All Paws To Chile

A dog-friendly adventure packed with Chilean spice.

Lizama (Blotch, 2011) details the adventures of an energetic Australian dog en route to Antarctica in an illustrated chapter book.

Blotch is very distraught when his two-legged owner, Isabel, receives an invitation to visit her grandfather in Chile and accompany him to Antarctica, but Blotch isn’t invited because he isn’t allowed on the airplane! Horrified by the idea of being without his girl for two months, the innovative dog stows away on the airplane and gets himself a free ride to Chile. Isabel is eventually delighted to have her dog with her, and her plucky grandfather is thrilled to have them both. The author does a wonderful job weaving in rich details about Chile via Blotch’s observations and reactions to his environment. When Blotch is abducted, he resourcefully escapes and befriends a Husky heading south. They encounter adventures on their way to finding their loved ones. Blotch’s ebullient warmth toward all living creatures is endearing, as is his vulnerability when things get too scary, whether it’s a huge ferryboat to Antarctica or a life-sized statue of a creature resembling a bear. Like many dogs, Blotch pees where he shouldn’t, digs up old bones and almost falls off a boat in his effort to bond with the dolphins, making the book realistic fun for young dog lovers. Sant’ Ana’s illustrations are charming and endearing. Despite the rich culture and high adventure, the tale is primarily a series of episodic events without much conflict or growth, aside from the achievement of short-term goals. The fast-paced adventures keep things moving fairly well, however. At times, the story reads a little like a tour book, with Isabel often looking up things on her iPad and reading facts aloud. Unfortunately, a key mistake—Antarctica’s coldest season is cited as being minus 8 degrees Celsius instead of minus 80—casts shadows on the accuracy of the facts about Chile and Antarctica that fill the book.

A dog-friendly adventure packed with Chilean spice.

Pub Date: Dec. 30, 2013

ISBN: 978-1493740987

Page Count: 268

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2014

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

JUPITER STORM

In more ways than one, a tale about young creatures testing their wings; a moving, entertaining winner.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

A fifth-grade New Orleans girl discovers a mysterious chrysalis containing an unexpected creature in this middle-grade novel.

Jacquelyn Marie Johnson, called Jackie, is a 10-year-old African-American girl, the second oldest and the only girl of six siblings. She’s responsible, smart, and enjoys being in charge; she likes “paper dolls and long division and imagining things she had never seen.” Normally, Jackie has no trouble obeying her strict but loving parents. But when her potted snapdragon acquires a peculiar egg or maybe a chrysalis (she dubs it a chrysalegg), Jackie’s strong desire to protect it runs up against her mother’s rule against plants in the house. Jackie doesn’t exactly mean to lie, but she tells her mother she needs to keep the snapdragon in her room for a science project and gets permission. Jackie draws the chrysalegg daily, waiting for something to happen as it gets larger. When the amazing creature inside breaks free, Jackie is more determined than ever to protect it, but this leads her further into secrets and lies. The results when her parents find out are painful, and resolving the problem will take courage, honesty, and trust. Dumas (Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest: Episode 5, 2017, etc.) presents a very likable character in Jackie. At 10, she’s young enough to enjoy playing with paper dolls but has a maturity that even older kids can lack. She’s resourceful, as when she wants to measure a red spot on the chrysalegg; lacking calipers, she fashions one from her hairpin. Jackie’s inward struggle about what to obey—her dearest wishes or the parents she loves—is one many readers will understand. The book complicates this question by making Jackie’s parents, especially her mother, strict (as one might expect to keep order in a large family) but undeniably loving and protective as well—it’s not just a question of outwitting clueless adults. Jackie’s feelings about the creature (tender and responsible but also more than a little obsessive) are similarly shaded rather than black-and-white. The ending suggests that an intriguing sequel is to come.

In more ways than one, a tale about young creatures testing their wings; a moving, entertaining winner.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943169-32-0

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Plum Street Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

BROTHERS IN ARMS

BLUFORD HIGH SERIES #9

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

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

Close Quickview