P7Q8

Cushman Graylings Song When the hedge magicians and wise women are magically attacked and transformed into trees, Grayling, whose mother has always called her “Feeble Wits”, is the only person available to call the rest of the magic users together to break the spell.  Along the way, she must also find her mother’s stolen grimoire. Grayling, less than enthusiastic about the quest, salvages unbroken jars of herbs and potions, a bit of food, and sets off into the unknown.  Karen Cushman’s  familiarity with medieval life comes through in this fantasy work, weaving together the hunger of a poor girl on the road, the various companions that Grayling finds, and the confidence she gains along the way.  While Newbery Medalist Cushman’s books Catherine, Called Birdie and The Midwife’s Apprentice are stronger stories, this fantasy is a solid addition to her body of work. Recommended for middle and high school libraries as well as public library collections.

June 2016 review by Jane Cothron.