Category Archives: Candlewick Press

Book Review: The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Candlewick Press
TBP May 5th, 2020
368 Pages

Aboard the pirate ship Dove, Flora the girl takes on the identity of Florian the man to earn the respect and protection of the crew. For Flora, former starving urchin, the brutal life of a pirate is about survival: don’t trust, don’t stick out, and don’t feel. But on this voyage, as the pirates prepare to sell their unsuspecting passengers into slavery, Flora is drawn to the Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, who is en route to a dreaded arranged marriage with her own casket in tow. Flora doesn’t expect to be taken under Evelyn’s wing, and Evelyn doesn’t expect to find such a deep bond with the pirate Florian.

Soon the unlikely pair set in motion a wild escape that will free a captured mermaid (coveted for her blood, which causes men to have visions and lose memories) and involve the mysterious Pirate Supreme, an opportunistic witch, and the all-encompassing Sea itself.- Goodreads

There is a lot going on in this novel but happily enough the author broke down this book into different POC and sections. I loved that because it shows skills as a writer.

There is a lot of character building in this novel and it stresses the fact that not everyone is who/what they seem. I liked Flora. For everything that she had to do in order to live, to help her brother and Evelyn, she was honest with herself and that is oddly hard to fine in Young Adult books.  Flora was realistic with her environment and what she needed to do but she open minded and I liked that.

Evelyn, however, was alright. She was the typical I am not your average rich person. She played her role really well but there was nothing ground breaking about her. The aspect of this novel that I really enjoyed was the mermaid/the sea. I love magical stories even with realistic situations to them. I would have loved to see more history and details in this particular part of the story but I was entertained.

The pace of the novel was good. There were painstakingly slow moments, where nothing at all was going on but it was worth it. This is my first read by this author and I am looking forward to see what else she has in store.

Overall,

3 Pickles

Book Review: The Dollar Kids by Jennifer Richard Jacobson, Ryan Andrews (illustrator)

Candlewick Press
Aug. 7th, 32018
416 Pages

Twelve-year-old Lowen Grover, a budding comic-book artist, is still reeling from the shooting death of his friend Abe when he stumbles across an article about a former mill town giving away homes for just one dollar. It not only seems like the perfect escape from Flintlock and all of the awful memories associated with the city, but an opportunity for his mum to run her very own business.

Fortunately, his family is willing to give it a try. But is the Dollar Program too good to be true? The homes are in horrible shape, and the locals are less than welcoming. Will Millville and the dollar house be the answer to the Grovers’ troubles? Or will they find they’ve traded one set of problems for another? From the author of Small as an Elephant and Paper Things comes a heart-tugging novel about guilt and grief, family and friendship, and, above all, community. -Goodreads

Long read but definitely worth it. There were a lot of messages/themes within this book. However, the biggest one that bothered me the most or should I say affected me the most was how the adults treated the new families, specifically the children.

The whole purpose of those families moving into these crap houses, is to fix them up and bring business into a dying a community. But the town, which voted for each family, are fairly rude and disrespectful to new comers. This occurs throughout the entire book and it really bothers me. New comers to a town, school, work anything is very hard to deal with it. It is even worst when people generally don’t want you there. I felt so bad, mostly for the kids, who were being call the dollar kids by the adults.

The shooting of Abe is an important part of the book but it stays a bit in the back burner. It’s the elephant in the room that doesn’t exactly show itself all the time but you know it is there. When the truth comes out and that guilt is released, you exhale because its the tension within the novel and you’re just happy to let it go.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It is simple but then complicated (in a good way) with overlapping issues that push the reader’s involvement on a emotional level. You are able to connect to the characters, not just Lowen but to everyone in the family and that is a hard thing to do as a writer knowing that more than likely adults will read your book.

I would recommend this read, especially for kids who need to see grief play out and see a different way to deal with your past and what looks like your future.

3 Pickles