Tag Archives: Pirates

Sarcastic Seaweed and Sea Monkeys

I have another Netgalley book to share with our readers. ¬†And this one is FANTASTIC ūüôā


Oliver and the Seawigs, by Philip Reeve; Illustrated by Sarah McIntyre

Random House Books for Young Readers, (July 22, 2014)

grade 2-5, 208 pages


This charming junior fiction book is a whimsical cleverly illustrated book that I was excited to get a chance to read.¬† Much like another of my favorite books for young readers (‚ÄúFortunetly the Milk‚ÄĚ by Neil Gaiman)¬† This book is chock full of humor, pirates, sea monkeys, sarcastic seaweed, and illustrations that add a lot to the story.¬† It looks like a long book, but it is a quick read, and is a good choice for both reluctant readers and children who enjoy adventure stories but are probably too young to read the scarier offerings out there right now.

This book never takes itself seriously, and the four main characters are wonderful.  Our hero is a ten year old boy Oliver who’s parents are the epitome of absent minded explorers.  Mr. Culpeper is a seagull with attitude.  Iris is a nearsighted mermaid, and Cliff is a small Rambling Isle.

The story has a good moral about knowing what is important and standing up to bullies no matter how fierce (because bullies are hollow inside) and like all great fairytales this one ends with a family reunited and wiser for their adventures.  This book will be on our list of books for the upcoming year and I hope everyone gets a change to enjoy it as much as I did.

A Violent Book Made for Movies

I just finished a book for Middle Graders that had been on my to do list for a while.  And I am of two minds about this graphic romp through gore and terror.  Firstly, while this book can be found in the Junior Fiction section of the library and Bookstore, I highly recommend any parent read this one first before offering it to their child despite the marketing of Grades 3-7.  8-11 might be too young for this book.

House of Secrets
House of Secrets

House of Secrets, by Chris Columbus  (Author), Ned Vizzini (Author), Greg Call (Illustrator) 

Balzer + Bray, April 2013; Grade 3-7, 496 pgs (hardback)

Ok, where to start. First, Man was that a violent, graphically so, book! And I am somewhat horrified that it is marketed to middle graders. However, the ending in a way did make up for it, but at the same time What a Cop Out!

I have read that this is a set up for a direct to movie series which is why one of the producers of the Harry Potter Movies is listed as an Author. ¬†So I am a little dubious as to weather this is really a book to be read, or just an elongated script…. ¬†But either way, I think they will be hard pressed to make this anything less than PG-13.

This book should only be given to mature older middle graders, and I am not sure teens will find much to like. There is little character development and what is there is rather two dimensional. I have said that junior fiction characters need to be rather two dimensional so I am not docking the book for its lack of character development. What upset me had more to do with the rather haphazard way the story went from one improbable impossible situation to the next with the children accumulating injuries that a hardened seal (military not the animal) would find difficult to carry on with.  And the deaths (multiple in this book) of characters in a middle grade book need to have meaning and purpose, not done simple to terrify the reader.  This is a Junior Fiction Book, not some Horror novel for adults.

Now I can’t say the next part without spoiling the ending so STOP READING IF YOU DONT WANT TO KNOW HOW IT ENDS>>>>>>

OK, a major pet peeve, even hate, of mine is any author who¬†after putting the reader (and characters) through such extreme torture and hardship would simply go “oh oops poof, everything is back to the beginning”. I mean Bob Newheart got away with it all being a dream, but it is the ultimate cop out. ¬†Paint (or write) yourself into a corner where the only possible solution is….a magical equivalent of a do over. Nothing infuriates me more. So between the violence and the ending this is only an average book.

I think boys especially will enjoy this as a rocking crazy adventure that never stops for a second. Parents please note this book talks about vivisection, torture of children, lots and lots of killing, and some very disturbing scenes including one where the oldest girl has to perform surgery on another person. ¬†And a gun that never needs to be reloaded… I think if I were a younger child this book might give me nightmares, so hand this book with care. ¬†But if your son or daughter is into action with little plot, then this book might be right up their alley.