Deborah and James Howe (Juvenile Fiction)
Who would have thought that a seemingly innocent rabbit found in a movie theater would turn a happy family upside down…and possibly threaten the world? Chester, that’s who. The Monroe’s family cat knew the instant that snuggly bunny entered their home that something was definitely not right. Harold, the family dog, was clueless and Mr. and Mrs. Monroe and their two boys were no help at all. No. It was up to him and him alone to expose this furry fraud for who he really was. Soon, Chester would make his discovery known to all since the clues were all coming together: the nocturnal sleeping habits, the drained vegetables, the Houdini-like talents of escapism, the FANGS! Come on! Why is he the ONLY ONE WHO SEES IT? Well, cats are far more intelligent. Thankfully, Chester has a plan, but can he make it work in time to save his family and everyone on the planet?
Bunnicula is a harmless and hilarious way to get your young reader into the Halloween spirit. FAR more benign and innocuous than The Witches by Roald Dahl (reviewed on October 9), the antics of Chester and Harold are entertaining and lighthearted. Perhaps the only scary thing about this book is the cover (an adorable rabbit with red eyes and fangs? Yikes!). And, if your youngster wants more fun with the Monroe pets, Howe provides fans with six more books in the Bunnicula series. Hare-ray!
So, hide your vegetables, put your garlic necklace on, and prepare yourself for some hare-raising fun with the most adorable vampire you’re likely to ever meet.
* Book cover image attributed to http://www.amazon.com
A Finder’s Magic
Philippa Pearce (Juvenile Fantasy)
Till goes to bed in despair and wakes up desperate. So deep is his desperation that you can see it in his dreams. And one night, someone does see it. That someone is a Finder. A Finder that promises Till that he will help him find his beloved lost dog, Bess (for it is her absence that leads to all this unfortunate desperateness). But finding Bess isn’t easy. Clues need to be found, witnesses questioned, and leads followed. Leads that point to a stranger, a thin line of light, and a nursery rhyme.
This book has a rather interesting backstory. Pearce wrote this book for her two grandsons and it was illustrated by the children’s other grandmother, Helen Craig. The main character’s name is an anagram of the two grandson’s names put together (Nat and Will) giving us Tillawn or Till for short. Unfortunately, Pearce died before Craig began illustrating this book and was therefore deprived of seeing the beautiful book that their combined efforts produced.
Pearce gives young readers a wonderful tale of magic, mystery, and mischief. The story deals with issues of loss and trust and tackles both with charm and humor. After the book is finished, parents might want to remind their young reader that this is a fantasy book and, under ordinary circumstances, it is never appropriate to go running off with a stranger, especially one who offers to help you find your dog.
In the end, through all the questioning and searching and worrying, Finder gives Till something that replaces his desperation. He gives him hope and although it’s not what Till wants, it’s what he needs and at that moment, hope is enough.
* Book cover image attributed to www.goodreads.com
The Westing Game
Ellen Raskin (Juvenile Mystery)
After missing for 13 years, millionaire industrialist Sam Westing is discovered dead in his bed. Sixteen letters are hand delivered to each heir of his $200 million estate, thus setting in motion a most frantic and fantastic game. The rules of Sam Westing’s game are simple: heirs compete in teams of two and, by using a unique set of clues, attempt to be the first to discover the identity of Westing’s killer. The catch? The murderer is one of them!
So begins Raskin’s classic mystery thriller that bombards readers with burglars, bombers, and bizarre characters. The book’s initial pace allows readers to comfortably become acquainted with each character (16 is a lot to keep track of!) before zipping along at a whirlwind pace as situations become more perilous and characters grow more desperate to claim the coveted Westing Game prize. Raskin gives us a whodunit that is a delightful, witty, and suspenseful read for any age. Are you ready to play?
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