Thursday, May 13, 2021

The Adventure is Now and Bear Bottom

Redman, Jess. The Adventure is Now
May 4th 2021 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus
Milton P. Green is having a tough time of it. His parents are in the middle of a divorce, and the Bird Brain incident at school has cost him all of his friends. His only solace is the video game Isle of Wild, where he pretends to be the main character, Sea Hawk Ferox, a naturalist and explorer who has amazing adventures. When his parents want him to spend the summer with his Uncle Evan, who is a naturalist on a remote island. He's studying the work of Dr. Ada Paradis, who uncovered flora and fauna such as the Truth-Will Out Vine, Symphonic Cicadas, and the Menu-You Bush. The uncle, who is working on the island with a couple of other scientists, has only found only found the vine and the cicadas, and the island might be sold to developers, since Dr. Paradis died intestate and a corporation is very interested in the area. When Milton arrives to visit, he is alarmed that there is no electricity to charge his game, so he can't take refuge in Isle of Wild. He does meet Fig, who lives on the island with her scientist mother, as well as Gabe and Rafi. Milton at first claims to be a very young scientist named Sea Hawk, and is bound and determined to make his own discoveries, but when he finds a box left by Dr. Paradis, he and Fig try to find her elusive creatures in order to save the island from development. Will the island let them uncover its secrets in time?
Strengths: Middle grade readers will sympathize with Milton's plight of having difficulties at school caused by difficulties at home, and with his dislike of being sent away from both home and video games. Lone Island is an interesting setting with lots of mystery and adventure, and Fig, Gabe and Rafi are appealing secondary characters. Dr. Paradis' discoveries are mysterious and magical, and young readers will be enthralled with the interesting and quirky wildlife like the Menu-You Bush. Redman's works are very popular with fans of Natalie Lloyd and Ingrid Law.
Weaknesses: After the Bird Brain incident, the parents should have smashed the video game and made sure that Milton went to counseling instead of lapsing into Literary Ineffectual MiddleGrade Parenting Syndrome. (LIMPS)
What I really think: My students like outdoor adventure survival books, but tend toward more militaristic ones with dire circumstances, like the work of Will Hobbs, Seiple's Death on the River of Doubt, or Mikaelsen's Jungle of Bones. Recently, Rebecca Behrens Disaster Days and Alone in the Woods have done very well. This read a bit like a quirky, elementary version of Boy X

Gibbs, Stuart. Bear Bottom (FunJungle #7)
May 11th 2021 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Teddy and his family, along with Summer and her family, head off to Yellowstone Park. J.J.McCracken is interested in buying a bison ranch owned by some friends, hoping to set it up like a prairie safari park. The owners approach Teddy to ask him to find out who is stealing the bison-- not an easy task! When Summer's mother arrives wearing a very expensive necklace, J.J. is not happy. When a local bear, named Sasquatch, breaks into the house overnight and terrorizes the occupants, Teddy is faced with another mystery-- who stole the necklace? J.J. is sure that it is the bear, and starts to try to locate the bear before he poops out the necklace. Teddy is not so sure. There are plenty of exciting (but not necessarily good!) things happening on the ranch, so Teddy has more than enough clues to consider. Will he be able to figure out who would be taking bison, and what happened to the necklace?
Strengths: I'm with Gibbs-- branching out from FunJungle is an excellent way to keep the series fresh, and Yellowstone is a great location. The descriptions of the "tourons" (tourist morons) would be funny if they weren't unfortunately true, but I love that there is a positive message about how to treat the planet and its fauna along with the mystery and humor. 
Weaknesses: We see more of Summer's parents relationship than we do of Teddy and Summer's. I'd like to see them become even better friends, romance aside. There are plenty of other things going on in the book, but it would have been nice to see a little more character development, since we've spent seven books with the characters. 
What I really think: This will be in great demand in my library-- I already have die-hard Gibbs fans wanting to put it on hold, even though I won't have a copy until August! Definitely another fun romp!

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