Tuesday, May 26, 2015

April Round-Up

Image from KatesBooks.com
The Detective’s Assistant by Kate Hannigan
Little, Brown, and Company, 2015
When 11-year-old Nell Warne arrives at her widowed aunt’s doorstep in Chicago in 1859 she isn’t exactly greeted with warmth. But Nell knows that if she works hard, the “Pickled Onion” (aka Aunt Kate) will have to keep her and not send her to an orphanage. Much to Nell’s surprise and delight, she discovers that her aunt isn’t working as a secretary or a nurse, she’s a detective! A female detective! Now Nell is even more dedicated to working hard because it involves cracking codes, donning disguises, assuming identities, and best of all, traveling with Aunt Kate.
Based on cases worked on by the real Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective, this historical fiction story is an adventurous romp. Spunky Nell and her forward-thinking, feminist Aunt Kate solve mysteries, catch criminals, and even protect the new president, Abraham Lincoln. The fast-paced chapters alternate with letters sent between Nell and her best friend Jemma. The story touches on the Underground Railroad, as well as incorporating historically accurate information into the first person narrative. Back matter includes more information and further reading about the real Kate Warne, and the answers to all the ciphers included in Nell and Jemma’s letters.

More by Hannigan:


Recommended Age/Grade Level: Age 10+/Grade 5+

Image from MacMillan.com
First Second, 2015
Life in the Underworld isn’t easy for Decompsia, even if she is a princess. She has to take care of her ailing father, read endless reports, go to diplomatic dinners, and to top it all off, the cook just quit! Luckily, along comes Count Spatula, a vampire with culinary flair! He also teaches the princess to stand up for herself and in the process the two fall in love. Princess Decompsia’s life will never be the same!
Humorous black and white illustrations fill the panels of this graphic novel. The text is all dialogue, moving the plot along at a quick clip. The cartoonish characters are only the slightest bit scary because of their appearance, but never their actions, and there’s no violence or gore. Princess Decompsia and Count Spatula fall in love, but it’s a kid-friendly, innocent, hand-holding kind of love. This off-beat story is a great recommendation for tweens looking for a graphic novel with a touch of romance and a lot of quirky humor.

More by Watson

Hildafolk by Luke Pearson
Jellaby by Kean Soo
Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson

Recommended Age/Grade Level: Age 10+/Grade 5+

Image from AbramsBooks.com
Abrams, 2015
Fearless, round-headed Rutabaga, tired of the same old boring foods cooked in the same old boring ways, sets off on a series of thrilling, funny, and dangerous adventures to discover strange and magical ingredients for his cooking. His recipes include such delicacies as roasted mud leech, poached tri-fin boggle fish, and exploding pop-shrooms. Rutabaga and his trusty companion, the ever-silent, but always helpful Pot (yes, he’s a cooking pot), defeat magical creatures and battle it out in cooking competitions. No matter where they travel, Rutabaga is always ready to whip up a new and inventive recipe. Let’s get cooking!
This graphic novel is split into four chapter, each focusing on a particular adventure. The action-packed panels feature cartoonish illustrations with great facial expressions and loads of humor. When Rutabaga makes a recipe, he always gives the reader a short tutorial. Although the recipes in the story are too vague for kids to make at home, there are several complete recipes in the back of the book. Even readers lacking cooking knowledge will delight in this story.


Recommended Age/Grade Level: Age 8+/Grade 3+