Tag: adventures

Mark of the Plague by Kevin Sands

mark-of-the-plague-by-kevin-sands

Mark of the Plague by Kevin Sands (InfoSoup)

This is the second book in the Blackthorn Key Adventure series. Christopher Rowe survived his first adventure but now London has been hit by the Black Death, with thousands dying every week. As a young apothecary apprentice with no master, he is barely making ends meet since he is not allowed to sell any cures. Christopher discovers that his master left him some treasure, but first he must follow the clues to it and unravel the codes that it is in. Meanwhile, Christopher’s workshop is broken into yet nothing is taken. As the plague worsens, news of a prophet who can predict who will die from the plague arrives as well as an apothecary who claims to have a cure that truly works. As Christopher tries to puzzle through his master’s clues, he is also drawn into a dangerous situation of plague, death and lies.

I enjoyed the first book in this series with its 17th century London setting, the details of the apothecary trade and the focus on codes and secrecy. This second book in the series continues what I enjoyed so much about the first as well as continuing the broad humor that Sands use to offset the darkness of the subject matter. Still, this second book does have a one sophomore issue where the plot drags in the middle as the codes are working on being solved and the true nature of some of the characters are about to be revealed.

Some of the best characters from the first book reappear while new characters emerge as well. One of the most enjoyable new characters is Sally, an orphan who has escaped the orphanage due to the plague. Once again, people in poverty and orphans are shown as those with strong characters. Sally herself proves herself to be brave and strong immediately when we meet her, then she also shows how very useful she can be. It is her resilience that is remarkable, mirroring what readers will have seen in both Christopher and his best friend Tom.

A worthy second title in this winning series, take a journey into plague-ridden London for an adventure filled with humor and heroism. Appropriate for ages 12-15.

Reviewed from ARC received from Aladdin Books.

 

Chirri and Chirra by Kaya Doi

Chirri and Chirra by Kaya Doi

Chirri and Chirra by Kaya Doi

Released September 6, 2016.

Chirri and Chirra are two little girls who wake up early and head out into the forest together on their bicycles. They arrive at the forest cafe where there are tables just right for creatures and people of any size. They order cups of acorn coffee and clover blossom tea. Then they are off again into the forest and they find a bakery with bread and jam of all kinds. A bear and rabbit are eating there too. The girls choose their sandwiches and eat them near a pond. They play in the water, nap under a tree. They bicycle farther on and as the sun is setting come to a forest hotel where they find a room and beds just the right size for them. The day ends with the girls joining in a forest concert as everyone sings together.

This is a translation from the Japanese original, and it works very well. The picture book is delightful and airy, inviting children into a world built just for them. The description may seem a bit too sweet and almost saccharine, but the book is not like that. Instead it has an exceptional childlike nature that fills it with wonder and the joy of exploration. There is a feeling that this is entirely imaginary yet that it may also be delightfully real.

Doi’s illustrations are a large part of the appeal of this book. The two girls are matching except for the buttons on their dresses. The illustrations celebrate the different sizes of creatures and also the food and drink that the girls have along the way. Just the acorn coffee and clover tea will have your mouth watering. Expect plenty of tea parties and sandwiches after reading this.

The first in a series, I am hopeful we will see more of them in translation soon. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Enchanted Lion Books.

 

Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd

Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd

Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd, illustrated by Abigail Halpin (InfoSoup)

Two children set off to discover the wild, leaving their urban world and heading into a nearby park filled with trees, ferns and birds. There are moments of wonder and some shivers too. Wild smells different from the city too and demands that you breathe it in deeply. Wild can be dangerous, prickly and poisonous, but it can also be filled with softness and soothing. It can be hot and cold. It is filled with secrets to explore and even discoveries to eat and savor. Even in large cities where there doesn’t seem to be room for wild to exist, you can see it if you follow the subtle clues.

Lloyd’s writing is a poem about wilderness and the importance of it in our lives. She doesn’t lecture about it in any way, allowing nature itself to invite readers in more deeply. She allows nature to sing on the page, showing its many sides. She does not shy away from showing that nature can be slightly frightening but balances that nicely with more positive sides of being outside and enjoying the outdoors.

Halpin’s illustrations are done in watercolor and colored pencil. She creates a wild that is filled with huge trees, large leaves, flowers and shadow. It is also full of water, places to swim and berries too. Her art covers the entire page at times, filling it to the brim with nature. Other times, the wild is surrounded by white space on the page, allowing young readers to both feel immersed in green wonder but also able to glimpse it from a distance at times too.

A lovely encouragement to find your own wild in your neighborhood, this picture book should be wildly successful. Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from e-galley received from Penguin Random House and Edelweiss.

 

Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke

Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke

Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke (InfoSoup)

Goblin lives very happily in the quiet of his rat-infested dungeon that he shares with his best friend, Skeleton. He spends the days feeding the rats, eating boots for breakfast, and playing games with the treasure. Then one day, a group of adventurers plundered the dungeon. Goblin hid but Skeleton was taken away along with everything else in the dungeon. So Goblin headed out to rescue his friend. But everywhere that Goblin went, people refused to help him and chased him away. Even once Goblin finds Skeleton, he has to find a way to escape the hordes of people and elves chasing him. Perhaps someone does like a goblin after all?

Hatke, the author of the Zita the Spacegirl series, has created another winning picture book. He uses lovely tropes from Dungeons and Dragons and turns them on their head. Here it is Goblin who is the hero and the adventurers who are the bad guys. I love the idea of these creatures having quiet and happy lives before the adventurers come and ruin it all. It’s a clever twist that makes the book enchanting to read aloud, aided by the brisk pace and clear writing.

As always, Hatke’s illustrations are exceptional. I particularly enjoy the adventurer group with their huge swords, glowing staffs and flowing locks of hair. Against them, the little goblin manages to steal your heart, thanks in large part to his diminutive size and big heart.

A perfect bedtime story for your little goblin. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from digital galley received from First Second and Netgalley.

 

The Not-So-Faraway Adventure by Andrew Larsen

The Not So Faraway Adventure by Andrew Larsen

The Not-So-Faraway Adventure by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Irene Luxbacher (InfoSoup)

Theo’s grandfather, Poppa, had traveled all over the world. He has a big trunk packed with items from his travels. Now it is Poppa’s birthday and Theo wants to give him the perfect gift. She realizes that it would be wonderful to go on an adventure together. When he speaks of traveling to the ocean once, Theo decides that they will head to the beach and eat at a restaurant. They create a map of their plans together and the next day their board a bus. Soon they reach the beach and the water which they pretend is the ocean. It’s a beach where Poppa came as a little boy. The two spend time on the beach, eat gazpacho and then head home on the bus. Now Theo has items to add to the trunk that are from their adventure together.

A dynamic picture book, this book demonstrates that adventures can be right in our own cities and need not take much time, money or effort. It is also a beautiful look at a granddaughter spending time with her Poppa and a grandfather who has more than enough energy to keep up with her. The urban setting is captured with people of various ethnicity on the page. It’s a bustling and busy place but also welcoming.

Luxbacher’s illustrations are done in PhotoShop and have the feel of collage. Textures and patterns are used throughout, creating a setting that is rich and layered. The city is done with just enough pops of color to keep it dynamic and not so many to make it entirely overwhelming. The page on the beach where they imagine the water is the ocean is captivating with the water entirely swallowing the page and filled with glimpses of their imagination.

A lovely look at a grandchild and grandfather going on their own personal adventure together. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Kids Can Press and Edelweiss.

 

There Is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith

There Is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith

There Is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith (InfoSoup)

A boy sets off on a journey alone and encounters all kinds of creatures along the way. There is a tribe of young goats (kids). There is a colony of penguins, a pod of whales, a flight of butterflies, and much more. He also sees different groups of objects like a formation of rocks, a family of stars, and a growth of plants. Finally his journey ends as he meets up with a tribe of children (kids) who wear outfits of leaves just like he does. He is clearly home again.

This book is filled with collective nouns. There is one after another that manage not only to show children the beauty of the language of collective nouns but also move the story ahead. They form into a cohesive journey for our young hero to embark upon. It is a book that only works this well due to the skill of the author.

Smith is of course also a great illustrator and here his illustrations shine. They show a playful magic that is impressive. They are filled with textures that were created by oils being sprayed with acrylic varnish. The result looks like sponge painting and fills the book with space and light.

A masterful look at collective nouns that is also a great read aloud. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks

The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks

The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks (InfoSoup)

Kaidu has moved to the City, a city with no name because every time it is invaded it gets a new name. For those who are native to the city, they survive by not getting involved and living their lives despite those who rule them. Kaidu is one of the Dao, the current occupiers of the City. He is training to be a warrior, hoping to get to know the man who is his father. Kaidu loves the City and finds himself exploring its streets alone despite the rules forbidding it. It is in the City that Kaidu meets Rat, a girl who can dash along the rooftops of the city, make amazing leaps across space, and who lives on the streets. The two become friends slowly, first with Rat training Kaidu to run while Kaidu brings her food. Soon the two unlikely friends must decide whose side they are on as war and murder approach them and the City they love.

Hicks is the author of Friends with Boys and Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, both wonderful graphic novels. In this new book, she moves into historical fantasy where she has created a city at the center of warring nations. The world building here is exceptional, the entire city feels vibrant and alive as the characters move through it. Readers get to feel the same wonder as Kaidu as they explore the city and see the amazing Hole in the Sky that leads in. Hicks has a great sense of timing in the book, allowing moments to stretch and grow while others rush past in bursts of adventure and action.

The art is gorgeous as well. The two main characters play against each other visually, both of their races different but not clearly defined. This is a very important piece of the story, a decision that makes the book work on an entirely different level. It’s smart and sophisticated building of a society on a visual level.

The first book in a new series, I look forward to seeing where these dynamic characters take us next. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy received from First Second.