An educational tool that’s well-disguised as a compelling, fun read, excellent for kids interested in dogs, food and travel.

PIPPER'S SECRET INGREDIENT

In this fast-paced, engaging kids’ book, a dog scours the world for the ingredients to the perfect biscuit, while an evil biscuit company is hot on her heels.

The first book of the Snoutz Adventure series tells the story of Pipper, a puppy and food blogger seeking her next great adventure and scoop. While hanging out with her pals—Sophie, a librarian; Sidney, a mail carrier and aspiring rock star; firefighter Hilda; designer–inventor Archibald and personal trainer Chance—the dogs help her realize that she should track down the secret ingredient for a perfect dog biscuit. Meanwhile, the leading dog biscuit manufacturer, Bogus Biscuits, has been cutting costs and producing biscuits that are making everyone sick. When Bull Bogus catches wind of Pipper’s quest, he sends Bumbles Brug to tail her and determine the secret to the perfect biscuit so he can steal it and use the recipe to save his failing company. Pipper travels around the world, visiting the pyramids in Egypt for inspiration on the perfect design, trailing a vivacious dog in France who teaches her about the beauty of ginger and other ingredients, and venturing into other countries where she picks up tips from locals. Pipper’s friends at home discover that she’s being tailed, so they alert her and then infiltrate Bogus Biscuits in a plan to get their products off the market. Murphy and Fingerhuth do an excellent job creating tension, which keeps the reader wondering whether Bumbles will derail the investigation. The book effectively presents the world of contemporary technology: Each chapter includes a blog posting by Pipper, including comments that readers have left, and the characters use cellphones to message each other. In addition to Sharp’s rich, colorful illustrations, the authors offer a glimpse of foreign cultures—Pipper learns phrases from each country, she eats local dishes, sees iconic buildings and mentions major cultural attractions—which amount to a great overview of countries most kids have never visited. There’s also a crash course in healthy nutrition, featuring recipes for salads and other foods (including dog treats).

An educational tool that’s well-disguised as a compelling, fun read, excellent for kids interested in dogs, food and travel.

Pub Date: March 30, 2012

ISBN: 978-0615388083

Page Count: 145

Publisher: Mutt Media

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

BROTHERS IN ARMS

BLUFORD HIGH SERIES #9

In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Mary's Song

From the Dream Horse Adventure Series series , Vol. 1

A novel tells the story of two spirited girls who set out to save a lame foal in 1952.

Mary, age 12, lacks muscle control of her legs and must use a wheelchair. Her life is constantly interrupted by trips with her widower father to assorted doctors, all of whom have failed to help her. Mary tolerates the treatments, hoping to one day walk unassisted, but her true passion involves horses. Possessing a library filled with horse books, she loves watching and drawing the animals at a neighboring farm. She longs to own one herself. But her father, overprotective due to her disability and his own lingering grief over Mary’s dead mother, makes her keep her distance. Mary befriends Laura, the emotionally neglected daughter of the wealthy neighboring farm owners, and the two share secret buggy rides. Both girls are attracted to Illusion, a beautiful red bay filly on the farm. Mary learns that Illusion is to be put down by a veterinarian because of a lame leg. Horrified, she decides to talk to the barn manager about the horse (“Isn’t it okay for her to live even if she’s not perfect? I think she deserves a chance”). Soon, Mary and Laura attempt to raise money to save Illusion. At the same time, Mary begins to gain control of her legs thanks to water therapy and secret therapeutic riding with Laura. There is indeed a great deal of poignancy in a story of a girl with a disability fighting to defend the intrinsic value of a lame animal. But this book, the first installment of the Dream Horse Adventure Series, would be twice as touching if Mary interacted with Illusion more. In the tale’s opening, she watches the foal from afar, but she actually spends very little time with the filly she tries so hard to protect. This turns out to be a strange development given the degree to which the narrative relies on her devotion. Count (Selah’s Sweet Dream, 2015) draws Mary and Laura in broad but believable strokes, defined mainly by their unrelenting pluckiness in the face of adversity. While the work tackles disability, death, and grief, Mary’s and Laura’s environments are so idyllic and their optimism and perseverance so remarkable that the story retains an aura of uncomplicated gentleness throughout.

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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