It took me a while to get around to this book, even though I liked the sound of the plot description. Part of the blurb on the back cover compared it to another children’s fantasy series (semi-well known; nothing huge) that I wasn’t crazy about. I didn’t DISlike that other series, but I merely found it ‘fine’. I almost put Jinx back on the library shelf several times, but each time the plot description made me keep it — I’m so glad I did.
As a small boy, Jinx was almost abandoned in the dense, dangerous Urwald by his stepfather, but a wizard named Simon happened upon the situation and adopted him as an assistant. For the next several years, Jinx lives in Simon’s house, first just cleaning up after him, and eventually learning small magics. Jinx thinks that Simon is keeping magical secrets from him, but Jinx is keeping secrets from Simon, too–he has a greater connection to the trees of Urwald than anyone knows. Eventually, Jinx has to strike out on his own into the depths of the forest, to get back something he’s lost, to figure out just what kind of magic he wants to do, and to discover what kind of wizard Simon really is.
This book was a delight: in spite of the fantasy setting, the world is perfectly grounded. The characters feel real, and their relationships and interactions are believable. The domestic setting–Simon’s house, with its kitchen, magic rooms and myriad cats–is a place that a reader would want to see and explore, and the Urwald–peopled by trolls and butter-churn-riding witches–is vividly described.
I’ll go ahead and make some comparisons of my own. Any reader who enjoys Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle, or the Patricia C. Wrede Enchanted Forest Chronicles will feel right at home, and will immensely enjoy their journey with Jinx. I can only hope that there will be sequels.
Posted by: Sarah
Jasper John Dooley is a new character in our easy fiction section and destined to become a favorite. These books are written for children just becoming comfortable with longer chapters and would work well as a read aloud for children who are not quite ready to read on their own. Jasper is a likable character with a voice that is truly that of a 7 year-old boy which will resonate with young readers. The text is accompanied by adorable pencil illustrations. In the second book in the series, Jasper is indeed, Left Behind when his grandmother leaves on a week-long cruise. Jasper spends a lot of time with Nan, especially on Wednesdays when Nan watches him. They always play Go Fish, eat jujubes and Jasper gets to ride the elevator up and down as much as he wants. Even though Jasper is happy that Nan finally gets to go on a cruise to see icebergs like she has always dreamed of, he is not looking forward to a week without Nan and each day that she is gone brings new challenges for Jasper. On the first day, Jasper hurts his stomach and puts a really cool, bright green band-aid over the very minor injury. Jasper decides that he needs to save the bright green band-aid to show Nan when she gets back. Each day, Jasper adds more band-aids to his tummy to keep the green band-aid safe until his tummy is covered in a pancake sized band-aid circle. Jasper also attempts to build a cruise ship with his best friend Ori with wood that builders left behind at Ori’s house to give to Nan when she returns. Ori decides that he is going to be the boss and Jasper will be the worker on this project, which results in some hilarious scenes consisting of Ori standing over Jasper while Jasper hammers yelling, “Work faster!” Every day is met with trials, tribulations and triumph for Jasper while Nan is gone which will keep readers engaged. This easy reader is sweet, funny and touching and is sure to be loved by children ages 5 to 8.
(Also, check out our review of Jasper John Dooley: Star of the Week, the first book in the series!)
Posted by: Kelly
With the Library celebrating its 100th Anniversary, I’m now on the lookout for stories about parties and celebrations. When I saw this title, I thought it would be a fun story to share this summer. Huff and Puff is a silly spinoff on the three little pigs. While it’s best to share this book with readers already familiar with the original tale, its simple text makes it accessible to younger readers. Little ones can even join in on the huffing and puffing. While it isn’t very long, the ending is sure to be a surprise. Although an observant listener may pick-up on clues in the illustrations and realize that the pigs are up to something.
Posted by: Liz
This story is about talking animals who get all mixed up — certainly not a new idea in children’s literature, but this book is so clever with its sing-songy rhymes and humor that it is definitely worth a read. The main mischief maker in this story is the cat, who decides one day after the rooster loudly “cock-a-doodle-doos” that the farm is just too noisy. He decides to do something about it and comes up with a magical spell to quiet those noisy animals. The next day the loud rooster wakes up and says “squeak, squeak, squeak”, and the cat just smiles with a smirk. Next the pig wakes up and “cluck, cluck, clucks” and so on and so on. This goes a little too far and the other animals get really angry, and pretty soon they are all after that cat. In the end, the cat learns his lesson when his magic gets all turned around and he opens his mouth only to hear “COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO”. In addition to the wonderful story, the illustrations are really appealing and fun. This would make a wonderful read-a-loud!
Posted by: Mary
Are you, by any chance, looking for a picture book that is fresh and different? And also sweet and charming? A book that celebrates a love of books? And also friendship? Maybe you also want the book to explore some concepts like colors and sizes? We actually have that book! It’s called Open This Little Book.
At the book’s opening, the reader is instructed to “Open this little red book.” Inside the little red book is a ladybug reading a little green book which the reader is then invited to open, inside which is another book, and so on. The books are die-cut pages of increasingly smaller size and varied colors, so the reader really feels like he is opening little books within books. Each book presents a new character, reading his book. It’s all very fun and surprising the first time, and it’s also satisfying to read over and over again because there are many details to notice, and because it gives one the opportunity to attempt to wrap one’s brain around the book’s wacky logic.
Little ones will enjoy having this read aloud to them, and older kids who are reading on their own will enjoy this picture book for its creative and interactive concept. So, go open this little book!
Posted by: Parry
Heidi is so excited to be going to sleep away camp! She is going with her best friend, Lucy, who went to Camp Dakota last summer. Lucy even taught Heidi to say “oogie da boinga”, which means “wahoo!” at the camp.
Lucy’s two best camp friends are anxiously waiting for her as she gets off the bus. It isn’t very long before Heidi feels totally left out. It seems as though Lucy’s friends don’t like her at all. She even resorts to trying a spell that promises to help with friendly foes from her “magic” book. When that doesn’t work, she confesses her problem to her camp counselor. Armed with her counselor’s advice, along with her own bravery, she asks the girls why they don’t like her. It isn’t long after that before all four girls are shouting “oogie da boinga.”
Younger readers will enjoy this new series which has easy reading chapters accompanied with cute illustrations on every page.
Posted by: Wendy
Author and illustrator Dan Yaccarino is back with a new picture book for kids, but the message is one to which all of us could stand to listen to now and then. In Doug Unplugged we meet a bright young yellow robot named Doug whose parents want him to be the smartest little robot he can be. Each day they plug him in to download all sorts of facts about different subjects. After finishing his lesson is about the city, Doug notices a pigeon outside his window, and is compelled to follow it since he just learned about pigeons in the city. What he discovers is that, while facts and technology are wonderful and useful, they are no substitute for firsthand experiences.
During his excursion into the real city, Doug finds out that the large population of people in the city makes it difficult to see when walking down the street, garbage cans are stinky, and a flock of pigeons will scatter and fly away if you run toward them. When he comes across a little boy at a playground, Doug also learns that there are many different ways to play and have fun, and, perhaps most important of all, he learns that hugs are a great way to show someone you care.
The lesson Doug learns is a great one for both kids and their parents who spend most of their days “plugged in” via devices like tablets, video game consoles, computers, and smart phones. We can all use a little time to unplug like Doug and explore the world around us. Now that the lazy days of summer are finally here, it’s the perfect time to do like Doug and head outside to enjoy some screen-free time with family and friends.
Dan Yaccarino stays true to his signature art deco style in Doug Unplugged using bright solid blocks of color, strong lines, and a mid-century vintage aesthetic that his fans know and love. This style provides a lovely contrast with the modern storyline as it harkens back to a simpler time when kids played in the yard until the streetlights came on, and personal computers were the stuff of science fiction. As usual, Yaccarino does not disappoint. Doug Unplugged is sure to please loyal Yaccarino fans and create new ones for those who are just discovering his work.
You can check out a book trailer for Doug Unplugged on Yaccarino’s website
Posted by: Staci