Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Great Granny Cake Contest, Guys Read #7

32284110Corderoy, Tracey and Berger, Joe. Hubble Bubble: The Great Granny Cake Contest
June 13th 2017 by Nosy Crow
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Pandora's grandmother is a witch, and Pandora has powers that her parents do not want her to use. Of course, when she is in her grandmother's company, she still gets to ride on a broom, and the magic powers can be useful. This is especially true when her grandmother enters a cake baking contest with two of her witch friends. Her grandmother isn't going to cheat and use magic, but when Pandora finds out that her friends' grandchildren are helping, she decides to help as well. Pandora and her grandmother also get in trouble during the tour of a local mansion, and at the school gardening fair.
Strengths: The illustrations, and the way the text is set around them, are really brilliantly done. The story presupposes complete suspension of disbelief, and we are instantly sucked into Pandora's world. This is very reminiscent of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.
Weaknesses: This is most suited for early readers, not for middle school. Drat.
What I really think: I am so tempted to buy this one for my 6th graders who love Ruth Chew. It's completely adorable, VERY British (fairy cakes), and reminded me of things I read when I was in elementary school. Maybe if there is an Accelerated Reader test for it!

30653886Scieszka, Jon et al. Heroes and Villains
April 4th 2017 by Walden Pond Press
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

This seventh collection of short stories by different authors, edited by Guys Read founder and generally fabulous Guy, Jon Scieszka, offers a wide range of interpretations of both heroes and villains. While some are goofy and full of fantasy elements (Healy's The Villain's Guide to Being a Hero covers more information about villain Deeb Rauber; Anderson's General Poophead offers an odd look at Benedict Arnold conversing with a Valkyrie, and Law's The Warrior and the Knave involves the hero getting sucked into an alternative dimension where he must save the day through a black-hole vacuum-vortext thingy inside a locker), the stand out stories cover more real life incidents.

Munoz Ryan's First Crossing depicts a young boy and his father trying to make the journey from Mexico to the US using a coyote; Yelchin's Kalash shows the interaction between a young Russian boy and his brother who has just gotten out of the army, and Hopkinson's How I Became Stink Daley offers the fascinating account of an impoverished boy with a love of drawing who must take a job at a dairy and ends up exposing unhygienic practices there.

There is a graphic short story as well, Camper's The Wager with illustrations by Raul the Third, that shows two boys' struggles with the Bogeyman and el Cucuy during the night. The rest of the book is rounded out by continuations of similar stories authors must enjoy. Lemony Snicket discusses finding a royal baby and being accused of kidnapping him, Creech's Need That Dog covers another story of a boy who wants to have a dog, and Gantos' How My Mother Was Arrested for Murder revisits the Florida setting of The Trouble in Me.

These collections are a great way to introduce readers to a lot of authors they may not know, and encourage them to pick up other books if they like a particular author or story. Most of the stories do showcase the authors' particular styles and frequent themes, although sometimes authors use this opportunity to depart a bit from their norm.

The Jeff Stokely illustrations reminded me of Leonard Shortall's illustrations for Sobol's orignal Encyclopedia Brown (1963) books.

Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and San Souci's Dare to Be Scared books are great for scary short stories, but it's hard to find collections of short stories on other topics, so the Guys Read franchise is an excellent place to find quality examples of the genre.
Ms. Yingling

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