Book review: Fergus and Zeke, by Kate Messner, illustrated by Heather Ross

Messner, Kate. Fergus and Zeke.  Illustrated by Heather Ross. Candlewick Press, 2017. $14.99. ISBN 9780763678463. 56 pages. Ages 5-8. P7 Q7

Fergus is the classroom pet who follows all the rules of the class. When the class goes on a field trip, Fergus realizes that he will have to stay at school. He devises a plan to go on the field trip and along his adventure, he meets a new friend, Zeke. Fergus and Zeke has four chapters and includes a table of contents. The illustrations are colorful and action packed and will help keep children’s attention and add to the text. Through the mice’s experience at the museum, children will see how friendships develop. The book is realistic in what the mouse experiences in a regular day at school. This is the first book in a new series. The book is set up for a sequel.

Verdict: I recommend this book for young children’s libraries. It is action packed, realistic, colorful and fun. Children will relate to the book and be interested in finding out what new adventures Fergus and Zeke will have.

June 2017 review by Tami Harris.

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Book review: Merrow, by Ananda Braxton-Smith

Braxton-Smith, Ananda. Merrow. Candlewick Press, 2016. ISBN 9780763679248. $16.99. 233 pages. Grades 8+. P7 Q9

Merrow isn’t really about mermaids. It’s about Kraken, web-fingered creatures with the tails of fishes, ancient children who left their marks on cave walls, small town gossip, and a world-wise twelve-year-old girl named Neen Marrey. Ananda Braxton-Smith writes with the voice and tragedy of the hardened Irish island folk of whom she writes. To those on the Island, and Need in particular, the sea is a family member. One who is often responsible for life-giving fruits and equally devastating heartbreak. Merrow is not an easy read. It is character driven and there is plenty of quirky Irish and Nordic vocabulary—which only adds to its authenticity. Readers who enjoy Irish writing and folklore with adore this story.

Verdict: This book is highly recommended. The language is often figurative, rife with imagery and cultural references. It belongs in school and public libraries.

September 2017 review by Lillian Curanzy.

Book review: Wake Up!, by Helen Frost, photographs by Rick Lieder

Frost, Helen. Photographs by Rick Lieder. Wake Up! Candlewick Press, 2017.ISBN 9780763681494. $15.99. UNP. PreK-3. P5 Q8

Wake Up! is an inquisitive poem comprised of words and wildlife photographs. Each photograph is joined by one half of a sometimes-rhyming couplet. Helen Frost has previously published three books with a similar formula, also working with Rick Lieder. This newest one continues the “nature from a different perspective” theme of the series by including unusual shots of animals that are not likely to be observed by the hobbyist hiker or bird-watcher. This particular book would not be broadly recommended if not for the inclusion of additional information about each featured plant and animal. After the poem, a thumbprint of each photograph is followed by each organism’s name and a brief fact. This addendum greatly improves the usefulness of the book.

Verdict: Like the three previous books in the series, the photographs are very good. Though not the favorite in the series, this book would be a good addition to a nature lesson or poetry lesson in a PreK- 1st grade classroom.

September 2017 review by Lillian Curanzy.

Book review: Growing Up Pedro, by Matt Taveres

Taveres, Matt. Growing Up Pedro: How the Martinez Brothers Made It from the Dominican Republic All the Way to the Major Leagues. Candlewick Press, 2015. $4.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-9311-4. 39 pages. Ages 6-12. P7Q6.

This book is a delightful picture book biography of baseball player Pedro Martinez. Pedro grows up in poverty in the Dominican Republic. The determination and hard work are details that support the biography yet the importance of family and relationships makes this book a home run.

Verdict: this is would make a good addition to an early reader collection.

May 2017 review by Penny McDermott.

Book review: Marilyn’s Monster, by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Matt Phelan

Knudsen, Michelle. Marilyn’s Monster. Illustrated by Matt Phelan. Candlewick Press, 2015. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-9301-5. Unpaged. Ages 4-8. P8Q8.

Marilyn waits patiently for her monster to find her, yet everyone has limits, and eventually she is not willing to wait any longer. She takes the initiative to find her monster.  Her monster needs her help and it’s a good thing that she takes charge.

Verdict: This is an adorable story about perseverance and initiative.  Both have rewards and Marilyn keeps going because she believes in it.  The art is beautiful with soft pastels of adorable monsters.

May 2017 review by Penny McDermott.

Book review: Hattie and Hudson, by Chris Van Dusen

Van Dusen, Chris. Hattie and Hudson. Candlewick Press, 2017. $16.99. ISBN 9780763665456. Unpaged. Ages 4-10. P8 Q9.

Hattie McFadden explores a lake and makes a friend with a large mysterious creature she names Hudson. She is determined to convince the town that Hudson is not harmful but friendly. Endpapers are a relaxing pond scene. Illustrations are very detailed and adorable.

Verdict: With the higher vocabulary, it is a great read aloud for discussion for a discussion of friendship or for an advanced reader. 

June 2017 review by Deborah Gwynn.

Book review: Yard Sale, by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Lauren Castillo

Bunting, Eve. Yard Sale. Illustrated by Lauren Castillo. Candlewick Press, 2015. $6.99. ISBN 9780763693053. Unpaged. Ages 3-12. P9 Q 9.

This is a very touching story of a family holding a yard sale because they are moving to a smaller apartment.  Told from the child’s perspective of how they might feel having a yard sale of their things. It includes the struggle of a changing friendship with the neighbors. It conveys the struggle of letting go of a bike and the memories of the marks on a headboard of a bed.  Then, as a child might feel, they would also be for sale, the book concluded with a sincere moment of realization.

Verdict: This is a very emotional and touching story as young and adult alike can relate to moving and having to sell beloved things. It is a great read aloud for all aged children helping them cope with giving up their things, moving and leaving friends, and/or teaching about empathy.  

June 2017 review by Deborah Gwynn.

 

 

[Editor’s note: Told from the point of view of a young girl whose possessions are among the many that her family is selling, Bunting’s story of a family losing their house and needing to make enough money to move to a small apartment imparts grief, fear and sadness, as well as the love that holds the family together.  While not a comfortable story, the warm, realistic illustrations by Lauren Castillo humanize the family’s plight.]