Book review: To the Rescue, by Summer Greene, illustrated by Joshua Heinsz

Greene, Summer. To the Rescue. Illustrated by Joshua Heinsz. (Rainbow Rangers series.) Imprint, 2019. $4.99. ISBN 9781250190253. Unpaged. Ages 3-6. P7 Q6

A baby polar bear has floated out to sea away from its mother and the Rainbow Rangers set out to save it. Will the Rainbow Rangers be able to save the polar bear before the ice melts? For those not familiar with the animated Nick Jr. Show, there is a short introduction featuring each rainbow ranger, its name, color and power. One page shows the rangers transforming into their ranger outfits. Each page has a background of blue, pink or yellow. Colorful illustrations are in boxes or circles with the text above, beside or under them. This thin, paperback version includes a punch-out wearable Kaleidocom which is made out of firmer paper.

Verdict:  The quality of the book may not hold up in a classroom or library. Children will love the Kaleidocom to wear around their wrist, but if the book is in a classroom or library, I imagine the first child checking it out will make the Kaleidocom and others will be disappointed they don’t have one as well. That being said, I recommend it for children to have in their own personal libraries. This colorful adventure is a quick and to the point and will hold the interest of small children.

November 2019 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Pup 681: A Sea Otter Rescue Story, by Jean Reidy, illustrated by Ashley Crowley

Reidy, Jean. Pup 681: A Sea Otter Rescue Story. Illustrated by Ashley Crowley. Henry Holt and Company, 2019. ISBN 9781250114501. Unpaged.  P6Q6

A sea otter pup has washed up on the shore, and she is hungry, cold, and lonely. Found by a girl on a surfboard, wearing an Aquarium Staff hat, the otter is taken to an aquarium to be cared for. The text strives to come across from the otter pup’s point of view, but often feels odd. For instance, when the sea pup is feeling afraid and alone she wonders if the sun will leave her too. Also, certain pictures left me uncertain of the story line. For instance, on one double page spread the pup is being rescued by the surfer in the Aquarium Staff hat, the next page shows a VW Bus on the road, passing a sign that says “Aquarium 2,000 miles”, turn the page once more and they are on the steps of a large aquarium. I felt like more of the story needed to be portrayed here. The illustrations of the otter, in soft pastels, lacked the details that make otters so cute. At the end of the story the true story that the book is based on is told. Maybe if that had been at the front of the book the story would have come together more for me.

Verdict: The true story behind the book is good, but the narration and the illustrations could be improved. Children who have visited aquariums will recognize the pictures, including the end papers, and animal lovers will appreciate the backstory.

June 2019 review by Denyse Marsh.

Book review: The Fisherman and the Whale, by Jessica Lanan

Lanan, Jessica. The Fisherman & the Whale. Simon & Schuster, 2019. Unp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-5344-1574-4. Ages 4-6. P9Q9

In this wordless story, a father takes a young boy, possibly his son, on a fishing trip where they discover a whale caught in ropes. Lush watercolors and gauche show the adventure above and below water as the man dives in to rescue the whale before the boy throws over a life preserver as the man swims back to the boat. In a superb finish, the whale leaps into the air before the ship heads back to shore in a sunset. An author’s note describes “purse seining” method of catching salmon and the problems of whales, porpoises, and dolphins becoming entangled in commercial fishing nets.

Verdict: The vivid communications between the boy and man are enhanced by the variety of perspectives, including the pair of eyes, one showing the whale in the human pupil and the reverse showing the two protagonists reflected in the whale’s pupil. A book that can be “read” over and over.

June 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: The Only Fish in the Sea, by Philip Stead, illustrated by Matthew Cordell

Stead, Philip. The Only Fish in the Sea. Illustrated by Matthew Cordell. Roaring Brook Press, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 9781626722828. Unpaged. Ages 3-6. P8Q8

This is a busy, funny, odd book. A boy races to tell his friend Sadie about Little Amy Scott, who received a goldfish for her birthday, told everyone that “Goldfish are Boring!” and dumps the plastic bag with the fish in the ocean. Sadie is appalled, so makes a very practical plan to rescue the fish (now named Ellsworth). She gathers her supplies (balloons, paint, headwear, fishing poles and nets, and her crew (a dozen feisty monkeys) and finds Ellsworth. The loose pen and watercolor illustrations are really fun- kids will enjoy looking at them to pick up additional details of the story.

VERDICT: This story has a great message about planning carefully and working together to help others, and a real sense of fun that will appeal to many children. There is a feeling of justice here too- the story ends with Little Amy Scott spending her birthday alone.

September 2018 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: The Boy and the Whale, by Mordicai Gerstein

Gerstein, Mordicai. The Boy and the Whale. Roaring Brook Press, 2017. Unpaged. $17.99. ISBN 9781626725058. Ages 5-8. P8Q10

A boy and his father discover a whale tangled in their only fishing net. The father suggests that they wait for the whale to die and then try to salvage the net. The boy, remembering when he almost drowned from being entangled in a net, disobeys his father, taking the family’s fishing boat, freeing the whale, and destroying the net in the process.  Caldecott Medal winner Mordicai Gerstein created luminous paintings that show warm sunlight bathing a poor village and contrasting dappled light shining through ocean waves, carrying a sense of hope for not only the whale, but for father and son.

Verdict: The traits of courage and empathy shine through this timely story. Be prepared to discuss the issues raised with child readers. Highly recommended for elementary school and public library collections.

September 2018 review by Jane Cothron.

Book review: The Storm Dragon, by Paula Harrison, illustrated by Sophy Williams

Harrison, Paula. The Storm Dragon. Illustrated by Sophy Williams. (The Secret Rescuers series, book 1) Aladdin, 2017. $5.99. ISBN 9781481476072. 128 pages. Ages 7-10. P7 Q7

The Storm Dragon is a chapter book in the series The Secret Rescuers. It is a story about a girl named Sophy who discovers a young dragon named Cloudy. The queen and the captain of the guard do not like magical creatures, so Sophy tries to rescue Cloudy. The cover has a cute picture of a baby dragon on it, which entices the reader to open the book and read it. Pencil drawings enhance the story. The story lends to a sequel.

Verdict: This is an easy read with pictures to go along with the story. It is a sweet book that combines the love of adventure and the love of animals. I recommend this book for individual reading, public library, classroom library and elementary school libraries.

April 2017 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: The Tale of Rescue, by Michael J. Rose, illustrated by Stan Fellows

Rosen, Michael J. The Tale of Rescue. Illustrated by Stan Fellows. Candlewick Press, 2015. $14.99. ISBN 9780763671679. 103 pgs. Ages 10-13. P8Q9

I loved this beautifully illustrated story about a family rescued from a dangerous situation by a heroic cattle dog. The mother and father take their 10 year old son on a weekend adventure, so he can experience a snowy country weekend. They get lost while walking in the woods, and are overcome by a blizzard. The cattle dog knows that something is wrong, finds the family, and using the herd of cattle as a sort of snow plow, clears the way for them. Eight years later, the boy goes looking for the dog who saved them, and finds that her name is Angus, like all the other cattle dogs the farmer has owned. The language is poetic and beautiful, and the dark watercolor illustrations perfectly accompany the text.

VERDICT: Dog lovers of all ages will enjoy this book very much, and readers of survival stories will also find something to like.

April 2017 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: Manatee Rescue, by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Annabel Wright

Davies, Nicola. Manatee Rescue. Ill. Annabel Wright. Candlewick Press, 2015. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-9830-2. 105 pages. Ages 7-14. P8Q9

davies-manatee-rescueManuela is an unusual girl who lives in an Amazon River village. She prefers fishing with her dad, Silvio, to going to school. When she and Silvio hunt and kill a manatee, everything is turned upside down. What she had thought would be an amazing accomplishment feels like murder, and Manuela becomes determined to save the manatee calf. She and Silvio bring the dead manatee and her living calf home to the village to share the meat. Manuela, along with her cousin, Libia, decide to rescue the calf that they named Airuwe. They end up kidnapping him and hiding him at their grandmother’s house. The girls develop a five-point action plan to raise the pup until weaned, to educate the area villages about the importance of preserving manatees, and to eventually release Airuwe back into the wild.  Number four, getting people to agree not to hunt manatees, was proving to be the most difficult. The author writes beautifully about how the girls educate others about manatees and later writes, “There was still no checkmark beside number four, but sometimes changes happen too slowly to be checked off anyone’s list.” Evidence on where the village people stand on hunting manatee surfaces towards the end of the book when a villager returns with manatee meat. My favorite theme is that Manuela remains true to herself in that she still went fishing on the river with Silvio, but she never missed school to do it anymore.  There was a reason to work at her studies now, she wanted to find out more about manatees and the other animals that lived in the river. The author is able to tell an exciting story, in a realistic setting, dappled with Spanish terms while educating the reader about manatee preservation. The black and white illustrations add interest and understanding.

Summer 2016 review by Penny McDermott.