There weren’t many in the book that I rated at five stars, most of them were fours. I really loved In the Middle Gray by Valerie Hunter. It’s about a tinker team of brother and sister, and how family supports each other. It just felt special. Magical. After the Fall by Mike Baretta was a gorgeous, touching tale of a girl using science to create something to remember her mother by. My final highly rated one was Leaves, Trees, and Other Scary Things by Leandra Wallace. This was about a world where whenever there’s a certain amount of greenery, the ‘forest dwellers’ can take over and attack. It’s a side note, though, to the friendship that develops between an old mechanic and a young girl he ropes into helping.
My favorite line from the whole book – and one I think that will impact some children- is:
“But sometimes things aren’t as black and white as we’d like them to be. Maybe we just have to get used to living in the middle gray.” – In the Middle Gray by Valerie Hunter
The three stories that had different abled characters were Blaze of Glory Shoes by Brandon Crilly, Builders for the Future by Salena Casha, and The Biting Sands by Doug C. Souza. My favorite of these three were Blaze of Glory Shoes. I liked how the blind boy plays an active part in saving their lives even though even his best friend basically assumes him to be a liability most of the time.
Those with a bit of a naughty streak in them will find a few stories in here that they’ll relate to. The Robot Did It by Nancy Cress, and I Will Not by R.W.W. Greene being the primary examples. Especially I Will Not. It’s also the shortest entry in the book, I believe.
The rest of the stories were mostly entertaining, but fairly unremarkable. Though I do have to mention that Terror on Terra 5 by Maggie Allen has the best examples of a truly alien world in the book. I so wanted to know more! There were only two that I didn’t particularly care for. One because it was a re-telling of Baba Yaga that just didn’t appeal, and the other, about three cities, just felt like it was an awkward fit.
There’s a reference to animal copulation (from a dog’s point of view) that made me splutter. It wasn’t graphic and was just a one liner, but I was not expecting to find it in this book. With the dog getting laid aside, Man’s Best Friend by Bruce Golden deals with death, and is a bit sad but it’s a good read.
Overall, the 2017 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide is a good read for anyone who enjoys their sci-fi in bite-sized pieces. The anthology is well put together and flows very smoothly. Their ending story is a nearly perfect choice. I’ll definitely be looking for more editions of the Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide in the future.