Recipe for Disaster (Didi Dodo Future Spy, book 1) by Tom Angleberger, illustrated by Jared Chapman

Published by Harry N. Abrams

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Summary:  Cookie baker Koko Dodo (a character from Angleberger’s Inspector Flytrap series) has been robbed! His Super Secret Fudge Sauce has been stolen just hours before the big cookie contest that he always wins.  Enter Didi Dodo, a high-energy dodo on roller skates who calls herself a future spy.  She’s sure she can solve the case, and whisks Koko off on a whirlwind adventure, trying one scheme after another to track down the culprit, and leaving a path of destruction as they go.  The robber is tracked down, the cookies are baked, and Koko gets another trophy.  On the last page, Didi whips out a card reading “Dodo and Dodo, Future Spies,” ensuring at least one more book, which is scheduled for release in September. 112 pages; grades 1-4.

Pros:  Kids will love the manic humor and energy of this new series by the much-loved Tom Angleberger.

Cons:  I liked the illustrations, but why didn’t Tom’s wife Cece Bell do them like she did for Inspector Flytrap?  Maybe she’s working on a sequel to El Deafo…we can hope.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

A Piglet Named Mercy by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

Published by Candlewick

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Summary:  Mercy Watson gets a backstory, as readers discover how she came to live with Mr. and Mrs. Watson when she was just a piglet.  Turns out she fell off a truck that was rumbling down Deckawoo Drive, landing not far from the Watsons’ house. It was love at first sight when the Watsons found her on their front porch.  Of course, Eugenia Lincoln gets in her two cents’ worth, while her younger sister Baby brings the piglet a bottle of milk. Mercy downs the bottle, but her fondness for buttered toast soon emerges, earning her the title of “porcine wonder” from Mr. Watson.  The last page shows Mercy in her high chair at the Watsons’ kitchen table, with everyone well on their way to happily-ever-after. 32 pages; ages 3-7.

Pros:  Mercy Watson readers will enjoy learning Mercy’s early story, while their younger siblings will get to meet all the characters that they’ll see again in the chapter books.

Cons:  I wish Kate DiCamillo would write more of the Mercy Watson early chapter books.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.


Right As Rain by Lindsey Stoddard

Published by HarperCollins

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Summary:  Rain and her parents have just moved from Vermont to New York City, partly because of her mother’s new job and partly to escape the memories of her older brother’s death almost a year before.  Rain has heard that three out of four couples divorce following the death of a child, and it seems like her parents may be on their way to becoming part of this statistic. She escapes from her difficult home life through running.  Her middle school track team gives her some new friends, as does Ms. Dacie’s house, a place where kids drop in after school to bake cookies and get help with their homework. As the story unfolds, readers get glimpses of the night Guthrie died and Rain’s role in helping him sneak out that night.  She learns to express her feelings through poetry, and a poetry slam in her English class allows her to open up to her new friends about what is going on with her. Rain and her parents survive the one-year anniversary of Guthrie’s death, and, although there are still plenty of uncertainties in her life, she knows she has a team of people supporting her as she moves forward.  304 pages; grades 4-7.

Pros:  Lindsey Stoddard’s second novel is every bit as moving as last year’s Just Like Jackie, and Rain is another strong character who has to learn that she can’t always go it alone.  Keep the Kleenexes close at hand when you get to the poetry slam chapter.

Cons:  I think reading this right after finishing Eventown was too much; I had to force myself to keep going through the first several chapters as the family is dealing with their grief over Guthrie’s death.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

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Summary:  Turns out, there are ten rules for making a wish on your birthday.  First of all, it has to be your birthday.  Or at least close to your birthday.  (Unless you’re an animal with a lifespan of a month or less, and then you should celebrate immediately).  There should be a party, food, lights, and a song. (Exceptions are made on all these rules for certain kinds of animals). You should take a deep breath, make a wish, and blow out the candles.  But keep your wish a secret…you can dream about it that night after the party is over and you’re in your bed. 48 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  From the team that brought you Stick and Stone comes this fun and funny book that celebrates the joy of being the birthday boy or girl.  This would be good to pair with last year’s When’s My Birthday?

Cons:  I missed rule #11: eat a large slice of birthday cake.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

End of the year lists

As I’ve done in previous years, I’ll be posting my favorites in different categories for the next several days, then taking a vacation for the first few weeks of January.  It’s hard for me to believe I’m wrapping up the fourth year of doing this blog.  Thank you to everyone who reads the reviews, whether you’re a daily subscriber someone who checks in every once in a while.  I always love to hear feedback at this time of year, so please post a comment if you have something to say about A Kids Book A Day this year!