Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Book Review: 'The Great Trouble' by Deborah Hopkinson

✰✰✰½ Eel is a young orphan just trying to scrape by on what he finds as a mudlark. As he struggles to save what he earns in order to protect a secret, a disease descends upon Victorian London. Hundreds of people in the Broad Street district succumb to what is believed to be bad air. In an effort to help his neighbors, young Eel turns to Dr. John Snow. However, instead of doctoring to the people of Broad Street, Dr. Snow takes a different approach. Drafted into helping the untiring Dr. Snow, Eel works ceaselessly to help create a map that will both enlighten the scientific community and help solve this medical mystery. Eel must race against the ravages of the disease to find where it all began, before it starts all over again.

The Bottom Line: This book will appeal to young fans of historical fiction. While cholera is an unpleasant topic, this fictional story brings to light a disease that rears its ugly head even in modern times. Recommended for middle grade readers and young adults who enjoy Dickensian tales and historical fiction set in London.

Details: The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson. Hardcover published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2013. 256 p. ISBN: 978-0375848186

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Book Review: 'Ollie's Easter Eggs' Olivier Dunrea

✰✰✰✰ Ollie is hopping. While Gossie, Gertie, BooBoo, and Peedie are gathering and dyeing eggs for Easter, Ollie is hopping. Ollie wants colorful eggs too, but he doesn't have time to gather or dye them. He's hopping, and he has a plan. When Gossie, Gertie, BooBoo, and Peedie look for the eggs, they can't find them. Ollie's friends search and hunt for the eggs until the trail leads them back to Ollie, who has a surprise for them.

The Bottom Line: This gentle story about friends is perfect for bedtime reading. It's short and sweet. The simple story and watercolor illustrations in soft pastel colors will appeal to little ones ages 2 - 5.

Details: Ollie's Easter Eggs written & illustrated by Olivier Dunrea. Hardcover picture book published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children in 2009. 32 p. ISBN: 978-0-618-53243-8

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Book Review: 'It's April Fools' Day!' by Steven Kroll

✰✰✰✰½ Horace is a bully. He likes being mean, and his favorite target is Alice. By the time April Fools' Day rolls around, Alice is afraid to leave the house. When she finally does, Horace is waiting for her. He dumps water on her, pulls her tail, and chases her. Each time he plays a trick on Alice, he yells, "April Fool!" After Alice decides she has had enough, she sneaks back to her house and comes up with a plan to turn the tables on Horace. Now it's Horace who ends up all wet, but Alice is still worried. What will Horace do next? Horace is full of surprises, and the ending is the best surprise of all.

The Bottom Line: Despite being an older title, this picture book has retained its appeal with a charming story about friendship. The illustrations in soft pastel colors are cute and easy to follow. Highly recommended for the little ones. This title will appeal to both boys and girls in preschool and kindergarten. Highly recommended for both bedtime reading and storytime.

Details: It's April Fools' Day! written by Steven Kroll and illustrated by Jeni Bassett. Hardcover picture book published by Holiday House in 1990. 32 p. ISBN: 0-8234-0747-0