Arcade and the Golden Travel Guide by Rashad Jennings

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Arcade and the Golden Travel Guide by Rashad Jennings

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

The Triple T Token is taking Arcade, his sister, his cousins, and his friends on international adventures through time for reasons that are gradually revealed. But Arcade’s possession of the token may spell increasing danger in Arcade and the Golden Travel Guide by author Rashad Jennings.

Okay! Now that I’m two books into The Coin Slot Chronicles, I’m getting a better feel for this middle grade ChristFic fantasy series: an ongoing adventure and an unfolding mystery with lessons along the way.

As with the first book, different parts of this one were a bit slow for me, the punctuation coming out of the dialogue is incorrect in a few places, and the italics and ALL CAPS go overboard sometimes. But I love how these young characters use their brains and talents for good, learning to listen to their hearts. The read is funny and ultimately energizing, with messages about generosity, compassion, forgiveness, and more.

And yeah, after a resolution, there’s another cliffhanger ending, but I wasn’t unprepared for it this time. I’m looking forward to Book Three!

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Here’s my review of Book One in The Coin Slot Chronicles, Arcade and the Triple T Token.

 

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Karana is twelve years old when her people leave their island, but circumstances leave her behind. Her story of years of survival on her own unfolds in Island of the Blue Dolphins by author Scott O’Dell.

After recently reading and becoming engrossed in Sing Down the Moon by the same author, I decided to revisit this Newbery Medal-winning children’s classic based on true events. I remember listening to the reading of it back when I was eleven or so, but the author’s writing style didn’t do much for me back then.

So I tried again, curious to see if adulthood would give me a new appreciation for this book. As I read, it reminded me of the movie Cast Away at times, what with a lone human being fending for herself on an island: building shelter, hunting and gathering food, facing the elements and hostile wild animals, etc. And some parts here and there moved me, particularly near the beginning.

On the whole, though, this still wasn’t the most interesting book for me. Lots of solitude, very little dialogue, and although the heroine is a brave, self-reliant girl-turned-woman, I wouldn’t have stuck with this understated account about living in nature if I didn’t know it would be a quick read.

Still, because I have enjoyed one book by this author, I plan on trying at least one more.

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Here’s my review of the sequel to Karana’s story, Zia.

 

Sing Down the Moon by Scott O’Dell

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Sing Down the Moon by Scott O’Dell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

When a teenaged Navajo girl is interrupted by Spanish slavers one day while she’s shepherding sheep, it’s only the beginning of a marked change in life for her and her people in Sing Down the Moon by author Scott O’Dell.

I remember listening to the reading of another book by this author, Island of the Blue Dolphins, back when I was eleven or so in school. I was vaguely interested at the time, listening with one ear, but this author’s writing style wasn’t my thing back then.

And I’ll admit I didn’t get far the first time I tried this book some months (or a year?) ago. With the heroine’s fear of being struck down by the gods if she ever displayed too much happiness, and her early mention about once seeing her long-dead grandfather walking around on a snowy night, my openly happy self who isn’t into seeing dead relatives figured I’d have to be in a different frame of mind to give the book another try sometime.

I’m glad I gave it another try.

I likely would have thought this children’s book was boring when I was a child, but now I can appreciate this kind of understated read that has unassuming beauty and muted but strong emotion. The joy resonated with me, and I could also feel the grief and shame caused by unjust treatment and tragedy affecting the young and old in this story. I was engrossed, needing to see what would become of this heroine, and the simplicity, warmth, relief, and triumph of her last four words in the book…just wow.

I remembered some important parts of American history, I learned a little more, and this historical fiction devotee may even try Island of the Blue Dolphins again in the future.

 

New Kid by Jerry Craft

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

New Kid by Jerry Craft

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Jordan, a twelve-year-old artist, would love to go to art school, but instead his parents enroll him in a private school with top-notch academics. Jordan finds that he’s one of only a few kids of color in the seventh grade at his new school in New Kid by author Jerry Craft.

Yes. I picked this graphic novel up because of the race/diversity issue it addresses. Yes, it resonated with me in a number of places on that score, such as in a section of Jordan’s sketchbook labeled “Judging Kids by the Covers of Their Books!” Jordan’s view of mainstream books for kids versus African American books for kids—good gravy. He could’ve grabbed that right out of my brain.

Even so, this novel doesn’t get caught up in being so issue-y that it ceases to be entertaining, accessible, and inclusive. It’s a three-dimensional story that takes a look at more than one viewpoint and has much that any “new” or different person can relate to, both within and beyond schooldays and childhood/adolescence.

Jordan’s story strikes a balance between the downright hilarious parts and parts that can prick your heart or make your stomach drop. It packs in both obvious and understated genius, and what it simply leaves up to the reader’s perception and observation is as real as what it says through the characters’ speech and thought bubbles. It’s not a story that magically solves every character’s every problem, but it still wraps up in a way that’s inspiring and satisfying.

And did I mention how hilarious the novel is? I did?

It’d be hard not to take away something awesome from a book like this.