Sunday, September 25, 2016

Wagon Wheels

Wagon Wheels. Barbara Brenner. Illustrated by Don Bolognese. 1978. HarperCollins. 64 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: "There it is, boys" Daddy said. "Across this river is Nicodemus, Kansas. That is where we are going to build our house. There is free land for everyone here in the West. All we have to do is go and get it."

Premise/plot: Wagon Wheels is an early chapter book based on a true story. Set in the late 1870s, the book follows the adventures of the Muldie family as they settle in Kansas. First the family settles in Nicodemus, Kansas, a black community. Then the father leaves the boys behind and searches for a better place to settle down and call home, this time near Solomon City. The boys--all on their own--travel to rejoin their father. (The father disliked the flat land and missed trees and hills.)

The book is narrated by Johnny, one of four boys being raised by a widower. The text is simple, and the action is straight-forward. Though simple, it was packed with just the right amount of detail. This book is much, much shorter than any of the Little House books, but, it is just as vivid.

My thoughts: I really liked this one. The edition I picked up is all black-and-white illustrations. I could not tell based on the cover alone that it was a black pioneer family. So I was very pleasantly surprised when I started reading the text to find some diversity. The family--and the community--are saved from starvation by the generosity of Indians--Osage, I believe. Unlike the Little House books, the Indians are portrayed positively. Yes, they are referred to as "Indians" but not savages or redskins or the like.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Library Loot: September

New Loot:
  • Stories from the Life of Jesus by Celia Barker Lottridge
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  • It's Not About Perfect by Shannon Miller
  • Won Ton by Lee Wardlaw
  • The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest
  • Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
  • Louise & Andie: The Art of Friendship by Kelly Light
  • Won Ton and Chopstick by Lee Wardlaw
  • This Is My Dollhouse by Giselle Potter
  • March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin
  • March: Book Two by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin
  Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Alcatraz versus the Shattered Lens

Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens. Brandon Sanderson. 2010. Scholastic. 294 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: So there I was, holding a pink teddy bear in my hand.

Premise/plot: The fourth book in the Alcatraz fantasy series for children. Is Alcatraz brave or stupid in this one? He insists that bravery and stupidity are essentially the same. The free kingdom of Mokia is in danger of falling. Their capital city seems doomed to fall within days...if not hours. The royal family has been evacuated, so we're told, and unless a famous person whose life is so very, very, very valuable is there to be saved, no knights or soldiers will be endangered or sacrificed recklessly. Alcatraz's scheme? To go to Mokia so that the KNIGHTS will go to Mokia. Once he arrives, he learns, well, that would be SPOILERS. But he learns that he isn't the only person with Smedry blood to be stupid or brave. Bastille is along for this adventure....Kaz as well.

The new character introduced in this one is Aydee, and, her talent is being BAD AT MATH.

My thoughts: This one is definitely the best of the series perhaps. Or rereading all four books within two weeks has made me care so very much about these characters?! Either way, I recommend the series.

This book left so many unanswered questions. I had almost come to terms with having no true answers...when I learned that the fifth book will be released this year. So after years, I can finally know what happens next!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia

Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia. Brandon Sanderson. 2009. Scholastic. 299 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: So there I was, hanging upside down underneath a gigantic glass bird, speeding along at a hundred miles an hour above the ocean, in no danger whatsoever.

Premise/plot: This is the third book in the Alcatraz fantasy series. IN this one, Alcatraz and company arrive at last in the Free Kingdoms, in Nalhalla. Alcatraz wrestles with fame and ego in this one. Though raised in the Hushlands in a Librarian-controlled nation, he's FAMOUS in Nalhalla already, even starring in his own book series. (The book series being written by the Prince himself). Open up one of his books, and his theme music plays. You don't really get more famous than Alcatraz Smedry, of course, it's not really, truly HIM that is famous, more an idea of him. Also in this one, Bastille is put on trial. Will she be stripped of knighthood? How long will her punishment last? I should also not forget to mention that the LIBRARIANS want to come to peaceful terms and end the war at last. But Alcatraz and his friends suspect the WORST. But so many people want peace that they seem willing to give the Librarians the benefit of the doubt....

My thoughts: This one is an action-packed read full of fun and humor. I love this series. And I think I enjoyed this third book even more than the first two books. Folsom was a great new character to introduce--loved his talent, by the way. And it was nice to meet a librarian who wasn't evil for a change!!!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Scourge

The Scourge. Jennifer A. Nielsen. 2016. Scholastic. 368 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Few things were worth the risk to my life, but the juicy vinefruit was one of them. Even more so today because I was long past hungry. If I didn't eat something soon, my life was in danger anyway.

Premise/plot: Ani and Weevil are best, best friends who will face much DANGER together in Jennifer Nielsen's newest fantasy book, The Scourge. It has been hundreds of years since the plague--the scourge--has devastated their country. The scourge has left its mark on their history. And the fear of it has never completely gone away. Now, it seems, almost out of nowhere, the scourge is back. Those who test positive for the scourge are sent to an isolated island--a former prison--to live out the rest of their lives. Ani and Weevil end up there. (It's complicated to try to summarize). And they will spend most of their time a) trying to survive b) distinguishing between lies and truth c) trying to change the way things are.

My thoughts: If you love Shannon Hale's fantasy novels, you MUST read The Scourge. I greatly enjoyed this one. And I think it has a similar feel to some of Hale's novels. This one is, however, different from Nielsen's other series. It is perhaps slightly less action-packed than her previous books. And it is written from a female perspective.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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