The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower: Or John Howland's Good Fortune is a gorgeously illustrated and hauntingly written account of an indentured servant's experiences on the Mayflower and in the New Plymouth colony. The harsh reality of Mayflower and Pilgrim life, as well as the strong faith of the Pilgrims, are brought to life, which makes this a memorable read for young elementary school students.
I usually stay far away from animal detective stories (there are more of them than you would think), but since we're nearing the end of the year, I'm reading a bunch of short chapter books to boost my total number of reads for 2015. At 92 pages, I figured I could tolerate it well enough. Well, I'm here to tell you that I LOVED Detective Gordon: The First Case. I usually HATE anything that smacks of twee, but this worked for me, for some reason. Detective Gordon's investigation of stolen nuts from a frantic squirrel is both sweet and hilarious. Publishers Weekly compared it to Frog and Toad, which is apt: it has a similar witty and old-fashioned (but not outdated) feel. I hope that Gecko Press USA/Lerner Books will publish #2 soon! Ulf Nilsson is one of Sweden's most prominent children's authors; there's very little up-to-date information available on the Internet.
The Disney Book's subtitle, "A Celebration of the World of Disney," should be your clue not to expect a critical interpretation of Disney films (i.e nothing about stereotypical characters in Dumbo and Peter Pan; Song of the South is not even discussed, save for a throwaway mention about live-action films). It's a beautifully designed and engrossing volume that gives intriguing information about the creation of Mickey Mouse and friends, as well as the major Disney movies (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Bambi, The Lion King, Frozen, etc). The creation of Disneyland and the theme parks that followed is a highlight; just as his daughters' enjoyment of P.L. Travers' books was the catalyst for creating Mary Poppins, Walt Disney's experience taking his daughters to a "Daddy's Day" event at a local amusement park inspired the creation for Disneyland (while he sat on benches waiting for his daughters to finish their rides, he brainstormed ideas for a theme park in which children and parents could both enjoy the attractions). Unfortunately, the lack of acknowledgment that the company fell on hard times artistically during the 1980s demotes the importance of The Little Mermaid/Beauty and the Beast/The Lion King/Aladdin in the 1990s. Most regrettably is the non-existence of any extended discussion of the importance of music in Disney films and to Walt Disney; this is an egregious oversight. (And why no mention of Newsies in the live action movies section?) For all that, this is an engaging and fun read for Disney fans; those that want a more in-depth look at Disney should read The Art of Walt Disney (time for another revision!).
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in less than a month (EEEK!), so I'm catching up on my Star Wars books in preparation for a future post to be published around that time. A New Hope: The Princess, The Scoundrel, And the Farm Boy is the opening title to the novelizations of the original trilogy. Don't think that this series is your typical junior novelization of a movie; these books are written by fantastic children's/YA authors. (And for those of you who care about this: Alexandra Bracken makes sure that Han shoots first. Star Wars geeks will know what I'm talking about.). The book is divided into three sections, which chronicle the events of A New Hope through Leia's (The Princess), Han Solo's (The Scoundrel), and Luke Skywalker's (The Farm Boy) perspectives. Great for both children and adult fans of Star Wars! They really make you think about the characters in a different light.
The Wrong Side of Right is rather improbable, but if you need a light (but not brainless) and fun contemporary YA novel, check this one out. When Kate Quinn discovers that she is the daughter of the prominent Republican candidate for president, she is suddenly thrust into a world of campaign events, benefits, and a summer with her new-found family. This is Thorne's debut YA novel, and I'm looking forward to her future novels.
Need more ideas for books? Check out my recent ALSC blog posts for National Memoir Writing Month and National Field Trip Month.
Previous Ridiculously Good Reads:
Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library