Sasquatch Mini-Reviews #1

Sasquatch 2019- Part One

The Sasquatch Award is a Kid’s choice award for grades 4 through 6.  It is supported by the Washington Library Association.  Every year a group of librarian chooses 12 nominees. Kids read them through out the year and then vote for their favorite in April.  Many states run similar awards.  This will be a three part series were I give mini-reviews on the 12 books nominated for the 2019 award.  I try to read all of them every year so when students ask me about them I can have answer.  I am not always successful in getting them all done, but I’m going to try really hard this year. 

The Tapper Twins Go To War (With Each Other)

by Geoff Rodkey

Tapper Twins This brand-new series by a popular screenwriter is a pitch-perfect, contemporary comedy featuring twelve-year-old fraternal twins, Claudia and Reese, who couldn’t be more different… except in their determination to come out on top in a vicious prank war! But when the competition escalates into an all-out battle that’s fought from the cafeteria of their New York City private school all the way to the fictional universe of an online video game, the twins have to decide if their efforts to destroy each other are worth the price.

Told as a colorful “oral history” by the twins and their friends, and including photos, screenshots, chat logs, online gaming digital art, and text messages between their clueless parents, The Tapper Twins is a hilariously authentic showcase of what it’s like to be in middle school in our digitally-saturated world.

I listened to the audiobook for this one and I found it to be excellent.  They used a full cast which was perfect for this story.  The oral history part makes it a perfect candidate as audio book.  Claudia tells most of the story, but there are interviews and text messages and other things that tell the story.  It is a great story about sibling rivalry and how things can quickly spiral out of control.  Very humorous at times and some clever tactics for getting back at each.  This is one of my favorites so far. 

The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman

Evil Wizard SmallboneIn a hilarious tale reminiscent of T. H. White, a lost boy finds himself an unlikely apprentice to the very old, vaguely evil, mostly just grumpy Wizard Smallbone.

When twelve-year-old Nick runs away from his uncle’s in the middle of a blizzard, he stumbles onto a very opinionated bookstore. He also meets its guardian, the self-proclaimed Evil Wizard Smallbone, who calls Nick his apprentice and won’t let him leave, but won’t teach him magic, either. It’s a good thing the bookstore takes Nick’s magical education in hand, because Smallbone’s nemesis—the Evil Wizard Fidelou—and his pack of shape-shifting bikers are howling at the borders. Smallbone might call himself evil, but compared to Fidelou, he’s practically a puppy. And he can’t handle Fidelou alone. Wildly funny and cozily heartfelt, Delia Sherman’s latest is an eccentric fantasy adventure featuring dueling wizards, enchanted animals, and one stray boy with a surprising knack for magic. 

This is also one of my favorite so far.  It was a delightful read with quirky characters and a plot that kept you involved in wanting to find out what was going to happen next.  Nick was a great character, with a sarcastic wit and a determination to learn magic.  He is also clever and smart.  Smallbone is not as evil as he would want you to think, even though he does turn Nick into a spider, a rat and even a rock to teach him lessons.  The coyote gang is and Fidelou are the really evil ones in this tale and how Nick and Smallbone defeat him had an interesting twist that was easy to see coming. 

The Skeleton Tree Iain Lawrence

The Skeleton TreeLess than 48 hours after twelve-year-old Chris casts off on a trip to sail down the Alaskan coast with his uncle, their boat sinks. The only survivors are Chris and a boy named Frank, who hates Chris immediately. Chris and Frank have no radio, no flares, no food. Suddenly, they’ve got to find a way to forage, fish and scavenge supplies from the shore. Chris likes the company of a curious friendly raven more than he likes the prickly Frank. But the boys have to get along if they want to survive. 

Because as the days get colder, and the salmon migration ends, survival will take more than sheer force of will. There in the wilderness of Kodiak, they discover a bond they didn’t expect, and through it, the compassion and teamwork that might truly be the path to rescue.

I had mixed feelings about this one.  Mostly I had some issues with the boat part and then some of the things that go on with the bear.  But putting all of that aside this was still a riveting survival story with some magical realism mixed in.  Both Chris and Frank are solid characters with issues.  Their relationship to each other and to Chris’s uncle is slowly revealed over the course of the story. I really enjoyed the raven, Thursday, that Chris befriends, and who helps the boys out.  I also had a small issue with the ambiguous ending, even though I knew from a conversation that Chris and Frank have that that was how it was going to be, I still didn’t like.  A strong story of survival though that I think most kids will like.

The Midnight War of Mateo Martinez by Robin Yardi

The Midnight War of Mateo MartinezLife is confusing for Mateo Martinez. He and Johnny Ramirez don’t hang out anymore, even though they used to be best friends. He and his new friend Ashwin try to act like brave, old-time knights, but it only gets them in trouble. His parents keep telling him to hold his sister’s hand when crossing busy streets, even though she’s the one who always runs ahead.

And last night, two skunks stole Mateo’s old trike.

Wait—two skunks stole his trike?

Mateo is too big for that rusty kid toy. He has a cool, shiny new bike anyway. But Mateo also has a neighborhood to protect. And he’s about to begin a big, stinky quest to catch the thieves. A quest that starts in the middle of the night!

This was also a fun read about friendship, and growing up with some magical realism.  Mateo is struggling with his change in his friendships and with growing up and leaving some childhood things behind.  His voice was pretty authentic.  Ashwin was also a good solid character.  I thought it was interesting that the two of them, while not bad kids, could get into trouble when together.  Mila, Mateo’s little sister, was also well done.  She is a spitfire and will be someone to be reckoned with when she gets older.   The skunks were a hoot as well.  A really fun adventure with characters that kids will easily relate to.


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