"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Albert Einstein

14 November 2018

Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble


Meriano, Anna. A Dash of Trouble. Walden Pond Press, 2018.

Leonora's family owns a bakery, and leading up to Dia de los Muertos, they are extremely busy getting ready for the holiday. Leo is the youngest of five sisters, and she can't understand why she is sent to school instead of being allowed to stay home and help prepare for the event. When she sneaks out of school and returns to the bakery, she discovers that she is part of a long line of brujas, kitchen witches who can bake magic into their food. But her mother still thinks she's too young to begin learning magic, so Leo studies on her own, with disastrously hilarious results.

If you have watched and enjoyed the show Just Add Magic, this is the perfect series for you. Leo learns the consequences of trying things without proper instruction/experience, and as she adds more spells to undo the results of previous spells, things compile and become even more complicated. This is an adorable and precious story with lots of Spanish language and Latinx culture added to the mix. Recommended.

Recommended for: tweens
Red Flags: none
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

12 November 2018

The Pros of Cons


Cherry, Alison. The Pros of Cons. Point, 2018.

Phoebe is a drummer and is really looking forward to this year's percussion conference and competition with her high school percussion group. Vanessa is excited about WTFcon, because she's attending as a fanfic writer and gets to meet her girlfriend IRL for the first time. Callie assists her father in his taxidermy business, and she agreed to go to the taxidermy convention with him in the hopes of having some father-daughter bonding time. These three conventions are happening at the same convention center, and the protagonists meet and get up to all sorts of hijinks and shenanigans.

This book is unbelievably hilarious. I started reading for the queer content, but they had me hooked when the Snape impersonator ran through the building in grey undies, twirling his robe above his head and screaming about putting a dark mark on Orlando. Each of the main characters has her own personal drama to deal with, and they end up becoming friends and helping each other (and a little pageant queen named Beige, but I don't want to spoil things for you). The characters are fun and relatable, the humor is splashed across every page, and once again I have found a book that my spouse and I each read in one sitting because it's just that good. Recommended.

Recommended for: teens
Red Flags: some language; discussion of sexual encounters; one main character is drunk at one point (she's possibly old enough to drink, but that isn't made clear)
Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

Read-Alikes: Queens of Geek, Ship It, Tash Hearts Tolstoy

09 November 2018

The House in Poplar Wood


Ormsbee, K.E. The House in Poplar Wood. Chronicle Books, 2018.

Lee and his mother live in one half of their house and together serve Memory. Felix and his father live in the other half of the house and together serve Death. Felix has no memories of his mother, while Lee has never met his father. The twins can interact outside of the house, but when they turn sixteen they, too, will be apprenticed to Death and Memory for the rest of their lives. But both are looking for a way to break the contract.

This is a delightfully spooky and eerie book, perfect for this time of year. The world the twins inhabit is similar to ours, but the differences, including the service to Death, Memory, and Passion, are well thought-out and explained throughout the story. The characters are well-rounded and likeable, so the choice for multiple narrators doesn't hold the typical problem of lack of distinct voices. There is plenty of humor and some intense action sequences, and the plot twists will keep readers turning pages to find out what happens. This book would make an excellent middle school read aloud at this time of year. Recommended.

Recommended for: tween
Red Flags: some intense action; one character dies off page
Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

Read-Alikes: Scythe; The Darkest Part of the Forest; Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

07 November 2018

Peter & Ernesto: The Lost Sloths


Annable, Graham. Peter & Ernesto: The Lost Sloths. First Second, 2019.

Peter, Ernesto, and their friends lose their tree home in a hurricane, so they set out to find the perfect new tree.

This is an adorable graphic novel with simple text and plenty of humorous adventure, perfect for middle grade readers.

Recommended for: middle grade
Red Flags: none
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley for the purpose of review.

05 November 2018

The Royal Rabbits of London


Montefiore, Santa. The Royal Rabbits of London. Simon Schuster, 2016.

Shylo is the smallest of his brothers and sisters, and while they have grown strong and are good at foraging food for their family, he prefers to sit and read. One day he overhears some ratzis planning to take pictures of the Queen, and as he has learned that rabbits always protect the human queen, he is determined to help in any way he can. Thus he travels to London and meets up with the royal rabbits and attempts to stop the rats before they can besmirch the queen's reputation.

This is a clearly British story and some of the details may be lost on American children who read this book. The rabbit adventures are adorable, however, and the illustrations are engaging and appropriate to the story. Children who enjoy fantasy stories will love this tale, and teachers can use this book as a read aloud story for their classrooms.

Recommended for: middle grade
Red Flags: mild fantasy peril
Overall Rating: 3/5 stars

Read-Alikes: The Tales of Peter Rabbit, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Redwall

02 November 2018

Polar Bears: Survival on the Ice


Viola, Jason. Science Comics: Polar Bears: Survival on the Ice. First Second, 2018.

Science Comics is back again with another riveting adventure filled with facts about the life of polar bears. Follow two polar bear pups as they grow up, and learn about these fascinating creatures: their habitat, their habits, what they eat, and how we can protect them. Colorful illustrations and facts and details are great for readers who prefer nonfiction titles, and the graphic novel format makes this book accessible for a wide range of reading levels.

Recommended for: tweens and middle grade
Red Flags: none
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley for the purpose of review.