Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island by Dana Alison Levy

When the Fletchers land at their summer getaway, they discover the historic lighthouse next door is blocked off and inaccessible. Not only does that put a damper on their trip, but it sets in motion a mission: to save the lighthouse.

The Fletchers are modern kid lit's favorite diverse family, and in this book they experience a bit of prejudice and hold a few conversations about being brown in America. It's still appropriate for the age group and not overdone, but serves as a great supplementary storyline in a book full of personal interactions and developing feelings.

But the book's not weighed down with politics - there's also time for teaching cats to swim, fear of bees, acting inappropriately at a fancy dinner, kayaking, Shakespeare, soccer, girls, snakes and other critters.

This series is a WONDERFUL addition to the juvenile chapter book world.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan

In this dark, graphic reboot, Snow White has been transplanted to flapper-era New York, her wicked step a former Ziegfeld girl.

While fairy tales usually are meant for the very young, the dark nature of this depiction and the historical setting will mean more to preteen, middle school readers. The minimalist palette and sketchy quality add to the story's noir quality. There are some interesting twists to the familiar story to accommodate the change in timeline - for example, police Detective Prince.

It's an interesting story, and very quick to read - certainly an innovative mashup that's well done.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

When her family moves to aid her little sister Maya's health, Cat is horrified to discover their new town is full of ghosts.

Telgemeier's a graphic novel rock star, and this book's been getting a lot of love. I totally understand why! The characters are rich, emotional, and very real. And the diversity of the characters isn't a plot point - it's just a given. While the main characters are in sixth grade, I think this book could be read by younger ages who were interested and engaged readers.

The book does a great job explaining Cat's fear; it also does a fabulous job explaining cystic fibrosis and Dias de los Muertos for a younger audience. And even with that much information, the story moves along nicely and keeps you interested.

Friday, October 21, 2016

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

When immigrants traveled to the new world, they brought with them the foods, traditions, and beliefs of their homelands. Unfortunately, America as a land is not kind to gods and goddesses.

In this sweeping saga, a newly released felon gets hired to act as driver and bodyguard for a mysterious older businessman. Things are odd from the start, and pretty quickly Shadow discovers that gods live among us - but many are worn down at the heels by a lack of belief and waning worship.

It's basically a roadtrip book, although there are periods of inaction, along with side trips into another realm. Shadow's a guy with a heart of gold and a huge capacity to believe the unlikely.

The more old-world gods and goddess stories you know, the more this book will entertain. That said, Gaiman connects legends of Egypt, Romania, Norse, Native American and more - you'll inevitably want to step away to look up a new character's backstory.

I love everything Gaiman produces, and this is no exception. Exceptionally good!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

A kindergartner is killed in a hit-and-run accident in the street in front of his house, right in front of his mother. Will the driver ever be found?

This is a fantastic twisty thriller full of complex characters, and I'm afraid to give too much plot synopsis because I don't want to give anything away. Chapters alternate between characters and perspectives (annoyingly, one is in second-person).

The setting, the mystery, and the characters in this book reminded me of the British crime drama "Broadchurch." Fantastic, and highly recommended!