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Showing posts from April, 2015

The Bus Ride - Marianne Dubuc

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Clara is taking the bus to her grandma's house by herself for the first time. To her delight, the other riders – an assortment of animal characters – are friendly, fascinating and funny. There is plenty to see on this adventure, with lots of satisfying details in the illustrations (including the changing headlines on a newspaper, which sometimes hint at what's to come), proving that it really is the journey that counts.

(First published in France as L'autobus.)
Though the story itself is simple, there is much to find throughout the book in terms of allusions to other older, beloved fairy tales and stories. One of the most obvious examples is the Little Red Riding Hood parallel, with Clara taking a basket and her little red sweater on the bus to visit her grandma. Of course, she also runs into a wolf on the bus, though the wolf is a child in this story, and becomes Clara's friend for a portion of the journey. She also encounters a bear, a pickpocketing fox, and many other…

Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret - Bob Shea

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Ballet Cat and Sparkles the Pony are trying to decide what to play today. Nothing that Sparkles suggests--making crafts, playing checkers, and selling lemonade--goes well with the leaping, spinning, and twirling that Ballet Cat likes to do. When Sparkles's leaps, spins, and twirls seem halfhearted, Ballet Cat asks him what's wrong. Sparkles doesn't want to say. He has a secret that Ballet Cat won't want to hear. What Sparkles doesn't know is that Ballet Cat has a secret of her own, a totally secret secret. Once their secrets are shared, will their friendship end, or be stronger than ever?



I am in love. Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great seemed like it would be impossible to beat, and I don't know that it has been. But it has most definitely been matched in many ways with this new book by Bob Shea. Ballet Cat features a cat and a pony, and the two friends are trying to figure out what to do. The pony doesn't know how to share his secret secret with his fri…

The Terrible Two - Mac Barnett & Jory John

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I recently had the privilege of meeting Mac and Jory at the American Library Association in Chicago this year (2015), and was inducted into the International Order of Disorder (so cool!!). I can only assume they were their own inspiration(s) for the two pranksters in The Terrible Two. It would make a lot of sense! In any case, before I get too far off track about Mac and Jory's shenanigans, here's my review of The Terrible Two! (Oooh, that rhymed!)

Miles Murphy is not happy to be moving to Yawnee Valley, a sleepy town that’s famous for one thing and one thing only: cows. In his old school, everyone knew him as the town’s best prankster, but Miles quickly discovers that Yawnee Valley already has a prankster, and a great one. If Miles is going to take the title from this mystery kid, he is going to have to raise his game. It’s prankster against prankster in an epic war of trickery, until the two finally decide to join forces and pull off the biggest prank ever seen: a prank so hu…

[GUEST POST] Anything Could Happen - Will Walton

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Today's review comes to you from Keith Reynolds. Keith has previously reviewed for this blog. He lives and works in Vancouver, BC, and can be reached online via Twitter (@slothra). And now, here is his review of Anything Could Happen...
I made the mistake of not listening the titular track of this novel when I was writing this review, until my second attempt. In fact, I think I may have done myself a disservice by not having a dedicated playlist to the afternoon it took me to read through it.

Tretch lives in a very small town where everybody's in everybody else's business. Which makes it hard for him to be in love with his straight best friend. For his part, Matt is completely oblivious to the way Tretch feels – and Tretch can’t tell whether that makes it better or worse.
The problem with living a lie is that the lie can slowly become your life. For Tretch, the problem isn’t just with Matt. His family has no idea who he really is and what he’s really thinking. The girl at the…

Me & Dog - Gene Weingarten (author), Eric Shansby (illustrator)

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This is a story of a boy who loves his dog. And a dog who worships his boy. (Which can lead to misunderstandings.)

Meet Sid. He's an ordinary kid. He's far from perfect. But to Murphy, Sid's faithful dog, Sid is the whole world. Murphy thinks Sid is the absolute best, and that he's in charge of everything.

Sid loves Murphy right back, but he can't help but wonder what Murphy would think if he realized the truth: Sid's just a kid, and Murphy's just a dog, and neither one can control the world.


Though deceptively simple at first glance, Weingarten has written a story for children that dares to tread into the realm of existentialism and the possibility of a divine being. Sid and Murphy's relationship is used to mirror humanity's search for meaning in the world and beyond. The book starts of as a simple story of love between a boy and his dog, but eventually Sid begins to wonder: If he's not as powerful and omnipotent as Murphy thinks he is, then maybe…

Playing by the Book - S. Chris Shirley

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When seventeen-year old high school newspaper editor Jake Powell, fresh from Alabama, lands in New York City to attend Columbia University's prestigious summer journalism program, it's a dream come true. But his father, a fundamentalist Christian preacher, smells trouble. And his father is rarely wrong.

Jake navigates new and unfamiliar ways "up North." Starting with his feelings for a handsome Jewish classmate named Sam. What Jake could keep hidden back home is now pushed to the surface in the Big Apple.

Standing by his side are a gorgeous brunette with a Park Avenue attitude and the designer bags to match, a high school friend who has watched Jake grow up and isn't sure she's ready to let him go, and an outrageously flamboyant aunt whose determined to help Jake finds the courage to accept love and avoid the pain that she has experienced.


The Good:
This book is important. The subject of religion and especially conservative Christianity is incredibly relevant in…

Walk on the Wild Side - Nicholas Oldland

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Please, nobody judge this blog post. First of al, I am beyond sleep deprived, and secondly, I am writing this review on an airplane at 35,000 feet. Needless to say, I wish I was in a better frame of mind, but I am rapidly falling behind on my reviews, so let us move on and talk about Nicholas Oldland's Walk on the Wild Side!

One day, a bear, a moose and a beaver go for a walk in the mountains. To make the hike more exciting, they decide to race to the top. But soon the friends fall into deep trouble. Who will give up their chance for glory to save the day?


I think one can get a pretty good feel of the impending adventure from the cover page. Illustrated in a naive childish form, Oldland captures readers immediately in child-like mindset. One of the really intriguing bits about this book, is the fact that there are no outlines on the characters or landscape, and yet the solid colours keep the beaver, bear, and moose from bleeding into the background. It's quite a fun style, actua…