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.

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Book review: The Storm Dragon, by Paula Harrison, illustrated by Sophy Williams

Harrison, Paula. The Storm Dragon. Illustrated by Sophy Williams. (The Secret Rescuers series, book 1) Aladdin, 2017. $5.99. ISBN 9781481476072. 128 pages. Ages 7-10. P7 Q7

The Storm Dragon is a chapter book in the series The Secret Rescuers. It is a story about a girl named Sophy who discovers a young dragon named Cloudy. The queen and the captain of the guard do not like magical creatures, so Sophy tries to rescue Cloudy. The cover has a cute picture of a baby dragon on it, which entices the reader to open the book and read it. Pencil drawings enhance the story. The story lends to a sequel.

Verdict: This is an easy read with pictures to go along with the story. It is a sweet book that combines the love of adventure and the love of animals. I recommend this book for individual reading, public library, classroom library and elementary school libraries.

April 2017 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Pen Pals, by Alexandra Pichard

Pichard, Alexandra. Pen Pals.  Aladdin, 2017. unp.  $17.99. ISBN: 978-1-4814-7247-0. Gr. 2+. P8 Q8

Despite their differences, an ant and an octopus become friends while writing letters back and forth to each other. The ant, Oscar, lives on land and his pen pal, Bill the octopus, lives under the ocean. By writing letters to each other, they learn that they also have much in common. By the end of the book they plan to visit each other, they just have to figure out how. Using colored paper for the letters, yellow for Oscar and blue for Bill, makes it easier for the reader to follow who is doing the writing. The illustrations help to show the growing friendship between these two unlikely friends. Originally published in France in 2014 as Cher Bill by Gallimard Jeunesse.

Verdict: This is the book to use for anyone planning a unit on letter writing.

April 2017 review by Carol Bernardi.

Book review: Uranus and the Bubbles of Trouble, by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

Holub, Joan and Williams, Suzanne. Uranus and the Bubbles of Trouble. (Heroes in Training series, #11) Aladdin, 2015. $5.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-3512-3. 115 pages. Ages 8-12. P8Q7.

holub-uranus-and-the-bubbles-of-troubleA skirmish between the Titans and The Olympians at sea leaves Zeus and his team shipwrecked by the feuding of father, Uranus, God of the sky, and son, King Cronus (the father of many of the Olympians).  On Cronus’s orders, Titan Oceanus plunges into the sea and causes it to turn tumultuous. In desperation, Zeus throws his thunderbolt to turn the tussle in the Olympians’ favor.  This causes a massive melee in the sky between the Titans. While the Olympians manage to escape with the use of Zeus’s medallion and guide, Chip, they find themselves shipwrecked.  Following in the Olympians’ wake is a wave of bubbles that the Oracle of Delphi had warned danger was lurking.  The bubbles deposit a shell-like canoe with vain Aphrodite self-proclaimed as the most beautiful girl you have ever seen. There is immediate resentment and jealousy among the Olympians.  Will the Olympians be able to pacify the unease to maintain the unity required to overcome the nefarious Titans?

Summer 2016 review by Penny McDermott.

Book review: Henry Hyena, Why Won’t You Laugh?, by Doug Jantzen, illustrated by Jean Claude

Jantzen, Doug. Illustrated by Jean Claude. Henry Hyena, Why Won’t You Laugh? Aladdin, 2015. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-2822-4. Unp. Ages 4-7. P9 Q9

Jantzen Henry HyenaI really like what this story teaches young children about being nice and how this is the best way to play. It is about a little Hyena who is blue and can’t laugh anymore. The giraffe is a sort of doctor of therapy for the animals at the zoo and he helps little Hyena see that he is sad because he doesn’t like laughing at others who are hurt. This would be a great book for children who are feeling sad and may need to go to the psychologist. My son had problems with his emotions starting at about age two and started seeing a therapist when he was five this would have been a great story to read to him about feelings.

December 2015 review by Melinda Dye.

Book review: The Power of Henry’s Imagination, by Skye Byrne, illustrated by Nic George

Byrne, Skye. Illustrated by Nic George. The Power of Henry’s Imagination. Aladdin, 2015. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-0626-0. Unp. Ages 4-8. P8 Q8

Byrne Power of Henrys ImaginationThe illustrations are simple with brown pages and drawings of the characters but every page there is a picture of actual items such as leaves, a shirt, a ribbon, etc. This is a story of a little boy and his favorite toy Raspberry, a stuffed rabbit, who he does everything with. But Henry loses Raspberry and tries to get everyone to help him look for him. His grandpa told him no luck and to pretend that Raspberry was with him on his adventures. Henry has a great imagination and they go to the mountains, sea, stars, etc. The story has a happy ending as the mailman brings Raspberry back after he had found him lying in the mud. This is a great book about imagination.

December 2015 review by Melinda Dye.

Book review: Barack Obama ; George W. Bush, by Beatrice Gormley

Gormley, Beatrice. Barack Obama: Our Forty-fourth President. (A Real-Life Story series) Aladdin, 2008, 2012, 2015. $17.99. 266p. 978-1-4814-4648-8. Ages 10-14:

Gormley, Beatrice. George W. Bush: Our Forty-third President. (A Real-Life Story series) Aladdin, 2001, 2005, 2015. $17.99. 246p. 978-1-4814-4645-7. Ages 10-14:

Gormley Barack ObamaBoth books are updates of biographies with additional material at the end. Both give Gormley George W. Bushglowing descriptions of the men, the Bush one in particular glossing over any problems that he may have had in avoiding the Vietnam draft and facing legal problems while active in the oil industry. Gormley also exonerates Bush from most of the blame for the mismanagement after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and excused the war on Iraq as a way to keep Saddam Hussein from attacking the U.S. The books have added information since the earlier editions because they cover the presidents’ second terms, but the timeline is skimpy, the index weak, and resources nonexistent. Recommended only for large libraries collecting every book on the U.S. presidents. P5Q3

October/November 2015 review by Nel Ward.