Book review: Furthermore, by Tahereh Mafi

Mafi, Tahereh. Furthermore. Dutton’s Children Books, 2016. 401 pgs. $17.99. ISBN: 978-1-101-99476-4. Gr. 4+. Q8 P8

Life for Alice is horrible. Her world is full of color and magic, but Alice has neither color nor magic. She thinks that her mother hates her and the students of her school do too. The date where all the students in her class must show their talents to the city is fast approaching. This is a very important event that establishes what your job will be in the future. This is another problem for Alice because along with no magic she has no talent. The day of the ceremony, Alice is prepared but she fails, truly fails. When Oliver asks her to go on a journey to find her father she jumps at the chance. They go through doors that lead them to other places that are steeped in magic, have different rules, and other trap doors to fall through. Each place, some vibrant with life, others in the clouds and some with just very difficult beings but through it all they get closer to finding her father.

Verdict: A story that at times felt like Alice in Wonderland. Though all of this I and hopefully other readers will come to realize, as Alice did, that being yourself and being different is okay.

April 2017 review by Carol Bernardi.

Book review: A Nearer Moon, by Melanie Crowder

Crowder, Melanie. A nearer moon. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2015. 150 pgs. $16.99. ISBN:978-1-4814-4148-3. Gr. 4+. P8 Q8

Crowder Nearer MoonThis story reminds me of Shakespeare’s play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which has a play within a play. This story, too, has a story within a story, which at the end merge. The two stories are told in alternating chapters by the fairy and Luna.

They say that there is a special bond between twins that can never be severed. Having twin cousins I know this to be true in anything that involves them.  Fairy twins once lived in our world happily with their magic. As man encroached into their realm they decided to leave this world and to go to another. When the time comes to leave, the twin fairies are separated and one is left in our world. The twin left behind turns into a worrisome creature who changes the world around it into a swamp. When Luna’s young sister, Willow, falls into the swamp and swallows some of the cursed water they both know that she will die of a fever in two weeks. Luna is determined to save her sister by getting medicine from the townspeople, but it is a miracle that finally breaks Willow’s fever and causes the two fairy twins to be reunited. The language in this story is wonderful and the imagery is, too. I found that I had to re-read sections of the book just to experience it again.

January 2016 review by Carol Bernardi.

Book review: Mia the Mouse, by Lily Small.

Small, Lily. Mia the Mouse. (The Fairy Animals of Misty Wood, #4) Henry Holt and Company, 2013. $5.99. ISBN 978-1-62799-144-1. 121 pages. Ages 3-9. P7Q5.

Small Mia the MouseMia the Mouse is sent to collect ‘something’ for her mother yet she has forgotten what it could be while she remembers that it begins with the letter B. She meets new friends, Buzby the bumblebee, Buffy the butterfly, and Barney the badger, along the way. Together, they seek items that begin with the letter B while always wondering if this unknown item could be the animals themselves.

February 2016 review by Penny McDermott.

Book review: Meltdown Madness, by David Lubar, illustrated by Matt Loveridge

Lumbar, David. Meltdown Madness. Illustrated by Matt Loveridge. (Looniverse series, #2) (Branches series) Scholastic Inc., 2013. $4.99. ISBN 978-0-545-49604-9. 90 pages. Ages 6-10. P7Q5

Lubar Meltdown MadnessThis is book two out of four in In the Looniverse series, a part of Scholastic’s early chapter book series, Branches.  Ed needs to raise money so that he can join the soccer team.  He chooses to sell chocolate bars instead of wrapping paper or mixed nuts. Ed realizes he has made a mistake with the blazing sun and weight of the box. His chocolate bars are going to be a mess in this heat. Ed thinks that he has the answer to the dilemma when he asks his friend Mouse to take the box of chocolate to his house as fast as possible. Mouse leaves Moose and Ed on their butts and as for Ed on both his butt and the magic coin in his pocket.  There are several references to the magic “Silver Center,” the magic coin in this book.  Ed has to watch what he says because the coin’s magic takes his words as literal. Mouse’s speed and the heat liquify the chocolate bars. Soon, the heat turns to arctic weather. What is Ed to do regarding money for soccer and his unsellable chocolate bars?

February 2016 review by Penny McDermott.

Book review: The Iron Trial, by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare, illustrated by Scott Fischer

Black, Holly & Cassandra Clare. The Iron Trial. Ill. Scott Fischer. (Magisterium series, #1) Scholastic Press, 2014. $17.99 ISBN 9780545522250. 295 pgs. Ages 11-up. P8Q8 

Black Iron TrialA mage training school is testing students for admission to the Magisterium. Callum Hunt has been told all of his life that magic is bad and, if he goes to the school, he will die. He sets out to fail, but his lack of confidence backfires and he is inducted to apprentice under the head mage at the school. Once there, he meets Aaron and Tamara who are to become the first and only friends he has ever had. The rest of the year is a series of misadventures very much like the Harry Potter series, right down to the female that knows a lot that the boys do not know and the male who follows him blindly. I think this book series is a good read, it has a lot more action than the Harry Potter books. I think the YA audience will love this book. I am unfamiliar with Holly Black but Cassandra Clare has a great imagination, as seen in her Mortal Instruments series.

January 2015 review by Kris Cooper.

Book review: Teacher’s Pets, by Stephanie Calmenson and Joanna Cole, illustrated by Heather Ross

Calmenson, Stephanie and Cole, Joanna.Teacher’s Pet. Ross, Heather, ill. (Ready, Set, Dogs! series.) Henry Holt and Company, 2014. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-8050-9647-7. 114 pages. Ages 6-11. P9Q8.

Calmenson Teachers PetsKate and Lucie are best friends, who adore dogs, yet live in apartment buildings where dogs are not allowed. But with their magic dog bone necklaces, instead of having dogs, they get to be dogs!   In this second book of the Ready, Set, Dogs! series, Kate and Lucie’s class has a substitute teacher who has the class going wild with grunts, hoots, growls, and howls as he teaches about animal communication while the neighboring classroom mysteriously seems to have the very same substitute. At the same time, a girl in their class is teasing them about their closeness. The fast pace and fun-filled adventure will not only entertain but teach youngsters about animals and kindness too. April 2015 review by Penny McDermott.