Book review: Ready for Action, by Brian Lynch, illustrated by Edwardian Taylor

Lynch, Brian. Ready for Action. Illustrated by Edwardian Taylor. (Toy Academy series, book 2). Scholastic Press, 2019. $14.99. ISBN 9781338149166. 185 pages. Ages 7-10. P7 Q7

Tempest Boomcloud, an action figure, has been forgotten and is in a carton next to discarded toys. She uses her battle glove to tear through the packaging to escape. Meanwhile, at the Toy Academy, students are getting ready for a parade to celebrate Elite Action Force Now’s twenty-fifth anniversary. A vital part of being an action figure is being a sidekick. Grumbolt, a stuffed animal, gets chosen to be Rex’s sidekick. Rex is a bully and no one wants to be his sidekick. Grumbolt decides to be the very best sidekick so that Rex will appreciate him. No such luck! Rex adores his van and doesn’t care about Grumbolt. Key Bee, a key chain, is the action figure and Micro is his sidekick. Micro does not respect or believe that Key Bee can amount to anything since it is a key chain. When Tempest enters Toy Academy and steals Rex’s van with Key Bee in it, the true adventure begins. Written from the action figures’ points of view, with short chapters and line drawings, this book realistically shows to what an action figure might feel and go through.

Verdict: With themes of facing your fears and being an upstander, this creative adventure will keep readers engaged, especially ones who enjoy action figures. Readers will be captivated until the end!

February 2020 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: A Box of Bones, by Marina Cohen

Cohen, Marina. A Box of Bones. Roaring Brook Press, 2019.  $16.99. ISBN 9781250172211. 281 pages. Ages 8-12. P8 Q8

At the local Festival of Fools, Kallie meets a faceless man who gives her a wooden puzzle box. Kallie is logical and does not like wasting time on things she deems foolish, so she almost dismisses the box. However, the box has her intrigued and since it is mathematical, she decides to try to open it. When the cube opens up, nine small cubes fall out. They are made from an ivory colored substance and each cube has a picture on it. Every time she rolls the dice, they end up in the same order. Kallie wonders if the images on the cubes have meaning. As events start to unfold that match the dice, Kallie realizes that she needs to find a way to stop the disastrous events from happening. When Kallie was young, she was told that her mother died when she fell off a boat. This story follows Kallie’s adventure and links it back to an alternative world of Liah and the bone carver, where the box originated. When the author is telling Liah’s story the words are italicized so the reader is able to follow it. The way the author parallels Liah’s life and Kallie’s life gives understanding to the present events. This book will appeal to both readers who are logical and those who enjoy fantasy and adventure. It is a perfect blend of both.

Verdict: I highly recommend this book. It would make a great story for a family to read together or a teacher to read to a class. It shows readers that friends come in all forms and there are benefits to giving others a chance.

February 2020 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: The Cryptid Keeper, by Lija Fisher

Fisher, Lija. The Cryptid Keeper. (Cryptid Duology, book 2). Farrar Straus Giroux (BYR), 2019. $16.99. ISBN 9780374305567. 311 pages. Ages 8-12. P7 Q7

Clivo and his friends, the Myth Blasters, hunt and catch cryptids. They are on the hunt for the beast whose blood can make one immortal. Clivo uses a tranquilizer gun to stun the beasts so he can check their blood. When Clivo realizes that all the cryptids he has tested have gone missing, he wonders if he is the cause of their disappearance or if something more sinister is going on. The book is not realistic since Clivo is thirteen and flies on his own all over the world in search of the beasts. That being said, it is a fun adventure story that shows the humanity of the beasts and the kindness Clivo shows them. There are twists and turns along the way, but if you are reading carefully, you may be able to predict what will happen. This is the second in the series and is able to stand alone, but if you read book one, you will have a greater understanding of the back story in The Cryptid Catcher.

Verdict: With lots of “dude!” comments, this novel will appeal to tweens who like creatures and beasts. With the themes of friendship, courage, selflessness and teamwork, readers will be caught up in the adventure and will be wondering who the immortal beast is.

February 2020 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Saving Emma the Pig, by John Chester, illustrated by Jennifer L. Meyer

Chester, John. Saving Emma the Pig. Illustrated by Jennifer L. Meyer. (The Biggest Little Farm series.) Feiwel and Friends.  2019. 40 pages.  $17.99. ISBN 9781250187796. Ages 5 and up. P9Q9

This story is based on a real story about a pig named Emma and her new babies. The illustrations are large and lifelike, and one falls in love with new mom Emma right away. There are photos and an update about the real Emma, too, which makes a strong connection for children about farm life.

VERDICT: This is an engaging real story, with wonderful illustrations that keep you wanting to turn the page. Children will love the farm and the happy ending.

February 2020 review by Lynne Wright.

Book review: How to Find a Fox, by Nilah Magruder

Magruder, Nilah. How to Find a Fox. Feiwel and Friends.  2016. 40 pages. $16.99. ISBN 9781250086563. Ages 4 and up. P9Q8

A little girl takes her camera out, determined to find a fox. But red foxes are very sneaky- even when it is behind you or around the corner and watching you every moment. This book is full of humor as a determined girl tries every method to get a photo of the fox. In the end, of course, it all ends up well and is fun.

VERDICT: This story is full of big illustrations and constant humor as we see the fox, but the girl does not, and would be fun for a read aloud story time as the children spy the fox and are in on the plot. Great fun.

February 2020 review by Lynne Wright.

Book review: Colors, by Shelley Rotner and Anne Woodhull, photographs by Shelley Rotner

Rotner, Shelley, and Anne Woodhull. Colors. Photographs by Shelley Rotner. Holiday House, 2019. 32 pages.  $17.99. ISBN 97808233440634. Ages 2-5. P9Q9

This lovely book is just as it advertises. A beginning book to explore colors in vibrant photos. The first page shouts the color, and the second page gives large engaging photos of things that are, for example, green, with simple descriptive words. Each page celebrates and draws you in. It is fun and would engage young children to want to shout out to add more things to the color pages.

VERDICT: I loved this book, full of color, spare on words, to teach and engage young children to explore their world of color.

February 2020 review by Lynne Wright.

Book review: Dinosaurs by the Numbers, by Steve Jenkins

Jenkins, Steve. Dinosaurs by the Numbers. Houghton Mifflin, 2019. 40 pages. $5.99 paperback. ISBN 9781328850959. Ages 6 and up. P9Q8

This great addition to the dinosaur section has a nice, narrow focus using graphics, timelines, and size comparisons to show how big, how fast, and other interesting comparative facts about dinosaurs. It also gives a guide in the back on how to correctly pronounce the scientific names of each dinosaur. This book stays in its lane on these areas, with clear graphics, which makes it a useful book.

VERDICT: Although there are many larger and comprehensive dinosaur books, this small paperback gives concise and clear graphics and information in the form of  infographics concerning dinosaurs, which was very interesting.

February 2020 review by Lynne Wright.