Archive for March, 2016

Review of The Accidental Highwayman, by Ben Tripp

Friday, March 4th, 2016

accidental_highwayman_largeThe Accidental Highwayman

Being the Tale of Kit Bristol, His Horse, Midnight, a Mysterious Princess, and Sundry Magical Persons Besides

by Ben Tripp
read by Steve West

Macmillan Audiobook from Tor, 2014. 10 hours on 9 discs.
Starred Review

I’ve meant to read this since it came out in 2014, and finally got around to it when it came out in audio form. (With thanks to my sister-in-law Laura for encouraging me to do so.) This was just as well, since the narrator is an outstanding reader and has a marvelous British accent, so it was a great listening choice.

As the subtitle tells us, this book tells the story of Kit Bristol, set in the 1700s in England. He’s the only servant of a reclusive aristocrat, and one day his master comes home having been shot. It turns out he was the famed Whistling Jack, and through one thing and another, Kit ends up taking up Whistling Jack’s commitment to help a princess fleeing an arranged marriage.

It turns out the princess is the daughter of the king of Faery, and he is power-hungry and wants to form an alliance with King George III. On top of that, there’s a soulless duchess after Princess Morgana and a vindictive redcoat obsessed with capturing Whistling Jack and seeing him hanged.

Kit and Princess Morgana go through an amazing variety of outlandish adventures. There were times when I couldn’t see how he could possibly survive (even knowing he must, since the story is told in first person).

The only thing wrong with the book? The story doesn’t end at a good place at all. Yes, part of their adventure does come to conclusion, but our two main characters are by no means safe and happy at the end. So that means I’ll be looking eagerly for the sequel.

This book is good for swashbuckling fun with fantasy. The narrator is wonderful, and this would also work for family listening. Kit does get into danger, but it’s young adult reading more because Kit is a young adult than because of any dark subject matter. Ben Tripp is also an illustrator, so having listened to the book it sounds like I missed out on illustrations, though at least I got to enjoy a British accent to make up for it.

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Teens/accidental_highwayman.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library audiobook from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of This Bridge Will Not Be Gray, by Dave Eggers and Tucker Nichols

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

this_bridge_will_not_be_gray_largeThis Bridge Will Not Be Gray

story by Dave Eggers
art by Tucker Nichols

McSweeney’s, San Francisco, 2015. 104 pages.
Starred Review

This Bridge Will Not Be Gray is a picture book about the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a long picture book, but otherwise fits picture book format. Every spread has a cut-paper pictorial background, and no spread has more than a few paragraphs of text, if that.

This isn’t the fancy, realistic-looking cut paper of Steve Jenkins. This is simple, with basic shapes. People are shown as heads of various colors (such as blue and green and red). But the simple style does work. Dave Eggers takes us through the design process of the Golden Gate bridge, beginning with the beautiful bay itself.

It is interesting to me that the reason the Golden Gate Bridge ended up reddish-orange in the first place was that was the color they painted onto steel when it was shipped to make it rust-proof.

They hadn’t actually decided what color to paint the bridge, but plans were to paint it gray.

When Irving Morrow was on the ferry one day, he watched this orange steel being assembled, and he had a thought. He thought that this color was beautiful.

And when Irving was asked what color he thought the bridge should be, he said, Why not leave it this color? And people said, What? And they said, Huh? And they said, Irving, you are nuts. No bridge had ever been orange. Who had ever heard of an orange bridge? No one had, because no bridge had ever been this color. This is true: no bridge in known human history had ever been orange.

And for a good portion of the human race, because something has not already been, that is a good reason to fear it coming to be.

But as the debate continued about the color of the bridge, an interesting thing happened. Other people noticed the same thing Irving had noticed: that this accidental orange somehow looked right.

That gives you an idea of the conversational style of the book. The simple graphics accompany it and add up to a lovely and informative story of how one of the most beautiful bridges in the world was built.

The Golden Gate Bridge, which is orange, is the best-known and best-loved bridge in the world.

It is best-known because it is bold and courageous and unusual and even strange. It is best-loved because it is bold and courageous and unusual and even strange. And it is all these things because Irving Morrow, and thousands of others said:

“This bridge will not be gray!”

It is especially fitting that the author, the illustrator, and the publisher live and work near the Golden Gate Bridge.

mcsweeneys.net

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Nonfiction/this_bridge_will_not_be_gray.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

perfect_princess_party_largeThe Princess in Black
and the Perfect Princess Party

by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale
illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Candlewick Press, 2015. 90 pages.
Starred Review

The Princess in Black is back! This time it’s her birthday. Twelve princesses and their pets have come for the party, which Princess Magnolia wants to be perfect. But every time Princess Magnolia gets ready to open presents, the monster alarm goes off!

The Princess in Black must fight the monsters and send them back to Monster Land. But Princess Magnolia doesn’t want her guests to know that she is really the Princess in Black. Not even the ever-so-good-at-hiding Princess Sneezewort. Princess Magnolia keeps coming up with different activities – hide-and-go-seek, races, a labyrinth, to cover up for her absences fighting monsters.

My only disappointment? I was hoping to see Duff the Goat Boy investigate his own monster-fighting powers. But there will be more books. There is time for that.

Like the first book, this one will span a wide age range. An easy reader, it will booktalk well with the younger grades of elementary school. Boys and girls both enjoy these books. Yes, Magnolia’s a princess, but she’s also a superhero! My two two-year-old nieces will enjoy it because there are plenty of pictures. And plenty of princesses as well.

This is a wonderful series with plenty of imaginative touches. There is repetition so helpful for beginning readers and simple language, but humorous twists which reward reading. The party keeps on getting interrupted, and readers will enjoy the way things slightly change each time.

Book Three is out — I was going to post its review when I realized I hadn’t posted this one yet! All are wonderful and bring something new to the party!

squeetus.com
candlewick.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/perfect_princess_party.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on my own copy, purchased via Amazon.com, and then given to my niece.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?