Book review: The Runaway, by Kate O’Hearn

O’Hearn. Kate. The Runaway. (Valkyrie series, book 2) Aladdin, 2014. 362 pgs. $17.99. ISBN: 978-1-4814-4740-9. Gr. 6+. P8 Q8

This is the second book in the Valkyrie series and what a book it is. Action from the get go and I was so absorbed in it I did not realize that it was the second book; it can definitely stand on its own merits. Set in the city of Asgard, where Odin is the ruler, Freya is a young reaper who is being punished for defying Odin. Her punishment is to clean the stables daily. A competition between the nine separate realms, sort of like the Olympics, is take place soon and Freya thinks she will not be allowed to attend. Odin does allow her to participate in the tug of war completion, where Dirian, a dark searcher, kills her. He loathes Freya for having shamed him in front of other dark searchers. Freya is a reaper and collects people as they die. A dark reaper is a winged man who pledges himself to to Odin and collects those who go astray. Freya returns to life and is ordered by Odin to bring a Valkyrie back to Asgard, as a war between the realms is rumored to take place.

Verdict: I cannot wait for the next book in this series; it is necessary read for all who love action packed mythology literature.

April 2017 review by Carol Bernardi.

Book review: The Courage Test, by James Preller

Preller, James. The Courage Test. Feiwell and Friends, 2016. 212 pgs. $16.99. ISBN: 978-1-250-09391-2. Gr. 4+. P7 Q8

William Meriweather Miller, what a name–all due to his professor father who loves anything to do with the Lewis and Clark Expedition. William has plans for the summer, playing on the all-star baseball team. His mother and father are divorcing and his mother wants him to spend time with his dad. William, does not want to go on a road trip that follows the Lewis and Clark Trail, he wants to play baseball. Loaded with his essentials, phone, computer and his  iPod they start out. William is on a journey of growing up and coming to terms with himself, his father and a family crisis.

Verdict: This book would be a great read aloud to students who are studying the Lewis and Clark Trail.

April 2017 review by Carol Bernardi.

Book review: Furthermore, by Tahereh Mafi

Mafi, Tahereh. Furthermore. Dutton’s Children Books, 2016. 401 pgs. $17.99. ISBN: 978-1-101-99476-4. Gr. 4+. Q8 P8

Life for Alice is horrible. Her world is full of color and magic, but Alice has neither color nor magic. She thinks that her mother hates her and the students of her school do too. The date where all the students in her class must show their talents to the city is fast approaching. This is a very important event that establishes what your job will be in the future. This is another problem for Alice because along with no magic she has no talent. The day of the ceremony, Alice is prepared but she fails, truly fails. When Oliver asks her to go on a journey to find her father she jumps at the chance. They go through doors that lead them to other places that are steeped in magic, have different rules, and other trap doors to fall through. Each place, some vibrant with life, others in the clouds and some with just very difficult beings but through it all they get closer to finding her father.

Verdict: A story that at times felt like Alice in Wonderland. Though all of this I and hopefully other readers will come to realize, as Alice did, that being yourself and being different is okay.

April 2017 review by Carol Bernardi.

Book review: One Half from the East, by Nadia Hashimi

Hashimi, Nadia. One Half from the East. Harper, 2016. 256 pgs. $16.99. ISBN: 978-0-06-242190-6. Gr. 6+. P8 Q8

The day that Obayda’s policeman father loses his leg in a Kabul car bombing is the day her life changes forever. With no money coming in, ten-year-old Obayda and her family must move to a remote village to be near her father’s family. Her father’s demeanor has changed, he never leaves his bed and he has nothing to do with his family any more. Her aunt thinks that if there were a boy in the family things would be different. Obayda is chosen to be a bacha posh, a girl who dresses as a boy, to bring honor back to her family. What a revelation this is for a Obayda, who can now do boy things! She soon overcomes any awkwardness and enjoys her new status. But, bacha posh are only free until puberty. Is there a way for Obayda–now Obayd–to remain free?  This story allows us a glimmer of what life is like for girls in a traditional Muslim home in Afghanistan.

Verdict: For those who love to read books about other cultures this is the book to read.

April 2017 review by Carol Bernardi.

Book review: Hideout, by Watt Key

Key, Watt. Hideout. Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2017. $16.99. ISBN 9780374304829. 311 pages. Grades 5-9. P7 Q7

Hideout is a buddy adventure set in the mysterious swampy areas of the Gulf Coast. Sam’s new fishing boat has broadened his small world to include the very wild bayou that stretches for miles around his house. While exploring, Sam discovers a dilapidated hunting camp and, to his surprise, a very hungry boy named Davey attempting to inhabit one of the crumbling cabins. In his effort to help his new friend, while keeping it a secret from his family, Sam quickly realizes that Davey could be in serious trouble. Hideout is very much in line with Watt Key’s previous young adult novels. It features a male lead, takes place along the Gulf Shore, and discusses the complexities of family relationships. Young readers will enjoy the adventure and danger of Hideout. Male readers will relate to Sam and Davey’s sense of adventure and their views of what it means to be a brother.

Verdict: Hideout is a suspenseful story that will keep young readers interested. It would be a popular edition to a school library. The target audience is young boys. There is mention of smoking and drug use and a description of a dead body.

June 2017 review by Lillian Curanzy.

Book review: Dark Shadows: Yes, Another Misadventure, by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Stephen Gilpin

Cronin, Doreen. Dark Shadows: Yes, Another Misadventure. Illustrated by Stephen Gilpin ; cover by Kevin Cornell. (Chicken Squad Adventures series, #4) Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2017. $12.99. ISBN 9781481450492. 115 Pages. Ages 6-12. P7  Q7.

Four chickens nicknamed Dirt, Sugar, Poppy, and Sweetie go on a vacation to visiting a farm full of chicken cousins which are all named starting with the letter B.  Sugar goes back to get jelly beans and meets a mysterious big bird called Buger. Then Poppy’s shoe goes missing and they are on the hunt to find the missing jellybeans and shoe. Illustrations engage the reader throughout the book.

Verdict: It is a great early reader chapter book with fun chicken humor.  It is silly and makes you laugh.

June 2017 review by Deborah Gwynn.

Book review: The Crazy Classroom Caper, by Tony Abbott, illustrated by Colleen Madden

Abbott, Tony. The Crazy Classroom Caper. (Goofballs series, #6). Illustrated by Colleen Madden. Egmont, 2014. $15.99. ISBN 9781606844496. 104 Pages. Ages 7-10. P7 Q7.

The Goofballs–Jeff, Mara, Brian, and Kelly– help solve a mystery in a school.  Supplies, furniture, and everything in the kindergarten classroom of their former teacher are disappearing.  The Goofballs pretend to be teachers to make closer observations and watch over the classroom.  Finally with the help of their dog Sparky, they find where everything went.  Illustrations throughout the book help students enjoy the humor.

Verdict: With suspense and relatable characters, students will enjoy reading this book.

June 2017 review by Deborah Gwynn.