Monday, April 21, 2014

Book Review of "Basil and the Lost Colony"

Basil and the Lost Colony, by Eve Titus

4 stars

Description: Basil of Baker Street, that quick-witted sleuth of the world's mouseholes, is at it again! This time, he is off on a globe-trotting adventure to Switzerland to uncover the secrets of an lost colony of mice -- but he soon finds he is not the only one chasing those ancient secrets. His arch-nemesis, Professor Ratigan, has concocted another scheme for seizing brutal control of the world of mice, and will stop at nothing to beat Basil to the scene! Can the great sleuth defeat ambushes, avalanches, and even kidnapping to win the day?

Concerns: A superstition (found to be false) that the mountain-top hosts evil spirits; talk that mice may someday evolve thumbs.

Summary: The Basil of Baker Street stories are short but action-packed, and this one is no exception. There's enough of danger and mystery to capture the attention of younger kids, while older readers will have fun catching the similarities to the Sherlock Holmes stories, including the climactic waterfall duel between Ratigan and Basil himself. A easy read with plenty of twists along the way.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Book Review of "The Rebel"

The Williamsburg Years #1: The Rebel, by Nancy Rue

4 stars

Description: The American Revolution has been dragging on for years, but for young Thomas, the war seems far away. As the spoiled son of a Virginia plantation owner, Thomas does whatever he pleases -- but suddenly discovers that even a remote war can change his life! Transplanted from his posh surroundings to the mundane town of Williamsburg where he has to do horrible things called chores and schoolwork, Thomas must face his own faults if he wants to do more than just survive. In a young country still in turmoil over Loyalists versus Patriots, he has run out of time to decide who he wants to be.

Concerns: None.

Summary: Thomas has more than his share of character flaws, and this book chronicles his struggle to find his place in a world gone topsy-turvy. The historical snippets are intriguing (I liked the mysterious bottles in the apothecary shop!), the characters are great fun, and the story has a liberal sprinkling of adventure and suspense. This book is a great start to a well-written series about colonial life during the war. (The series is currently out-of-print, but discounted copies still float around online.)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Book Review of "The Champion of Merrimack County"

The Champion of Merrimack County, by Roger Drury

4 stars

Description: Whoever heard of a mouse that could ride a bicycle? Certainly not the bicycle repairman. Or the blacksmith. Or the watchmaker. Or the doctor. Or the dentist! But all of these folks are roped into helping fix the damage when an extraordinary mouse who CAN ride a bicycle takes a spectacular crash in young Janet Berryfield's bathtub! Will this unlikely collection of fix-its be able to repair the embarrassed mouse's bicycle and dislocated tail before the championship race? And what will happen when professional mice exterminators are called in by Janet's unsuspecting father?

Concerns: The Dad is the grouchy "villain" of the story, which is annoying.

Summary: An un-apologetically silly romp through the shops, medical offices, and bathtubs (!) of Merrimack county, this little tale is both amusing and intriguing -- and it must be admitted, the death-defying bicycle rides around the rim of the bathtub sound wonderfully exciting! If you've read and enjoyed anything by Dick King-Smith (Babe, Smasher, A Mouse called Wolf, etc.), you'll love this one. So fly me to Jupiter on a bumblebee, let's go!