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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With so many minor questions left unanswered, Carlson’s captivating novel proves to be more about the journey than the...

OUT OF THE SHADOWS

Tragedy turns into triumph in Carlson’s debut novel about a young woman who regains her self-confidence after multiple losses and years of dejection.

Before readers meet 28-year-old Jamie Shire, she has already hit rock bottom. Jobless, she drinks away her days on her best friend’s couch as she wallows in loneliness. Among Jamie’s troubles: Her mother died when she was a child, the only man she ever loved wouldn’t reciprocate, her unborn daughter died, and she continuously feels rejected by her father and brother. After a chance encounter with a wealthy woman at a coffee shop, Jamie accepts a live-in job researching philanthropic causes at Fallow Springs Estate. Reaching out to the house staff and eventually working with Darfur refugees afford Jamie some valuable context for her own pain; she’s able to gain confidence as she learns to stop fearing rejection and start pursuing her dreams. Throughout the novel, the author skillfully creates mood. In the beginning, when Jamie borders on depression, her emotional touchiness and oversensitivity will create an uneasy feeling in readers. But as Jamie slowly regains confidence, readers will also feel increasingly optimistic. Alongside the main character’s emotional struggle is the struggle faced by Darfur refugees, although this plotline doesn’t advance too far; yet details from Jamie’s trip to the refugee camp in Chad—the types of beer served at the aid workers’ bar or a depiction of a young refugee sitting blank-faced and tied to a pole because he might run away—effectively transport readers to faraway places. Jamie’s story will interest readers, but, with a weak ending, the story leaves many unanswered questions. Who is Jamie’s wealthy employer? Does Jamie’s work in Chad help anyone but herself? And what of the conflict Jamie feels between herself and the refugees, between the haves and the have-nots?

With so many minor questions left unanswered, Carlson’s captivating novel proves to be more about the journey than the destination.

Pub Date: April 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0984991808

Page Count: 389

Publisher: First Snow Publishing House

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2012

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A fun adventure for anyone who’d love to see a few spunky kids trick some bad-news pirates.

FREEBOOTER'S PARADISE

A DANGEROUS TANDEM ADVENTURE

Pirates, magic and a secret society collide in this fantasy middle-grade novel.

This fast-paced novel follows best friends Cameron and Miguel, who are looking for adventure while cruising through their Arizona town on a tandem bicycle. They find it when an enchanted pirate ship flies overhead and lands in a convenience store’s parking lot. The ship sets up as a shop, which uses an intoxicating mist to trick customers into buying overpriced sea-themed merchandise, while simultaneously making them defenseless against pickpocket pirates. Cameron has bigger problems when Blackbeard, the ship’s intimidating captain, decides that the tween has stolen a powerful ring that would allow him to shape-shift into any person he imagines. Raising the stakes, the pirates kidnap Miguel and force him to perform grunt work with no chance of release. Cameron enlists the help of his best gal pal, Marcella, to free Miguel, but their mission takes a surprising turn when they discover a secret society protecting an underground gold mine. Author Loge keeps the action coming as the trio encounter a nasty doppelganger, a sinister talking parrot and a gang of violent pirates. The breezy writing ensures that the story doesn’t get stale. With so many quick twists and turns, young readers could get lost along the way, but Loge clearly explains all the unexpected changes to keep his audience on track. In addition to a sprinkling of black-and-white illustrations, Cameron’s easy friendship with Miguel and Marcella keeps things light and youthful when the tale could have been bogged down with one too many odd, mystical events. The heart of the book—a young boy as the chosen one who must defeat an evil enemy—has been a common YA plotline in recent years, but Loge’s energetic style makes the theme seem fresh.

A fun adventure for anyone who’d love to see a few spunky kids trick some bad-news pirates.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2012

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