Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Hitty: Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field

Hitty: Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field -- In the early 1800's, a peddler carves a doll for a little girl of his acquaintance out of a sturdy piece of mountain ash wood. The doll is painted and dressed and given the name Mehitabel -- Hitty, for short. Over the course of her life, Hitty travels around the world by boat, by train, and eventually by automobile in the hands of various little girls (and sometimes, briefly, boys, men, and women). A hundred years later, she ends up in an antique shop, from whence she tells her story -- but are her adventures through? Hitty doesn't think so!

I was surprised at how readable I found this book. Though Hitty's adventures are episodic, I found that the plot carried me right along, always wondering where Hitty would end up next and how she would get out of whatever scrape she found herself in. I think that, if I had read this as a child, I would have enjoyed it immensely. After all, who doesn't imagine that their toys and dolls secretly come to life when nobody is watching? However, due to several problematic depictions in the book ("red injuns," "heathen savages," and African-American families speaking in an unflattering dialect, among other things), I probably wouldn't recommend this to children today, at least, not unless they were reading it with a good deal of adult guidance.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric Kelly

The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly -- In medieval Poland, a mysterious jewel is stolen, a family is displaced, and an alchemist seeks the secret of transmuting base metals to gold. This book won the Newbery back in 1929, and I do see some distinguished elements -- the writing is good, though a little more flowery than is common these days, and there's an interesting plot if you can get through all of the descriptive bits. The characters aren't particularly fleshed out (the alchemist, a secondary character, was probably the most interesting to me). I had a hard time staying engaged with the narrative, so it took me several days to get through this book. Would I recommend it to kids today? Probably only if I had one who was really fascinated with medieval stories.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Zoe in Wonderland by Brenda Woods

When Zoe is having problems with school or siblings, her go-to spot is the Wonderland, her father's exotic plant nursery. But when faced with a snippy older sister, a sneaky younger brother, a best friend leaving on an extended visit to another town, and mean girls at school, will even the Wonderland be enough? Plus, she hears her dad and mom talking about money problems. Will they have to sell Zoe's refuge?

Despite the title, this is realistic fiction. I found the writing strong, the characters interesting, and the plot and pacing steady. I'll definitely recommend this to young readers who enjoy this sort of story.

(Reviewed from an advance copy, courtesy of the publisher.)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Audacity Jones to the rescue by Kirby Larson

Audacity Jones to the Rescue by Kirby Larson -- When feisty Audacity is chosen from among her fellow orphans for a special mission, she has dreams of making a difference in the world, but ends up entangled in a shady scheme. Can she foil the bad guys? Lucky for her, she won't have to do it alone.

A fun little historical adventure, one that will appeal to kids, but not necessarily to adult readers.

(Reviewed from an advance copy, courtesy of the publisher.)