Review: Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff

delilah dirk

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff

Released August 27, 2013.

Enter a new heroine who is funny, adept and can kick your butt.  Delilah Dirk comes crashing into the life of Selim, the Turkish Lieutenant and merrily takes over his world.  Delilah has adventured all around the world and is now looking to steal some valuable ancient scrolls from a Sultan in Constantinople.  With her flying boat, she saves Selim from certain death.  Then it is on to more adventures, including evading pirates, jumping off a disintegrating aqueduct, and fighting everyone who is after her, and everyone is.  Delilah loves the freedom and action of her life on the road, but Selim craves quiet times with friends.  Readers on the other hand will love Delilah and Selim both as well as the humor and adventure that make this one rollicking read.

Cliff has created a wonderful heroine.  She manages to be feminine and dashing at the same time.  Her outfit is skirted and flowing but not confining.  It reveals her beauty, but not her endowments.  She is great fun and the role reversal of the man who is the reluctant adventurer and the woman who adores it turns stereotypes on their heads.  The story both honors tradition with its setting in Turkey, but also adds a lot of new flavors like the flying boat.  It makes for a book that is filled with surprises.

A great pick for graphic novel fans and those just discovering the genre.  Delilah is a heroine who will take you on an amazing adventure.  Let’s hope there are many more to come!  Appropriate for ages 10-14.

Reviewed from copy received from First Second.

Review: No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart

no monkeys no chocolate

No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young, illustrated by Nicole Wong

A close-up look at the favorite sweet treat of chocolate, this nonfiction picture book explains exactly what it takes to get chocolate.  The book quickly moves to the tropical rain forests of Central and South America and the cocoa beans that grow there and how they are treated to get cocoa powder from them.  The book then moves to explaining cocoa pods, cocoa flowers, and cocoa leaves, but animals quickly come into the process from the midges that pollinate the cocoa flowers as they lay their eggs to the maggots of the coffin flies that take over the brains of the leaf-cutter ants.  Lizards and monkeys play a role too, but the monkeys are tantalizingly left to the end of the book.  Told in factual information, the book also offers asides by two funny bookworms who wonder along with the reader what in the world monkeys have to do with chocolate!

This is a fascinating look at the complexities of something that many of us take for granted.  Stewart, author of over 150 nonfiction books for children, worked with Allen Young, the world specialist on cocoa tree pollination and growth.  The result is a book that is enticing both in its premise and its execution.  Turning pages lets you learn more and the entire process is both odd and amazing.

The art by Wong has a wonderful lightness to it that fits the subject particularly well.  The clever little bookworms add a whimsical note to the entire book with their ballooned speech bubbles, ballcap, flower and skirt. 

A winner of a nonfiction picture book, this is one sweet addition to any library.  Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Charlesbridge.