Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Mischief with Friends

Soundrar, Chitra. Mangoes, Mischief and Tales of Friendship
January 1st 2019 by Candlewick Press
E ARC from

Prince Veera and his friend Suka are very interested in the king's court, and when the king is ill, decide they would be able to make good decisions concerning the welfare of the people. They end up having very good ideas about how to cleverly serve justice, such as allowing the baker who wants to charge for the smell of his bread to hold the payment but then return it, having enjoyed the feel of having money. The boys get into some more mischief, just hanging out, but the eight tales hinge on their clever ability to decide how cases should be handled.
Strengths: This was a fun, short book of stories with two engaging friends learning to be just and clever. I enjoyed reading it.
Weaknesses: I could have used more background information about when this what set, and about details of living in India. These are apparently original tales, but do have a classic feel, so I wonder if they are based on folk tales.
What I really think: My folk and fairy tale books tend to only circulate if teachers assign a project with them, and it's been a while since the 6th grade has done the retelling of a folk tale, set in another country. This would have been absolutely perfect for that. It's certainly good on its own, so I will probably buy it if I have money left. It's just not going to circulate terribly well, which is too bad.

Barnett, Mac and Jory, John. The Terrible Two Go Wild
January 9th 2018 by Harry N. Abrams
Library copy

Niles and Miles are on summer break, and they are spending most of their time spying on Josh Barkin, who is at the Yawnee Valley Yelling and Push- Ups Camp with several of his friends. He was originally sent to the camp as punishment, but it fit his warped personality. His father, Principal Barkin, loves to hike and camp as well, but he can't go with Josh, and his wife has also declined, so he is spending his time away from his office wandering in the same woods. Miles and Niles have the sort of encounters with Josh that they normally have, but there are some nice moments of mutual understanding between our pranksters and Principal Barkin. Like summer, nothing of particular note happens, but it is sunny and amusing.
Strengths: This is a funny notebook novel that is much better than others with which my students are obsessed. Sort of that whole-grain-toaster-pastry feeling. I did particularly like the new relationship with Principal Barkin, who has always been a rather sympathetic character for me. The prologue is a surprisingly brilliantly written paean to summer.
Weaknesses: Josh is over the top terrible, and I had trouble believing the summer camp was so close to where Niles and Miles hung out.
What I really think: Fun, distracting series that started out really strong and has a loyal following, although I don't know that the books are getting funnier (like Hamster Princess). Maybe the next book.

1 comment:

  1. The stories from the first book might indeed be folktales. That one about enjoying the feel of his money sounds very much the old Paul Gladone book, The Sound of His Money, which was based on an old folktale.