Category Archives: children’s

Book Review: The Warden’s Daughter by Jerry Spinelli

Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers Published Jan. 3 2017 352 Pages
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Published Jan. 3 2017
352 Pages

Cammie O’Reilly is the warden’s daughter that lives in an apartment above the entrance to the Hancock County Prison. Although her father is active in her life, she is missing her mother. A mother, who saved her only daughter from harm. 

Known as Cannonball, Cammie is about to turn 13 years old and is looking for a mother figure within a shoplifter and a reformed arsonist of a housekeeper. Going through the motions while her best friend begins playing with makeup, Cammie has no idea everything she has ever known or thought of is about to change in the most dramatic way. 

Short Review*

I had issues with this book. The first being Cammie. This is a difficult time in her life and she is learning to find herself, HOWEVER, she is a spoiled brat that is completely selfish and treated one of her mother figures like crap just because she didn’t get her way.  Let me give you an example, you have a housekeeper that you like but you do not like when you are told to do something by them because they are a housekeeper. So you proceed to call her out on it and remind her who she works for. That is Cammie. I get she is a child but she is a child that thinks everything out before she does it. Things like this happen all the time in the book and I was frustrated with it.

The book overall was lackluster. I understand that it is a coming of age book, but almost nothing happens a majority of the time. The tone rarely changes; so everything starts to sound the same. I didn’t appreciate how the main characters was viewed. The book is set for 1959 until the end; so there are things that are to be expected but there were some things that cannot be overlooked such as the view of a black woman.

Beyond that, I felt that Cammie a an adult had no real remorse for what happen, for the life she affected and for the things that was done. I felt a sense of entitlement even after everything was said and done.

I did not enjoy the pace of the novel and I think because of the issues within the book, I lost the purpose of the story.

Overall,

2 Pickles

Book Review: Artie Conan Doyle and the Gravediggers’ Club by Robert J. Harris

Kelpies TBP: June 15, 2017
Kelpies
TBP: June 15, 2017

Artie Conan Doyle is 12 years old and while in the future he will write the great Sherlock Holmes for now he has to deal with the mystery before him. When sneaking out with his best friend, Ham, to explore Greyfriars Kirkyard, the two spot a woman in grey walking through a cemetery and footprints of enormous hound.

Not one to look past questions, Artie, with the reluctance of Ham, follow clues to discover a series robberies that will lead to a villain that Artie may not be able to defeat.

Jumping right in, I would recommend this read to children who have not been introduced to Sherlock Holmes. It is a really creative spin to focus on the author as a child. Yes, it has been done with Lewis Carroll (author of Alice in Wonderland) but only to a certain extent.

What I liked about this book is how the author was able to show the reader glimpse of Sherlock, without actually mentioning it. I enjoyed the personal struggle Artie goes through, although it is not the full focus it is a starting point in the book and a good one I might add. It shows, for a lack of better term, a human emotion/reaction other than curiosity and the need to solve something. I appreciated that.  I also loved how the story was told through Artie and not by his friend Ham or some random voice. It was a better read because of that.

The pace of the novel was acceptable. At one point, it did feel like the book was going nowhere but with the turning point(s) it added more depth to the novel. Character development was non-existing but I didn’t have an issue with this. The way the author wrote this book, there wasn’t any real need for it. Did some things change? Yes. Did any characters change? Kind of. One character, side character, a fairly key character experienced a significant change but it didn’t really apply to the mystery.

Overall, I would recommend this to my nieces and any child that wants a good mystery. As an adult I am glad I found this series.

4 Pickles

 

Book Review: The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

Algonquin Young Readers Published April 25, 2015 240 Pages
Algonquin Young Readers
Published April 25, 2015
240 Pages

Corinne La Mer doesn’t fear anything; not even Jumbies in the forbidden woods. Jumbies are simply made up stories that parents use to keep their children out the woods, but Corinne knows better. 

But when Corinne notices yellow eyes staring at her at the edge of the woods. She begins to doubt her fearlessness. And when a beautiful stranger shows up at the marketplace and then her home with her father, Corinne knows that danger is near. 

Using her courage, the help of her friends and a ancient magic, she had no idea she possessed, Corinne must save her home and everyone in it. 

I really have a hard time finding good fantasy books for children (maybe YA) written by African-Americans. So, I jumped on this one purely based on the author and I wasn’t disappointed. This book was written extremely well that I would even recommend it for YA readers.

Firstly, characters. You knew from beginning and end that these were children. However, you didn’t feel the immaturity, even when the kids were acting a fool with each other. Corinne and her friends had a sense of wisdom about them that I didn’t feel was out of place. It fit them. They were kids but not reckless children trying to prove a point.

I loved how the author seamlessly tied mythology into the story without feeling like a history lesson. It was part of the culture, part of everyone’s lives and I loved how relevant it was in the beginning and end of the story. Also the author added something in there regarding history and I liked it. I was very surprised but thought it was perfect.

I enjoyed the pace of novel. However, at a certain point, the constant movement hit a plateau and I was stuck wondering if this was going to be end of my enjoyable ride. But it wasn’t. The pace began to build after this point and it did well til its descent at the end. Speaking of the end, it was great but it was a hard reality to swallow. I liked how the author did not shy away from the outcome because it is true. In real life and in every fantasy story, where the hero proves to be different it happens.

Would I consider this story horror? No, there is nothing exactly scary about it (even from a kids perspective) but it is deeper than just a fantasy story. You see how much a myth or a fable affects communities/cultures no matter what the generation is.

Overall,

4 Pickles

Book Review: The Door That Lead to Where by Sally Gardner

Delacorte Press To Be Published Nov. 8, 2016 288 Pages
Delacorte Press
To Be Published Nov. 8, 2016
288 Pages

AJ Flynn has just failed all of his exams but one. Considered a failure by his mother and at 17 years old, he believes there is no hope for him. When he receives a job as a junior clerk at a law firm, he believes there is a future for him.

While working, he finds a key with his name on it and that key leads to 1830. With the help of his two best friends, AJ goes to explore and realize the year may have changed but love and hardship has not. When they discover a crime, only they can solve, the three embark on an adventure not like anything they would have imagine.  

Let me start off by saying that I loved this cover. The book was originally published last year and the cover wasn’t that exciting but this was.

I loved the premise of this book, which is why I picked it up. However, this was a difficult read. It was long and it was slow. There was also something about AJ that didn’t seem real. His tone of voice was indifferent for too long in the book.  There wasn’t a display of huge emotions and that bothered me. It made the book harder to continue. But I kept reading because the author did a really good job of not answering a question and giving me the burning need to find the answer.  I love when authors do that. It is a skill not everyone has perfected.

The same goes for the lack of predictability. There is always a hint at the future of certain characters or an ending. The trick is to not make it so obvious that the reader will see it. Unfortunately, because I saw it, the ending did nothing for me. Beyond that the ending overall was a weak attempt to lead into a second book.

The pace was very slow. I can see the attempts to pick up the story but it didn’t exactly work out. AJ as well as his two best friends, weren’t the most interesting characters. I did, appreciate their differences and their similarities. It made sense that there were friends.

I wanted so much more from this book. It really could have been, easily, a five pickles book but it wasn’t there.

2 Pickles

Book Review: These Dark Wings (Ravenmaster Trilogy #1) by John Owen Theobald

Head of Zeus Published Feb. 11, 2016 320 Pages
Head of Zeus
Published Feb. 11, 2016
320 Pages

12 year Anna Cooper is experiencing the war first hand. After her mother is killed and her father lost in the North Sea, she is sent to live with her Uncle, the Ravenmaster Uncle she never met, at the Tower of London. 

In the tower of secrets, a ancient legend tells that if the Ravens leave the Tower, the Nazis will win Britain. When the Ravens begin disappearing and it is up to Anna to go through the war torn town to find them. 

*Short Review*

The reason this book is a short review is because it is a slow i,e boring read. Therefore, I lost enthusiasm very fast, This does not mean that it wasn’t a thoughtful and creative; it was but it was lacking on some passion and a bigger voice from Anna. Her tone remains the same throughout the entire book and it is unfortunate because she goes through some things that shape her.

The pace of the novel is slow and it feels like the author struggled to keep it moving. The excitement wasn’t as exciting as I though it would be nor was the mystery within this book. I did enjoy the history i.e. the war that the author was able to capture. The imagery of it was great and that is what I liked most about this book.

But overall there could have been so much more done to this book. So it was a tad disappointing.

2 Pickles

Book Review: Song of the Deep by Brian Hastings

Sterling Children's Books Published July 12, 2016 176 Pages
Sterling Children’s Books
Published July 12, 2016
176 Pages

Merryn and her father live in a little cottage by the sea. Each and everyday her father goes out to sea to collect fish to sell and eat. And each and every day he returns home in time for dinner. One day he doesn’t come back and in a vision, Merryn see’s her father being dragged under sea by a dangerous creature. She knows she must save him.

Merryn builds a submarine and using the lullabies sang by her father, she looks for him.

*short review*

 This book got a bit of a low rating on goodreads and I don’t agree with that. This was a wonderful quick read and perfect for children. Merryn is 12 years old and I loved the fact that the author made her a mechanic/engineer of some sort. She loves building and fixing things and she does it really well. I love the creativity in this and the ease it provides her.

The story overall is really simple. It moves a bit slow but things pick up fairly soon. There isn’t stop your heart danger but again this is a children’s book. I do however wish this book was more whimsical.  I wanted more fantasy more mythology out of it. This book could have been longer and detailed.

As stated before the book was a bit slow but it also lacked some kind of intensity and passion as well. Merryn took things rather well for a 12 year old girl. It would have been nice to see more emotion and more of a relationship with her father.

I would also like to add that this book is a video game and although I haven’t had the chance to play it yet, I have heard a lot of good things about it. Overall, I would recommend this book for preteens and younger. It was a good one for the shelf.

4 Pickles