Book review: The Caldera, by John Flanagan

Flanagan, John. The Caldera. (Brotherband Chronicles, #7) Philomel Books, 2017. $18.99. ISBN: 978-0399163586. 432p. Gr.7+. P9 Q7



Fans of the Ranger’s Apprentice series will love this latest installment in the companion series, Brotherband Chronicles. This one has pirates, Vikings, and lots of nonstop action.  There’s really nothing in this series that is objectionable, so parents should encourage their kids to read them.  They are a great way to escape!

May 2018 review by NHS student.


Book review: Lone Stars, by Mike Lupica

Lupica, Mike. Lone Stars. Philomel Books, 2017. 240p. $17.99.  ISBN: 978-0399172809. Gr. 7-9. P6 Q8

This book is about Clay, a young boy who overcomes his fear of playing football.  He and his friend Maddie also take time to help the coach (a former Dallas Cowboys player) cope with traumatic brain injuries he suffered while playing pro football.

Verdict: I liked this book; it’s an easy read that will appeal to anyone who is interested in sports.

April 2018 review by NHS student.

[Editor’s note: Other reviewers noted that, unlike other books by Mike Lupica, the sports action sometimes takes a back seat to emotional issues off the field. Unfortunately, the decision to have the children hide the coach’s symptoms may also hide some of the effects of cumulative brain traumas.  This new book by a well-known sports writer brings awareness to a growing problem for school and professional football programs.]

Book review: Edie Is Ever So Helpful!, by Sophy Henn

Henn, Sophy. Edie Is Ever So Helpful! Philomel Books, 2017. $16.99. ISBN 9780399548062. Unpaged. Ages 3-7. P7 Q7

We all know children who are so helpful that their help gets in the way. Edie is helpful and exuberant, but her help is loud, busy and sometimes destructive. At the park, she makes sure everyone is having fun. Red dashes show her path throughout the park as she is helping others. While the book is humorous, I wonder if being too helpful is an adult concept and if children will find as much humor in it. I think a child will feel crushed if they think that their help is not appreciated. Children want to make a difference and to be helpful, not criticized for being too helpful. Simple matte water color illustrations match the text.

Verdict: Children will enjoy the various ways Edie tries to help her family. This book that will add some fun to an elementary school libraries and public library.

February 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Never Say Die, by Anthony Horowitz

Horowitz, Anthony.  Never Say Die. (Alex Rider series, #11) Philomel Books, 2017. 349 pages. $17.99. ISBN 9781524739300. Ages 13+. P8Q7

This book about a brilliant teen spy is packed with crazy adventure! I haven’t read the other books, so sometimes felt like I was missing something about his motivations, but I still enjoyed it very much and felt like the character of Alex was believable, even though unbelievable things happen to him. It was really fast paced, and I got carried along and wanted to see what would happen next.

VERDICT: Any teen who likes action/ adventure movies or books will love this one.

January 2018 review by Siletz Public Library volunteer.

Book review: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, by Julie C. Dao

Dao, Julie C. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Series: Rise of the Empress, Book 1). Philomel Books, 2017. $18.99. ISBN 9781524738297. 363 pages.  Ages 14-.  P8 Q7

Xifeng is told that her destiny is to become an empress.  Throughout her journey, there are external and internal conflicts. She deals with complicated internal struggles between herself and the serpent god.  Based with Asian roots, culture, and ideas of royalty, in order for Xifeng to become more powerful, she has to kill and eat the hearts of the victims which is conflicting to standards of good morals.

Verdict: This is a good book for a library as it would attract people who enjoy unusual relationship between the protagonist and the antagonists.  This unusual fantasy is full of plot twists.

November 2017 reviews by B.G. [student]



Book review: Time Out!, by Ale Barba

Barba, Ale. Time Out! Philomel Books, 2017. $16.99. ISBN 9780399163043. 32 pages. P6 Q6

A boy crashes on his skateboard and is sent to time out. While the person putting him into time out wants him to “think about what he did” he uses the time to create an adventure. The text is simple and the illustrations are colorful and action packed. The book left me a bit confused. While it is realistic that a child could create an adventure while he is in “time out” that is not usually the goal of a time out. I felt the book was a bit of a disconnect. It appeared in the first page that the boy was in time out because of crash he had with his skate board. It did not appear that he was disobedient, just busy. I would not feel comfortable reading the story to my children because it misses the whole point of time out, to reflect on one’s behavior.

Verdict: While the book is colorful and full of imagination, I do not recommend it. It portrays the adult as punitive. The child uses his imagination and is rewarded for “behaving”. The book ended without a conclusion, there was no clear point to the story.

September 2017 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: The Homemade Stuffing Caper, by John Madormo

Madormo, John. The Homemade Stuffing Caper. (Charlie Collier Snoop For Hire series, mystery #1) Philomel Books, 2012. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25543-4. 248 p. Gr. 5 and up. P8Q8

madormo-homemade-stuffing-caperCharlie opens his own detective agency in his parents’ garage.  He wants to put his puzzle solving skills to good use and follow in the footsteps of his favorite fictional detective, Sam Solomon.  Soon Charlie is involved in a mystery that contains real danger and he needs his grandma, two school friends, and a former real-life spy to help.

Verdict: For readers who like mysteries and adventures this is the book.  It is the first in a series that now contains three books.  The author’s style includes details that enhance the narrative and keep the reader engaged.  I found the descriptions of Eugene’s office, an exact replica of Sam Solomon’s office, to be implausible.  The character of Eugene could have easily been introduced to the story without that unbelievable feature and his obsession with Sam Solomon.

October 2016 review by Shelly Jones.