Tag Archives: Children’s Fiction

Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball by Laura Ellen Anderson

Title: Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball
Author: Laura Ellen Anderson
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Publisher: Egmont UK
Publishing date: 5th of October 2017
ISBN:9781405286725

Synopsis:Welcome to the world of Nocturnia, where darkness reigns supreme, glitter is terrifying, and unicorns are the stuff of nightmares! Amelia Fang would much rather hang out with her pet pumpkin Squashy and her friends Florence the yeti and Grimaldi the reaper than dance at her parents’ annual Barbaric Ball.
When the King’s spoiled son Tangine captures Squashy, Amelia and her friends must escape the party to plan a daring rescue. In their race against time, they being to realize things in Nocturnia may not be quite what they seem… Join Amelia on her very first adventure. She won’t bite!

My Review:

In Nocturnia  everything sparkly, fluffy and cute is considered terrifying, which is a great premise for a comical book about nocturnal creatures. This premise intrigued me to pick up this book for my autumn reading roll. This book was fun and easy to read, but on certain topics it did disappoint.

One of the disappointing part of this book was the absentee parenting trope which tends to be a viral infection in literature for children. I understand the need for absentee parents, and it can be done well, like in Coraline by Neil Gaiman. In Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball the absentee parenting troupe was borderline neglect, the mother is insanely self-absorbed caring more for her looks and her social status before her daughter. At one point the mother gives away her favorite chair and Amelia’s pet pumping away to the kings spoiled-rotten son. when Amelia refuses she is told not to cause a scene and sent to her room. The father seems to be more concerned about his crossword puzzles than his family and is a stereotypical never-in-the-kitchen male. This is empathized by Amelia’s bafflement over the first time her father put a teacup in the sink on his own. In our day and time where social norms and gender-roles are being challenged, reverting back to stereotypes in children’s fictions will not help us grow a new generation with good and open values.
The bottom line regarding this issue is that I think this story had a lot of unexplored potential.

That aside I found the illustrations in this book nothing short of amazing. They are simple and very cute, and they do their job well of complimenting the story and it’s themes.
Another good point about this book is the humor, which is at some points a little over the top hilarious with words like “darklings” and “diephone” and so on and so forth. In the beginning I found the puns a little annoying, but as I read on I go used to them. I can imagine that the humor will be just the perfect cup of tea for it’s intended audience (which is middle grade), but as an adult reader it took me a while to get used to them.
This book can easily be compared to the Hotel Transylvania movies with it’s vitty language and puns, and I think they are reaching for the same type of audience. And I only wish that Amelia’s parents would have taken a tiny straw out of daddy Count Dracula’s overprotective parenting book.

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Book Review: The Thunderbolt Pony

Title: The Thunderbolt Pony
Author: Stacy Gregg
Genre: Children’s Fiction , Middle Grade
Publisher: HarperCollins UK, Children’s
Publishing date: 5th of October 2017
ISBN: 9780008257026

Synopsis: A dramatic and emotional story about one girl’s determination to stand by her beloved animals – and her refusal to give up, even in the face of impossible odds.

My Review:

The Thunderbolt Pony is a good story for any animal lover. It is a cute little story about Evie’s journey across the earthquake torn South Island of New Zealand, accompanies by her three animal friends. Her pony Gus, her dog Jock and her cat Moxy
I did enjoy to read the story through the girls eyes, and her troubles and challenges seemed real. However I found the beginning of the story a bit hard to get in to, as I found it a bit implausible that a 12-year-old girl could pin point the exact moment she developed her OCD. Don’t get me wrong, the story was very touching and seemed logical of how her father’s declining health to cancer cased her to develop OCD, but I found that part implausible.
That did not stop me from continuing reading the story, and I did enjoy that the author spent a lot of time showing how an illness like OCD can affect people, even in crisis and I think we need more books that empathize this.
In the end it was a very moving story and I enjoyed to spend time with Evie, Moxy, Gus and Jock, and it emphasized the fact of not leaving anyone behind and that pets are part of your responsibility even when a disaster hit.

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Title: Serafina and the Black Cloak
Author: Robert Beatty
Genre: Children’s fiction, fantasy
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publishing date: July 14th, 2015
ISBN: 9781484709016
Purchase Link: Amazon.co.uk

Synopsis: “Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there, and they will ensnare your soul.”
Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of the Biltmore estate.There’s plenty to explore in her grand home, although she must take care to never be seen. When children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is:a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak’s identity before all of the children vanish one by one.
Serafina’s hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic. In order to save the children, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.

My Review:

This book had a huge marketing hype around it. All the marketing, the intriguing description as well as the book-cover got me very excited about this book.
In many ways this book would be better off had the author invented a fictional family to go with the castle. Instead he chose to go with the family who are historically linked to the estate, and then he throws history all over the place. Of course all historical fiction does fictionalize a lot of things, but their fictional facts should in some fashion be linked to actual historical facts or theories.
The characters were easy to enjoy but they were a little flat. The mysteries are a bit simple and the books targeted audience (8-12 year olds) wouldn’t have much trouble figuring out the mysteries presented in the book. That is everything except Serafina’s own “past” which is barely foreshadowed at all and is just info-dumped on the reader in the end. Though it is pretty clear what she is, or it is very well displayed by the books illustrations, but the whole why and whens are just dropped in the end.
That aside, this is a book that can be enjoyed, particularly by it’s targeted audience, but the hype around it is insanely overplayed. This is a normal mediocre book which could have been much better had the story been a little more complex and with more colorful characters. If the novel had been longer and there had been more space for the character’s to evolve, this would have been a superb book.
By all means, this book turned out to be a huge disappointment.

Se the astonishing book-trailer below (I would watch that movie):

The Hollow Moon

Title: The Hollow Moon
Series: Aoleon The Martian Girl #3
Author: Brent LeVasseur
Genre: Children’s science fiction
Publisher: Aoléon Press
Publishing date: February 8th, 2015
ISBN: 9780986208232

Synopsis: Gilbert finally gets his chance to learn to skyboard. However, things go horribly wrong and they are chased by the Royal Paladin guard.

My Review:

This is the third installment in the book-series, and all though there is much more action in this one I found myself loosing interest. It is a perfectly fine story, but it did no captivate me in any way. The artwork is still fine, and it is a story that promotes a kick-ass female superhero, which is great. The overall story still lacks direction, which is one of the reasons I feel like I’m losing touch with this story. The good thing about this story is the characters, it is easy to care and fear for them. Another positive thing is that the speed picked up, and the story unfolds faster than in the previous one. There are two more books in the series and I hope the last two books will provide more sense of purpose.

Author info:

Mr. LeVasseur enjoys crafting good stories based on lovable characters designed to translate well to multiple media formats such as books, games, movies, and toys.
He lives in New York when he is not commuting between Southern California and Olympus Mons, Mars. His hobbies include writing, 3D animation, musical composition, and intergalactic space travel.
He also enjoys various sports such as skiing, running, and exospheric skydiving.

A brush with Danger

Title: A Brush with Danger
Author: Adam Frost
Genre: Children’s fiction
Publisher: Little Tiger Group Stripes Publishing
Publishing date: 6th July, 2015
ISBN: 9781847156167

Synopsis:Solving Crime in Record Time! A priceless painting, a mysterious letter, a piece of cheese so stinky it’s deadly… From the art galleries of Paris to the palaces of Moscow, detective Wily Fox is on the trail of Dimitri Gottabottomitch. But the brown bear is doing whatever he can to throw Wily off the scent. Can Wily solve the case of the priceless painting or will he be the victim of an art attack?

My Review:

This is a children’s book that’s party illustrated. It has large text which makes it easy to read. The story is interesting and engaging, and not too scary. The pace is quick so the reader won’t get bored, and it follows the main plot closely.
The story is relatable and the story is very suitable for any gender. Also it would be the ideal book for the young readers to read on their own.

Taking Chances

Title: Taking Chances
Series: Timber Ridge Riders #7
Author: Maggie Dana
Publisher: Pageworks Press
Publishing date: April 7th, 2015
ISBN: 9780985150464
Purchase Link: Amazon.co.uk

Synopsis: Kate McGregor and her best friend, Holly Chapman, are swapping horses until Kate qualifies for the big show in April. But just as Kate is getting to really know Holly’s gelding, Magician, a flashy new horse shows up at the barn. He captures the heart of everyone except his owner and sends Kate’s plans tumbling into free fall. So does Brad Piretti, the local snowboarding star. He invites Kate to go skiing, and Kate takes yet another unexpected tumble.

My Review:
This is the third book in the series I review, and they have all been rather enjoyable. All the small adventures Kate and her friend Holly get up to are varied and realistic. They are both love horses and the storyline is neatly tied up to the barn Timber Ridge. Up until this book the story has mostly been focused on the girls and their horses, as well as trouble cast in by the antagonist Angela. In Taking Chances, it started to be more about Kate and boys. In earlier books the “normal teenage life with school and boys and drama has been featured but in “Taking Chances” it seemed to be more prolific than the horses and the story going on there.
The story was again lighthearted and easy to follow. It was a short story and a very quick read, but a good length for a Middle Grade novel. The girls again was faced with some horse related trouble when Kate hurt her knee skiing, which might result in her being unable to qualify for a big horse show. Due to the injury, Kate has been banned for riding until the February, but the horse show she need to compete in is in late January. Holly is convinced that Kate will be well enough to ride by the time the horse show takes place, and together the two girls tries to find out how Kate can compete without Holly’s mother finding out. Also the antagonist, Angela shows a more three-dimensional character in this book when Kate helps her with a problem with her new horse.