Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail by Richard Peck


Ahh, Animal stories.  There is just something about them that appeals to me.   Author/Illustrator duo of Richard Peck and Kelly Murphy are back in their latest book, The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail.  The last one I read  by Richard Peck was The Secrets at Sea, an adventure story about a family of mice that set forth on a ship bound for England on the Eve of Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee.  Interestingly enough, the Queen's diamond jubilee is also about to take place in The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail, but the two plot lines don't seem to intersect.  I chose this book, well because I really wanted to figure out what was up with that mouses tail. 

I found the beginning of the story a little slow going, mostly due to the process of building the world that these mice live in  (which is the Royal Mews right next door to Buckingham Palace).  Peck also introduces "Mouse Minor," the guy with the question mark tail and explains why he has no name.  However, once Mouse Minor commits the worst two crimes a mouse can make the story begins to move along nicely.  Things culminate with Mouse Minor fleeing the Royal Mews and attempts  to try and find the Queen to see if she can tell him who he is and what his future has in store.  I'm just not sure if most readers will wait til the middle of the book for this, but I found it was worth it.  Overall, I found the story very cute and it fits into the other stories that I've read about mice.  The illustrations in The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail are very nicely detailed but I found that I enjoyed the ones that were a full color page much better then the ones which were in blue and white tones.  
My Copy for review was from the library

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Twofer Thursday


From authors  Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams of the Goddess Girls series, comes Heroes in Training.   Greek mythology seems to still be very popular and the Goddess Girls series (also by these authors)  as well as Rick Riordan's  Percy Jackson series, seem to provide that nice introduction to mythology for children.   In Heroes in Training, Oracle Pythia has prophesied that a "band of rightful rulers called Olympians will arise.  Though their size and youth are no match for the Titans, they will be giant in heart, mind and spirit."  One of the strengths and appeal of this book was the humor.  Especially, when Zeus gets kidnapped by three half-giants and is wearing one of their helmets like a walking jail cell.  Being shorter in length then Goddess Girls,  I think this would make a great read for a reluctant reader because of its fast pace and black and white illustrations, as well as nice spins on the God's stories.  


I really enjoyed Tuesdays at the Castle.  I absolutely loved reading about a Castle that had a mind of it's own and who chooses the King.  Princess Celie showed such love and devotion to her Castle mapping out each of its rooms and when the Castle needed protecting, Celie and her siblings were there.  Now in Wednesdays in the Tower, Princess Celie is faced with a new challenge, that of a giant orange egg hidden in one of the towers.  Celie soon learns that the Castle has brought her the egg to take care of and also wants her to learn the history of Castle Glower.   As in the first book, Celie's siblings play a large role but this time in unraveling the history of the Castle.  For when the egg hatches and the Castle begins to provide clues as to what is inside, everyone will need to pull together. The only drawback in Wednesdays in the Tower is that it ends on a cliff-hanger.  Makes me wish the next was already out, but gives me something to look forward to.  Overall, a wonderful magical story that continues the charm of the first story.   

Books for review are from the Public Library.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Ambrose Beacon by Alena Gouveia


I must admit that when I looked at Goodreads and Amazon and only saw a handful of reviews for The Ambrose Beacon, I was pretty surprised.   This book is wonderfully fast-paced with well developed characters that would make a great middle grade read.    I love how the story centers around the Ambrose children, their father and uncle.  Gouveia first introduces each of the children in their every day school and home environment.  We get a feel for what they are like and the family issues that exist.  From Dinah who wants to go with Eduardo to the prom to Vaughan who is trying to stay off the school bullies radar. Each has some real life issues that they are dealing with, yet this is what made me become invested in the story.  I learned how when the children were young their mother died leaving their father (Jerry) and Uncle (Harper) to care for them and that each of the children  were endowed with certain abilities by their mother.  The same sort of abilities that Harper possesses.  Be it strength, speed, exceptional hearing, invisibility, or even the ability to change into an animal form.  I also saw the transition of the Ambrose children as they learned about their powers and what these powers mean for them.  And when  strange things begin to happen around town like wolves  and people wearing dark clothing show up, it's easy to worry about what will happen to the family.  Even though Harper begins to suspect that these dark forces are in search of "The Solas" which resides in one of the Ambrose children, even he doesn't know which one.    Hear in lies the mystery that drives a lot of the story.  I kinda suspected who it might be, but Gouveia tries to throw some curve balls at ya to keep you guessing.   There is also some fast paced action and fight scenes that highlights each of the children's abilities really well and things move along quickly.  Gouveia wraps up the story nicely, leaving room for further books but an ending that does not disappoint.  Review copy of the ebook generously provided by WordSpelunkingblogspot.com  and Alena Gouveia as a part of a Book Spootlight and Giveaway. A Big thank you to both.  

The Prologue of the Ambrose Beacon is also available at http://www.alenagouveia.com/The-Ambrose-Beacon---Prologue.html

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Ida B. . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World by Katherine Hannigan

207802Ida B tried out public school when she was five,  but her teacher refused to call her Ida B (even though everyone knows that Ida is her mother) and school has so many rules and certain things can only be done "when it's time."  Well, Ida B just isn't used to all that waiting.  She wants to be running outside and talking to her friends the trees and brook.  When Ida B becomes so distraught, her parents agree that homeschooling may just be the trick.  Ida B loves her carefree lifestyle of being homeschooled.  She even started to believe that she would "never be going back to that particular Place of Slow but Sure Body-Cramping, Mind-Numbing, Fun-Killing Torture again."  Everything was righter then right,  that is until Ida B's mother gets ill and now she has to go to the public school.  This new change makes Ida so very angry and disappointed in her parents.  She vows that she isn't going to like school one bit.  Yet, can Ida B keep this hardening of her heart forever?  
Hannigan captures the thoughts and emotions of Ida B so well.  It's so sad to see the transformation of the free spirited Ida B to the little girl who vows to not like school, her teacher, make friends or even won't like Mama or Daddy.  It's the kind of story that gives you all kinds of feelings.  Throughout I just felt myself emphasizing with Ida B when things in her life are turned upside down.  Yet, there were also fun light hearted moments too.  I really liked the character of Ida B's fourth grade teacher Ms. Washington.  I loved how she approached her everyday and tried to help Ida B acclimate to school.   Overall, I highly recommend this wonderful book for fifth or sixth graders.  My favorite line:  "After Daddy left, I was hurting something terrible, like every single part of me was cut and torn up.  But my heart hurt the most." Can't you just feel her pain?  Read for the Battle of the Books 2013, my copy was from the Library. 

 Next up is The Screaming Staircase by Johnathan Stroud.