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MADreads

Book reviews by library staff and guest contributors

Art comes to life

Cover of Anna at the Art Museum
A review of Anna at the Art Museum by Hazel Hutchins
Anna is BORED. The museum is full of stuffy art, and all the fun things one can do to stay occupied - like climbing on the kids stuff, and eating one's afternoon snack - are strictly forbidden and enforced by the museum security guard. But then Anna is let in on a little secret at the museum, and everything changes. 
 
Nov 18, 2020

Sleepwalking into danger

Cover of The Girl from Widow Hills
A review of The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda

Arden Maynor was six years old when she wandered away from home in the middle of the night. A terrible storm with flooding rain swept her away without a trace resulting in a massive community search. Days later she was found hanging onto a storm drain grate from inside an old mining tunnel and after a harrowing ordeal, finally rescued. She was horribly injured, dehydrated and unable to recall how she got there.

Nov 16, 2020

All Aboard for Fun!

Cover of Old Tracks, New Tricks
A review of Old Tracks, New Tricks by Jessica Peterson

Wooden train tracks are good for more than just trains, and this story proves it. It's told in rhyme, with a combination of text boxes and word balloons, and illustrated with colorful photos. The train tracks and toy trains themselves can speak, and the tracks prove to the trains that they have lots of different uses. There's a bonus section at the end showing how you, too, can recreate the fun experiences shown in the book. This is a great STEM read that should inspire lots of play and creativity.

Nov 13, 2020

Ho, ho, ho, deja' vu

Cover of In a Holidaze
A review of In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

Tradition means a lot to Maelyn Jones, especially the annual Christmas gathering with her ‘chosen’ family, along with her parents and brother, in Christina Lauren’s holiday romance In a Holidaze. Gathering at the Park City, Utah cabin has been a constant even through her parents’ divorce, the upheaval of cross-country moves and the shifting relationships. And then there’s Theo and Andrew.

Nov 11, 2020

Her moment to shine

Cover of The Other Bennet Sister
A review of The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow

Jane Austen (like Arthur Conan Doyle) has had her books and characters re-imagined more times then I could possibly count. And for me I think, the retellings and re-imaginings of Jane Austen's books and characters have more often been a miss then hit. The Other Bennet Sister is that rare thing for me, not only a hit, but one that has been knocked out of the park. The titular sister is the one most often overlooked, middle-sister Mary. Granted I've always had a soft spot for the socially awkward, stern Mary, so to say I was sympathetic from the start is fair.

Nov 9, 2020

Alligators, bears, and chickens, oh my!

Cover of Little Red Cat Who Ran Awa
A review of Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned his ABC's (the Hard Way) by Patrick McDonnell

Grab your running shoes - we are off!  A little red cat sees an open front door, runs out, and the adventure begins. He is chased by an alligator, then a bear and a chicken - in that order. This nearly wordless book it so much fun on a couple of different levels. Each page has a letter, both the upper and lower case, and a delightful picture the relates to the letter. The reader has to figure out what word is being illustrated. But your job is not done there, you also have to figure out the plot of the book. Plot in an ABC book? Yes, there is a definite story to this book.

Nov 6, 2020

The cost of solitude

Cover of The Stranger in the Woods:
A review of The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel

What a discussion this book makes. One mention of the Maine Hermit and people are either outraged or enthralled. I'm relatively enthralled, not with the Maine Hermit per se, but with the details shared in this book. There is great investigative writing here, and interesting historical research. The story and details of a man who hid out in the Maine woods for more than 27 years without getting caught or sick or eaten by a bear is a compelling one, to say the least. 

Nov 4, 2020

Something strange on the morning commute

Cover of The Haunting of Tram Car 0
A review of The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djeli Clark

Something is very wrong with tram car 015. Unlike the other trams that wiz above Cairo’s bustling streets powered by djinn magic, something in tram car 015 is angry, and it’s up to Agent Hamad Nasr and his new partner Onsi Youssef in The Haunting of Tram Car 015 just what that something is. It’s not the easiest of propositions: in the Cairo of 1912, it’s been decades since the power of djinn has been harnessed and turned Cairo into a world power.

Nov 2, 2020

A Very Punny Graphic Chapter Book

Cover of All Paws on Deck
A review of All Paws on Deck by Jessica Young

Haggis (a Scottish Terrier) and Tank (a Great Dane) are two very imaginative doggy friends.  They spend most of their time in a back yard, but sometimes they go on adventures in their minds.  In “All Paws on Deck” Tank decides to deck out their little red wagon as a pirate ship.  They sail off into a land of make-believe and have many adventures together!  The format for this book falls right between graphic novel (there are lots of full-color illustrations with speech bubbles) and chapter book (there are also blocks of text, though never more than a quarter of the space on a page is filled

Oct 30, 2020

Yacht rock rules

Cover of Not Like the Movies
A review of Not Like the Movies by Kerry Winfrey

It's not easy being Chloe Sanderson, especially when she's so hard on herself. It's understandable. She's been taking care of everyone since her mom left when she was in fourth grade. She's working, putting herself through business school, providing for her dad's care in an Alzheimer's facility and trying to keep it together. So much so that she's bound to snap.

Oct 28, 2020

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