Friday, March 20, 2020

Bo the Brave - a review

Bo the Brave
By Beth Woollvin
Peachtree, 2020


Bo the Brave is a delightful tale of adventure and derring-do with a strong female protagonist. When Bo's brothers set off on a quest to catch a monster, Bo is left behind—too small, they tell her. Bo decides to go off on a quest of her own. Armed with an arrow, a net, or a sword, she approaches each beast with a signature catchphrase, "Get ready to be got!" But the monsters Bo encounters are not really monsters at all. In fact, they're quite kind,

"You simply MUST learn to swim," the creature bellowed, plucking Bo from the waves. "And me? A monster? Don't be ridiculous. I am the Kraken! I mean you no harm."

When Bo finally does find monsters, they're certainly not the type she'd been seeking.

This good-sized book has Beth Woollvin's signature style artwork (Little Red, Rapunzel, Hansel & Gretel).  Bo's hair and cape are lovely shades of pink and the creatures are sufficiently mythical without being scary. This is a longer read-aloud for attentive 4-year-olds and up. The suggested age range is 5-9. Bo is an enchanting adventurer.

On sale in April, 2020.  My copy was provided by the publisher.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Nature's Ninja - a review

Nature's Ninja: Animals with Spectacular Skills
By Rebecca L. Johnson
Millbrook, 2019



Below is my review as it appeared in the October, 2019, edition of School Library Journal.


Gr 4-9–Animals are compared to Japan's medieval ninja warriors in this picture book for older readers. Nine chapters follow an introduction offering background information on the practiced arts of the ninja. Each chapter features an animal with natural abilities closely aligned to a particular ninja skill and begins with the skill highlighted in a stylized text box—"CHOHO: Spying—infiltrating an enemy's camp or society without being discovered." Rove beetles have the natural ability of a choho master. Amazingly, they look, smell, and even behave like army ants, living among the wellknown predators. They've even been seen eating army ant larvae! Geckos and sailfish are among the other featured creatures. In addition to a description of the animal's ninja- like skill, there is a section on each creature titled "The Science Behind the Story." Photographs and scientific graphics illustrate each comparison. Back matter is comprehensive and includes a glossary, index, and "Meet the Scientists." VERDICT Both the premise and execution of this title are intriguing. Steer older students toward this book; they will not be disappointed.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Freedom Soup - a review

Freedom Soup

by Tami Charles
Jacqueline Alcántara
Candlewick, 2019

A young girl and her Haitian grandmother joyfully cook Freedom Soup in this story of Haiti's successful struggle to end slavery.

"Know why they call it Freedom Soup?" Ti Gran asks.
"Because it's free?"
It is the same answer that I always give. Ti Grans laughs her loud, belly-deep laugh.
"Oh, Belle. Nothing in this world is free, not even freedom."
She begins to tell a story, the same one she tells every year. A story of the place she was born: Haiti.

The illustrations, created with gouache, pencil, and marker, are alive with color, joy, music, and dance. Ti Gran wears a brightly colored yellow dress and matching headwrap, and Belle wears long cornrows and an apron to match her grandmother's dress. Both Belle and Ti Gran move expressively and dance while cooking and storytelling. The extended family that gathers to enjoy their traditional Freedom Soup on New Year's Day is large, happy, and celebratory.

The triumph of the historical revolution is not depicted with blood and misery, but rather with proud Haitians boldly marching to war with bare feet and makeshift weapons.






A Freedom Soup recipe and Author's Note round out this wonderful picture book suggested for Grades K-4.


My copy of Freedom Soup was provided by LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

A Fire Story - a review

 A Fire Story
by Brian Fies
Abrams Books, 2019

In graphic novel format,Brian Fies tells his own personal story as well as those of others who lost everything in the devastating Northern California fires of 2017. Their stories highlight the more mundane aspects of a living through a natural disaster—the bureaucratic red tape, the small things that trigger immense emotion, the weird sense of living as a displaced person in your own environs. Having experienced two devastating hurricanes myself, I can attest that Fies has accurately captured the moods and experiences of survivors of catastrophe. Some photos are also incorporated into the dramatic illustrations. This affecting book will stay with you much longer that the short time it will take to read it.


Originally published online, A Fire Story was recreated (the original web comic is included in the print version) and enhanced for print publication.
Read the original web-based version here.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!  My family members begin arriving tomorrow, and I'm on a nice long break from work. I even brought home some adult books to read for my own enjoyment while I've got free time. Although I'm home being lazy, I've posted my latest audio book reviews on my Facebook page if you'd like to check them out. [https://www.facebook.com/shelfemployed/
I wish everyone a peaceful and joyful holiday season.

Photo by Andreea Radu on Unsplash

Bo the Brave - a review

Bo the Brave By Beth Woollvin Peachtree , 2020 Bo the Brave is a delightful tale of adventure and derring-do with a strong female p...