Posts tagged ‘pets and their owners’

CHARMING, BUT CONFUSING

Floofy Drives America Crazy

Written by Nurit Reichman

Illustrated and Edited by Nurit Yuval

This beginning chapter book with fewer than fifty pages consists of an interesting and clever storyline. Floofy is an adorable Maltese pup who lives in Israel. She misses her mistress, Maya, who is off in America visiting Boston. Floofy is so depressed and lonely that she creates a virtual reality of herself and travels to America. While visiting there, Floofy manages to meet a TV celebrity cat named Max and almost gets clawed to death by a Mama Bear while she is playing with one of her cubs. Floofy even manages to play match-maker and attends a virtual wedding.

 Beginning readers will love the animal and human characters but may get confused by the many sub-plot lines with connections that push the limits of reality. A few illustrations enhance the book. I would recommend this book especially for readers in the six to nine age group, who enjoy animal and fantasy stories.

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CYBILS BLOGGING AWARDS 2017

This year I had the honor of participating on a panel of judges to determine the winners in the Easy Reader and Early Chapter Book categories of the 2017 Cybils Blogging Awards for Children’s Literature.

Today I would like to share my reviews of the winning books in the Easy Reader and Early Chapter Books. I will share reviews of the finalists in each category in the next few weeks.

EASY READER WINNER!

King and Kayla and the Case of the Secret Code

Written by Dori Hillstead Butler

Illustrated by Nancy Meyers

This is the first book in the mystery series featuring Kayla and her golden retriever, King. I enjoyed the author’s approach of first introducing the dog and later his human, Kayla. King is frustrated that he cannot communicate to his owner in words, so he uses actions to express himself. By the end of the tale, readers learn more about King’s intelligence.

Kayla and King answer the doorbell. No one is there but a letter has been left on the doorstep. When Kayla’s friend Mason comes to visit, he reveals that he has received a letter as well. Neither of the friends can read the letter because it is written in secret code. Kayla and Nathan set out to decode the letters. They find that only the second word is different. King is sure he knows the author, but the humans don’t understand what he is saying. A chance meeting with Jillian, who lives a few houses away may hold the key to the mystery.

I would consider this book more of a chapter book than an easy reader. Children in second and third grade will better understand the nuances and messages of the plot. This book presents multicultural characters and interactive learning opportunities. Recommended for boys and girls in the seven to nine age range.

EARLY CHAPTER BOOK WINNER!

Wedgie & Gizmo

Written by Suzanne Selfors

Illustrated by Barbara Fisinger

Book 1 of a new series featuring a cavy named Gizmo and a corgi named Wedgie. Gizmo introduces himself as a Genius with an Evil Plan. Gizmo has recently been uprooted once again. He began his life in a pet store where a parrot taught him to read. His human, Elliot, chose him and brought him home. But Elliot’s dad has remarried and now Gizmo must learn to live in a new human house. Elliot now has a stepsister named Jasmine and a stepbrother named Jackson. Worst of all, Wedgie, their corgi pet, wears a cap and thinks he is the protector of the family.

The book hilariously describes how Gizmo and Wedgie compete for control and human attention. Gizmo gets seriously ill when he attacks a cereal box in the pantry, and Gizmo hatches a scheme to get Wedgie in trouble with Jasmine. Selfors artfully weaves the animal conversations into the story. Children who feel displaced by moving or becoming a part of a blended family will empathize with their situation. Gizmo undergoes serious trauma when he learns the grandmother comes from Peru where caves are eaten. There are a lot of twists and turns, laughter, and tears, as the new family learns to live and love each other.

The illustrations are fun and humorous. My favorite illustration depicts grandmother (abuela) sleeping in bed with curlers in her hair while Gizmo places a delivery label addressed to Peru on her head. The story is almost two hundred pages and that might be a challenge for beginning readers. While the plot moves along quickly and is really entertaining, I believe it better suited to a third to a fifth-grade audience. Can’t wait to see what happens in the next book.

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CAT CAPERS

Wendy and Black (Cat Detective 1): The Mystery House

Written by Amma Lee

First in a series of chapter books featuring a fifteen-year-old girl named Wendy and Black, her cat. Wendy has been endowed with a special gift. Once every hundred years a member of her family develops the ability to converse with cats. Wendy uses this gift to communicate with her cat. Together they have become a talented detective team. When a house down the street suddenly appears to be inhabited, Wendy and Black set out to investigate. Wendy’s mom, Mrs. Michaels, asks her to pick up a welcome package for the new neighbor.

Wendy and Black cannot contain their curiosity. They illegally break into the house drawn in by a mysterious purple light. When the floorboards cave in, and Black detects Mrs. Michaels’ presence in the house, their level of fear rises. Will the detective pair solve the mystery? Is Wendy’s mom safe?

This is a short chapter book that is most appropriate for beginning readers. There are a few editing issues. The book is targeted for nine to twelve-year-old readers but probably is not challenging enough for the older end of that age group. I would recommend it especially for reluctant readers and mystery fans.

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A DOG’S LIFE

The Adventures of Zelda

Written by Kristen Otte

adventuresofzelda,pic

Thirteen adventures told in first person by an adorable little pug named Zelda. Poor Zelda begins her life in a kennel and stays there for two years until Hannah and Nate adopt her. Once at home with her two owners and their children, Ben and Lucy, life becomes so much more interesting.

Zelda makes the reader laugh and cry. She relates her struggles and triumphs. Readers learn how she manipulates her owners into rewarding her with treats, how she rescues her family from the mean vacuum cleaner, and tackling the skateboard ramps at the park. As one reads on, Zelda takes us to obedience school, and her lonely experience in pet boarding when her family takes a vacation. I laughed at Zelda’s attempt to make friends with Squeaky, the squirrel, and how she discovered what snowmen and leaf piles really contain. Anyone who has a pet knows what an adventure Christmas decorations and trees can be for pets and their owners. Zelda, like most pets, does not relish a trip to the vet, but she learns an important lesson about herself and her owners from her visit.

This book is a perfect choice for animal lovers. Thirteen tales present a first person fictional mix of humor, adventure, family fun, and seasonal cheer. They can be broken up into short chapters for a bedtime story, class read aloud or used as a beginning reader. Recommended for ages seven and up; great choice for a family read aloud share on a weekend afternoon.

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