Schulz, Heidi. Hook's Revenge
September 16th 2014
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Jocelyn's grandfather is tired of her antics, so sends her off to a finishing school, where he hopes they will break her of the tendencies she inherited from her father, Capt. James Hook. On the advice of Rodger, the kitchen boy, "She tried to make a game of finding ways to satisfy Miss Eliza without feeling like she was selling her own soul," which does help her get through her lessons, although she still likes to explore the school grounds with Rodger, whose company she prefers to her snooty roommates. When she and Rodger are caught together and accused of impropriety, Jocelyn takes this as an opportunity to run away and seek the adventure she craves... and after a letter is delivered to her from her deceased father, she is transported to Neverland. There, she finds Smee and some of Hook's remaining crew, and vows to find the crocodile who killed her father. After running into the crocodile and letting him get away, her resolve is strengthened, and she and her crew redouble their efforts. After a run in with Capt. Kreuger of the Flying Dutchman, Jocelyn is swept overboard. She has a run in with Tiger Lily, as well as the Lost Boys, and finds that Rodger is now working with Peter Pan and doesn't remember her or their life at the school. Jocelyn managed to save a fairy prince, find out more information about her mother, Evelina, and is able to rally people she meets in Neverland to help her. Will it be enough to finally defeat the crocodile?
Strengths: Jocelyn is absolutely delightful. In addition to wanting to seek adventure but realizing that irritating the teachers at the finishing school was not in her best interest, she has a wonderful interchange with one of the Lost Boys, who wants her to be his "mother" and make sure he takes his medicine or "you will be sorry." To this she replies "I am most certainly not here to be your mother. What is the obsession with mothers here? You and those lost boys will just have to wash, mend, and story yourselves. I have my own business to attend to." (p.123) The boy then offers to still rescue Jocelyn, and she assures him that she doesn't need rescuing; she is on the pirate ship because she is the captain! The twist on the Peter Pan is well done (I wonder if the Greater Ormond Street Children's Hospital is getting any sort of donation?), there's plenty of action and adventure, and I will be looking forward to the sequel next fall, The Pirate Code.
Weaknesses: The plot is a little weak-- will killing the crocodile really serve any purpose? It's a good excuse to get Jocelyn to Neverland. I'm curious to see how her continued presence in Neverland is explained.
Shecter, Vicky Alvear. Hades Speaks!: A Guide to the Underworld by the Greek God of the Dead.
September 1st 2014 by Boyds Mills Press
Copy received from the author
In this short, well-illustrated book, Hades tells us about his life and domain in a funny, sarcastic tone. A wide variety of underworld related material is included: Greek burial rites, the story of Persephone, descriptions of Hades realms and the monsters therein, and lots of stories. There is always a huge interest in mythology in my school, and this will be a great book to hand to students after they have finished all of the Kate McMullan Myth-o-mania books.
This author's Anubis Speaks! A Guide to the Afterlife by the Egyptian God of the Dead was a Cybils' finalist in 2013.
Strengths: Shecter's research into everything on the ancient world is always good, and she clearly enjoys that time period. The cover (with its shiny red eyes) will immediately draw readers in, and they will get lots of good information about mythology while having a good laugh. The Edward Gorey-esque illustrations suit the mood of the book well, and the length and amount of information included is just right.
Weaknesses: From a school stand point, I'm not crazy about the paper-over-boards format. Books with dust jackets hold up so much better, and this will see a lot of use! From a personal standpoint, I prefer a more serious treatment of the gods (D'Aulaire, Hamilton) since my children were intent on actually becoming pagans and worshipping them at one point in early elementary school, but I know that most of my readers prefer the funny spin on the myths!
It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday at Anastasia Suen's blog.