The Good, Not so Good, but never the Ugly

I couldn’t think of a theme for this week’s blog, but I did want send one out.  I picked three of the books I reviewed in March.  They are an eclectic mix, so pick the one that suits you best.  Although I named this blog The Good, Not so Good, but never the Ugly, the books all have merit, I’m just so over dystopia and fantasy.


Children will love this story, but so will their parents, especially the bit about organizing chaos.

Bears in a Band

Shirley Parenteau

Illustrated by David Walker

This is a sweet rhyming story about little bears playing musical instrument and making a horrible racket, until Big Brown Bear helps them out.  Yellow Bear likes the bells and Calico Bear picks the golden horn.  Floppy Bear beats the drum and Fuzzy Bear clangs the cymbals.  They make so much noise they wake Big Brown Bear, but, instead being angry, he picks up a soup ladle to conduct.  He reminds Floppy Bear to not beat the drum so loudly and asks Yellow Bear to the ring the bells more loudly. Soon all the bears are happily pounding, clanging, dinging and tootling in rhythm as they march around the room.  Their harmony is spot on. At the end of their performance, they all take a bow. This story has lots of energy and cute drawings and will probably be a bedtime favorite for lots of children whether or not they are musically inclined. It is part of a series on bears doing various activities.

BIBLIO: 2016, Candlewick Press, Ages 3 to 8, $15.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Picture Book

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8147-0


I must admit that I’m tired of this never ending craze promoting fantasy and dystopia.  There are plenty of good real life stories to write about.  But that’s just my private opinion.


Deceptive: An Illusive Novel    

Emily Lloyd-Jones

Generally a second or third novel in a series should build on the beginning novel, which this novel, in theory, does.  But the reader needs to have enough back story if she picks up the books out of sequence.  There is not enough coherent back story in this second novel for the reader to understand what the whole set is about.  Why are the people with special powers considered outcasts and why were they vaccinated in the first place?  Is it only the United States that’s having this problem?  Ciere, Alan, Devon and Daniel all have superhuman abilities.  Ciere can make things vanish from view, even though they are physically still there.  She’s called an Illusive. Alan is an Eidos, who has a perfect memory, including the formula that changed America. Devon and Daniel are differently special, but it’s hard to keep everyone straight and figure what their agendas are.  There is a lot of well-written action in the book, but no real sense of who the characters are and what they feel.  The other characters in the book are no more clearly drawn, making it confusing to figure who are the bad guys and who are the good guys.  Perhaps everybody is good and bad.  It’s possible there’s going to be a third novel in the series, but that may not matter.

BIBLIO: 2015, Little, Brown and Company, Ages 14 +, $18.00.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Young Adult

ISBN: 978-0-316-25464-9

ISBN: 978-0-316-25460-1

ISBN: 978-0-316-25462-5


And speaking of real life stories, this last one will knock your socks off, so be sure to wear a pair while you read the book.


The Truth about Alice

Jennifer Mathieu

What an excellent story.  Pretty much all the students in her high school—perhaps the whole town—brand Alice a slut. She has only one friend, having been ditched by her best friend. The story is about Alice, but told from the perspectives of other students.  The main person to spread the rumors is Brandon, a football star, whom everybody worships.  So when, presumably as a joke, he says Alice had sex with him and another guy at an “end of summer” party, everyone believes him.  Then a month and half later, Brandon dies in a car crash.  Josh, Brandon’s best friend, tells the police that Alice was “sexting” Brandon while he was driving.  Josh doesn’t tell the truth until the end of the book, when the reader finally hears from Alice herself.  The book is a cautionary tale about the dangers of drinking and following the supposed “In Crowd,” who, for the most part, are just trying not to be found out for the frauds they think they are.  The characters are well drawn, with different voices and personalities.  The story lends itself to discussions about spreading and believing rumors, and being yourself, instead of being a sycophant.

BIBLIO: 2014, Roaring Brook Press/Holtzbrink Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership, Ages 14 +, $16.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Young Adult

ISBN: 978-1-59643-909-2

ISBN: 978-1-59643-910-8




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