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ODUS AND THE LONG WAY HOME

Aunt Gertrude’s library promises a great series to come.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

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Two children find themselves in the world of The Odyssey, charged with helping Odysseus get home in order to do the same for themselves.

DeLano’s debut is the first in the Book Keeper series, middle-grade readers centered on the magical book collection of Liz and Charlie’s eccentric aunt Gertrude. Aunt Gertrude’s visits are always an exciting event for the two children, but this time she has brought with her a large library of books, with strict instructions for the children not to open them. Charlie, the younger of the two, of course immediately opens The Odyssey, and the two children suddenly find themselves in a doorway covered in ivy. Homer appears and informs them that they’re now part of the escapade and can only go home when they reach the end, meaning they have to help make sure Odysseus arrives home safely. Once they meet Odysseus and his men, who perceive them as helpers sent from the gods, the story begins in earnest. The children and Odysseus (whom Charlie calls “Odus” because he can’t pronounce Odysseus) face the Cyclops, the Lotus Eaters, the Sirens and finally the suitors who have been pursuing Odysseus’ wife, Penelope, since he has been gone. The book is well-written and laced with memorable lines; e.g., “It was a north wind that blew Aunt Gertrude into town. At least that was how it seemed, for on the night she arrived at Liz’s house, there was blue lightning in the sky and the wind howled fiercely against the shutters.” It’s also well-paced, and the children blend seamlessly into the classic tale while still retaining their own concerns and initiatives. They help where they are needed without overwhelming the original plot or engaging in unrealistic heroics. Liz and Charlie are fun, relatable main characters with a goal many children will understand: Get home and enjoy the adventure along the way. The novel also serves as an appealing, kid-friendly introduction to The Odyssey or a fun way to dive deeper into familiar stories. Gertrude’s book collection promises more adventures to come and more classics for the two children to explore, with child readers right beside them.

Aunt Gertrude’s library promises a great series to come.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 87

Publisher: Pink Chicken Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2014

I LOVE YOU LIKE NO OTTER

The greeting-card art and jokey rhymes work for the baby-shower market but not for the youngest readers.

Animal parents declare their love for their offspring through rhymed puns and sentimental art.

The title sets the scene for what’s to come: The owl asks the owlet as they fly together, “WHOO loves you?”; the kangaroo and joey make each other “very HOPPY”; and the lioness and cub are a “PURRRFECT pair.” Most of the puns are both unimaginative and groanworthy, and they are likely to go over the heads of toddlers, who are not know for their wordplay abilities. The text is set in abcb quatrains split over two double-page spreads. On each spread, one couplet appears on the verso within a lightly decorated border on pastel pages. On the recto, a full-bleed portrait of the animal and baby appears in softly colored and cozy images. Hearts are prominent on every page, floating between the parent and baby as if it is necessary to show the love between each pair. Although these critters are depicted in mistily conceived natural habitats and are unclothed, they are human stand-ins through and through.

The greeting-card art and jokey rhymes work for the baby-shower market but not for the youngest readers. (Board book. 6 mos-2)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1374-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

Categories:

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

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