“Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom” by David Neilsen


David Neilsen
Yearling Mystery (2017)
ISBN 9781101935811
Reviewed by Autumn Stout (age 12) for Reader Views (02/18)

“Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom” by David Neilsen is seriously creepy fun. The children on Hardscrabble Street are in for a spooky surprise when Dr. Fell moves into the abandoned house in which all the neighborhood children have played for years.

In Dr. Fell’s attempt to make amends for taking away their playhouse, the children come home from school to find an amazing playground. The children seemed to be drawn mysteriously to the enormous wooden structure as if some powerful force was calling to them, except for Jerry and his sister Gail and her best friend Nancy. When kids start to get hurt on the playground, Dr. Fell is all too happy to fix them up and send them on their way. Jerry, Gail and Nancy start wondering how some of the kids who are getting seriously injured, are somehow perfectly fine the next day, Dr. Fells no longer seems like the nice man everyone thinks he is. Soon these friends will realize they are the only ones that can save their town from Dr. Fell and his creepy playground.

Who is Dr. Fell and what power does he hold over the neighborhoods around Hardscrabble Street? Will the three friends figure out what Dr. Fell is up too in time? And is there anyone that can help them?

“Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom” by David Neilsen is truly creepy as the sinister plan of Dr. Fell is revealed. I loved how the story line was both a mystery and creepy adventure which kept you on the edge of your seat to the very last page. The book states it is for readers 8-12, but I think older kids would also enjoy it just as much. Frightening, suspenseful and full of action, I really liked how it felt like you were right there with the characters in their desperate battle to save their town from Dr. Fell. I look forward to reading many more books by David Neilsen.

Posted in YOUNG READER - AGES 8 TO 12 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“Nickerbacher” by Terry John Barto


Terry John Barto
TJB Kids 2016
ISBN 9781944878276
Reviewed by Paola Belloso (age 10) For Reader Views (2/18)

“Nickerbacher” by Terry John Barto is the story of a dragon whose job was to protect the life of the princess, like every dragon. But Nickerbacher was different than all the other dragons around. He was very friendly and nice, and close to Princess Gwendolyn. They both loved to watch the late-night show, and Nickerbacher had a dream to be a comedian. One day he heard that auditions were available and he just had to apply for it. Nickerbacher was really excited and really hoped to do it.  His dad was not happy with the idea of him being a different dragon, he wanted Nickerbacher to be scary and mean to humans.

After many attempts of Prince’s coming to the tower to rescue Princess Gwendolyn, this time Prince Happenstance showed up and helped Nickerbacher start his journey. Join Nickerbacher the dragon, Princess Gwendolyn, and Prince Happenstance on the adventures in La La Land! Will Nickerbacher’s dream come true?

People think that dragons aren’t funny and Nickerbacher wants to prove to his dad and the world that dragons can get along with humans and be funny. I liked that he worked hard with the help of the prince and princess and prepared himself for the challenge.

I love the message of how we could all get along, accepting each other, and that we must work on our dreams and try to reach them.

“Nickerbacher” by Terry John Barto is a great story for all kids to believe in ourselves and work for what we love.  I also love the illustrations.

A note from mom:

“Nickerbacher” provides an excellent lesson in life. I loved how he shows that being unique and different is ok. Hopefully kids will learn to follow their dreams, and live happily ever after when their dreams come true.

Posted in YOUNG READER - AGES 8 TO 12 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“Pirates Attack: A Knookerdoodle Adventure” by Laura Henderson


Laura Henderson
1105 West House (2017)
ISBN 9780997617221
Reviewed by Paola Belloso (age 10) for Reader Views (2/18)

“Pirates Attack: A Knookerdoodle Adventure” by Laura Henderson is a great story full of excitement for kids of all ages.

It was almost time for the fair that was every Fall in the town of Strathy Hall. It was a big event full of games, contests, food and much more. Peanut and his best friend Tennyson are excited and planning to go and be part of the costume contest.  Of course, they chose to be pirates and are hoping to be the only pirates so they can win.

That day of the fair came as one regular morning. Peanut woke up thinking of his dream with Applesauce, a pirate who rescued Peanut once when he got lost searching for treasures. Applesauce gave him a golden medallion that he hides under his pillow. Since then Peanut can’t stop thinking of anything else but Pirates and the magical ball that he gave to his sister Belle that later got lost too.

Meet Belle, Goldilocks, Baby Buttercup, and Tennyson and enjoy with them this wonderful story full of adventure. As well as many others like Victoria, Wendy Whimbleton and Chubby Chipmunk. Discover who won the contest and if they were the only pirates at the fair? Find out who else got lost and if Peanut found the wishing magic ball? Were they the only ones who knew about the magic ball?

What I most like about this story is how the Knookerdoodle’s always take care of each other and no matter what, they are friends and family, and how kindness always wins. It is a fun book that you read and can’t leave it alone.  At the end of each chapter the story leaves you hanging and wanting to read the next one. I really liked the font and the illustrations.

I recommend “Pirates Attack: A Knookerdoodle Adventure” by Laura Henderson because it is full of fun, action, and is very entertaining. I can’t wait to read the third one.  This is definitely a great book.

A note from mom:

A very enchanting story that will keep you always entertained. Paola and I both enjoyed it very much.

Posted in YOUNG READER - AGES 8 TO 12 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“The Adventure of Thomas the Turtle” by Stuart Samuel


Stuart Samuel
Jupiter Scientific (2017)
ISBN 9780965517607
Reviewed by Rose Whitacre (age 7) for Reader Views (01/18)

“The Adventure of Thomas the Turtle” by Stuart Samuel was so fun! I liked how the adventure took place. Thomas the Turtle was going to swim to a new part of the pond that his mother warned him not to go to.  Then there was a water fall that pulled him over the edge with jagged rocks at the bottom, and he thought there was an evil force that was under the water. Then there was a whirlpool that was trying to suck him in, but he found a way to get on the shore.  He was trying to get back to his own part of the pond without going back the way he came.  Then he got stuck in a thorn bush without realizing it. Then he saw a boy and a girl and heard their voices, and they helped him by getting him out of the thorn bush and bringing him home to his part of the pond.

Thomas learned a lesson about obedience, and not to go near the forbidden region. The people in the story were good helpers – they helped him get back home to his part of the pond. His choice to go exploring was not a good choice, but it’s not always a bad choice to explore.  Kids should never go into a dangerous situation without someone on their side that can help keep them safe. I think this author was trying to teach kids a lesson about obeying their parents, and never going off to explore in dangerous places without their parents. I think if I was separated from my mom or dad and got lost, I would feel scared and hope I would be able to find some help like Thomas did to get back home to my family.

I really wish that Thomas would have learned something more from his adventure, like why the forbidden region was really forbidden and the reason for the turtles to believe that there was a hidden evil force, which were really a waterfall and a whirlpool. I was glad that he learned to obey his mom, but wish it didn’t include him being fearful of exploring and learning new things. This book made me want to know more about Thomas’s story, like if he ever found his father.  I wish he had found his father, or at least learned more about what happened to him.

Also, this book has some old fashioned ways of saying things, like “He’s awful warm,” and “Thomas felt a deep affection for her.”  Some other examples are, “We were afraid to venture where he had gone – lest we too be swept away,” and “It came to pass that Thomas could no longer stand it.” Not using all those old fashioned words might have made it easier to understand.

Once I saw a turtle in my backyard, and it was neat to imagine where it had come from. Maybe it had an adventure like Thomas! My favorite part was when Thomas found his mom again after his adventure. I also really liked the pictures; they are really cool and fun. I think they were done with colored pencil, and they’re awesome.  I think my friends should read “The Adventure of Thomas the Turtle” by Stuart Samuel because it’s fun – there’s an adventure!

Posted in EARLY READER - AGES 6 TO 8 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“The Great Sugar War” by Benjamin Ellefson


Benjamin Ellefson
Beaver’s Pond Press (2016)
ISBN 9781592986323
Reviewed by Marten Weldon (age 13) for Reader Views (1/18)

“The Great Sugar War” by Benjamin Ellefson is the story of 12-year-old Otto who got lost at sea and rescued a Colonel named Droww. Otto brought Colonel Droww back to his home in the Kingdom of Color. The Kingdom of Color was at war with the Kingdom of Shapes all because the beloved Queen Lucy of Color had been killed. Once he arrived in the Kingdom of Color, things happened quickly, and Otto found himself in a car heading to the front lines. Will Otto be able to stop the fighting between the two kingdoms?

This was no typical war. My favorite scene was when the soldiers from both kingdoms fought on the grasshopper fields. In mid-fight, sugar bubbles sprung from the ground, quickly to be consumed by the grasshoppers. This left the grasshoppers sleeping. Other sugar bubbles produced sugar soldiers. Soon Otto and his comrades were outnumbered and had to retreat back to the Kingdom of Color. How can Otto defeat the quickly growing number of sugar soldiers?

Admittedly, the plot line is a bit odd yet entertaining. All the color is drained out of the Kingdom of Color and all the shapes are disappearing from the Kingdom of Shapes. It is a unique and creative world. There has been a four year drought and the kingdoms are running out of water. Will Otto be able to connect the dots and finally return to his family in the land beyond the sea?

I would recommend “The Great Sugar War” by Benjamin Ellefson to kids who like fairy tales, a few plot twists, colorful characters and a surprise ending. There is a war but it’s nothing at all scary. It is a nice book, not exactly riveting, but a pleasant engaging read.

Posted in YOUNG READER - AGES 8 TO 12 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“Shimji: The Channel Island Vixen” by Christina Steiner


Christina Steiner
Outskirts Press (2017)
ISBN 9781478787082
Reviewed by Rose Whitacre (age 7) for Reader Views Kids

“Shimji: The Channel Island Vixen” by Christina Steiner is a really fun book. It’s about a Channel Island vixen, which is a female fox from the Channel Islands, off the coast of California. This book is very exciting because it’s about Shimji’s fantastic adventure getting to the mainland and back home again.  It was very hard for Shimji to reach the mainland and then get back to her island again. Throughout her adventures, she met lots of different creatures.  Some of them helped her and some did not.

First, when she was still on her island, she met Malibu, the sea lion, who told her about the mainland. Then, Topanga, a seagull, told her more about the mainland and the humans who lived there. Shimji knew she wanted to cross the ocean and go to the mainland because she had been taught by her parents that her ancestors had lived there, and she wanted to find out what it was all about. When she made it to the mainland, she met two opossums named Jacy and Koko. They warned her about snakes and taught her about opossum life. Next, she met the squirrels. They thought she was a dog, and they thought something was wrong with her because she didn’t bark. She was scared of a train coming, she thought it was a monster, but then she met Thunder the jumping horse, who gave her a safe place to stay and told her about his travels and his life before he retired. After she left Thunder, some dogs chased her and she got away by running into a fenced-in yard where she met Blackout, the cat. They quickly became friends, and he took her into the “human den”, which he called his castle! Then, she met his humans, who knew that she was a Channel Island Fox and wanted to return her to her island. The park rangers wanted to put Shimji in the zoo instead of returning her to the Island because she might bring germs that weren’t from the Channel Islands back to the foxes there, putting them in danger. Blackout helped Shimji escape from being sent to the zoo on the mainland, and it was sad when they had to say goodbye. After even more adventures, I was happy when Shimji finally got back to her island safely.

Shimji is my very favorite character in the whole book.  She was very brave and adventurous, she knew how to protect herself, and she went on a quest to find out more about the world around her. I’ve had adventures in our backyard woods with my cousins, and they were really fun. It’s fun to explore, and Shimji’s story relates to my adventure in that she started out in the woods, too.  There are many ways for kids to learn about the world that don’t include leaving their families. Reading books (like this one!), talking to other people, and exploring my own yard are some ways that I like to learn about the world around me. Foxes can’t read, so the only way Shimji could really learn about the mainland was to go there. I learned a lot from this book!

I think when the author wrote this book, she was thinking about the mainland, islands, and foxes. I think she wanted to teach children about Channel Island Foxes and some other animals, too. I really like a lot of the characters, especially Topanga the seagull. She helped Shimji get back to the island. I also really like Haku the fox because they became mates at the end. It was really nice that she meets a lot of friends on her journey.  At the end of the book, there is a section with facts about Channel Island Foxes. I learned that they are multicolored, which is really fun.  They are about 1 foot tall and only weigh 4-5 pounds.  I would like to see one of them for myself someday.

I think this book is for people who like foxes and adventures. I think that ages 4-109 would all like this book. We read it out loud and my four year old sister really liked it, too. I think that boys and girls would all like it. Everyone could find something that they enjoyed in this book, probably. I like how the pictures are really fun, creative, and cute.  “Shimji: The Channel Island Vixen” by Christina Steiner is a fantastic adventure about a fox, and I would definitely recommend it to my friends!

Posted in YOUNG READER - AGES 8 TO 12 | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

“Daniel: The Age of Anxiety” by Peter Pactor


Peter Pactor
Freisen Press (2017)
ISBN 9781525500848
Reviewed by Arianna Violante, YA Reviewer for Reader Views (1/18)

“Daniel: The Age of Anxiety” by Peter Pactor is a story that takes place in the early 1900s, about a 12-year-old boy named Daniel French. Daniel is wealthy and smart, but doesn’t seem to have a lot of social skills.  It’s hard to fit in with his peers because not everyone can handle Daniel’s mannerisms and personality. It’s a work in progress.

As the owner of Holiday Bank, which has been in his family for years, Daniel is naturally interested in finance and the economy.  When he hears from experts about an upcoming stock market crash, he learns all he can in hopes of warning others so they can get out of the market before they risk losing everything. Most adults are not willing to listen to a 12 year-old however, so Daniel has his work cut out for him. With some highly influential friends though, he just might be able to get his point across.

I really enjoyed this story. The author does a fantastic job with descriptions and the settings and includes detailed historical information surrounding the time period. The speech in the 1920s was very different from today so there was a bit of an adjustment period before the tone “clicked,” but I found Daniel and his friends to be very entertaining and the storyline engaging.

Daniel is a complex character.  As he talked about economics and banking issues, and even during some of his conversations with his best friend, I kept forgetting he was only 12 years old!  In these situations he seemed much older. In fact I would say he could pass for 18 or even older. In other instances, when with his school peers, he almost acted his age, but not quite, and not that often.  I don’t know any boys that age that act like Daniel – so mature and very confident.  It was mentioned in the beginning of the story that Daniel was bullied and I thought that made his character very genuine. I believe Daniel is a boy who would be bullied in today’s times as well.

Overall, I think this story is best suited for older teens and adults.  Those interested in the time period of the stock market crash and historical fiction fans will definitely enjoy “Daniel: The Age of Anxiety” by Peter Pactor.

Posted in TEEN/YOUNG ADULT - AGES 12 AND UP | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment