Provides a sweet animal story, an enjoyable entrée to cooking, and a fun family activity.

GRANDMA OWL'S GREAT IDEA

A wise owl suggests two lonely creatures open a forest restaurant.

In this illustrated children’s book, a little red fox named Liska is feeling sad because it’s time to leave her adoptive parent, Grandmother owl Sova. She took Liska in when her parents died after eating bad mushrooms. But the fox is now almost grown up, and she needs to dig her own burrow, with Grandma’s advice. Liska makes a cozy burrow, but because the nocturnal owl requires sleep during the day, the fox will need to find a daytime friend. She meets Volk, a wolf rejected by his pack for being a vegetarian. (Of course, wolves are carnivores.) Volk and Liska both love cooking and know many recipes, so Grandma gives them a great idea: “I think you should get together and open a pine tree restaurant for all the birds and beasts of the forest.” Etu the lark spreads the news, and many forest animals help to build the restaurant, where they enjoy a feast prepared by Liska and Volk. The restaurant is a huge success, and the two friends are lonely no more. Seven recipes of forest favorites are included in this first offering from the Get Together Books series. Usikova (Boris Wants a Dog, 2017, etc.) writes a charming little story, with small details that deliver an enchanted-forest atmosphere: “Beaver made a porch in the clearing. Moose beat down a path. Raccoons arranged the tables and chairs.” The author’s childlike illustrations in felt-tipped watercolor pens add naive appeal. Harvey (Boris Wants a Dog, 2017, etc.) translated the tale from the Russian. His recipes (for example, “Bunnies’ Cabbage & Carrot Pot Pies” and “Hedgehog’s Root & Nut Salad”) are clearly written, spelling out servings, prep and cooking  time, equipment, and ingredients as well as step-by-step instructions. The difficulty level ranges from easy to moderate, and a note explains: “The recipes should be made with the company and supervision of an adult.” A vocabulary list is included, but no definitions (“use a dictionary, the internet or ask an adult”).

Provides a sweet animal story, an enjoyable entrée to cooking, and a fun family activity.

Pub Date: July 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-329-19352-9

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Lulu.com

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2019

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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 beautifully realized daydream; a fun yet thoughtful exploration of the complexities and possibilities hidden beneath...

GREGORY AND THE GRIMBOCKLE

In this debut middle-grade novel, a lonely boy finds friendship and learns about the magic of human connection.

Defined by the large mole on his lip, 10-year-old Gregory has grown distant from his family. He is friendless and withdrawn. Then one night a strange little creature emerges from Gregory’s mole. It is riding a (quite lovable) cockroach and can change size. This is the Grimbockle. The Grimbockle—one of many Bockles, who, like Palmer Cox’s Brownies, live at the peripheries of human awareness—tends to the exoodles that bind people together. Exoodles are long, transparent, noodlelike threads and are usually invisible. Once Gregory has his eyeballs painted with Carrot Juicy, though, he can see them. He joins the Grimbockle and the roach, traveling the exoodles as if on a high-speed roller coaster. Exoodles wither and die when people don’t look after their relationships. The Grimbockle is trying to repair a particularly sickly exoodle that links a boy to his mother. Can Gregory help—and can he mend the exoodles in his own life? Schubert follows delightedly in the footsteps of Roald Dahl, opening her unfortunate young protagonist’s eyes to a previously unseen world both weird and wondrous (yet for all its outlandish magic, oddly logical). The scenario is one of riotous imagination, while the Grimbockle himself—brought sweetly to life in black-and-white illustrations by Kraft—is a sprightly and good-natured little person, full of the type of singsong infelicities found in Dahl’s beloved nonhuman characters: “Is you ever seeing glimpses of squiggles in the corners of your twinklers but then they is disappearing in a snippety blink?” “ ‘Exoodles!’ shouted the Grimbockle in triumph. ‘Sometimes, hoo-mans is getting so twisty and wound up in extra exoodles that they is feeling gloomy blue and heavy all day long.’ ” The story is perhaps too much of a parable to fully match Dahl’s template; the adventure is safer and the threats less dark. Nonetheless, readers should fall willingly and with thrilled abandon into the fizzy, fanciful world of Gregory and his Grimbockle friend.

A beautifully realized daydream; a fun yet thoughtful exploration of the complexities and possibilities hidden beneath surface appearances.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9911109-3-3

Page Count: 153

Publisher: New Wrinkle Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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