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review 2018-07-19 23:01
Epic Summer Fun
The Cardboard Kingdom - chad sell

The Cardboard Kingdom
Illustrated by Chad Sell
Written by  Jay Fuller, David DeMeo, Katie Schenkel, Kris Moore, Manuel Betancourt, Molly Muldoon, Vid Alliger, Cloud Jacobs, Michael Cole, and Barbara Perez Marquez.


 
The Summer after fourth grade, my parents bought a refrigerator. It came in a giant cardboard box. That was the best summer ever. We had kids from all over the neighborhood come to play in our giant cardboard box. It was anything we wanted it to be and it was always fun. In today’s world of electronic instant gratification, the concept seems absurd. Why go pretend a box is a fortress when, inside a video game, you can just build a fortress that actually looks just like a fortress. I am sad for the adventures of summer that seem long gone and just thrilled that there are still kid’s books out there that capture it.

 

The Card Board Kingdom is a graphic novel about a neighborhood of 16 kids who with their imaginations and the help of some throwaway cardboard have the best adventures ever. Written by a number of authors and masterfully illustrated by artist Chad Sell, the book captures the essence of summer in a rather unique way. Mixed into the stories of epic quests of knights, mages, robots and the occasional innkeeper, are stories of real kids dealing with real issues.

 

This novel is geared toward the middle grades, but the stories within are safe for and will appeal to readers of all ages. Younger grades will enjoy the fun adventures and costumes. Middle graders will relate to some of the darker undertones their younger cohorts might miss. Themes such as being the new kids in the neighborhood, difficulty making friends, bullying, parental separation, gender conformity, and domestic violence are woven into the story at a kid’s perception level. The stories show that life throws some curve balls, but kids do have a voice and the ability to have some control over their rapidly changing world. Older kids and adults will simply enjoy the nostalgia of days gone by when summer was all about having fun together with a bunch of friends or a bunch of soon to be friends.

 

My particularly favorite stories are The Gargoyle, The Bully, and Professor Everything with his buddy The Scribe (who together remind me just a bit of my son). I giggled at the single-minded determination of The Alchemist and her solution to her troubles was simply epic in a way most adults could learn from. My heart broke for The Sorceress, who just wants to believe he can be magical, powerful and amazing. As a parent, I can guarantee that he, like all children, is that in spades. The whole book was a colorful adventure.

 

For those who would like to follow up on the adventure, coloring book pages and costume designs from the book are available on Chad Sell’s website

https://chadsellcomics.com/thecardboardkingdom/

Source: ireadkidsbooksjournal.wordpress.com/2018/07/18/the-cardboard-kingdom-by-chad-sell
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review 2018-07-16 12:54
Mud City (The Breadwinner, #3) by Deborah Ellis
Mud City - Deborah Ellis

After reading Parvana's Journey, I decided to hop right into Mud City to see what will happen next to Parvana and her family. However, once I started to read it, I quickly discovered that this book followed her friend Shauzia, not Parvana. That's didn't deter me from reading the book, of course, because I loved Shauzia in the first book and was looking forward to her journey since last we heard from her. I just had to change my expectations of what the book was going to be about. And is was such a fantastic read! Reading these books have been a wonderful experience. I'm enjoying it tremendously. They have been heartbreaking, especially this installment for very personal reasons which I will explain momentarily. But these book have been a valuable experience throughout.

 

I'm going to start off by talking about Shauzia. This is the first time we get the story through her perspective. In The Breadwinner, we see her through Parvana's eyes. We learn that she wants to escape her life in Afghanistan by going to the sea and traveling to France. At the end of the first book, we learn that Parvana and Shauzia make a promise to meet in twenty years on top of the Eiffel Tower to know that they were able to make it out safely. In Parvana's Journey, the only mention of Shauzia we get is through the letters Parvana writes to her. We don't actually see her. So this is the first time we get to learn more about her. She is a lot more hot-headed than Parvana is. She is someone who fights hard for what she wants, not paying any mind to the consequences. Shauzia is more of a loner and a fighter than Parvana, and I wouldn't have her any other way. She makes some foolish mistakes, but she comes out the better for making them and I'm now looking forward to learning more about her and Parvana in the last book in the series! 

 

Deborah Ellis continues to write about difficult subject matters in an approachable way so that anyone, children and adults alike, can understand and empathize about the wars happening in Afghanistan. I am learning so much about what happened in Afghanistan in the past for it to be the way it is now. Although, I remember some of what happened through personal experience. I lived across the Hudson when the World Trade Center Towers were destroyed. I saw them crumble down. I saw the sky covered in the thick, black smoke. I saw people running around, trying to get their families together. I heard yelling and crying and screaming coming every which way. I was stuck in traffic for five hours in a ride that should have taken ten minutes. All of that is still fresh in my mind. So reading about that in this book, it was so hard for me... but I'm glad to see that this book didn't shy away from mentioning that terrible event. I'm glad it's being talked about and written about and taught to younger kids. That this book shows that there's good and bad everywhere. That even though what happened in New York that day still haunts and hurts a lot of us here in the States, that there are people in Afghanistan who are hurt by those same events and that they, too, want the violence and suffering to stop. Just knowing that this book is out there for kids to read and learn that not everyone is cruel gives me hope.

 

I'm going to stop now. Reading Mud City and then writing this review has made me emotional, I know, but I had to get this out. This is an amazing book. An amazing series! Please, if you have not read the first two, give them a shot. If you have, read this one, too! It's just as good as the first two. Read it to your kids, if you have any, or just read it for yourself. They are such great books and I highly recommend them.

 

And now I'm off to read the final book in The Breadwinner series. I'm a bit worried to see how everything is going to end, but there's no way I'm going to stop now. I want to know the ending and I can't wait to read My Name is Parvana.

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review 2018-07-14 14:08
Parvana's Journey (The Breadwinner, #2) by Deborah Ellis
Parvana's Journey - Deborah Ellis

After how much I adored the first book in this series, I decided to continue on with Parvana and her journey to find her family. I'm glad I did. This is a beautiful, heartbreaking, painful story about a young girl as she travels throughout Afghanistan under the Taliban rule. I'll put it bluntly, this book is a difficult read. People are dying, children are starving, and there's violence throughout so... it's not for the faint of heart. However, I highly recommend you read this book if you've read the first one and appreciated the story within.

 

Parvana is still an incredible character. In this book, she is very angry and tired and looses patience quite easily with the other children. Can you blame her? Her entire life has been nothing but strife and chaos. She's a young girl who knows war and only war. And it's getting to her. I felt so strongly for her in the first book, but I feel so much more for her in this one. She's been through so much already and you know she's only going to experience so much more pain still. Asif is a new character and I adore him, too. He starts off as a brat and, as the story continues, he's still a brat but he acts more like a brother to Parvana. He's sweet and caring, he just doesn't know how to show it. Another character that's new to the story is Leila. She is a lovely little girl with a vivid imagination who joins Parvana and Asif on their journey to find Parvana's family. She is free-spirited and so sweet; I adore her so much!

 

Ellis did a fantastic job in writing this book and creating these characters. She is bringing awareness to what happened in Afghanistan and is helping young children understand that part of the world a little more. She is urging for us to help in any way we can so that way people in Afghanistan, especially women and children, have a chance to live a life free from war and violence and starvation. I love that she wrote these books with the intention to help those in Afghanistan.

 

I love this book just as much as I love the first book in The Breadwinner series. I will continue to read the rest of this series because I want to know what is going to happen with Parvana. I have to see how her story will end. I hope she is able to find peace and happiness one day. I truly do. And I shall continue to read in order to find out! Please read this series! To learn more about our history, Afghanistan's history, and the history of many women who have lived through the war under the Taliban rule. It's a heavy read, but one well worth the weight. 

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review 2018-07-09 00:45
Loyalty and Brotherhood
The Black Star of Kingston - S. D. Smith,Zach Franzen

This novella was my first introduction to the world of Green Ember (simply because I was able to get this book from the library hold list first), and it has set the stage for what promises to be a compelling series. With strong themes of loyalty and brotherhood, "The Black Star of Kingston" is both simple enough for adolescents and intriguing enough for older readers. Despite some violence due to a battle, this is a clean read, and one I recommend for anyone looking for adventure and camaraderie. 

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review 2018-07-05 08:43
The Trouble with Thirteen
The Trouble With Thirteen - Betty Miles

Well, that was an embarrassingly devastating re-read.  It's been ... a number of decades (which I refuse to think about), since this book was relevant to me, but I couldn't resist when I found a copy.  I remembered nothing about it save it was one of those books I read as a pre-teen.

 

This isn't so much a story, as it is a snapshot of a moment in time that's nothing but constant change for any tween, but poor Annie and Rachel get hit with a trifecta of monumental changes all in a few short months.  Best friends and neighbours since nursery school, Rachel's parents are divorcing and moving her to NYC.  This is a snapshot, as told from the POV of a 12 year old, of the way life's changes are often completely outside your control, happening whether you like it or not.

 

Honestly, this book made me a weepy, sniffly mess.  I can't believe how relevant it is at its core after almost 40 years.  There's a conversation on a landline, something most kids won't recognise today, but the rest of this very short story entirely focuses on the things that are timeless: friendship, jealousy, guilt, sorrow, it's all here.  There're no quick answers or fixes offered, just a very empathetic narrative that doesn't talk down or preach (although I suspect the writing style would be considered too simplistic in comparison to today's titles).  I'd have no hesitation giving this to my nieces if and when it's relevant - along with a packet of tissues, just in case.

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