Tag Archives: Children’s book reviews
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Lockwood & Co., book 3: The Hollow Boy by Jonathan Stroud.
Happy October, friends, and welcome to the best time of year! I love looking for all the new spooky reads to keep the creepy feelings going all month long. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to look hard for this one. I have been eagerly awaiting the release of the third book in the Lockwood & Co. series for some time now. And it doesn’t disappoint.
London is in a right state. For some time now, and seemingly out of the blue, ghosts, wisps, ghasts, and other creepy spectres from the beyond have been haunting the streets and homes of London. Nobody knows why but it’s created a huge stir and a new, unusual job: child ghost hunters. Although adults can sense the presence of the ghosts, only children can see them. So armed with salt, iron, silver and rapiers, teens and younger work nights battling these spirits.
Although not part of the elite Fitz or Rotwell agency, Antony Lockwood has managed to create a successful freelance ghost-hunting agency with George Cubbins, the socially awkward but brilliant-minded researcher and Lucy Carlysle, whose particular secret ability is communication with the dead spirits. When Chelsea becomes suddenly overrun with ghost activity, Lockwood & Co. are drawn in to help rein in and end the outbreak. But nobody seems to know what is causing it. Although Lucy’s hidden talent has gotten her into deadly trouble in the past, perhaps the can use it wisely and help save London.
Creepy fun for tweens, teens, or adults who like a good shiver, this is one of my favorite series to be released in the last few years. This is the perfect time to pick it up.
The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson. Illustrated by Beth Krommes.
Carrying on with the themes of darkness and night we explored last week, today I bring you The House in the Night whose etched-looking black, white, and yellow illustrations won Beth Krommes a Caldecott Medal. This is possibly the hardest review I’ve ever written. I cannot begin to try and explain what this book is about. It begins with the “in the dark is a house, in the house is a light, in the light is a room, etc.” From there it kind of goes into this nonsensical trance and I’m not terribly clear what is going on anymore. The child picks up the book and then she’s flying through the darkness on a bird’s back. Maybe this is her imagination as she reads. Maybe it’s dream imagery. “On the moon’s face shines the sun/Sun in the moon/Moon in the dark”
That said, I do really like the illustrations. They remind me of those art projects where you cover a page with India ink and scratch away an image. It’s particularly impressive that Beth Krommes was able to make meaningful imagery from the fairly meaningless, or at least vague, text. A good story to read to a little kid, maybe two to four years old. They will appreciate the cadence of the words and appreciate the striking images.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
The Night World by Mordicai Gerstein.
My son has very little interest in picture books anymore. It’s all chapter books and graphic novels and comics. And since I no longer work in a children’s library, my exposure to new picture books has been very limited. I picked up this book off the new books shelf. I like the night and I liked the cover art so I picked this up on a whim. It’s a lovely book to read at night to a child, either to appreciate the purpley blacks of night or to take some of the fear out of darkness. Or to read at five in the morning as the day comes to life.
The premise of this book I could immediately relate to. A needy cat decides it’s a good idea to awaken his master for inexplicable reasons. This is every single day of my life. As the child wanders around the darkened house, everything looks mysterious and different. All the color is gone, replaced with inky shadows. Slowly, the sun creeps over the horizon as the boy and the cat watch colors slowly bleed back into the world.
A simple book from the Caldecott Award-winning artist/author of The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, kids and adults will enjoy the painted pages and the quick-reading story of the world coming to life every morning.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
How to Grow Up and RULE THE WORLD by VORDAK the Incomprehensible
All kids need to have goals in life. Even if it’s something small, like learning to tie your shoes or reading that long chapter book all on your own. That’s all well and good for some, but that may not be enough for those who REALLY strive for something bigger. So if you have a son or daughter who aims to dominate, rule, and crush the enemy, How to Grow Up and RULE THE WORLD by VORDAK the Incomprehensible may be a good start.
Assuming you pass the Evil Aptitude Test, Vordak will guide your child through all the necessary steps to becoming an indomitable force, complete with handy diagrams! One of the first things you need to do is to pick a supremely villainous name. There is a chart to help with this. Just be sure it includes the word “the”, pronounced “thee”. Learn how to master evil laughter, how to load up your utility belt, and how to pick out the costume that embodies your particular brand of evilness best.
Vordak will also show you the pros and cons of various “diabolically clever yet extremely slow-acting death traps” like tying a superhero to a conveyor belt with a buzz saw at the end. He will show you the proper way to aim a space laser.
My son has been having a lot of fun with this book and so far no evil side-effects. Good for short-attention-span thumbing through and chock full of fun pictures, this book will entertain future supervillians for hours on end!
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson.
I’m sure those who grew up in a different era would say theirs was a golden age of comic strips, but I really think growing up in the 1980’s and 1990’s was an unspeakably wonderful time for daily comics. The Far Side treated us to a daily dose of nerdy single-panel comedy, while the recently (yay!) revived Bloom County tackled politics and penguins. But for me, the nearest and dearest, as a young boy and now, will always be Calvin and Hobbes. Made all the more enticing and yearned-for because of Watterson’s refusal to license the characters for toys, much less posters and cards, and for his abrupt and total removing of himself from the public eye, these strips were the beloved of kids and adults alike.
My son is about the same age as Calvin now. And there is hardly a waking moment that he isn’t buried one of the many Calvin and Hobbes books strewn about the house. It’s been great for me, as I haven’t visited these comics for a long time so I’m getting the chance to see them again while also enjoying them through his eyes, seeing them for the first time. Like Calvin, my son is a very imaginative only child. Unlike Calvin, he’s not a holy terror and, thankfully, he’s not getting any big ideas from Calvin.
The balance of wry humor, philosophy, cynicism about the human race, and the unconditional love of his best friend the tiger makes this easily the greatest comic ever. If you haven’t picked up a collection in a while, now is a great time to do so. Curl up in bed with a volume tonight.