Sir_Scrap Metal by Joan Dee Wilson
Review 4 Star
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Sir_Scrap Metal is a children’s chapter book written and illustrated by Joan Dee Wilson. It’s about a robot named Sir_12.80 who is adopted by three children—two brothers, Mike, and Brady, and their younger sister Dree. The high-tech spy robot has just been mysteriously thrown from a helicopter while on a mission. He works for Agent Rouso of the Animal Preservation Agency. After being adopted and renamed Sir Scrap Metal by the children, the intelligent robot learns a new experience—that of belonging to a family instead of being only a sophisticated tool for the agency. And together they might just help Sir’s boss, Agent Rouso, find the animal smuggler he’s been looking for.
A cute and appealing book, Sir_Scrap Metal is loaded with the kinds of authentic daily details that young children enjoy, like glasses falling off and little kittens in peril. The story is perfect for family read-aloud by pretty much everyone, adults or kids, as the clear, swift-moving narrative shows the viewpoints of characters at a variety of ages. There is a lot of opportunity to have fun making little voices and accents for the characters, especially Sir Scrap Metal, whose stiff and austere diction is a strong point of the dialogue and always excellent. There’s a mystery plot that keeps the action loosely structured, but the core of the book is its simple, sweet message about a lonely mechanized creature who finds a place to feel cherished. Sir Scrap Metal is a stray who responds to the love of children in a heartwarming story that made me want to read more by Joan Dee Wilson.
Review 5 star
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Tales of Mr. Snuggywhiskers: The Summer Tales by C. F. Crawford is the 4th book in a series of reading adventures for kids. Picking up on earlier stories, this installment follows a genial talking mouse and his large, vivacious family of ten children as they team up with two human sisters, Hallie (age 8) and Cory (age 6), to reunite the girls' mother with a long-lost talking mouse, Mr. Snuggywhiskers’ father. But how can they find the elusive Cap’n Snuggwhiskers if they can’t leave home? When a visit to their mother’s old college gives the girls the chance they’re looking for, they get on the Cap’n’s trail at last.
C. F. Crawford tells a lovely story of reunion, friendship, and daily adventure. A modern-day companion to children's classics like The Wind in the Willows, Tales of Mr. Snuggywhiskers offers a great mix of relationships, ingenuity, and a little science all at the same time. Along the way they magically shrink in and out of mouse size; become living science experiments; and have a great deal of fun. The curiosity and inventiveness of the gaggle of Snuggywhiskers kids and their friends the Squirrel family echoes that of children, to whom an ordinary day is loaded with creativity. Their journey finding the long-lost Cap'n is just up the alley of young readers, and the wholesome, pleasant story makes this a solid children’s book. Populated with a delightful cast and an idyllic world for kids to explore, Tales of Mr. Snuggywhiskers is something parents will love to give their kids--and won't mind reading with them too.
Astrid's Dragon by Karen Christian
Review 5 star
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Astrid’s Dragon by Karen Christian is a delightful, humorous fantasy adventure story for about ages 6-8. Younger children can also enjoy it, even if they’re not reading yet, since it has many illustrations and is well-suited to reading aloud. Astrid, an ordinary princess, lives in an ordinary fantasy kingdom—ordinary except that it has no dragons. When a dragon swoops in unexpectedly from another kingdom, burning up half a field, everyone panics. Astrid sneaks out of the castle and finds herself kidnapped by the dragon and taken to his lair. In a series of funny, light-hearted adventures, Astrid learns the dragon is not the menace he seems—and must inform her parents before it’s too late.
As far as princesses, dragons, children, and fun go, this book was just about perfect. Parents are likely to find their kid is drawn to it repeatedly like a magnet, and the adults might enjoy it too, because it’s spontaneously addictive. It would make a great read-aloud, with a parent doing all the voices, and there’s a lot of room to improvise and entertain kids because the gentle comedy and peaceful-but-faintly-zany world of Astrid’s Dragon have plenty of layers and character development. Astrid has a lot of personality, as do her parents, the dragon Fafnir, and his hilarious, domineering mother. The story flows naturally in a bubbling stream of tension, banter, surprises, let-downs, and all-around charm until the world gains a reality hard to achieve in such a short book. I could easily read a hundred stories about Princess Astrid.
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.