The Case of the Cursed Dodo by Jake G. Panda
Narrator: Antoinette Attell, Barbara Watkins, Bobb Lynes, Dave Mallow, Ian Whitcomb, J.W. Terry, Michael McConnohie, Molly Brandenburg
Series: The Endangered Files #1
Published by Woolly Family Studios on October 3, 2017 (first published 2014)
Genres: Middle School, Mystery
Pages: 2 hrs 34 mins
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If you're looking for trouble, you've found it. The name's Jake G. Panda, and trouble seems to follow me wherever I go. I work in the protection racket at a flophouse for endangered critters called the Last Resort. I'm the hotel snoop. The resident fuzz. It's my job to keep these guests safe and outta harm's way. This is the first of my many misadventures. A wild and woolly mystery involving a lost suitcase, a green bird, and a bunch of double-crossing animals. I'm calling this jungle noir The Case of the Cursed Dodo.
I listened to the full cast audio of The Case of the Cursed Dodo. I am not used to listening to books with more than one, or at most two, narrators, so it did take me a chapter or two to get into the groove of it. It was an interesting set-up though. The book is written in kind of a screen play style, so on audio it felt like you were listening to an old-style radio show, which was pretty neat.
I liked the characters, all endangered species, and the hotel that serves as the base of operations. Jake is a good semi-hard-boiled detective, gruff and tough, but also loyal. We’ve even got a dame, although condors are not really my idea of sexy birds. My one complaint is that there are a few too many bad guys, it got a bit confusing who was on which side and why. I also expected to learn a bit more about the various endangered species, other than just their names. The end was little weird too, but i’m pretty sure kids would just accept it.
Overall, it was a fun book to listen too. I so think some of the jokes and comments would go over the heads of middle schoolers, but since they’d enjoy the adventure, it might make it perfect for a family car trip.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
Thornhill by Pam Smy
Published by Roaring Brook Press on August 29, 2017
Genres: Middle School, Ghost Story
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Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as a Ella unravels the mystery of the girl next door.
1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute For Children at the very moment that it's shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she s left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.
2017: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window. Determined to befriend the girl, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill's shadowy past.
Told in alternating, interwoven plotlines Mary s through intimate diary entries and Ella s in bold, striking art Pam Smy's Thornhill is a haunting exploration of human connection, and a suspense-filled story.
Thornhill is spooky and heart-breaking. Ella is sad and lonely, but when she glimpses a girl in the window of the Thornhill Institute, she becomes obsessed with finding out who she was and what happened to her. Mary lived at the Institute in the 1980s, also a sad, lonely girl who is bullied and terrorized by the other girls.
Thornhill is at heart a ghost story. We know from the beginning that Mary’s a ghotst, but her diary entries made me cry. Her life at Thornhill was miserable, and few of the adults around her seemed competent or truly caring. Ella’s story is just as sad. I assume her father loves her, but he’s never home and her mom is gone, presumably dead. Her side of the story is depicted in black and white illustrations that are striking and add to the dark atmosphere of the novel. We know something happened to Mary, but not what.
I think this is one of those stories that a middle-schooler would enjoy. It’s just spooky enough and the ending was dark and and an appropriate, if sad, conclusion. I was talking about it quickly with my daughter and she said kids in middle school like sad books, and i’ll have to take her word for it. Thornhill It deals with big issues like bullying, revenge, and suicide, and there were adults that could have helped, but didn’t.
It’s an engrossing story, but to be honest, I wish I hadn’t read it. For me it was a depressing book. I cried through half of it and I’d like to give it 1 star for that reason. However, I gave it 4 starts because it is engrossing and relevant.
Tangled by Shiori Kanaki
Series: Disney Manga
Published by TokyoPop on August 15th 2017
Genres: Fairy tale, Manga, Middle School
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Inspired by the hit Disney movie, Tangled. Rapunzel has lived inside an isolated tower all her life, able to see the world outside her window but forbidden to leave. When the notorious thief Flynn Rider shows up, she makes a deal with him to finally break free and experience the world outside her prison. Is the world as scary as Mother Gothel promised it would be? Or will she find the answers behind her magical, flowing hair and the truth about her childhood? This magical adaptation retells the hit Disney movie using beautiful manga artwork.
The story is the same as the Tangled movie from 2010. It’s a re-imagining of Rapunzel, but the only thing it really has in common with the original fairy tale is the girl with long hair kept in a tower.
The princess, Rapunzel, is stolen from her crib by Mother Gothel, because her can magically heal people. Mother Gothel hides Rapunzel in the tower, forbidding her to ever leave it, keeping the precious hair safe. While Gothel is away getting a present for Rapunzel’s 18th birthday, Flynn Ryder ends up in the tower as he’s on the run from the palace guards. Rapunzel recognizes her chance and convinces Ryder, with the help of a frying pan, to take her to see the annual lights festival. Adventure, danger, love and the requisite happy ever after ending all follow.
The story is what it is, it’s Tangled re-done as a manga. I thought the manga art was well-done and I’m sure middle schoolers would like it. I personally appreciated the “how to read a manga” at the beginning. I don’t read many, although Amber does, so it never hurts to be reminded the differences between reading a manga versus a graphic novel.
The stories cute and fun. In all honesty though, I miss the colors, the glowing of the lanterns especially.
Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.