Well I hope you haven’t been filling up on lots of nutritional reading recently, because the shelf denizens and I have a whole WEEK’S worth of Double-Dip reviews to satiate your cravings. Today we will be looking at two new release, middle grade, illustrated chapter books (and will have a giveaway to boot!), then on Friday we’ll move on to some delightfully subversive picture books, followed by short story collections on Monday, and rounding out the smorgasbord with adult fantasy fiction this time next week.
Excited? Hungry for good reading experiences? Then let’s get to it!
(You’re wondering about the giveaway, aren’t you? Just read on and it will all become clear!)
First up we have Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania Del Rio and Will Staehle, which we received from the publisher via Netgalley. Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
Meet Warren the 13th, a cursed 12-year-old Victorian bellhop who’s terribly unlucky . . . yet perpetually optimistic, hard-working, and curious. Orphan Warren’s pride and joy is his family’s hotel, but he’s been miserable ever since his evil Aunt Anaconda took over the management. Anaconda believes a mysterious treasure known as the All-Seeing Eye is hidden somewhere on the grounds, and she’ll do anything to find it. If Warren wants to preserve his family’s legacy, he’ll need to find the treasure first—if the hotel’s many strange and wacky guests don’t beat him to it! This middle-grade adventure features gorgeous two-color illustrations on every page and a lavish two-column Victorian design that will pull young readers into a spooky and delightful mystery.
Dip into it for…
…an unexpectedly charming main character, a hotel full of adventure and some serious double-crossing. The book is also illustrated which adds atmosphere to the kookiness of Warren’s hotel. This is a book for the sleuths and problem-solvers, who will delight in uncovering Warren’s family secrets along with the protagonists and peeling back the layers of a very mysterious quest. Those who resonate with a downtrodden main character will alternately shake fists at the machinations and rejoice at the foiling of nasty Aunt Anaconda, who is hiding more than just a severe dislike for Warren. My favourite character was Sketchy – I won’t spoil it for you, but Sketchy is a character that you would certainly not expect to find in the basement of a reputable establishment.
Don’t dip if…
…you’re after a straightforward mystery. This book is replete with twists, turns, characters hiding their true colours and a plethora of family secrets that will keep the reader guessing throughout.
Overall Dip Factor
Warren the 13th proves the idea that you don’t have to be pretty to be a hero. While the concept of the story is one we’ve seen many times before, the execution is original and kids who enjoy quirky characters and unexpected plot twists will want to jump in right alongside Warren as he hunts down the All-Seeing Eye – whatever it happens to be.
Now onto a new release AUSSIE early chapter book, Bella and the Wandering House by Meg McKinlay, a copy of which was kindly provided to us by Fremantle Press. The self-same copy will be available for you to WIN, provided you keep reading to find out how to enter the giveaway. Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
Bella is very surprised one morning to discover her house has moved in the night – not a lot, just a little. Her parents are too busy to notice, but even they can’t pretend it’s not happening when they wake up to find their house on the banks of a lake. Night after night the house moves and the family wakes to a new location. Unless Bella can solve the mystery, who knows where they’ll end up?
…a charming and memorable little tale that holds at its heart themes of grief, loss and the bonds between generations. Unmentioned in the blurb, strangely, is the relationship between Bella and her grandfather, which features largely throughout the whole story and ultimately feeds into the satisfying resolution of the wandering house problem. McKinlay has a delightful way with words and I couldn’t help but giggle at the description of the house’s long, skinny legs – helped along by the gangly, awkward image in one of the illustrations. For some reason, I expected a walking house to have either a stout pair of clomping feet or chicken legs, but I enjoyed the choice of lower limb here. I also loved how determined Bella’s parents were to get to work every day, despite where the house ended up – surely most true-blue Aussies would take a wandering house as an excuse to bludge off work, but not these two!
Don’t dip if…
…you’re after an action-packed adventure story or something to do with magic and mystery. This is a gentle story, simply told and while the house’s movements are quite amusing, it is also obvious that there is an underlying restlessness driving the plot that is reflected in the worries of the characters.
Overall Dip Factor
Bella and the Wandering House is a heartwarming story that is more complex than it appears. While young readers will enjoy the fun of having a walking house, adult readers will appreciate the subtle themes about the importance of choice when recovering from difficult circumstances. Reminiscent of the work of that other Aussie kidlit genius, Glenda Millard, and the mix of adventure and focus on relationships found in Eva Ibbotson’s books, Bella and the Wandering House would make a great pre-bedtime serial read for grown-ups and their mini-fleshlings, or a quick, satisfying read for independent readers who like contemporary stories with a twist of magical realism. It would also be the perfect stocking stuffer for adult readers dreaming of a seachange!
One of you lucky readers will receive my copy of Bella and the Wandering House – thanks to Fremantle Press for providing the copy! The giveaway is open internationally and will be open from the moment this post goes live (NOW!) until midnight on Friday the 4th of December, 2015 (Brisbane time!).
To enter, simply comment on this post and answer this question: “What important thing of yours has gone wandering at an inopportune moment?”
One winner from the applicable comments will be chosen by a random number generator, and will have 48 hours to respond to a congratulatory email before a new winner is selected.
I hope this bite-sized snack of middle grade fiction has whet your appetite for more Double-Dip reviews! Stay tuned for double the literary goodness this week.
Until next time,