Monday, January 11, 2016

Things I've Read Recently (24)

If you're new around here, Things I've Read Recently is a series of posts I do that are basically mini-reviews of books that I either forgot to review, didn't have enough to say for a full review, or just didn't want to do a full post about for whatever reason.

I had this all ready to go and didn't post anything instead! So my intro talking about Christmas isn't very relevant anymore. Oh well, let's get this thing up anyways.

Let's start with:

The Crazy Case of Missing Thunder by Tony Abbott

Published: February 28th, 2012 by EgmontUSA
Genre: Contemporary Middle Grade/Chapter Book
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 101 pages
Part of a series? Yes, there looks to be at least 6 of these.
Got via: Library
Amazon / Indiebound / AbeBooks

Summary (from goodreads): Jeff, Brian, Mara, and Kelly are self-proclaimed goofballs. Since first grade these friends have been solving mystery among their schoolmates etc and now their reputation is expanding.

Rich kid Randall Crandall's horse, Thunder, goes missing and he calls upon the Goofballs to find him. Deciphering the clues that range from a flower delivery truck, a thunderstorm and a horse who's afraid of thunder, leads the Goofballs to recover missing Thunder, the flower-loving horse. In the meantime, they follow a trail of chomped-up flowers, disguise themselves as bushes in a florist shop and spend some time in a house that's bigger than the White House.

Thoughts: I grabbed this from the library for my Storytime graduate, and I wanted to pre-read it before I gave it to her mom. I liked it well enough. This reading level (it says ages 7-9) can be pretty basic and sometimes a little dry, but that's kind of just the territory. I thought this was cute. I've always liked detective stories in kids' books and I liked the way they solved the mystery, that it wasn't an actual crime or anything, and that the main character's mother drove them to meet their client. Touches like that are nice.

There is a touch of gross humour that I'm not personally a fan of, but kids would probably enjoy this. I also like that their group of friends seems to be fairly diverse, although the character development is not the deepest as this book is much more action driven. Which I wouldn't say is a bad thing - a lot of kids much prefer that. So, all in all, not my favourite, but certainly not awful or anything, and likely a lot more enjoyable for the intended audience.

Missing Monkey by Mary Amato

Published: February 25th, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Middle Grade/Chapter Book
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 116 in my copy
Part of a series? Yes, there's two others.
Got via: The library
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from the back of the book because it works better than the goodreads one): Twins Billy and Jillian want to be good, and that's a big problem.Why? Because their parents are famous crooks!

So the kids must do their good deeds in secret. Then their parents steal a monkey from the zoo to help them pick pockets. Now our heroes must find a way to return the clever animal, using disguises, inventions, and a wild game of Monkey See, Monkey Do.

Thoughts: I was recommended this one for a graduated Storytime kid, and I always pre-read before I give books to people. I quite liked this one. I thought the writing was good - chapter books can be a bit dry sometimes, but this one had a ton of personality and was really readable. I thought the premise was a lot of fun, too. It's silly and cute, and I enjoyed that though the narrator is Billy, a boy, his sister Jillian is very important to the story, too. It would be awesome if the book alternated POVs so the next one was told from Jillian's POV.

There's some toilet humour that some people won't love. That wasn't my favourite part, but I'm not in grade school! Also, personal bias? I hate monkeys. That's just my thing, though, and I enjoyed this regardless. I recommend this one.

Paddington Helps Out by Michael Bond

Published: Originally published in 1960, but the Kindle edition I read was released February 26th, 2012 by HarperCollins Children's Books
Genre: Contemporary MG
Binding: Ebook
Page Count: Apparently 148 pages, but I read an ebook so I have no idea.
Part of a series? Yeah, there are a lot of Paddington books.
Got via: I downloaded a free kindle copy from Amazon.
Amazon / Book Depository although the boxset here is probably cheaper / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): That bear is back again, and in this new edition of Paddington Helps Out, his attraction for near disaster is as magnetic as ever. Who but Paddington would set out to cook dumplings only to find himself chased from the kitchen by something so nasty only his resourceful friend Mr. Gruber can rescue him? And who else could get away with sawing his neighbor's kitchen table in two or flooding the launderette? These and other riotous adventures all find their way into Paddington's scrapbook and make for another delightful book starring this beloved bear from Darkest Peru.

Thoughts: My power went out for like three hours, and I had a laptop battery full-charged, so I read this and a short story before I ran out of battery, and had to switch to paper books. I don't read a lot of ebooks on my laptop, but I download free kindle books every now and then (and I did use them for school, too, because that was really helpful sometimes). I actually watch the Paddington cartoon a lot in the morning, and I had seen the television version of most of the stories in this book, which was amusing

I actually hadn't read one of these books before, but it had a very nice writing style. Definitely would be appealing to kids. It was a very cute way to pass the time, and I really liked seeing the origins of something I enjoy watching.

The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems

Published: October 13th, 2015 by Disney-Hyperion
Genre: That brand of MG where animals can talk but everything is otherwise isn't fantasy. Like there's no magic or anything, animals can just talk to other animals (not people).
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: Goodreads says 80 pages and I don't have a copy to check so we'll assume that's right.
Part of a series? I wish! So far it doesn't look that way, but I would love sequels.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Diva, a small yet brave dog, and Flea, a curious streetwise cat, develop an unexpected friendship in this unforgettable tale of discovery.

For as long as she could remember, Diva lived at 11 avenue Le Play in Paris, France. For as long as he could remember, Flea also lived in Paris, France-but at no fixed address. When Flea passed Diva's courtyard one day, their lives were forever changed. Together, Diva and Flea explore and share their very different worlds, as only true friends can do.

Thoughts: I LOVE Mo Willems. I love Elephant and Piggie, I love the Pigeon, I love basically all his books. This is his first middle grade book and I immediately knew I had to get it.

This is like the perfect book between early readers and more advanced chapter books. It's long enough to be more of a challenge for readers looking for something more than your higher level beginner readers. It has the most absolutely beautiful illustrations. Full-colour illustrations can be a really great stepping stone for readers who want a challenge but still want awesome pictures. And it's Paris, guys. What better reason for full-colour illustrations than Paris?

Speaking of Paris, there are French words sprinkled here and there throughout the book. I think they are used just enough so they enrich the book without becoming overwhelming, and I believe there is a glossary at the back of the book? I could be wrong about that. If there isn't, the French is so well integrated into the book and explained in the text that I obviously assumed there was a glossary.

I have an almost 6 year old (SOB) coming to my Storytime who has a sister a couple years older than her, and I gave this to their mom. She thought they would both love it, since they're both big animal fans, and big Mo Willems fans. I think this would be great for that age range, if perhaps a little less challenging for the older girl. The older sister does like to read to the younger one, though, and this kind of book would be perfect for them to share together.

The only thing I warned them about was that the cat kills a mouse at one point, and it is shown in the illustrations. Could be upsetting for some kids. Otherwise, this talks about emotions and feelings, it talks about being brave and doing new things, and I absolutely loved it. The pictures are wonderful, full of expression and the Paris setting is beautiful. All in all, I highly recommend this one.

So what have you guys been reading this year?

Peace and cookies,
Laina

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