Saturday, February 06, 2016

Bedtime Blastoff!

Bedtime Blastoff! Luke Reynolds. Illustrated by Mike Yamada. 2016. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: A bed. A boy. His daddy. "Bedtime?" "Not yet!" A train…a conductor…His full-steam-ahead!

Premise/plot: A little boy isn't quite ready for bed yet. He and his dad have a LOT of playing to do…together.
My thoughts: I am so glad I didn't judge this book by its cover. I wasn't expecting to like it very much. But I gave it a chance and decided to go ahead and read it. The first few pages hooked me. It was GOOD. What did I like about it? The simplicity of the text. So much is communicated in just a few words. I liked the creative, imaginative play. I enjoyed the relationship between father and son. It was just sweet without being super-sticky sweet. And the illustrations may not have wowed me at first. I did appreciate the clues they provide.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Friday, February 05, 2016

Posy the Puppy

Posy the Puppy (Dr. Kitty Cat #1) Jane Clarke. 2016. Scholastic. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I was most impressed with Jane Clarke's new series Dr. KittyCat. Posy the Puppy is the first title in the series. The premise is simple and fun. Dr. KittyCat is a cat who is a vet. In this first book, she and her nurse, Peanut, see several animal patients. In particular, they see Posy the puppy, who is mysteriously sick and unable to compete in a Field Day competition. Can Dr. KittyCat help Posy feel better? Will Posy be able to compete after all?

I think the book is super-sweet, super-adorable, super-fun. The illustrations use "real" pictures of animals in their mostly purple illustrations. The fact that I love, love, love cats, I like animals, and I love the color purple, well, it helps me really love this new chapter book.

Chapter books and series books are both important stages in the learning to read, learning to love to read process. Do you remember which books you read as a child that helped you learn to love reading?
© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Thursday, February 04, 2016

Number One Kid

Number One Kid. Patricia Reilly Giff. 2010. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Number One Kid is the first book in Patricia Reilly Giff's Zigzag Kids series. The books are loosely connected, I believe, by the fact that all the main characters attend the same school, Zelda A. Zigzag elementary school. But the books do not share main characters. This first book is narrated by Mitchell McCabe. Mitchell, for better or worse, tends to think of himself as a loser. He doesn't see himself at being particularly "good" at any one thing. Will participating in the after-school program help him change how he sees himself? It isn't like he has a choice in the matter--he has to attend the after-school program regardless. But the good news is, it turns out he actually likes the after school program.

If you're looking for good, strong, deep characterization, this series will probably prove disappointing. If you're looking for extremely light, but widely diverse characterization, you probably will find it satisfying enough. I have to be honest and say that I found the characterization to be very light, and, the plot very light as well. So it isn't that this is a plot-driven, action-driven read at the expense of characterization. What it does have in its favor perhaps is the fact that it is short and illustrated. Also the book does tend to focus on friendship and teamwork and getting along.  

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Roller Girl

Roller Girl. Victoria Jamieson. 2015. 240 pages. [Source: Library]

Do I typically read graphic novels? Not really. I want to admit that from the very beginning of this review! I might average about two or three a year. And I usually just read the ones that are getting Newbery buzz or actually do get a Newbery or Newbery Honor. Roller Girl IS a graphic novel. It IS a Newbery Honor book for 2016.

Roller Girl is a coming-of-age graphic novel set mainly in the summer as the heroine, Astrid, goes to Roller Derby summer camp. Astrid is a bit angsty that her friend, Nicole, is no longer her best-best friend who wants to do every little thing with her. For example, Nicole does NOT want to go to roller derby camp, she wants to go to dance camp. She also wants to start hanging out with and dating boys. Astrid? Not really her thing--at least not yet. There is some jealousy mixed in with frustration. It isn't just that Nicole is interested in different hobbies. It is that Nicole is spending time--a lot of time--with other people. And one of those people she's now spending a LOT of time with is her nemesis, Rachel. Rachel and Astrid have some ancient history--way back in second grade, I believe?!

Astrid is confused and frustrated and moody and angry and DETERMINED. Roller derby is, by far, the hardest thing she's ever done--ever attempted. And it does not come easy. She is not a natural on skates--not by any stretch of the imagination. And it is physically, emotionally, mentally challenging to her. She WANTS it so bad that she pushes, pushes, pushes to improve. It is because she struggles that I believe she is so relatable.

I also liked how Astrid begins to make other friends outside of Nicole, and, that she is given the opportunity to find her own thing, to become her own person. True, part of that journey involves dyeing her hair BLUE. But having blue hair isn't the "worst" of her crimes--in the eyes of her mom. It is the fact that Astrid is less than honest. Still, I think the two are depicted as having a mostly-positive relationship. Which is nice to see in fiction. That Moms and daughters can get along and talk through their differences.

Astrid also finds a mentor--of sorts--in Rainbow Bite. Readers do learn a good bit about the sport of Roller Derby.

So overall, I enjoyed the characterization. I enjoyed the coming-of-age aspect of it. And despite the fact that it is a graphic novel, and, despite the fact that it is sports-focused, I did enjoy it. I read it quickly, in one setting.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Historical Settings

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish
1. Regency England. I *tend* to love books set during the Regency period in England. Georgette Heyer wrote some GREAT romances set during this period. Also Anne Perry's William Monk mystery series is set at this time.

2. Victorian England. I *tend* to love books written by Victorians. (Think Anthony Trollope, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Elizabeth Gaskell, etc.) But I also tend to enjoy historical fiction set during this period.

3. World War II. If a book is set during World War II--in any country--chances are I'm going to be curious and willing to read it. That's not to say it's a guaranteed five stars! I have read hundreds of books set during this time period.

4. 1930s-1940s--England or America. Perhaps because of my interest in World War II, I do tend to read books set prior and directly after the war. 1930s fiction set in America is often focused on the Great Depression or the Dust Bowl or the like. And 1930s fiction set in England or Europe is about the political tension of the times.

5. Middle Ages. England. Think 15th and 16th centuries. Think SUNNE IN SPLENDOUR. I have read dozens of books about the War of Roses. And a handful on the Tudors (boo, hiss, Henry VII and Henry VIII).

6. Edwardian England. And World WAR I. While not "my favorite" historical period to read about, I have read some really good books set during this time period. And I am always on the look out for more!

7. Pioneer Stories. America. I love "going west" and "living out west" stories.

8. Georgian England. Some of Georgette Heyer's romances are set during this period. Also books like The Scarlet Pimpernel.

9. Scotland. I would love to see Edward Rutherfurd write a HUGE saga set in Scotland.

10.  France. I'm not sure if I like historical fiction set in France so much as I enjoy reading French classics like The Three Musketeers and Les Miserables. But I've reviewed a good handful of books set in France at various historical periods, so make the list it does!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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