Book review: Build Your Own Boats, by Rob Ives

Ives, Rob. Build Your Own Boats. “Makerspace Models series.” Hungry Tomato, 2018. $26.65. ISBN 9781512459692. 32 pages.  Ages 8-11. P7 Q8

Have you ever wanted to build your own boat model, but didn’t know where to start? Build Your Own Boats takes you step by step, using items that you already have around the house or inexpensive items, to build 8 watercraft models. The book starts with a “safety first” section and contains top tips, how it works, real-world engineering and photographs of the lists of supplies and detailed steps required to make each model. Not only do you learn how to make the watercraft, you learn all about it. Some models require a few items you have on hand, other models require some items you will need to buy. The models range from easy to a little more difficult. Even if the reader is not engineer minded, they will be able to follow the instructions and make the models.

Verdict: I am not a huge boat fan, but I found the models interesting and curious if they would actually float. A book for boating enthusiast, explaining in simple terms the engineering principles that makes the models move. An asset to any elementary school age library. My nieces are excited to make these models and to try them out in their pool.

March 2018 review by Tami Harris.

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Book review: La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman

Pullman, Philip. La Belle Sauvage. (The Book of Dust, volume 1). Knopf, 2017. $22.99. 449p. ISBN 978-0-375-81530-0. Ages 11-15. P7Q10

The Golden Compass (or Northern Lights), the first book in Pullman’s trilogy His Dark Materials is 22 years old, and the author is celebrating it with a companion “equel,” a trilogy that begins with Compass protagonist Lyra Belacqua as an infant hidden in a priory in the country. Eleven-year-old Malcolm Polstead, an innkeeper’s son, takes on the responsibility of protecting Lyra while he learns about a secret Church society from Hannah Relf, a spy who is training herself to read the alethiometer, a method of communicating with Dust. The plot builds when Malcolm takes the baby away from her would-be evil capturers with the help of sour teenage kitchen worker, Alice. The book is replete with villains—disgraced theologian Gerard Bonneville, the children who follow a Church cult, the Consistorial Court of Discipline, and the children’s protective society. Much of the book is consumed with the children’s escape in Malcolm’s canoe, La Belle Sauvage, which was refurbished by Lyra’s father after Malcolm helped him escape early in the book. Joy, humor, and help for the humans come from their daemons, animal-like creatures that represent the subjects’ souls and cannot be separated from their humans while they are alive.

Verdict: As in his other books, the writing and the characters shine, and the world-building is fascinating. Woven into the plot are non-didactic discussions of physics and religion. The striving for free speech and thought against a totalitarian theocracy ring true in a way that readers can identify with the philosophical concepts. The next book in La Belle Sauvage, The Secret Commonwealth, begins ten years after The Golden Compass, making La Belle Sauvage a “surround” for His Dark Materials. The Book of Dust is highly recommended.

December 2017 review by Nel Ward