Sunday, September 07, 2014

Eight 2014 Early Readers

Poppy the Pirate Dog's New Shipmate. Liz Kessler. Illustrated by Mike Phillips. 2014. Candlewick. 64 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Poppy the Pirate Dog was bored. She was home alone. Again. Over the summer, she'd read books about pirates with Tim. She'd found buried treasure with Suzy. She'd worn her skull-and-crossbones scarf and had pirate adventures every day. But now Tim and Suzy had gone back to school and Mom and Dad were at work all day. 

I liked this chapter book for young readers. I enjoyed all five chapters. In the first chapter, Tim and Suzy realize that Poppy is a bit unhappy and very lonely. In the second chapter, the family decides what to do about it, how to cheer Poppy up. They conclude that every pirate needs a shipmate. In the third chapter, Poppy meets her new "shipmate." Her  idea of a shipmate was another dog. The shipmate she gets, however, is a cat, a kitten to be precise! The fourth chapter recalls Poppy and George's first day together. Poppy is NOT happy. The fifth chapter concludes with Poppy and George making peace with one another. In other words, Poppy accepts the family's offering of a new shipmate. She realizes that George belongs.

This is the second book in the Poppy Pirate Dog series. I definitely recommend both books!

Tony Baloney Buddy Trouble. Pam Munoz Ryan. Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham. 2014. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I liked this chapter book for young readers. (This one has four chapters.) The star of this book is a macaroni penguin named Tony Baloney. In the first chapter, readers learn of an upcoming event. That night is BOOKS AND BUDDIES. Tony Baloney definitely wants to attend! He will bring Dandelion, his stuffed animal. He will hang out with his best friend Bob. Big Sister Baloney also wants to attend. Their mother tells them that they have to clean up if they want to be allowed to go. Tony Baloney is determined. He will clean up. He will get along with his sister. He will. No matter how provoked. No matter how bossy his sister gets. But sometimes determination isn't enough. Enter the spilled glitter!

The second and third chapters introduce the conflict and punishment! In these chapters readers learn that Big Sister Baloney is a meanie! For in her anger, she has STOLEN Dandelion and hid him in the twins' diaper bag!!! Say it isn't so! Tony Baloney is most distraught. As is Dandelion. Let's just say that he's not quite the same! Will these two ever get along?

The fourth and final chapter resolves all of course. Will Dandelion be okay? Will Tony and his Big Sister forgive each other? Will the two be allowed to go to Books and Buddies after all?

I thought this one was very well done. I liked it very much. I especially liked the dialogue between Tony Baloney and Dandelion. It was just cute to see Tony Baloney's imagination in action.

Biggety Bat: Hot Diggety, It's Biggety! Ann Ingalls. Illustrated by Aaron Zenz. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

As the sun went down in the west, a bat named Biggety left his nest. He was looking for a friend. 

This is a simple, repetitive level one early reader. I didn't exactly like it. For young readers who like bats, or, young readers who like the phrase "hot diggety" this one may please.

The plot of this one is simple. A lonely bat is looking for a friend or two. He flies about. He hears various animals. He sees different animal groupings. He remains in search of friends and company. Some of the animals he comes across: snowy egret, gopher tortoise, green tiger beetle, mockingbird, possum, raccoon.

Cinderella in the City. (Level 2) (Flash Forward Fairy Tales) Cari Meister. Illustrated by Erica-Jane Waters. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Early one morning, Cindy got a text from her stepmom, Helen. 
To: Cindy
From: Helen
Get me a double mocha with whipped cream. Pronto!
Cindy got dressed and jumped on her skateboard. 

Scholastic has a new series of early readers called Flash Forward Fairy Tales. The series is about adapting classic stories like Cinderella and Snow White into contemporary times.

Cindy wants to enter a dance contest. The prince is looking for a dance partner. Cindy knows that she's a great dancer, and, that she'd love to go to the Royal Dance Academy. But Fay, May, and Helen do not want Cindy to enter the contest.

I didn't dislike it. But. I wasn't wowed either.

Snow White and the Seven Dogs. (Level 2) (Flash Forward Tales) Cari Meister. Illustrated by Erica-Jane Waters. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

It was Sunday. The mall didn't open until noon. But Snow White and her stepmother were busy getting the shop ready. "Snow!" yelled Evilyn. "Bring those boxes over here! Set out the shoes! Hang up the 'sale' sign!" Even though Evilyn was mean. Snow loved working at the mall.

I think I liked Cinderella in the City better than Snow White and the Seven Dogs. This adaptation did not work for me. Evilyn is Snow's stepmother. They both work at the mall. Instead of the magic mirror, Evilyn relies on a purple-man on the security monitor. When the monitor-man thinks Snow is more beautiful, Evilyn fires Snow. But Snow doesn't seem to mind losing her job all that much. That's not quite true. But her distress lasts a mere minute or two at most. Soon she finds seven dogs that need some grooming. There's nothing surprising or particularly charming about this adaptation. For young readers who love, love, love dogs, then this one may satisfy.

Monkey and Elephant Go Gadding. Carole Lexa Schaefer. Illustrated by Galia Bernstein. 2014. Candlewick. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Monkey washed her small, pink ears. Elephant washed his big, floppy ears. Monkey brushed her fur. She smiled. Elephant dusted his hide. He smiled. 
"You look nice," said Elephant.
"You look nice, too," said Monkey.
"We both look very nice," said Elephant. "Too nice to just stay home," said Monkey, twirling around.

I liked this chapter book for young readers. (It has three chapters.) Monkey and Elephant are best friends. One day they decide to go gadding about together. They hope that in their gadding about they come across some fun surprises. The second and third chapters are about their gadding about adventures. They meet Elephant's uncle, Uncle Phump. He surprises them both by giving them hats. They then meet Monkey's cousins. Great fun is had playing with Monkey's cousin MeeMee and her three little ones. But by the end of the day, Monkey and Elephant are quite exhausted and ready to go back home.

Racing the Waves (Tales of the Time Dragon #2) Robert Neubecker. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Lilly spotted something new in Mr. Miller's class.
"What is it?" asked Joe.
"A ship in a bottle," said Lilly.
"I know that! What kind of ship?"
Lilly looked closer. "A clipper ship."

Joe and Lilly want to research clipper ships. They use the library computer, the same computer that sent them back in time to meet Red the Time Dragon. The children find themselves in New York City in 1851. They board the clipper ship, "Flying Cloud." They set sail. Their goal? California, of course!!! They meet Perkins and Ellen Creesy, a husband and wife team who set a world's record for sailing speed in 1851.

The trip has certain challenges, of course, but not exactly the same challenges I remember from playing a certain Gold Rush game way back when. 


Steve & Wessley in The Sea Monster. (Level 1) J.E. Morris. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Review copy] 

 Steve and Wessley were walking by the pond. Steve saw something in the water. "Look! A sea monster!"
"That is just a stick floating in the water."
"Are you sure? I think sea monsters can float, too."
"I am sure. I can see leaves on it."

 Did Steve really really see a sea monster? He sure is convinced. But his friend, Wessley, is equally convinced that it is NOT a sea monster. I think Wessley doesn't believe there is such a thing as a sea monster. By the end, one friend will be proved right as readers will see. But will Wessley be right? Or will Steve be right? Can readers follow all the clues? Can they guess which friend is right?



© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comments:

Douglas Florian 8:00 AM  

I love everything Bob Neubecker does since we hung out at The New York Times in the 80's.

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

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2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
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4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
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