A beautiful balance of action and warmth.

The Book of Charlie

Raucous adventure abounds in Antil’s (The Long Stem Is in the Lobby, 2013 etc.) heartfelt coming-of-age novel set in upstate New York during the 1950s.

Fans of Antil’s The Pompey Hollow Book Club (2011) will be eager to learn more about the misadventures of their favorite club members in this colorful follow-up novel. It’s the summer before their freshman year of high school, a time when they begin to leave childhood behind but are nonetheless itching for adventure as much as ever. The story is told from the perspective of ghostly Ole Charlie, a kindly neighbor who has passed and is now the group’s guardian angel. Fast-paced and action-packed, the novel follows young Jerry and his friends as they get their first jobs, rescue orphans and down-on-their-luck polio victims, and plan their biggest caper yet to catch a pair of criminals. Though the intrigue surrounding the two escaped criminals and the subsequent plan to flush them out are what pushes the novel forward, its heartbeat lies in the quiet moments that reveal the character of this close-knit community. Following World War II, which forever changed their lives, these communities have emerged stronger than ever. The people work together, care for each other’s kids, rally behind perfect strangers with abounding kindness and believe in the basic good in each person. As the kids of the surrounding communities all come together to protect their towns, a beautiful sense of brotherhood emerges; it’s an uplifting examination of what community really means. History buffs will also appreciate the many referencesto WWII, Gen. Eisenhower and decoy missions in England before D-day. Not without its faults, the novel is sometimes difficult to read. Readers will appreciate the unique language of the time period, but some sentences, especially in opening chapters, are unusually long and need to be read several times for clarity. Nevertheless, it’s a delightful read.

A beautiful balance of action and warmth.

Pub Date: March 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-0989304412

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Little York Books

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2014

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For families looking for a holiday adventure or parents hoping to improve a child’s behavior, this work may make a good...

THE CHRISTMAS SPRYTE ENCOUNTER

BAD BEHAVIOR

A cranky little girl changes her behavior after a warning from one of Santa’s helpers in this debut rhyming Christmas book.

With bushy red hair and freckles, the narrator—who appears to be age 5 or 6 in the cartoonish images—throws a tantrum to avoid going to the mall on Christmas Eve. But her scheme doesn’t work—and it lands her on Santa’s naughty list. Her grumpy antics are interrupted by Glynt P. Spryte, one of Santa’s Behavioral Elves. He’s been trying to subtly adjust her conduct for months. Now that her deeds have crossed the line, he is paying her a visit. Glynt’s dire warning (no toys!) and his lack of hope that her behavior can improve in time for Christmas give the narrator just the push she needs to clean up her act. “But the best part is this—I LIKE who I’ve become,” she says on the final pages. Crighton’s lines scan well in her series opener, using a vocabulary overly advanced for her narrator’s age. The rhyme scheme and rhythm are reminiscent of Clement Clarke Moore’s famous Christmas poem, though the obvious message may not enthrall mischievous young readers. Glynt is a fun invention: a combination of angry and sorrowful wrapped up in a cowboy outfit. But the uncredited illustrations don’t match the story’s description (he’s called “young” and “handsome” but appears with gray sideburns and a Santa-esque figure).

For families looking for a holiday adventure or parents hoping to improve a child’s behavior, this work may make a good addition to their collections.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-947352-87-2

Page Count: 28

Publisher: BookBlastPro Inc.

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2018

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Parents seeking ways to improve their children’s conduct around Christmas may find this a worthwhile tale.

THE CHRISTMAS SPRYTE ENCOUNTER

PACKAGE PEEKING

The Christmas sprytes return in this second rhyming lesson about proper holiday behavior.

Little Patrick has no qualms about pulling open packages left under the tree two weeks before Christmas. But the blond-haired, blue-eyed toddler is in for a surprise when Adam P. Bobby of the Peeking Police shows up in his Christmas tree. The spryte, also blond but green-eyed and slender with rosy cheeks and pointed ears, scolds the naughty child. If Patrick doesn’t change his ways, “a bundle of switches is your present this year,” the spryte asserts. As in Crighton’s (The Christmas Spryte Encounter: Bad Behavior, 2017) previous installment, Santa’s messenger waffles between sharp anger at the bad behavior and a sympathetic sadness at its consequences. Patrick asks for Adam’s advice and, with a salute, promises to never peek again. Meanwhile, the sprite uses his magic to rewrap all the presents Patrick attacked. While the rhymes throughout scan well, mimicking the rhythm to the classic The Night Before Christmas, the vocabulary may overwhelm young independent readers and lap listeners (“wrath,” “evoking,” “perturbed,” and “pursed” all appear on the same page). Audiences unfamiliar with what APB and bobby mean will miss the humor of Adam’s initials and the reference to London police officers. The uncredited cartoon illustrations nicely reflect the picture book’s text and tone.

Parents seeking ways to improve their children’s conduct around Christmas may find this a worthwhile tale.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-64133-057-2

Page Count: 28

Publisher: AuthorCentrix, Inc.

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2018

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