Review 5 star
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Jolly Time Books: Kelly’s Adventures 1-3 Boxed Set is a collection of three short novels for children by Karen S. McGowan and Dennis E. McGowan. It’s about a girl named Lizzy Jolly, who lives with her brother, her quirky parents, and—most important—a short-haired dachshund named Kelly. Lizzy starts out very insecure, feeling bullied at school, but after her family moves near Washington D.C. she starts an exciting life learning piano, becoming student council vice-president, and touring the White House. Along the way she hangs out with friends, gets good guidance from teachers, and loves her cute, trouble-making dog to distraction.
Jolly Time Books: Kelly’s Adventures Boxed Set is a really fun set of books! It offers a lot of laughs, a pair of amusing parents that just had me chuckling my way through the pages, and a thrilling conclusion of a hiking trip gone wrong that turned this sweet tale into an exciting adventure story at the last minute. Although Lizzy narrates how she feels, with a sincere tone that made her seem exactly like any girl you know, the many pictures of Kelly the dog serenely doing a variety of little activities emphasized that this dog is the central identity of the family. She brings out things about each family member and if they have relationships—good or bad—going on with each other or with anyone else, Kelly is sure to bring that out. There are no secrets in the Jolly family, thanks to Kelly, and the openness and tone of gentle humor in this leisurely paced book is something children can appreciate. Karen S. McGowan and Dennis E. McGowan are good at entertaining kids.
Review 5 star
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The Tiara Mystery by Karen Meyer is a children’s historical novel set in 1880s Dayton, Ohio. Young Claire Russell is heartbroken by the possible eviction of her family from their lovely home, which serves as a small boarding-house. With the assistance of dashing Orville Wright, Claire, her brother Reuben, and their friends put on a play to earn money to pay off their father’s debts. But the imaginary mystery in the play’s plot is soon overshadowed by a real one. Things keeps disappearing from the house. Mysterious noises abound in the night. Claire’s cat goes missing one evening. With the future uncertain and the fate of her family and their boarders up in the air, can Claire learn to trust God and find out who’s really behind all this?
An introduction to the 1880s for children doesn’t get any better than this. It’s rare to find a historical book that nails research and entertainment equally well, but Karen Meyer has done that and more in The Tiara Mystery. The story’s effortlessness made me feel like I’d stepped into 19th century America for a day, experiencing the accurately shown world of Dayton, Ohio that Claire and her circle lived in. But the mystery didn’t lag behind the solid facts and the endearing set of characters, each perfectly placed against a structured, naturally developed plot, built the Russell family and their boarders (the elegant German Countess, the prim schoolteacher Miss Green, the bullying Mr. Drummond with his surprise flair for acting, and the rest) into a fun, absolutely real set of people. This is a book I’d pick up more than once and be sure to pass around as well.
This is the companion for Sarah Scheele's newsletter blog. In it I share reviews for books I'd recommend/are similar to my own.