Tuesday, September 29, 2020


Marshall, Kate Alice. Thirteens
August 18th 2020 by Viking Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Eleanor ("Elle") moves to the town of Eden Eld to live with her aunt and uncle after a terrifying incident when her mother set fire to their house and Eleanor almost died. Her pregnant aunt is very kind, but doesn't want to discuss her mother, and doesn't notice some of the odd things that Eleanor does, like a huge grandfather clock that appears outside of her room, but runs backwards. When Eleanor goes back to school, she is sent to a private school where she meets the friendly Otto and Pip, the daughter of the principal. These two are very helpful when Eleanor shares with them that she is seeing odd things like the clock, shadowy dogs, and menacing birds. Otto and Pip are helpful; they point out that the January Society, which Pip's mother is in, generally means them harm, Eleanor's house was owned by the Ashford Family, who had nefarious dealings, and the Thirteen Tales of the Gray book that had belonged to Eleanor's mother and mysteriously appears in her room seems to reveal some of the secrets about the "wrong things" that the three keep seeing. They also manage to uncover the fact that all three of them have birthdays on Halloween and palindromic names, making it likely that they are the ones marked from the alarming town tradition of sacrificing three young people in order to maintain the town's prosperity. Can the three find a way to circumvent this before it is too late?
Strengths: The details about the January Society and the Ashford family and their involvement in all of this are laid out with a lot of clever twists and turns; I've skimmed over those so as not to ruin some of the creepy surprises. The ensemble cast is great, and I enjoyed how they supported Eleanor even though they had problems of their own. The house is a great, creepy setting, and Pip's mother is a solid villain.
Weaknesses: While many of the "wrong things" were creepy, they weren't as scary as my students would prefer. I never felt like the children were in any real danger.
What I really think: This seemed similar to Roberts' Witches of Willow Cove, Funaro's Watch Hollow, White's Shadow School: Archimancy, and Nobel's The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane (Black Hollow Lane #1) and even West's The Shadows. Creepy, mystery filled, clue oriented, and well written, none of these are hugely popular in my library the way that much creepier books like Bell's Frozen Charlotte or Schwab's City of Ghosts are.   

Cousteau, Philippe and Aslan, Austin. The Endangereds
September 29th 2020 by HarperCollins 
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

It's no secret that I have trouble with talking animal books, but since my students love some of them (like Warriors), I continue to read them. This one was particularly interesting because I really liked Aslan's The Islands at the End of the World, and was intrigued by the involvement of a Cousteau in a book about conservancy. 

I'm still debating this one, however. There were a lot of characters, the book was on the longer side (352 pages), and books like Rocha's Bearhaven (which has the sentient animals) and Nye's Jack and the Geniuses (which has the adventure, traveling, and environmental themes) don't circulate well in my library. The cover could appeal to some readers who want adventure, but I got stuck on the talking "Poo-bot". I'll be very curious to see what other librarians and teachers think about this. I want to buy it, but think it might not do well in my particular library.

From Goodreads:
Innocent animals are in trouble: temperatures are climbing, tides are rising, and nature is suffering. Someone needs to step in to rescue animals from extinction. Someone needs to turn this mess around, before it’s too late.

And that someone is . . . the Endangereds, the unlikeliest heroes you’ll ever meet—a superstrong polar bear, a pangolin with a genius for engineering, an extremely sarcastic narwhal, and an orangutan with a big dream.

Together, these four daredevils are determined to save endangered species across the globe, no matter what the risk. Rappelling into an underground cavern to save the day? No problem. Looping video footage to sneak through buildings unnoticed? Got it covered. Opening a doorknob? Okay, pretty hard without thumbs. But don’t worry. No matter what it takes, the Endangereds will get the job done.

But when two of their friends get kidnapped by a villain with a dastardly agenda, the team finds themselves up to their snouts in trouble. Can the Endangereds save the day? Or will this villain put humans and animals alike on the extinction list? 

The A-Team meets the animal kingdom in the first book in the thrilling new adventure series from the host of Xploration Awesome Planet Philippe Cousteau and award-winning author Austin Aslan.

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