Tag: adventures

The Stone Heart by Faith Erin Hicks

The Stone Heart by Faith Erin Hicks

The Stone Heart by Faith Erin Hicks (9781626721593, Amazon)

The second book in The Nameless City, this book continues the story of Kaidu and Rat as the political situation grows even tenser in the city. The Dao nation is exploring new paths to solidify peace, but factions within are seeing their personal plans for power evaporating. Soon violence becomes the solution within the Dao factions and someone new is in power. Meanwhile, Kaidu and Rat are discovering that the monks that raised Rat may have the key to the power that the original founders of the City used to create it. But that power could be used as a weapon by the Dao nation, so there is danger in even trying to find it.

Hicks has taken on an incredible challenge in this graphic novel series. The story is complicated and fascinating. Hicks creates real danger and drama in the tale, never taking it too far but allowing the political pieces to push the story forward. Kaidu and Rat are marvelous characters, their friendship growing stronger. They offer a critical humorous interlude amongst the politics even as they play an important role in the heart of the story.

As this is a graphic novel, the art is just as important as the writing. Hicks has created a truly diverse city filled with various races and religions. She fills the pages with small details, allowing readers to feel the press of the city, the danger it poses and the security it offers.

This second novel hints at the adventures to come. Readers will look forward to the third and final book even more after finishing this one. Appropriate for ages 10-13.

Reviewed from copy received from First Second.

Father’s Road by Ji-yun Jang

Father's Road by Ji-yun Jang

Father’s Road by Ji-yun Jang, illustrated by Tan Jun, edited by Joy Cowley (9780802854728)

Released March 30, 2017.

Wong Chung is excited to join his father on the Silk Road as they travel west to sell silk in Constantinople. There are many dangers on the trip and new skills to learn. Traveling on camels, they have to brave the desert and conserve water along the way. Wong Chung learned to cover his face against the blowing sand and find water and even food along the way in unexpected places. Then just as the journey was nearing its end, bandits attack them and kidnap them, stealing their silk. A sandstorm hits the bandit camp and Wong Chung makes a decision that will decide their fate one way or another.

This picture book about the Silk Road transports readers into the harsh terrain and the harrowing journey that used to be the way that trade was done. Through the eyes of Wong Chung, readers learn about the dangers and the wonders of the trail. They also grow to understand the importance of honor and duty in the culture.

Textured papers form the background of the illustrations, offering colors of sand, red mountains and occasional green. Drawn in fine lines, the illustrations of the camels and people meld with the setting to form a unified whole. There is a lovely organic quality to the entire book, drawing readers further into the desert journey.

Part of the Trade Winds series, this picture book is a glimpse into a bygone time of hardship and adventure. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.

We’re Going on an Egg Hunt by Laura Hughes

were-going-on-an-egg-hunt-by-laura-hughes

We’re Going on an Egg Hunt by Laura Hughes (9781681193144)

This lift-the-flap picture book is a riff on the beloved We’re Going on a Bear Hunt reworked with an Easter theme. Here a family of rabbits head out to find eggs on a lovely spring day. There are ten hidden eggs on the pages and not every flap has an egg hidden behind it. Along the way, the rabbits encounter a series of obstacles and how to navigate things like lambs, bees and ducks. The final very large egg hides a wolf and the rabbits and the reader have to work together to foil him.

Hughes has done a nice job of incorporating the rhythm and structure of the original book into this springy Easter version. Even the obstacles themselves have a springtime theme. The wolf at the end makes for a delightful twist that creates the joy of rushing back through the obstacles in reverse order and returning home just in the nick of time.

The use of flaps is particularly enjoyable when combined with an egg hunt. Children will enjoy lifting the flaps which are fairly sturdy and should survive small hands well. There are surprises underneath some of them and the chance to count upwards to ten as well.

Great for sharing with a small group of children or one-on-one, there will be lots of demand to be the one to lift the flaps because it is such fun. My guess is you will be reading this one again and again. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Bloomsbury.

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.