Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The One and Only Bob and The Rider's Reign

Applegate, Katherine. The One and Only Bob
May 5th 2020 by HarperCollins
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Bob survives on his own, thank you very much, but it's kind of nice to have Julia and her comfortable house now that Ivan and Ruby have been moved to the zoo. Since Julia's father now works at the zoo, which is just down the street, the two are able to sneak in and visit Ruby and Ivan. During one trip, the weather is bad but takes a horrible turn. A tornado touches down, making Bob fly through the air and land in the giraffe enclosure. It also damages many of the barriers keeping the animals separated and collapses some buildings. Bob's first concern is his two friends; he finds Ruby quickly, but Ivan is trapped under a building. Luckily, the humans are able to free him, and the zoo staff work to get the animals to safety while trying to corral the ones that are loose. Bob does his best to help, and even has a run in with Kimu, the wolf. When Bob hears a bark that sounds familiar, he heads out of the zoo, only to be captured by the police and taken to the shelter. There, he meets someone from his past (I don't want to spoil things) who sends him on a rescue mission that helps dispel some of his personal demons. The storm forces Bob to reevaluate his life and the friends who are important to him, and gives him an even deeper appreciation for his life with Julia.
Strengths: My students are huge fans of The One and Only Ivan, and they are already looking forward to this one. Bob is my favorite character, so it was very satisfying to have all of his concerns addressed. There is just enough about his everyday life before the storm hits, and then it is an action packed adventure, which I didn't expect. The interactions between the different animals are all interesting; sometimes funny, sometimes touching, sometimes sad. I'm usually not a big fan of character driven novels, but Applegate does a good job at showing us Bob's philosophical journey in the context of his physical one, and it all works beautifully.
Weaknesses: Some readers might be disappointed that there isn't more about Ivan.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing. May even get two copies, since the first book is on the Battle of the Books list this year. Hard to believe it has been eight years since Ivan was published!

More importantly, this book is coming out in October! As a parent who has all 54 books plus super specials in a box in the attic, I may have to buy this for my eldest daughter!

George, Jessica Day. The Rider's Reign (Rose Legacy #3)
June 16th 2020 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
E ARC provided by Edelweiss

Anthea's story  and her involvement in the war between various kingdoms is told in The Rose Legacy, and continues in The Queen's Secret. Now, she and her allies Jilly and Finn, must travel to Kronenhof to find Meg, as well as several of the horses which have been kidnapped by Thea's mother, Genevia, and the evil emperor. If Meg is not heard from in two weeks, the Coronami intend to declare war with Kronenhof, so they must work quickly. There is a herd of "ghost horses" that are hiding out in the woods, and Thea is sure that her missing horses are out there somewhere, but communicating isn't going well, sometimes due to stones that interfere with the Way. With the help of Prince Adil, who is himself being held hostage by the emperor, the group locates the horses, as well as Meg, at a hunting lodge. They are being in horrible conditions by, of course, Genevia. Genevia wants power above all else, and is willing to align herself with the emperor if she thinks that it will gain her power. She doesn't care if she alienates her daughter; only power is important. Anthea, Jilly, and Finn think that it is more important for the horses to be viewed as safe (they were not, after all, responsible for the Dag, even if people still believe they were), and for the countries to get along. The adults seem to have all of the political power, and few of them play fair. How will Thea be able to keep her beloved horses safe, stand up to her mother, and eventually get back to a life that doesn't involve political intrigue?
Strengths: This series has been a great hit with my horse lovers and fantasy adventure lovers as well! The covers are great, the girl power is awesome, and the stories are fast paced and full of intrigue. The Downtown Abbey-esque world (there are cars, and definitely a historical feel to the setting) with its Rose Maidens, evil adversaries, and horses that can communicate with humans is one that I could see third graders trying to recreate of the playground. The adults don't seem to know how to organize their world, so it's a good thing that Anthea and her friends do.
Weaknesses: It would have helped (me, at least) to have had a bit of a recap about the political situation. Readers who have just finished the last book will be fine, but if it's been some time, it might take readers a bit to become reacclimated.
What I really think: Readers who love horses, and who love to see young protagonists save the day, will love this ending to a great series. These books are popular with my students who love Wrede's Dealing with Dragons, Lairamore's Ivy Even After, and Burgis' The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart as well as the works of Sarah Beth Durst, Sarah Prineas, and other books by this author.

There was a twitter thread recently complaining about reviewers who comment that children's books are too childish. I thought a lot about that, because while reviewers shouldn't condemn a title because it doesn't suit their personal preferences, it can be important to mention them, because it certainly colors a review. For example, I had an epiphany of sorts while reading this: I don't care about political machinations, not in history, and not in books. So all of the ins and outs of the Coronami and the Kronenhof didn't appeal that much to me. I'm also not a huge fan of horses; the horses talking to their humans and calling them "beloved" kind of grated on me. HOWEVER, that's just me. It's important to be able to recognize the difference!

1 comment:

  1. I never read the Animorphs series but I didn't start working for the library system until 1998 and didn't know about them before. We have the first two as ebooks and I need to read one now. I'd certainly like to read the graphic novel!