Dory the rascal tackles friendship, losing teeth, and learning to read in a hilarious new chapter book that is perfect for readers of Ivy and Bean
School has been pretty good so far. Dory has made a real true friend whose imagination and high spirits as are big as her own. Reading is proving to be a challenge, but having a loose tooth makes her feel special. Suddenly, Mrs. Gobble Gracker, Dory’s imaginary enemy, starts appearing in unlikely places. Dory and her friend can only imagine that she’s there to prevent the Tooth Fairy from visiting. This calls for some heroic plans worthy of this high-spirited and comical character who is one-of-a-kind.
Fans of Junie B. Jones and Judy Moody will rejoice in this laugh-out-loud funny series.
Jane: I love Dory – she’s spirited, feisty, imaginative, and a big hit with young readers. The Dory Fantasmagory books really are quite funny, and they work fantastically well as classroom read-alouds. I love this cover to bits, it really captures Dory’s zany personality, and is a great example of pushing gender barriers – really, why would a little girl like Dory want to be a fairy princess when she could be BATMAN?! I’ll admit the synopsis does make it sound a bit like Dory’s experiencing hallucinations, but work with kids long enough and you’ll realize that in their world the lines between real and imaginary are often much blurrier than in ours, so the threat posed by an imaginary enemy can feel very real. I’m really looking forward to reading this new entry in an imaginative and highly popular series.
Steph: These flew off the shelves at Kaleidoscope. Kids love ’em, and why shouldn’t they? This spunky character really encourages uniqueness and curiosity and that makes her endearing, funny and relatable. As an adult, you only really need to read one to get the picture, but its a good rec for many of your young readers.
Nafiza: Look at that expression on her face. It’s obvious I’m going to need to read this.
Young mouse Calib Christopher dreams of the day when he will become a Knight of Camelot like his father and grandfather before him. For generations, Calib’s family has lived among the mice that dwell beneath the human Knights of the Round Table, defending the castle they all call home. Calib just hopes he will be able to live up to the Christopher name.
Then, on the night of the annual Harvest Tournament, tragedy strikes. The mice suspect the Darklings are behind the vicious sneak attack, but Calib has his doubts, so he sets off on a quest for the truth. Venturing deep into the woods beyond the castle walls, Calib and his friend Cecily discover that a threat far greater than the Darklings is gathering, and human and animal knights alike are in grave danger.
With help from a host of unlikely new allies, including a young human boy named Galahad, Calib must get the Mice of the Round Table and the Darklings to put aside their differences and fight together. Only then will they be strong enough to save Camelot.
Jane: This definitely sounds reminiscent of Redwall, but you know what? I’m OK with that. I grew up loving Redwall, but the popularity of the series has really dropped off in recent years, so I feel like there’s room for a fresh new take on the mouse warrior story. There are also hints of The Tale of Despereaux in there, with mouse and human warriors interacting in the same medieval-inspired environment. I love historical fiction, and I grew up reading Arthurian legends, so I’m intrigued to see how the author works the legend of Camelot into the mouse story. The cover illustration is gorgeous and looks pretty exciting, which hopefully will entice young readers. I wish they hadn’t fallen into the old trope of “dark” baddies, though perhaps this will be explained in the story, as it looks as though there might be some discussion about jumping to conclusions and putting aside differences and working together, so perhaps the use of the term is an intentional part of the story.
Steph: I used to love stories like this, namely (as Jane mentioned) Redwall. This seems like it’ll, perhaps, be a little less on the original side (as it is a retelling of the Camelot story) but a little more funny and goofy–and honestly, relying on a known story and plotline is not a bad thing, but it does make this different than Redwall in many ways. I think it’ll be cute, but I’m not sure I’ll make time to read it. Also, the cover is pretty cute it a little cluttered.
Nafiza: Honestly, I understand the anthropomorphic animals are quite the hit with kids but I have never understood the appeal. I didn’t read Redwall for this same reason. I blame reading Animal Farm at a too young age while living on a farm and generally being terrified of all animals after that. Yep. Actually, I don’t much like Camelot and the stories associated with (do not speak to me about Lancelot, just…ugh) either so passity pass.
An outcast boy and a young wolf have only each other against an Ice Age winter . . .
Kai burns to become a hunter and to earn a rightful place among his people. But that can never be. He was born with a club foot. It is forbidden for him to use or even touch a hunter’s sacred weapons.
Cut off from the other boys, Kai turns to his true friends, the yellow wolves, for companionship. They have not forgotten the young human they nurtured as an abandoned infant. When Kai discovers a motherless cub in the pack, he risks everything to save her, bringing her back to live with him.
But as winter draws near, Kai’s wolf grows ever more threatening in the eyes of the People. When the worst happens, Kai knows that they must leave for good. Together, they embark on a journey into the north—a place of unimaginable danger—that tests the power of friendship and the will to survive.
Award-winning author Susan Williams Beckhorn delivers a tale set in Paleolithic times. Inspired by modern discoveries, Susan’s careful research creates a vivid picture of a time when the first wolves came to live with humans and forged a bond that lives on to this day.
Jane: Man, I feel like I am on a bit of a roll today – I want to get my hands on all these books! I’ve said it about a million times already but I’ll say it again – historical fiction is my jam. But some time periods in history are more popular with storytellers than others, and certain eras seem to get repeatedly overlooked by novelists. I haven’t come across too many MG novels set in Paleolithic times, so this is quite exciting – because we really do know so little about prehistory with any certainty, authors have a great deal of creative freedom when it comes to building worlds and characters. Don’t think Paleolithic people wore clothes they way the author describes them? Prove it! Don’t think Paleolithic people interacted with wolves in exactly the manner depicted in the story? Prove it! Ha, too bad, you can’t, take that! I’m really curious as to how the author will describe the characters, their society and their interactions with each other. The cover is understated but very atmospheric and would be quite appealing, particularly (though I hate to make these kind of gender assumptions) to male readers. Very intrigued.
Steph: This sounds reminiscent of books like Wolf Brother and Julie of the Wolves and I really liked that kind of uncanny historical fiction/survival story–and so, I am very interested in this. The cover is a little bit Disney (y’know, too clean with stark bright spots and shadows), but I’ll give it a go anyway.
Nafiza: Yeah, I…not my thing. I mean, this seems like it will appeal to some but unless the wolf turns into a person sometimes, I’m not very interested. The colour palette does not much appeal to me either but the cover seems fitting for the story being told.
Zack Delacruz is back—and eager to meet Abhi, the new girl at school. But things get off to a rough start when he accidentally knocks her to the ground during a game of dodgeball. And whenever he tries to make amends, she just ignores him. Nothing works—not his friends’ advice or his “lucky” cologne. In fact, he just seems more and more cursed! Then, at the Fall Fiesta-val, Zack finally learns the real reason behind Abhi’s cold shoulder . . . but not before total chaos erupts. With a runaway train, exploding confetti-filled eggs, and Abhi’s terrifying older brother, will Zack ever get a chance to talk to his crush? In the end, Zack learns what it means to believe, to listen, and to be a good friend.
This dynamite sequel captures the middle-school experience—and will keep readers laughing from beginning to end
Jane: This looks and sounds like a pretty engaging novel, and Zack seems like an appealing protagonist. I’m always getting requests from kids for funny books, so I know there’s a real market for humorous stories. The cover is pretty great – I see that eyes-rolled expression pretty regularly among tweens / young teens, and the “runaway train, exploding confetti-filled eggs, and Abhi’s terrifying older brother” scenario sounds awesome.
Ugh, I do wish they hadn’t slipped the “In the end, Zack learns what it means to believe, to listen, and to be a good friend” line into the synopsis, though – talk about a buzz kill. The last thing a kid wants to read about is “what it means to believe, to listen and to be a good friend”. Blech. The thing is, once kids get into middle school they should be being encouraged to pick their own reading material, and publishers should be transitioning their publicity efforts away from caregivers/teachers and directing them at the kids themselves. If we want kids to be engaged, excited readers we need to show them that we trust them to make their own reading choices, and that we value them as independent thinkers and decision makers. If publishers want to put all sorts of cheesy, moralistic content in their press releases, that’s fine. But the back of a tween/teen book should be written expressly for tweens/teens, not the adults who need to start letting go and trusting their kids to choose books for themselves.
Steph: Sounds like a sappy young teen-romance, and really, I’m not into this kind of story. I think Jane’s got a good point (above) but even seeting aside from the obvious moralizing/marketing to adults, I just don’t see me loving this. The shunning by Abhi is a little too much of a plot ploy, and I’ve only read the back copy, and it leaves me wondering what is going to be sustaining my interest in the characters and story.
Nafiza: The first thing that I thought when I saw this cover? OMG POC ON A COVER WITHOUT THEIR HEAD CUT OFF! Granted this is an illustrated POC but progress is sweet. I adore his expression and y’noe, I think I’d like to read this book. Zack seems like an interesting sort. Off it goes into my TBR.
A novel in verse about three girls in three different time periods who grew up to become groundbreaking scientists.
Maria Merian was sure that caterpillars were not wicked things born from mud, as most people of her time believed. Through careful observation she discovered the truth about metamorphosis and documented her findings in gorgeous paintings of the life cycles of insects.
More than a century later, Mary Anning helped her father collect stone sea creatures from the cliffs in southwest England. To him they were merely a source of income, but to Mary they held a stronger fascination. Intrepid and patient, she eventually discovered fossils that would change people’s vision of the past.
Across the ocean, Maria Mitchell helped her mapmaker father in the whaling village of Nantucket. At night they explored the starry sky through his telescope. Maria longed to discover a new comet—and after years of studying the night sky, she finally did.
Jane: I feel like this synopsis ends kind of abruptly, like the last line just got cut off. There should be some sort of summary, like “the stories of these three girls come together to create an inspiring novel of resiliency, determination and ground-breaking innovation blah blah something something”. Abrupt summary aside, I love verse novels, I love narrative nonfiction, I love biography, and I love stories about trailblazing women, especially women in science, so I am PUMPED for this one. The cover is stunning, though the three girls don’t particularly look like they grew up in different time periods – aren’t they all wearing the same dress in different colours? They even have exactly the same hair colour – I know brunettes RULE, but the girls kind of look like clones…. Still super excited to read this one, though.
Steph: The first thing that pops into my mind is that: that’s a lot of Marias making scientific discoveries! Haha, not terribly astute, I know. I think a novel about female scientists is cool, a novel in verse about them is even cooler (though I do worry about the verse scaring away potential readers). I like the cover a lot, but I was thinking witchcraft, not science, when I first saw it … so, a little misleading? It’s interesting, and if I see if on a shelf at the library, I’ll probably pick it up.
Nafiza: I like the cover and I like how they are looking off into the cosmos at things way more interesting than the readers. And it’s so important for a book like this to exist. I’d like to read this.
Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella Riosse dreams of the faraway lands her father once mapped.
When her closest friend disappears into the island’s Forgotten Territories, she volunteers to guide the search. As a cartographer’s daughter, she’s equipped with elaborate ink maps and knowledge of the stars, and is eager to navigate the island’s forgotten heart.
But the world beyond the walls is a monster-filled wasteland – and beneath the dry rivers and smoking mountains, a legendary fire demon is stirring from its sleep. Soon, following her map, her heart and an ancient myth, Isabella discovers the true end of her journey: to save the island itself.
From this young debut author comes a beautifully written and lyrical story of friendship, discovery, myths and magic – perfect for fans of Philip Pullman, Frances Hardinge or Katherine Rundell.
Jane: Strong, intelligent female using her wits and her courage to save her friend and her homeland? No obvious love-interest? Sounds pretty promising. Cartographers are AWESOME, so I’m very excited to find a story in which maps play a major role. Interestingly, the original British version of this novel is called The Girl of Ink and Stars and has a COMPLETELY different cover – it could be a fascinating exercise to look at book covers in different countries and consider why publishers think different cultures will react to different cover images. All that aside, this is a very interesting looking novel, and it’s been getting a lot of buzz recently, so I’m definitely curious.
Steph: I love this cover, she’s not in a particularly active pose, but instead looks out at the reader with curiosity, and it’s perfect. She’s a smart, aspiring cartographer, why should she be all action and no brains? I usually like stories that involve maps and the hidden secrets that new explorations can uncover (and in fiction, the possibilities are literally limitless!) also, there’s no love interest here, which is kinda nice. Just the story of a girl using her brains and bravery to save her island. Nice, sweet and a for sure read.
Nafiza: I had no idea this was another name for The Girl of Ink and Stars. That’s so interesting, Jane. Thanks for the tidbit. Another (illustrated) POC on the cover and I just…give this to me.