Book review: Ada Lace, on the Case, Emily Calandrelli, with Tamson Weston ; illustrated by Renée Kurilla

Calandrelli, Emily, with Tamson Weston. Ada Lace, on the Case. Illustrated by Renee Kurilla. Simon & Schuster, 2017. $6.99. ISBN 9781481485982. 124 Pages. Ages 6-10. P7 Q7

Full of friendship, detective work, and intrigue, Ada Lace, on the Case, will captivate young readers. Ada moves to San Francisco and does not have any friends yet. With her leg in a cast and her mother leaving for a few days, Ada feels lonely. Before her mom leaves, she arranges for Nina, a girl Ada’s age to come over. Ada makes a field guide of her new neighborhood. In the process, she meets a Nina and they discover their neighbors dog is missing. I enjoyed the field guide of the neighborhood and how Ada took notes on what was going on around her. This book is in the chapter book series, Ada Lace Adventure book 1. It is set up for a sequel, but it can also stand alone.

Verdict: This chapter book would be a good addition to any children’s library. The short chapters make it easy to read and the mystery about a missing dog will keep the reader wondering who took the dog and why.

December 2017 review by Tami Harris


Book review: Bob and Tom, by Denys Cazet

Cazet, Denys. Bob and Tom. Richard Jackson/Atheneum, 2017. $17.99. unp. ISBN 978-1-4814-6140-5. Ages 5-8. P9Q9

The author of lovable and hapless pairs of friends such as Minnie and Mo and Snail and Slug has a new silly pair in these two clueless turkeys. As usual, the ridiculous dialog carries the plot of this chapter book from morning rain showers to swimming in the afternoon and the loss of their names. Mixed-media illustrations carry out the delightfully absurd action for example when Bob uses a magnifying glass to see if Sam’s head has anything inside.

Verdict: Cazet has a great understanding of satire, but I still prefer Minnie and Moo. 

Summer 2017 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Lilly and Fin: A Mermaid’s Tale, by Cornelia Funke, translated by Oliver Latsch

Funke, Cornelia. Lilly and Fin: A Mermaid’s Tale. Trans. By Oliver Latsch. Random House, 2017. $9.99. 83p. ISBN 978-1-5247-0101-7. Ages 7-10. P9Q9

Colorful illustrations help make this chapter book about wealthy “two-legs” determined to capture a pair of “merpups” a fun read that goes from the comfort of two friends enjoying a day to the danger of being stolen from their peaceful home in sunken shipwrecks. Funke has created both memorable monstrous humans, Mr. and Mrs. Snorkel who need a mermaid to complete their collection of every sea creature in the world and their marvelous metal invention that allows them to travel deep under the ocean surface. The merpups, Lilly and Fin, are typical children, adventurous and disobedient in their desire to explore the world beyond the parents’ definition of boundaries. The greatest twist in the plot is the merpups’ friendship with the giant kraken, a mythical giant sea monster that solves their problem. The award-winning German author is well known for her series Inkheart, but my favorite of her books is The Thief Lord. Lilly and Fin was first published in 2004 in Germany.

Verdict: The plot is straightforward and enjoyable, well-translated, and illustrations add to the humor. Funke has added quirky activities at the end, including patterns for knitting the merpups and kraken, a dice game to play with Lilly and Fin, and a search for tiny treasure chests in each of the book’s large illustrations. The size of the book is also appealing for smaller hands.

May/June 2017 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Mr. Putter & Tabby Hit the Slope, by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Arthur Howard

Rylant, Cynthia. Mr. Putter & Tabby Hit the Slope. Illustrated by Arthur Howard. (Mr. Putter and Tabby series, #25) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. Unpaged. $14.99. ISBN 9780152064273. Ages 5-7. P7Q8

On a slow, snowy day, Mr. Putter remembers the long ago fun of sledding down hills. The adventurous neighbor, Mrs. Teaberry, has sleds in her garage. Mr. Putter, Tabby, Mrs. Teaberry and her dog, Zeke, head out for an adventure, riding sleds down hills in this twenty-fifth book in the series.  Much of the charm of the long-running series comes from the simple watercolor and goache paintings that show the varied emotions of the characters—Mr. Putter’s sadness in being left without a sled, Tabby’s worried terror  as Zeke pilots the two of them down the hill, the contentment on both Mr. Putter’s and Tabby’s faces as they have muffins afterward.

Verdict: Highly recommended for preschool, elementary, and public libraries.

January 2017 review by Jane Cothron.

Book review: Mae and June and the Wonder Wheel, by Charise Mericle Harper, illustrated by Ashley Spires

Harper, Charise Mericle. Mae and June and the Wonder Wheel. Illustrated by Ashley Spires. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-544-63063-5. 120 pages. Ages 6-10. P6Q7

June loves to play with her dog Sam, particularly because the two are able to communicate unbeknownst to others. When her grandmother sends her a big chalkboard on a wheel,  June is thrilled.  She and Sam are entertained with completing the suggested tasks. It’s even more fun when a new girl moves in next door and ends up in the same class. Mae seems really nice, but classmate April is bound and determined that Mae will be friends with her and not June. The girls have to learn to get along, and eventually become fast friends.

Verdict: This is a very positive, fun story for beginning readers. The illustrations add to comprehending the story. Other nice touches are June’s grumpy teenage sister, the fact that Mae is a character of color, and the adventure of the wonder wheel.

May 2017 review by Penny McDermott.

Book review: We Love You, Rosie!, by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Linda Davick

Rylant, Cynthia. Illustrated by Linda Davick We Love You, Rosie! Beach Lane Books, 2016. $17.99. ISBN 9781442465114. Unp. Ages 2-6. P8 Q8

Rosie, a family’s pet dog, helps us understand opposites in We Love You, Rosie! Sometimes Rosie is good, sometimes she is bad. She comes in the house, then goes out. Her toy is lost, then found. Each pair of opposites is colorfully represented through Rosie’s interaction with the children in her family. Cynthia Rylant uses repetition and capitalization to make important vocabulary words stand out. Bold illustrations and bright colors will appeal to young readers. The choice to depict an underrepresented minority family enjoying a pet, makes this book exceedingly approachable to a variety of young readers.

Verdict: The story is relatable and repetitious enough to aid new readers.

April 2017 review by Lillian Curanzy.

Book review: Sniff a Skunk!, by Mary Amato, illustrated by Ward Jenkins

Amato, Mary. Ward Jenkins, ill. Sniff a Skunk! (Good Crooks series, Book 3) Egmont, 2015. $4.99. ISBN 9781606845998. 122 pgs. Ages 7-9. P7Q7.

Amato Sniff a SkunkFans of the Good Crooks series will be happy to see book #3. This time, Billy and Jillian do their best to help an orphaned baby skunk, and entertain hospital patients while causing some fun chaos. And of course, they have to prevent their crook parents from committing a robbery. The story is (after reading the first two) predictable, but still a lot of fun. This will be a fast read even for reluctant readers.

January 2016 review by Carol Schramm.