America’s favorite redneck patriarch dips his beak into children’s publishing with a wacky time-travel choose-your-own adventure.
When a mysterious time machine disguised as a wooden outhouse appears in the Duck Commander warehouse, Willie Robertson, president of the Duck Commander empire, toys around with space and time by traveling to various exotic destinations. Depending on readers’ choices, Willie engages at various lengths with each member of the Duck Dynasty cast. The scenarios bringing Willie to destinations as varied as his high school prom in 1990 or back to the Civil War era are mixed with humor and fairly fluid time-travel logistics. There isn’t much imagination on display, but the book certainly stays on point, putting forth the family’s faith-based, Southern-comfort agenda. Those that feel the Robertson’s values are troublingly regressive will certainly find a few choice phrases to be bothered by, but fans of the show will be pleasantly diverted. Let’s face it: This book isn’t literature; it’s just another brick in Duck Dynasty’s ever expanding multimedia empire. Thankfully, there’s enough aw-shucks charm on display that it’s an inoffensive brick.
There are certainly worse products out there put forth by celebrities looking for an extra buck.
Black sixth-grader Jake Liston can only play one song on the piano. He can’t read music very well, and he can’t improvise. So how did Jake get accepted to the Music and Art Academy? He faked it.
Alongside an eclectic group of academy classmates, and with advice from his best friend, Jake tries to fit in at a school where things like garbage sculpting and writing art reviews of bird poop splatter are the norm. All is well until Jake discovers that the end-of-the-semester talent show is only two weeks away, and Jake is short one very important thing…talent. Or is he? It’s up to Jake to either find the talent that lies within or embarrass himself in front of the entire school. Light and humorous, with Knight’s illustrations adding to the fun, Jake’s story will likely appeal to many middle-grade readers, especially those who might otherwise be reluctant to pick up a book. While the artsy antics may be over-the-top at times, this is a story about something that most preteens can relate to: the struggle to find your authentic self. And in a world filled with books about wanting to fit in with the athletically gifted supercliques, this novel unabashedly celebrates the artsy crowd in all of its quirky, creative glory.
A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid.
After Castro’s takeover, nine-year-old Julian and his older brothers are sent away by their fearful parents via “Operation Pedro Pan” to a camp in Miami for Cuban-exile children. Here he discovers that a ruthless bully has essentially been put in charge. Julian is quicker-witted than his brothers or anyone else ever imagined, though, and with his inherent smarts, developing maturity and the help of child and adult friends, he learns to navigate the dynamics of the camp and surroundings and grows from the former baby of the family to independence and self-confidence. A daring rescue mission at the end of the novel will have readers rooting for Julian even as it opens his family’s eyes to his courage and resourcefulness. This autobiographical novel is a well-meaning, fast-paced and often exciting read, though at times the writing feels choppy. It will introduce readers to a not-so-distant period whose echoes are still felt today and inspire admiration for young people who had to be brave despite frightening and lonely odds. (Historical fiction. 9-12)