A dark take on the hero’s journey with a reminder for children to appreciate the advice of their elders.

The Life of Reginald James

In this adventure story for young readers, the titular hero leaves his childhood home to make his own way through life on a journey to the beautiful Blue Castle, along the way encountering obstacles that include hungry beasts, violent storms and dangerous fires.

Reginald James lives an idyllic life in the forest with his family until the day comes when his mother tells him that it is time he set off on his own. She then sends him out into the world with the knowledge that he will likely never see her again. Reggie decides to embark on a quest to the Blue Castle, which he spies in the distance, and to make a new home there. First, however, he must use his wits to find food in the forest, cross rivers though he can’t swim, and avoid the creatures in the woods that want to kill and eat him. At first, Reggie relies on the various valuable lessons his mother taught him, but his ego grows alongside his successes, and he pushes her advice aside, deriding it as too old-fashioned to apply to his modern world. Will this overconfidence backfire before he reaches his journey’s end? Debut author Lethert packs his story with a variety of tension-filled moments, but his writing, which occasionally changes from past to present tense and back again, can sometimes be confusing. He also provides excessive, repetitive detail for every step of Reggie’s quest; a passage in which Reggie struggles to cross a stream extends over seven pages that detail every foothold and every slip, to the point of being exhausting rather than exciting. The stark, startlingly depressing conclusion provides a fitting moral to the story, but it may also be too upsetting for some young readers. Nevertheless, if they are able to understand and move past the more traumatic moments in the tale, they will learn valuable lessons about the importance of maintaining a humble, grateful attitude.

A dark take on the hero’s journey with a reminder for children to appreciate the advice of their elders.

Pub Date: March 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-1496114860

Page Count: 126

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2014

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A guidebook for taking action against racism.

The clear title and bold, colorful illustrations will immediately draw attention to this book, designed to guide each reader on a personal journey to work to dismantle racism. In the author’s note, Jewell begins with explanations about word choice, including the use of the terms “folx,” because it is gender neutral, and “global majority,” noting that marginalized communities of color are actually the majority in the world. She also chooses to capitalize Black, Brown, and Indigenous as a way of centering these communities’ voices; "white" is not capitalized. Organized in four sections—identity, history, taking action, and working in solidarity—each chapter builds on the lessons of the previous section. Underlined words are defined in the glossary, but Jewell unpacks concepts around race in an accessible way, bringing attention to common misunderstandings. Activities are included at the end of each chapter; they are effective, prompting both self-reflection and action steps from readers. The activities are designed to not be written inside the actual book; instead Jewell invites readers to find a special notebook and favorite pen and use that throughout. Combining the disruption of common fallacies, spotlights on change makers, the author’s personal reflections, and a call to action, this powerful book has something for all young people no matter what stage they are at in terms of awareness or activism.

Essential. (author’s note, further reading, glossary, select bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4521-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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When anyone attempts to enhance and reformat a book that’s already sold more than five million copies, there’s some risk...


From the Boynton Moo Media series

The iPad adaption of Boynton’s bestselling board book surveys animals and the sounds they make.

When anyone attempts to enhance and reformat a book that’s already sold more than five million copies, there’s some risk involved. What if it doesn’t translate well? Worse yet, what if it flops? Fortunately, Loud Crow Interactive and Boynton don’t have to worry about that. There’s no hint of a sophomore slump in this second installment of the Boynton Moo Media series. Much like its predecessor, The Going to Bed Book (2011), this app adapts the illustrator’s trademark creatures for iPad in a way few other developers can. The animals are fluid and pliable, which is no small feat given that they’re on a flat display. Readers can jiggle them, hurl them off screen, elicit animal sounds and in some cases make them sing (in a perfect inverted triad!). Melodic violin music accompanies the entire story, which is deftly narrated by Boynton’s son, Keith. In addition to the author’s simple yet charming prose there are little surprises sprinkled throughout that extend the wit that’s won countless babies and parents over in paper form.

Pub Date: April 19, 2011


Page Count: -

Publisher: Loud Crow Interactive

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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