Review: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

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Title: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Author: L. Frank Baum
Genre: Children’s
Publisher: Sweet Cherry Publishing
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: January 12, 2016 (Originally May 17, 1900)
Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Follow the yellow brick road!

Dorothy thinks she’s lost forever when a tornado whirls her and her dog, Toto, into a magical world. To get home, she must find the wonderful wizard in the Emerald City of Oz. On the way she meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion. But the Wicked Witch of the West has her own plans for the new arrival – will Dorothy ever see Kansas again?

Review:

This is my first time reading this book. I saw it on NetGalley, so I thought why not?

Well I was so surprised while reading this to find that it is so different from the movie! I assumed they would be more similar. Almost everything that I associate with The Wizard of Oz is just in the movie, not the book. At least Dorothy still had Toto and her blue gingham dress.

My first shock was that her shoes are silver! Silver! Not ruby slippers! Silver shoes. I guess the ruby was chosen for the movie because it stands out more in film. But the ruby slippers are such an iconic image from the Wizard of Oz that I assumed that’s what they were in the book.

This story is an easy read. It moves at a good pace, with lots happening. Some parts were kind of violent for a children’s novel, but that’s just because it was written over a hundred years ago when children’s books weren’t as innocent as they are today.

Now I will have to rewatch the movie to see what other differences there are!

Review: Hotel Transylvania Graphic Novel Vol. 1: “Kakieland Katastrophe”


Title: Hotel Transylvania Graphic Novel Vol. 1: “Kakieland Katastrophe”
Author: Stefan Petrucha
Genre: Children’s, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Papercutz
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Rating: ★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

In this all-new excerpt from the graphic novel based on the hit Sony Picture Animation movie series, Drac, Mavis, and the Drac Pack are back! The hotel faces a PR nightmare when nearby Kakieland theme park owner, Stephen Cling, visits Hotel Transylvania with a devious mission to reunite the monsters with their monstrous reputation by catching Drac in the act. Will Drac be caught behaving badly? Sink your teeth into this adventure!

Review:

This summer I watched Hotel Transylvania with my cousin for the first time. There was a short animation from it that played in the theatre before The Emoji Movie (which I also loved despite all the negative reviews) so I wanted to watch the full movie when we got home. I really liked it. When I saw that there was a graphic novel available on NetGalley, I had to have it!

This is a great graphic novel for kids. It had a lot of slapstick comedy which kids love. The characters stayed true to the movie, with similar humour, such as Drac getting words mixed up.

I also liked the way that the battle between monsters and humans was portrayed. It takes on a racial discrimination quality. This happens when Drac’s grandson has to wonder if he should hate himself because he is half-monster, and the humans are supposed to hate monsters.

I kind of wondered if the villain, Stephen Cling, is named after another famous writer. His name sounds suspiciously like my favourite horror author…

I really enjoyed this book. Kids who love Hotel Transylvania should definitely read it!

Bess’s Magical Garden


Title: Bess’s Magical Garden
Author: M.E. Hembroff
Genre: Middle Grade, Children’s
Publisher: Friesen Press
Source: Goodreads Giveaway
Release Date: October 21, 2015
Rating: 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Bess’s mother moves them to Pineview, away from her best friend Megan, and she terribly misses her. Six months earlier, Bess’s father died in a car crash, and she’s also in the midst of recovering from the final stages of polio. She’s in a sad and lonely place. From the moment she and her mother settle into their new home, Bess hears whispering voices and encounters a ghostly figure in the well-kept garden and in her dreams. She can’t make sense of everything and so shares her observations with Megan by writing her regular letters. During the summer, she makes new friends, including an orange and white tomcat that she names Pumpkin, and her new neighbour Josie. With the help of Mrs. O’Toole, the woman who watches her, Bess continues to recover, both physically and emotionally. She becomes more and more curious about the garden and the unexplained clues that she finds there. In Bess’s Magical Garden, Bess discovers her own true strengths through enduring life’s struggles. She – with Josie and Megan’s help – also finds some hidden items in the garden, including a map, that leave the girls with more questions than answers. Who was the figure that visited Bess? Will Bess and her friends be able to uncover the garden’s secrets? Or will those secrets be mysteries forever?

Review:

This is a cute story. Bess has faced many challenges in her young life, but she takes it all in stride. She has polio, and during her recovery, her father was killed in a car accident. Despite all of this, she is still very innocent and finds simple joys in life.

I really liked the illustrations in this story. They are childlike, but also detailed and precise. They suit the story very well.

There were some inconsistencies in the timeline of the plot which confused me. Marie, who was the daughter of the original owners of Bess’s house, was childhood friends with Rae and Mae. Now, Rae and Mae are elderly women, which would mean that Marie would also be elderly. However, Mr. and Mrs. Snow were adults when Marie was a child, which would make them very old now, but they don’t appear to be because they are still working in their general store. If this timeline were cleared up, it would have made the story much more cohesive.

The story also had a creepy aspect to it, because Bess had dreams about Marie. This made me wonder about her sanity, but she appeared to be fine. Once she solved Marie’s mystery, Bess stopped dreaming about her. These dreams had the potential to make Bess into a creepy little girl, but she retained her innocence.

This is a cute, short book for young readers.

Hedy’s Journey


Title: Hedy’s Journey: The True Story of a Hungarian Girl Fleeing the Holocaust
Author: Michelle Bisson
Genre: Children’s 
Publisher: Capstone Books
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

Hedy was a Jewish girl living in Hungary in 1941. Her family was scared of the Nazi’s because her cousin was sent to a concentration camp. Her parents decided to take them to the United States. Hedy’s parents and brother made their way to Lisbon to get a ship to New York. Hedy had to wait for another train because there wasn’t enough room for her. Eventually they all made it onto the ship and began their long journey from Lisbon to New York City. 

I really liked the illustrations in this book. The muted colours, in greys and browns, reflects the sad tone of the story. 

This is a great story for young readers. I remember reading Hannah’s Suitcase when I was in elementary school, which taught me about the Holocaust. The World Wars aren’t taught very much to young kids these days, so this book would give them an idea of what happened then. Hedy’s family was one of the lucky ones, so the story is not as devastating as some stories set during that time. 

Thea Stilton and the Hollywood Hoax

Title: Thea Stilton and the Hollywood Hoax
Author: Thea Stilton
Genre: Middle Grade, Children
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: May 31, 2016
Rating: ★★★★

The Thea Sisters return in this mystery. They go to Hollywood to visit Jenna, their friend, and her sister Terri, who works at a film studio. They get to visit the set of The Powerpaw Mouselets. They watch some filming, including scenes with the famous Johnny Ratt. But one night when Terri is working late, she is locked in a closet and the film is stolen. Meanwhile, the princess of Mousitania has gone missing. The Thea Sisters have to help Terri find the missing film so she doesn’t lose her job, as well as keeping an eye out for the princess.

Like the other books, there are many mouse references. They say other mice are “squeaking” instead of “speaking,” and their investigation has “more holes than a slice of  Swiss.” There are also mouse versions of celebrities. The famous actor is Johnny Ratt instead of Johnny Depp, and the director of a movie is Ratatino rather than Tarantino. They also pass the Mouselor on the street, who is like the Bachelor.

This was a clever mystery. I couldn’t figure out what happened and was surprised at it. This is a good story, which would be great for middle grade readers!

The Cloud Castle


Title: The Cloud Castle
Author: Thea Stilton
Genre: Children, Middle Grade
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Rating: ★★★★

Will Mystery calls the Thea Sisters for their help. There is a crack in the ceiling of the Hall of Seven Roses, which indicates trouble with the fairies. The girls and Will take a helicopter to Mount Everest to access the fairies in the clouds. Once they get there, they find Ariette, a weaver fairy, who is locked away in a tower. She has been sent there because the Queen thinks she caused their problems by telling the fairies about the real world below the clouds. The problem is that the weaver fairies, who create silver thread with their dreams, are no longer producing it. They need the silver thread to weave clouds everyday. The Thea Sisters and Will embark on a mission to clear Ariette’s name and discover the truth behind the missing silver thread. 

There were many aspects from World mythology in this story. For example, the elephant, Airavata, reminded me of Krishna from Indian mythology and the hundred handed giant is like the ones from Greek mythology. 

Multiple words on each page stand out by being illustrated. For example, words related to snow would have snow covering the tops of the letters and the word “rainbow” had a different colour for each letter. This makes these words stand out and would teach young readers what they mean. 

The mouse theme was present throughout the story. They would exclaim “Holey Cheese,” and at first I thought they spelled “holy” wrong. The same thing happened when they described something as “enormouse.” This was a clever way to incorporate the mouse theme into the story. 

This book was recommended to me by a ten-year-old because it’s her favourite book. I was surprised at how many times I laughed while reading it. I haven’t read any other books in the series but I still really enjoyed it.