Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Swimming With Sharks (Wild Survival #2) and Minecraft: The Dragon

Márquez, Melissa Cristina. Swimming With Sharks (Wild Survival #2)
July 6th 2021 by Scholastic Paperbacks
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

The Villalobos family is back after their adventures in Crocodile Rescue, and this time they are off to Sri Lanka to investigate a possible rare Pondicherry shark. Their producer, Mr. Savage, is excited that the network has approved more shows that show how dangerous wild animals are, but Adrianna and her family are more interested in fostering an understanding of the science of the animals so that they are no longer endangered. Even though Adrianna was badly bitten by a crocodile, she still wants animals to be understood. In Colombo, they meet Manil, whose son Sev takes Adrianna and her brother around the town and introduces them to his friends Manisha, Punya, and Dilip. There are fascinating things in town, like herds of elephants in the woods nearby, but Adrianna is worried about the fact that sharks are being harvested for their fins. The Pondicherry shark shows up in an aquarium in a restaurant, and the crew has it DNA tested. Adrianna pitches the idea of a Shark Festival to the producer, so that local scientists and residents are involved in educating people about the benefits of sharks, and how the local fisherman need the sharks to keep the oceans healthy. The poachers that appear in the first book are sighted, and Adrianna gets herself into more sticky situations. Can the Villalobos family film a convincing show and change the public perception of sharks as vicious killers?
Strengths: Any book that encourages students to investigate math or science related fields is a plus, but there are far more books about students who want to pursue performing arts or cupcake baking. I loved the snippets of information about different sea life, and the additional bits at the back about marine biology in general. Setting this in a wild life reality show is a great idea, and the Villalobos family gives the kids lots of room to investigate and get into a bit of exotic trouble. I love Adriana's passion! There are good details about the local communities as well, and it's good to see the kids making friends. The mystery with the poachers adds another intriguing element. 
Weaknesses: The ending was a bit abrupt, but I'm sure we'll hear more in book three. I still do not understand why Scholastic publishes some of their best and most interesting titles in paperback only! While Follett lists a hardcover available, it's at $25, while normal trade hardcovers are around $15. I bought the first book in a prebind, so will buy this one in that format as well, but would love this series to be issued in a standard dust jacketed hardcover. 
What I really think: The first book has appealed to a wide range of readers in my library, where for some reason many of my students want to grow up to be marine biologists. The covers are great, and this is a great choice for a quick read. They'd also make a fantastic purchase at a Scholastic book fair!

Drayden, Nikcy. Minecraft: The Dragon (#8)
July 6th 2021 by DelRey Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Even though I have never played Minecraft, I have read valiantly through this series because my students love them so much. I have bought all the books but #7, Brooks' The Mountain. This is the sequel to The Island, which a student checked out last March and hasn't returned, so if I buy it, I might also have to rebuy the first book, but I'm hoping that it will be returned in September. (It actually came back! Wooo!)

Apparently, there are villagers, pillagers, AND illagers in Minecraft, and that's sort of where this lost me. I enjoyed the story of Zetta, who really wants to be a potioner even though her father doesn't want her to. She runs off to apprentice herself to her Aunt Meryl in order to help her town, Sienna Dunes, defend itself against invaders, and ends up taking care of a baby dragon. 

Readers who understand stone swords, traveling with pumpkin pies, and walls made out of terra cotta defending towns from zombie hoards and ravening beasts will love this video game turned into a story, especially since the writing is solid and the plot advances nicely. Those unfamiliar with the video game might get stuck on the plentiful details, like I did. 

I will purchase this one, but it might be the last one that I do. Interest in the game seems to be waning. 

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