Book review: Through Your Eyes: My Child’s Gift to Me, by Ainsley Earhart, illustrated by Ji-Hyuk Kim

Earhart, Ainsley. Through Your Eyes: My Child’s Gift to Me. Illustrated by Ji-Hyuk Kim. Aladdin, 2017. $18.99 ISBN 978-1-5344-0959-0. 31 pgs. Ages 2-9. P8/Q9

A lovely story that reminds the reader to stop and enjoy the little moments. Written to her child the author shares how as a new Mom she couldn’t wait to show her little girl the world. However, on a trip to the park her daughter shows her how to see the world in a new and amazing light.

Verdict: As a Mom I fell in love with this book! After reading it I decided it would be the bedtime story for my children that very night. My children enjoyed the rhyming text which is easy to follow and the pictures are beautiful. Every parent has the “aha moment” when we realize our children are the ones teaching us and this book captures it perfectly. It would make a wonderful present to new parents and anyone with a toddler who is just starting to explore the world.  High quality illustrations seem to combine watercolor and pastels in a way that gives the reader a glimpse into the little girl’s world.

November 2017 review by Michelle Cottrell

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Book review: Pope Francis: The People’s Pope, by Beatrice Gormley

Gormley, Beatrice. Pope Francis: The People’s Pope. (A Real Life Story). Aladdin, 2017. $17.99. 264p. ISBN 978-1-4814-8141-0. Ages 11-14. P5Q5

As the first non-European and Jesuit to achieve the office, Jorge Mario Bergolio hit the world by storm when the quiet Argentine was named the leader of the Catholic Church in 2013. With adoration, the author follows his spiritual story from childhood throughout his career in the politically disturbed and sometimes violent nation as she emphasizes his compassion for the people and his determination to follow the religion’s directions. Most of the narrative covers his professional life with very little about his family and friends except for their religious connections.

Verdict: Highly one-sided, the book can be used for Catholic teachings in a typical middle-school format.

December 2017 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Bones of the Sun God, by Peter Vegas

Vegas, Peter. Bones of the Sun God (Pyramid Hunters Series, Book 2). Aladdin, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 9781481445825. 401 pgs. Ages 10-14. P8Q7.

Although I haven’t read the first book in the Pyramid Hunters Series, I enjoyed this fast paced book, which is reminiscent of Indiana Jones. The reader follows 14 year old Sam and his good friend Mary through a crazy quest to find out what happened to Sam’s parents when they vanished five years before. The first book was set in Egypt, and this one is in Belize- the series features pyramids and arks (the Ark of the Covenant was one), that together protect the word from a catastrophe. There are ancient legends, maps, clues, artifacts, crocodiles, scar faced villains, shady priests of ancient religions, jet skis and modern technology mixed up in an adventure that is sometimes on the bloody side- a combination that might catch reluctant readers. Sam Force is an appealing character- he was bullied at school at the beginning, he doubts himself sometimes, but he is brave and fast thinking when it matters. Mary’s character is less developed, but she isn’t the main character. Some of the events aren’t believable (where do they get the money to run around the world? How does Mary know how to hack and hide her tracks online? Maybe those questions were answered in the first book.)

VERDICT: Middle grade readers who like a good adventure will find this a fun read.

October 2017 review by Carol Schramm.

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 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.