Book Review: Stop Feedin' da Boids! by James Sage, Pierre Pratt

Stop Feedin' da Boids! is a picture book written by James Sage and illustrated by Pierre Pratt. When Swanda first moves to Brooklyn from the country, she misses the wildlife she left behind. But not for long. Swanda notices all the pigeons outside her apartment and decides that they need a bird feeder of their own. It is fun to watch the pigeons flock to the feeder, at first. But then more arrive, and then more, and more. Before she knows it, there are way too many pigeons! Swanda seeks some help from a few experts; a pest control officer, the keeper of birds at the city zoo, and an exotic bird fancier from Peru but that gets her nowhere. So her neighbors step in with their own solution. 

Stop Feedin' da Boids! is a fun picturebook that tells what could happen when a nature-loving girl meets city birds. The artwork is bright and adds detail and an additional layer of humor to the story. Readers get to see Swanda's good intentions, and the unintentional chaos that her actions cause. I loved that the story shows both the good heart and desire to help, as well as the need to think about the bigger picture and that doing a little research before try to help might be a good thing. 
Stop Feedin' da Boids! is a funny book for sharing one on one or in a group read aloud setting. While it is great fun and humorous, it would also work as an introduction to social studies lessons on the differences of communities and dialects or a discussion about how animals adapt to live in cities. 

Book Review: Dog with a Bone (Black Dog) by Hailey Edwards

Dog with a Bone is the first book in the Black Dog series by Hailey Edwards. Half-bloods with Thierry’s skill set are given two options. They can join the conclave’s marshal program, or they can pack their bags. Turn down the job offer, and you’ve just shredded your residency pass for the mortal realm and booked yourself a one-way ticket to Faerie. Texas is the only home Thierry has ever known, and she’s not going anywhere. Even if it means following in her notorious father’s footsteps as a peacekeeper. But pinning on the badge opens her eyes to the fact sometimes fae need protection too, and that sometimes humans are the real monsters.
Dog with a Bone is an urban fantasy that breaks the mold a little. I have seen the idea of supernaturals policing their own, but had not seen Thierry's particular flavor of creature (which is only partially explained) before. That alone intrigued me. I found Thierry to be capable, strong, and smart; with enough insecurity in her abilities and power to make her real to me. I liked the chemistry between Thierry and her partner- as well as the groundwork laid down with the Marshals and her friends.  I think that this series has a lot of potential, and I do hope to keep reading. I not only want to see where the next case takes Thierry, I also want to learn more about the fae (including Thierry) and world that this particular series takes place in. The balance between information given, hinted at, and left out hit the perfect balance to intrigue but not annoy urban fantasy fans- which will keep them interested and reading. 

Dog with a Bone is the great start to a series. It left me with one mystery solved, and plenty more to think about as the book ended. I was not thrilled with the teaser ending, but completely understand why it was done. I will pick up the following books if I run across them, unfortunately my current reading list is too long to include it on my "looking for" list.

Book Review: Ninja Plants: Survival and Adaptation in the Plant World by Wiley Blevins

Ninja Plants: Survival and Adaptation in the Plant World by Wiley Blevins is a non fiction book for children and adults. What can communicate but has no mouth, and can attack but has no hands? A plant! You might love the beauty and fragrance of flowers, but plants are far more complex than meets the eye. Some plants have ways of luring insects for pollination. Others mimic the look of the female insects whose male counterparts they want to attract. The Venus flytrap eats insects and other small animals for extra nourishment. You might see some of these ninja plants with their sneaky and deceitful ways in your own backyard. These plants might even be sitting on a windowsill in your home. This fascinating world of ninja plants is waiting to be discovered.

Ninja Plants: Survival and Adaptation in the Plant World is a well-written and organized book that informs and entertains. I have always been fascinated by plants, the more unusual the better. This book feed that curiosity and taught be a few new things along the way. I think it is fairly text heavy, but there are some stunning images through out the pages to break up the information. The text and images were interesting and informative- holding my interest and exploring the wide variety of plants around the world that have adapted in dangerous and amazing ways to survive. I really enjoyed the conclusion, and think it a valuable read. 

Due to the amount and difficulty of the text I think  Ninja Plants: Survival and Adaptation in the Plant World would be best suited for middle grade or older readers. Younger readers that are advanced or very interested in the material would be engaged and enjoy the read as well. There are some very interesting, sometimes funny or gross, bits of information that will keep the motivated or engaged reader turning the pages and reading. A good resource and read for school and public libraries. 

Book Review: Everafter Vol 1: The Pandora Protocol (Everafter: From the Pages of Fables #1) by Lilah Sturges, Dave Justus, Travis Moore, Tula Lotay

Everafter Vol 1: The Pandora Protocol by Lilah Sturges, Dave Justus, Travis Moore, and Tula Lotay is a graphic novel that collects issues 1-6 of  Everafter: From the Pages of Fables. In a post-Fables world where magic abounds, it can be wielded for the greater good or used to plant the seeds of anarchy and terrorism. The Shadow Players are a global network of agents--both Fable and mundane--tasked with policing a newly enchanted world and protecting humanity from itself. Everafter features the return of series favorites Bo Peep, Peter Piper, Hansel, and Connor Wolf, as well as exciting new characters and a terrifying new villain! 

The Pandora Protocol has the stunning artwork and engaging story that I fully expect from this team of writers and artists. I liked the Shadow Players angle, and the several twists and turn abouts that thread through the entire volume. I simply adored the art style and color- it added so much detail and life to the story. I think that Connor Wolf will be one of my new favorite players in the new story, and that I will now start reading again- filling in my non-existent reading time by returning to the world of Fables. 

The Pandora Protocol is a great new addition to the Fables legacy. Even though I missed far too many stories from the Fables world for my liking I really enjoyed returning to it and did not feel left behind because of my lack of reading history. A win for newcomers and seasoned fans alike. 

Book Review: Spork by Kyo Maclear, Isabelle Arsenault

Spork is a picturebook written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. I knew I had read the book before, but I loved it so much that I had to reread with my daughter and review. 

His mum is a spoon. His dad is a fork. And he's a bit of both. He's Spork!Spork sticks out in the regimented world of the cutlery drawer. The spoons think he's too pointy, while the forks find him too round. He never gets chosen to be at the table at mealtimes until one day a very messy ... thing arrives in the kitchen who has never heard of cutlery customs. Will Spork finally find his place at the table?

Spork is a book about wanting to fit in, and having a hard time finding your place. Spork wants to have a place among the other cutlery- but his differences seem to make him useless until a new person sits at the table. I think this is a wonderful book to spark discussion and more about individuality, identity, and diversity. Whether in terms of heritage, ability, or any other way people feel different or other in a negative way, this book can help the ones feeling left out or unimportant, and those that need or want to have more empathy for other people. Just because we do not see our purpose, or what difference we will have in the world, that does not mean that we never will. The waiting and searching for that place, purpose, or meaning can be painful- but ever person (or piece of cutlery) have a reason for being exactly who the are and those differences are what make life so interesting. The artwork is high energy and helps bring the emotion and meaning of the book a little closer to the reader. This is a must read, and a must have for school and public library collections. 

Book Review: Shattered Warrior by Sharon Shinn, Molly Knox Ostertag

Shattered Warrior is a graphic novel written by Sharon Shinn and illustrated by Molly Knox Ostertag.  It is ten years after Colleen Cavanaugh's home world was invaded by the Derichets, a tyrannical alien race bent on exploiting the planet's mineral resources.  Most of her family died in the war, and she now lives alone in the city. Aside from her acquaintances at the factory where she toils for the Derichets, Colleen makes a single friend in Jann, a member of the violent group of rebels known as the Chromatti. One day Colleen receives shocking news: her niece Lucy is alive and in need of her help. Together, Colleen, Jann, and Lucy create their own tenuous family. But Colleen must decide if it's worth risking all of their survival to join a growing underground revolution against the Derichets. 

Shattered Warrior is a graphic novel that begins as a story about survival and struggles in a world as a second class citizen. I liked Colleen's resilience and strength- and while she is not afraid of taking risks for what she deems the greater good she is not overly reckless. I liked the character development and the extended cast of supporting characters. I think the us verses them was a little too easy- even though there were good and bad people among every group in the book, the Colleen and the resistance too easily dubbed the Derichets as worthy of death. While that might have been for effect- the current political climate makes me a little too sensitive to this kind of attitude. Although, it could very well have been part of the author's intention to open people's eyes to the dangers of this kind of attitude I have found those with that mindset see nothing wrong with that idea and would take this as further validation. 

Shattered Warrior is a thought provoking graphic novel, but I think there are issues that could have been further or better explored. The artwork, characters, and conflicts are well done and interesting. It was a good graphic novel, I just thought that it could have been even better and was hoping for more.

Book Review: Stitched #1 by Mariah Mccourt, Aaron Alexovich

Stitched #1 is a middle grade graphic novel by Mariah Mccourt and Aaron Alexovich. The story opens with a patchwork girl waking up in a crypt with no idea of who, where, or what she is. Welcome to the Cemetery of Assumptions, a vast landscape of stones, mausoleums, and secrets. Home to monsters and mayhem, it may also hold the answers to her unknown parentage. Crimson is a resourceful patchwork girl and determined to those answers. Along the way, she meets the mysterious Wisteria, who has a tendency to change and a witch named Parameter whose spells tend to go awry. And two boys, Simon and Quinton, who make her feel something besides lost and confused. She must battle ghosts, zombies, and monsters in order to learn where she came from and who her real "mother" is. But will she do it alone, or will she have help from her new friends and unexpected crushes?

Stitched #1 is an interesting story with a fun and unique twist. I liked the characters, particularly Crimson and Wisteria. I also enjoyed the setting and the complications found in the haunted house. I think the entire cast of characters was well done and I liked that no character was all good or bad, they were flawed characters with flaws and insecurities- which makes them more real in my opinion. I really enjoyed the artwork, and the atmosphere of the story. It worked well for me. The only thing I did not like was the crushes and love interest sub stories. I think it was unnecessary, and I would have preferred more of a friendship focus, regardless of gender, at least a bit longer before resorting to romantic ground laying for future volumes. It did not ruin the story, I just felt that it watered down the goodness of the setting and characters. It would have felt more solid and had me more enthusiastic had Crimson thought more about her missing memories and evolving friendships than how 'cute' the guys around her were. I just think that it is too hard already to find good books without romance or the groundwork for it, while it may be more important in the plot for future volumes, it was just unnecessary adornment here.

Stitched #1 is a fun and has sweet but creepy elements that will appeal to a number of readers. I enjoyed the artwork and story and am hoping to see more from this series.

Book Review: Discovering Princeton: A Photographic Guide with Five Walking Tours by Wiebke Martens, Jennifer Jang

Discovering Princeton: A Photographic Guide with Five Walking Tours by Wiebke Martens and Jennifer Jang is a photographic guide featuring five fully illustrated walking tours of the charming New Jersey town with seventeenth-century roots and the renowned university at its core. It explores the heart of Princeton University as well as its more modern sections; downtown Princeton, including some of its oldest neighborhoods; and the campuses of Princeton Theological Seminary and the Institute for Advanced Study. Each walk highlights the town's rich history, varied architecture, and a multitude of local attractions, ranging from museums and theaters to parks and playgrounds. For those who want to roam a bit farther, a host of ideas for short outings and longer excursions in the greater Princeton area are included.
Discovering Princeton: A Photographic Guide with Five Walking Tours is a visual interesting and informative book about the history and features of Princeton and the surrounding area. The walking tour guides and information about how and why specific buildings came to be, and how things have changed over the years was interesting and well organized. I enjoyed the look at the school, its buildings. The full-page images paired with informative captions make this guidebook something that will appeal to locals, guests and the families of potential students or alumni.  I think the ideas for further excursions in the surrounding areas were particularly useful. The only downside is that much of the architecture and landscaping looks similar to other large universities- so as someone that has worked at or visited prestigious schools on a regular basis I found the images to be less interesting and unique than others that actually have a connection to Princeton. Too many colleges and universities have similar architecture, which means that the target audience for the book is very limited- but for those with a personal connection to Princeton and the area will certainly love it.

Book Review: Argyle Fox by Marie Letourneau

Argyle Fox is a picturebook by Marie Letourneau. Argyle Fox, with his signature style, wants to play outside on a springtime day, but the wind is wreaking havoc with his fun and games. As soon as he builds a card tower, climbs into a giant spider web, or takes up his pirate sword, here comes the wind: Woosh! Mama Fox tells grumpy Argyle that if he thinks long enough, he will come up with something to do. Following his mother’s suggestion and inspired by her knitting, he works all the pieces of his day together and creates the perfect solution.

Argyle Fox is the story of a young fox determined to play outside, but the wind is making his favorite games impossible to play. I like that he has so many ready options, and that he is willing to keep trying. I was a little annoyed at the need for all the crazy cool props that Fox had to play with, rather than the use of pure imagination and playing with friends. HOwever, when he finally gets around to his final activity attempt he uses some of those props to build his new springtime toy. I understand that he needed some of that stuff to make that possible, and that it made his previous play attempts that much more heartfelt, but I still would have liked more imagination and less costume. That being said, I still loved the book and wish I had some of thase play props when I was a kid.

Argyle Fox is  a well drawn picturebook with a nice blend of imagination, lesson sharing, and fun. I love the message about creative thinking and the need to keep on trying. I think it would make a nice addition to school and public library collections.

Book Review: Batgirl Vol. 1 (Rebirth) Beyond Burnside by Hope Larson

Batgirl Volume 1 (Rebirth) Beyond Burnside by Hope Larson collects issues one through six. Barbara Gordon’s heart belongs to Burnside, the ultra-hip Gotham City neighborhood. But some threats are bigger than Burnside. And when those threats come calling, Batgirl will answer! When Babs plans a trip to train with the greatest fighters in the Far East, she has no idea her vigilante life will follow her. Lethal warriors are out to take her down, each bearing the mysterious mark of “The Student.” And where there are Students, there must also be…a Teacher. Batgirl’s quest to track down her enemies’ master will take her from Okinawa to Singapore to Seoul to Shanghai. Along the way, she’ll enhance her martial arts skills, and meet legendary heroes. 
Beyond Burnside takes place before the Birds of Prey story in the Rebirth story cycle. It is a look at Bab's past, and an interesting side story. As a fan of the idea of Batgirl, I have not read much about her aside from where she appears in other character's comics as a supporting character. This was a good glimpse at her background, and I really enjoyed the artwork and tone of the story. Batgirl is finding herself and ready to study and improve her skills to become who and what she wants to be. The mystery part of the story was good, but I think it was the character strength and development that really made the book.  I enjoyed the read, but only wish I had already read the Birds of Prey story- and more Batgirl books. 

Beyond Burnside is a good book, and one that tells a side story that is well done and fun- but not a must read.