Book review: The Princess and the Pit Stop, by Tom Angleberger, illustrated by Dan Santat

Angleberger, Tom. The Princess and the Pit Stop. Illustrator Dan Santat. Abrams Books for Young Readers. 2018. $16.99. ISBN 9781419728488. Unpaged. Ages 5-7. P7Q5.   

She might as well give up’, was a statement that the bold, racecar driving princess wasn’t going to endure. The Princess and the Pit Stop is a fast-paced story involving a princess and a car race. She is competing against beloved fairy tale characters and a doubting Fairy Godmother.  Her Fairy Godmother informs her that she is in last place and she must decide to persevere or simply give up on winning the race. She ends up winning the race and inviting all the famous racers to a ball at her castle. Illustrations pull the young reader in with vivid colors, clean lines, and an early graphic novel, comic book feel.

Verdict: It doesn’t have a strong story line, but young readers will love the heroine princess, action scenes, humor, and favorite fairy tale characters embedded throughout the book.

September 2018 review by Marcy Doyle.

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Book review: The Princess and the Giant, by Caryl Hart, illustrated by Sarah Warburton

Hart, Caryl. The Princess and the Giant. Illustrated by Sarah Warburton. Nosy Crow, 2015. $16.99. ISBN 9780763680077. Unpaged. Ages 3-7. P8Q8.

A grouchy giant makes such a ruckus that the people down the beanstalk can’t sleep at night. Princess Sophie gets tired of the situation, and gets ideas from fairy tales about how to soothe the giant so he’ll be quiet. Sophie is practical- she wears boots and fills a backpack with supplies for her missions- she makes him porridge, gives him teddy bears to sleep with, brings him a comfortable mattress, and finally, reads him bedtime stories. After that, the giant can sleep and he and Sophie, who teaches him to read, are fast friends. Children will enjoy the rhyming text, the references to the traditional story, and the new and detailed twists.

VERDICT: I’m looking forward to reading this one for storytime one day soon- I’m sure it will be popular. Of course, it would make a great bedtime story too.

September 2018 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: Princess Truly in My Magical, Sparkling Curls, by Kelly Greenawalt, illustrated by Amariah Rauscher

Greenawalt, Kelly. Princess Truly in My Magical, Sparkling Curls. Illustrated by Amariah Rauscher. (Princess Truly series, book 2). Orchard Books, 2018. $16.99 ISBN 9781338167191. Unpaged. Ages 3-5. P7Q9

I loved this book starring an imaginative little girl whose magical curls transport her to exciting adventures. This is a good book for young children that encourages the use of imagination. The book also celebrates the importance of self-esteem. The text is rhyming poetry, and while sometimes choppy, children will enjoy the verses. The engaging illustrations are creative and fun.

VERDICT: I really liked this book. I can see this book being used both in a group setting, as it lends itself to a great read-a-loud, and as a nice addition to a home collection.

May 2018 review by Denyse Marsh.

Book review: Ash Princess, by Laura Sebastian

Sebastian, Laura.  Ash Princess. (Ash Princess trilogy, book 1) “Advanced Reader’s Copy.” Delacorte Press, 2018.  ISBN 978-1-5247-6706-8.  $18.99.  432 pages.  Ages 12+. Q6P8

A typical story of a princess whose country is taken over, and family killed, by a terrible conqueror.  The story itself is not a new one, but Ms. Sebastian does a good job creating a fantasy setting with a medieval feel.  What I didn’t like about this story is how much of the book it took for the heroine to become a “heroine”.  Ms. Sebastian made the heroine, Thora, defenseless and naïve for roughly two thirds of the book.  I considered not finishing the book, but thankfully Thora finally figures out it takes intelligence, perseverance, and strength of will, instead of petty manipulation games, to win back her country.

This book has a grammatical error (page 9 “…the Kaiser’s has…) and content errors (Page 12 states both airgems and earthgems are worn for strength when it’s obvious they should have different powers.  Page 42 “…the Kaiser’s milky, distant eyes…” should read Kaiserin) that I have hopes will be corrected before final publication.

Verdict:  A nice spin on a typical story.  Far too much time developing the heroine which detracts from the main character.

March 2018 review by Terri Lippert.

Book review: Zog and the Flying Doctors, by Julia Donaldson, illustrations by Axel Scheffler

Donaldson, Julia. Zog and the Flying Doctors. Illustrations by Axel Scheffler. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2016. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-338-13417-9. 32 pgs. Ages 3-9. P9 Q9

A beautifully written and illustrated book from the creators of A Gold Star for Zog, and Superworm, Zog and the Flying Doctors is another sure to be hit. The story follows a young princess who is a doctor, a knight who is a surgeon, and a dragon who is wonderful at flying (but hasn’t yet perfected landing) on their adventures. Unfortunately when they stop to say hello to her Uncle, the King, he informs her that Princesses aren’t meant to be Doctors and locks her in the tower. Not content to spend her days sewing and wearing “frilly dresses” she sets out to prove to the King that Princesses can be anything!

Verdict: This book does a great job delivering a message in a fun way. The rhyming text and fun illustrations make it a quick and enjoyable read. It would be a wonderful read-aloud. I gave it a 9 for Popularity because it will engage readers for different reasons. Any child interested in knights, dragons, and princesses will enjoy it. Also, this would be a great book for a child who feels they aren’t accepted for who they are. The rhyming makes it an easy read and the humor is a plus as well. I found myself smiling as I read it more than once because it is such an engaging book. The rating of 9 for quality is due to the detailed illustrations as well as the placement of the text. Though the text was around the pictures I never felt as though I was searching for the words or missing any of them. I am excited to buy this book to add to my kids’ collection as well as reading it in the library during story time.

November 2017 review by Michelle Cottrell

Book review: I Want a Friend, by Tony Ross

Ross, Tony. I Want a Friend. (My Little Princess series) Andersen Press, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 9781512405552. 32 pages. Ages 4-9 years. P7 Q6

This book was first published in Great Britain in 2005 and is in the My Little Princess series. A princess is hoping to find friends at school, but a few children will not play with her. As she looks around, she realizes that many children do not have friends and she befriends them. The shading on the illustrations is distracting and makes the characters look unkempt. Tony Ross’s book series, Amber Brown and the My Little Princess, have been translated into more than 50 languages.

Verdict:  This book lends to a discussion about what to do when others exclude you. Children will relate to wanting a friend and to having others exclude them, opening up the discussion about how they can respond when they are excluded. I recommend this book for children’s libraries. I read this book to a child who did not have a friend and she started reaching out to others and now she has friends.

October 2017 review by Tami Harris.

Book reviews: Take the Key and Lock Her Up, by Ally Carter

Carter, Ally. Take the Key and Lock Her Up. (Embassy Row series, #3) Scholastic, 2017. $17.99. 327p. ISBN 978-0-545-65495-1. Ages 13-16. P5Q5

In the third—and final—volume of this series, the heroine, Grace, has found that she is the target of assassins because she will inherit the kingdom of Adria. With her own life in danger, she feels responsible for saving the lives of her brother and the young man she loves. The plot of the book surrounds her attempts to survive.

Verdict: Earlier Carter series were much stronger. This one almost seemed as though the author was either bored with the writing or didn’t like protagonist. Although Carter specializes in lack of realism, this book lacked believability, for example the characters’ escape from a secret Russian mental institution and the way that they can jet around the world without any parental interference. Grace’s behavior was overly dramatic and the romance forced. Editing might have helped. For example, the following sentence: “I don’t know what the drug is, but my body can feel it long before the syringe touches my skin.” The book is recommended for libraries with the first two volumes.

May/June 2017 review by Nel Ward.