Book review: Spindrift and the Orchid, by Emma Trevayne

Trevayne, Emma. Spindrift and the Orchid.  Simon and Schuster, 2018.  ISBN 978-1-4814-6259-4.  $17.99.  256 pages.  Ages 11-13.  Q8 P8

Spindrift is a middle school student whose been orphaned since she was a baby.  Her grandfather has cared for her since the day she floated to shore in a boat by herself.  The ship her mother was captain of sinking in the distance.  The adventure begins when a man comes to her grandfather’s magical trinket shop asking for a black orchid.  Around the same time Spindrift’s grandfather shares letters to him from Spindrift’s mother detailing her parent’s quest to unite the orchids (7 orbs that contain the essence of a powerful sage.  Whoever controls the orb gains the power of the sage) and gain their power.  Ultimately ending in their demise.  On Spindrift’s quest to find the orbs to keep them from someone who would abuse their power, she follows in her mother’s footsteps.  On her journey she takes her two best friends who wouldn’t think of letting Spindrift go on such a dangerous mission alone.  Their friendship is challenged when it becomes apparent Spindrift is putting the quest for the orchids above their friendship.  All three have tough choices and have to ask themselves: Is power worth more than friendship and is forgiveness possible in the most unforgivable situation?

Verdict:  Lots of adventure, magic, and discovering the true meaning of friendship in this book.   A great addition to middle grade libraries.

December 2019 review by Terri Lippert.

Book review: Never Satisfied: The Story of the Stonecutter, by Dave Horowitz

Horowitz, Dave. Never Satisfied: The Story of the Stonecutter. Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Young Readers Group, 2018. $16.99. ISBN 9780399548468. Unpaged. Ages 4-8. P7 Q7

Stanley the stonecutter, a frog, notices a businessman and wishes he was a businessman. Suddenly, to his surprise, he is transformed into a businessman. Soon, he discovers that being a king would be really nice. As Stanley is transformed from one thing to another, he realizes he is never satisfied. The text and vivid cut-paper illustrations add depth and playfulness to the story. Stanley’s large frog eyes are prominent in every thing that Stanley is transformed into. The idea for this story was taken from a Chinese folktale The Stonecutter. The author was tired of writing, so he went back to school and became a paramedic. He told his co-worker about his journey and how he ended up being a paramedic. His coworker said it sounded like the Chinese parable the stone cutter. Horowitz wrote this story based on the folktale.

Verdict: Similar to the grass is greener on the other side, this story shows that while it may look like more fun to be something else, being yourself is good after all. I highly recommend this book for libraries with elementary age children.

September 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Granted, by John David Anderson

Anderson, John David. Granted. Walden Pond Press, 2018. 325 pgs. $16.99. ISBN: 978-0-06-264386-5. Gr. 5+. P8 Q8

Sometimes we make a wish in the hope it will come true or that it will be granted.  Ophelia Delphinium Fidgets is a fairy who lives in Haven with the other fairies. Ophelia is a wish granter fairy and she has been chosen to grant a wish to a young girl. The wish is for a purple bicycle to replace one that was stolen. Ophelia ventures into the world and though there are strict rules to follow she chooses to break the rules and grant a second wish along with the first. The second goes to a young girl who wants her father back so that her world is stable once again.

Verdict: Wow, what a great book! The magical aspects add humor to a story that is at times very sad.

June 2018 review by Carol Bernardi.

Book review: The 11:11 Wish, by Kim Tomsic

Tomsic, Kim. The 11:11 Wish. Katherine Tegen Books, 2018. $16.99. ISBN 9780062654946. 361 pages. Ages 8-12. P7 Q8

Megan moves from Colorado, where she was a nerd at school, to Arizona. She hopes to start over at her new school and to be fun and make friends. On her first day of school, Megan is given a dare, unbeknownst to her, she is placed in the middle of the two school captains, who are rivals. Wanting to be successful at completing the dare, Megan notices a cat clock in a classroom, that reminds her of the magic clock her grandmother had. She makes a wish and also wishes for some magic. The wish starts a series of events that don’t end as she expects them to. The wishes have side effects and rules, which Megan discovers as she uses the magic. When Megan calls her grandmother for advice, she advises her to be careful with magic, but Megan feels she needs the magic to be fun and to make friends. When Megan gets tangled up in magic, her grandmother encourages her to be true to herself. I appreciate the grandmother not fixing it for her. Through it all, Megan finds a way to voice her opinions and to stand up for her friends, all without magic.  A fun engaging story with likable characters, teaching creativity, friendship, loyalty, voicing one’s opinion and honesty. With short chapters and a good pace, it kept my interest and made me wonder what was going to happen next.

Verdict: Easy read, engaging, while teaching a powerful lesson on voicing your opinion and being true to yourself. Recommended for elementary school and middle school libraries.

March 2019 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Irene’s Wish, by Jerdine Nolen, illustrated by AG Ford

Nolen, Jerdine. Irene’s Wish. Illustrated by AG Ford. Simon & Schuster Books. 2014. $17.99. ISBN 9780689863004. unp. ages elementary school. P8/q 9

Nolen Irenes WishThis book has beautiful pictures and is an interesting story about a little girl who wishes her hard working father was able to spend more time at home with her and her siblings. The story has an interesting twist as her father drinks some sweet tea that had seeds in it and then turns into a tree. In the end she liked having her father at home more but would rather have him as a person. She unwishes her wish and in the end after a winter storm her tree father looses his leaves and becomes a person again. He reminds his daughter that one needs to be prepared to live for what you wish for. This is a great story with imagination and fantasy but has a wonderful moral. January 2015 review by Melinda Dye.