Sunday, March 07, 2021

For Younger Readers

Evans, Christine and Corrigan, Patrick (Illustrations) 
Snow Day in May (The Wish Library #1) 
March 1st 2021 by Albert Whitman & Company 
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus 

 Raven is having a difficult time in school. Her best friend, Belle, moved away suddenly, leaving her to present their history day biography project on Nellie Bly all by herself. She finds a coin and a well in the woods, and in a moment of panic, she wishes that she wouldn’t have to present. She finds herself in the Wish Library facing the Librarian and her pet lizard. She explains about making wishes, and gives Raven a lengthy contract to sign in order to check out a wish, making very sure to outline how critical it is that Raven gets the wish back in time. The next morning, Raven and her sister wake up to a lot of snow! It’s localized to just her town, but school is closed and she doesn’t have to present. Of course, it also causes her airline pilot mother not to be able to get to work. Raven wants to return the wish and stop the snow, and when she returns to the well, she runs into her friend Luca, but is unable to stop him making another wish. What complications will arise in the next book? 
Strengths: This was a fun early chapter book with great illustrations! Raven’s unease at presenting in front of class will speak to many young readers. I loved the supportive, intact family, and her good relationship with her younger sister. Her friendship with Luca is also interesting. The Wish Library is well explained, and the pictures of it made me want to travel there, even if I had to face the Librarian! 
Weaknesses: I completely understand why wishes are always portrayed as being problematic and difficult; we don’t want children to think that they can just wish and have problems solved. But since wishes AREN’T real, why can’t we have a little more fun with them? The Librarian was a bit scary. 
What I really think: A bit young for my middle school students (even Raven’s clothes indicate a much younger perspective), but an excellent choice for elementary readers who like books like Ruth Chew’s Everday Magic books, The Magic Treehouse series or the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle adventures.

Jennings, Terry Catasús . and Anaya, Fatima (illustrations). 
Knight of the Cape  (Definitely Dominguita)
March 2nd 2021 by Aladdin 
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Dominguita is sad because her abuela has had to move away from her to live with her sister because her memory is failing. She has some books that her abuela loved, including Don Quixote, and these comfort her. She's worried that her abuela will forget her, so convinces her older brother Rafi to help her make a book of her exploits as a knight errant in her Mundytown neighborhood. When school bully Ernie Bublassi (whose older brother is a nemesis of Rafi's) challenges Dominguita's assertion that she can be a knight, her quest goes into overdrive. She gets a helmet (a bucket), a lance, a squire (timid Pancho), and a steed (a stray dog, Roco), and a damsel-who-can-save-herself-thanks, Steph. Together, they travel the neighborhood, righting wrongs, and having adventures that Dominguita can share with her abuela. When she discovers a story about pirates, we can see where her next adventure might take us. 
Strengths: This was a cute adventure story that younger elementary school students will like. Dominguita's neighborhood has lots of fun cultural connections, and long suffering business people willing to provide a knight errant with lunch and provisions, and even let her stand a vigil over her armor and to knight her in the store before it closes. Her best friend has moved, and she has struggles to make friends, so it is good to see her making friends with Pancho and Steph. Her concern for her grandmother is sweet, and her parents and brother are supportive. 
Weaknesses: While it's cute that she takes in a stray, there are some safety issues that should have been considered. 
What I really think: This is a little too young for my students; I should know that anything with a child dressed this quirkily on the cover is going to be for younger students. The illustrations are a good addition to this early chapter book. 

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