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Results 1 - 25 of 174
1. The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, 316 pp, RL4


The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley came out in January of 2015. In January of 2016 it won the Newbery Honor, the Schneider Family Book Award for the "artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences," and the Odyssey Award for best audio book, with narration by Jayne Entwistle. A couple of months back, Bradley's book came to my attention when I saw it on several end of the year "best of" lists and Newbery prediction lists. After fantasy, historical fiction a very close second favorite genre of mine and without a doubt, The War the Saved My Life is one of the best works of historical fiction I have ever read. In narrator Ada, Bradley has created powerful narrative voice, an unforgettable character and a deeply moving story of survival, both physical and emotional, during WWII England.

Ada is not sure how old she is. She has never been to school, in fact, she has not left the tiny apartment she shares with her mother and younger brother, Jamie, in ages. She is crippled by a club foot and a widowed mother who never wanted to be one. Deeply suspicious, ignorant and filled with anger and hatred, Ada's mother abuses her physically and emotionally, filling her with shame and fear. Ada's only pleasure comes from tending to her little brother Jamie. As he grows older and starts school, his independence leaves her feeling like she should get some of her own. Used to crawling on her hands and knees, Ada slowly, painfully teaches herself to walk. When she learns from Jamie that the children are being evacuated from the city - and that her mother has no intention of letting her go - she sneaks out of the house and joins the evacuees. Upon arriving in Kent, Ada and Jamie, filthy, louse ridden, sick with rickets and impetigo, find themselves unwanted once more. The iron faced Lady Thornton, head of the Women's Voluntary Service, packs the children into her car and takes them to the home of Susan Smith, who refuses to take them, saying she didn't even know there was a war on.

Susan is mourning the loss of her dear friend, Becky, and in her near catatonic state of grief she unthinkingly says that she never wanted children in front of Ada and Jamie. However, Ada catches sight of a pony in the field behind Susan's house and determines to stay. With Susan, Ada faces a new set of challenges, the biggest being trust. Even if she hadn't heard Susan say that she never wanted children, the task of being able to trust Susan would be overwhelming. And this is where Bradley's superior narrative skills shine. With Ada's voice, Bradley conveys the isolation, fear and ignorance that have been her life. So many of the words that Susan says to her mean nothing, from "soup," to "sheets," to "operate," the reader quickly gets a strong sense of disconnect with which Ada moves through the world. This disconnect is expressed most powerfully when Ada is in distress, when her foot hurts or when people are talking about her or touching her. When she was home with her Mam, Ada would retreat, mentally, when the agony of her physical situation - like being locked in a dank cabinet under the sink - was too much to bear. She relies on this relief with Susan, too, imagining herself with Butter, the pony she saw in the field that she teaches herself to ride.

While Ada is an incredible character, Susan Smith is also remarkable. Oxford educated, she herself is familiar with parental disapproval and rejection. Bradley never states it openly, but she weaves enough threads into the story to lead me to believe that Susan and Becky were in love and were ostracized for it. But, Susan exemplifies the motto from the morale boosting poster created during the war, "Keep calm and carry on." In fact, Bradley quotes another poster made by the Ministry of Information to boost morale in The War that Saved My Life. Seeing the poster in town, Susan reads to to Ada, "Your courage, your cheerfulness, your resolution will bring us victory." "That's stupid, it sounds like we're doing all the work," Ada replies, saying it should be, "Our courage, our cheerfulness, our resolution, will bring us victory." This is one of the first moments where Susan sees through Ada's defenses. Susan clothes, feeds and educates Jamie and Ada, persistently, but never forcefully. While she expresses frustration, and both children cringe or hide at times when they think they have truly angered her, she never hits them or raises her voice to them. Instead, she explains herself when called for and hugs them when words will not do. She somehow understands the depths of Ada's emotional wounds and is patient with her when she breaks down, wrapping her tightly in a blanket and hugging - or even sitting on her during their first air raid.

While Ada and Jamie's mother only appears in the first and last few pages of The War that Saved My Life, her presence is a constant throughout. Her abuse of Ada is sometimes horrific, but also sparsely and effectively employed by Bradley. Witnessing this abuse allows the reader to be patient with the often unlikable Ada and also helps the reader understand her decisions, like the choice not to learn how to read or write, and her reactions, like the catastrophic break down she has when, on Christmas Eve, Susan gives her a handmade, green velvet dress, telling her that she is beautiful when she tries it on. Her mother's words, "You ugly piece of rubbish! Filth and trash! No one wants you with that ugly foot!" run through Ada's head and her roaring screams and panic are more understandable. It is even almost understandable that, throughout most of the novel, Ada believes that all the new things she is learning, from walking to horseback riding to reading and writing, will prove her worth to her mother and make her love her. With this possibility always out there, letting herself get attached to Susan is almost impossible. Then, there is always the knowledge of what her mother has thought of her and how she has treated her. Halfway through the novel, Ada says, "I wanted Mam to be like Susan. I didn't really trust Susan not to be like Mam."

But, Ada does get attached and she does grow stronger, physically and emotionally, over the course of this very rich and detailed story. And, while at first it seems like the war is a far off thing, it does come to Kent in a shattering way. After the Battle of Dunkirk, Kent finds itself overwhelmed by injured and dying soldiers, Ada heading into the village to help where she can. There is even a triumphant moment where, following the government dictate to say something if you see something, Ada not only must assert herself, but also let a prejudiced, condescending adult know that her foot is very far away from her brain, something she has heard Susan say, in order to be taken seriously. As life grows more dangerous in Kent and Susan refuses to send Ada and Jamie away, Ada thinks to herself, "It was hard enough to cope with Susan. How would I ever cope without her?"

I was in tears and sobbing for the last half of The War that Saved My Life, especially the final pages. Bradley delivers a very satisfying ending to a deeply satisfying book, one that makes me want to turn around and read it all over again. I am so grateful that this book won a Newbery honor, among other well deserved awards, because it means that it's likely to fall into the hands of children over and over for decades to come. I can't wait to get a copy for my library - I usually donate books I buy for myself to read to my library, but I am keeping this one! - and see what my students think of it!

Source: Purchased


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2. The Terrible Two Get Worse by Mac Barnett and Jory John, illustrated by Kevin Cornell, 215pp, RL 3


A year ago saw the debut of The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett, Jory John and illustrator Kevin Cornell. A standout for being laugh out loud funny (not as common a trait in kid's books as you might expect), The Terrible Two began the story of Miles, new kid in Yawnee Valley and master prankster, and his nemesis, Niles, the rule-following, goody-two-shoes, sash-wearing School Helper. The Terrible Two took a terrific turn when (SPOILER ALERT) it turned out that the angelic Niles was actually the secret prankster challenging Miles's status. The two teamed up, repeated the prankster's oath and shared a secret handshake before going on to pull off the greatest prank at Yawnee Valley Science and Letters Academy ever against their favorite target, Principal Barkin. Niles, Miles, Principal Barry Barkin, and his entitled son Josh are back in The Terrible Two Get Worse, along with Principal Barkin's father, retired Principal Bertrand Barkin. 

The new school year seems to be off to a great start for the Terrible Two, who begin by smearing Limburger cheese all over the undercarriage of Principal Barkin's yellow hatchback as he enjoys Sunday brunch with Josh at Danny's Diner. The pranks continue into the school year until Bertrand Barkin decides to put an end to it by forcing his son out of his job and returning to his old job. Even worse, Bertrand Barkin, who sets up a giant sign to show how many prank-free school days have passed, has the personal motto, "It is only a prank if we react." As Principal Barkin the elder continues to refuse to react to Niles and Miles's pranks, the Terrible Two begin to get desperate. Niles even has an existential crisis that causes him to vomit and retreat to his room for several days. But, the Terrible Two are not down for long, and they come up with a crazy plan to take down Bertrand Barkin that includes expanding the Terrible Two to Three...



As before, The Terrible Two Get Worse is hilarious and hard to put down. What I love about Barnett and John's series is that the humor is smart. What other kid's book can throw out concepts like Chekov's Gun and Occam's Razor? And, happily, the presence of two items that seem to be Chekov's guns (a spool of thread and the suspenders-belt combo worn by Bertrand Barkin) are explained by the end of the book. And, in a wry and kind of eerie scene, Ms. Shandy, the social studies teacher, unveils a lesson during which the class will be living in a totalitarian state for two days, divided into groups that will create propaganda and samizdat in the style of Alexei Khvostenko. Of course Miles, Niles and their pal Holly Rash, school body president and a character I hope we see A LOT more of in the next book, decide to create samizdat, that is, until Principal Bertrand Barkin shuts the project down. Also, Cornell's illustrations that show Barry Barkin as he ticks off items on his list of projects to complete while he is unemployed, which begins with, 1. Start a list of projects, 2. Discover who you truly are, through projects.

I can't wait to see what the next book in this fantastic series brings! Until then, I will thoroughly enjoy discussing the pranks of the Terrible Two with my students, who love these books!

Be sure not to miss the equally hilarious website , which you could spend a serious amount of time pouring - and laughing over. The shop, where you can buy the books, of course, also offers up the Brooklyn Bridge for purchase! There is also a "plog," a blog of pranks, a video of a commercial for the book in Greece and covers of the books in translation in many languages!

Source: Review Copy



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3. Treasury of Norse Mythology: Stories of Intrigue, Trickery, Love and Revenge by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrations by Christina Balit, 192 pp, RL 4


With the recent movies from the Marvel Universe featuring Thor, along with Rick Riordan's new series Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard in which the titular character discovers he is the son of a Norse god (and why couldn't it have been Astrid Chase discovering she's the daughter of a Norse goddess, Rick?) Norse mythology is hot enough to melt a fjord right now. And, while the I love the D'Aulaires and their own collection of Norse mythology, it doesn't always grab the attention of readers. With Treasury of Norse Mythology: Stories of Intrigue, Trickery, Love and Revenge, children's book author Donna Jo Napoli brings the same wonderful storytelling skills to  that she brought to the Treasury of Egyptian Mythology and the Treasury of Greek Mythology, all three of which are marvelously illustrated, with beautiful borders on every page, by Christina Balit.


Napoli's introduction is superb, providing insight into the nature of Norse mythology that will help young readers understand how and why it is different from Greek and Egyptian mythologies. She tells readers that the was rich tradition of storytelling by traveling poets in Scandanavia, especially during the long winter nights, along with a devotion to the Old Norse language despite the widespread use of Latin during the Middle Ages.  Add to this the fierce weather and powerful forces of nature that exist in Scandinavia, along with the communal nature of the Norse gods who assembled for votes, reflecting the democratic society of Norway in which all men (not women or slaves) had a vote,  and you being to understand why Thor is a comic book hero today



Treasury of Norse Mythology: Stories of Intrigue, Trickery, Love and Revenge has back matter that includes a map of the ancient Norse world and a timeline of Norse history. There is also a cast of characters with the names and attributes of the deities, although no phonetic pronunciations, which I would have liked. I struggled with the consonant-filled names as I read. However, Napoli's introduction is followed by a note on Norse names that explains the Old Norse alphabet, the use of nominative case markers and her choice to anglicize the names. She also includes sites where readers can find more information about Old Norse as well as a video link that lets readers hear the language.


Another aspect of Treasury of Norse Mythology: Stories of Intrigue, Trickery, Love and Revenge that I especially like are the side notes that explain and add understanding to the stories in the book. The importance of the number nine in Norse mythology, the woes of beauty (women really don't fare well in Norse mythology...) and winter travel and more all get a paragraph or two and are fascinating. Napoli's afterword is fascinating and helped me make sense of the sometimes strange path of the stories. She notes the three main inconsistencies she encountered in the stories as she draws from various sources. Logical inconsistencies (like Loki's shape-shifting abilities not always coming into play) factual inconsistencies (like Odin starving for meat when he is supposed to live in wine alone) and inconsistencies of time. Interestingly, Napoli shares that she has found time inconsistencies in Greek and Egyptian myths as well, noting that this could be due to the many authors writing down the tales at different times. She ends on this interesting thought that reflects her knowledge and understanding of her subject matter, "Why can't time simply fold back on itself, especially in a  world riddled with magic?"




Source: Review Copy


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4. My Crazy Inventions Sketchbook: 50 Awesome Drawing Activities for Young Inventors by Andrew Rae & Lisa Regan, 128 pp, RL: 4


My Crazy Inventions Sketchbook: 50 Awesome Drawing Activities for Young Inventors by Andrew Rae and Lisa Regan is GENIUS! Rae has worked for many clients worldwide in advertising, print, publishing and animation and Regan is an accomplished author of children's non-fiction with over 300 titles to her name. The beauty of My Crazy Inventions Sketchbook is that it is more than a doodle book that will appeal to kids who may have never even considered inventing or designing something. This book is so engaging and inviting that readers will step outside the box or be inspired to step even further out, if they are already creatively inclined. Regan and Rae detail and bring to life a wide array of inventions from hundreds of years ago, like Leonardo daVinci's 1485 design for wings for humans to 21st century craziness like the man in Brazil who built a machine that changes from a van to a robot and back again in about two minutes. 


My Crazy Inventions Sketchbook is a great gift for a kid who is a tinkerer, doodler or both, but it is also a gentle guide for kids who might really feel a passion for invention. The "Getting Started" page takes this seriously and tells junior inventors to keep a notebook, always make sure you are not inventing something that already exists and to "learn to let go" when you are the only one who thinks your inventions is a winner.



My Crazy Invention Sketchbook introduces kids to actual inventions, from the useful to the life changing to the ridiculous then invites them to think up their own inventions along the same lines or principals or adapt and improve something that already exists. Inventors can invent something to help them practice their favorite sport, a faster method of long distance travel or ways to make a boat fly. They are invited to invent a toilet, a toy, a brand new candy and a better bed. They are also asked to customize a bike and accessorize a car. Leaning into the less than possible (but hey, who am I to say?) kids are also asked to design a shrinking machine and a device that would help you do your homework.




The final pages of My Crazy Invention Sketchbook introduces readers to the concept of patents and has a two page "Application for Patent of My Crazy Invention" that, while far from the real thing, is a great place for young inventors to organize their thoughts and get them on the page. Finally, a very cool certificate of patent makes up the last page of the book. My Crazy Invention Sketchbook is guaranteed to spark ideas and inspire creativity in any one, of any age, who opens the covers and starts turning pages!

Source: Review Copy




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5. Secret Coders Book 1: Get With the Program! by Gene Luen Yang & Mike Holmes, 88 pp, RL 4


Binary code. Computer programming. New town and new school. Gene Luen Yang, graphic novelist extraordinaire, is great storyteller, whatever subject he focuses on. Yang moves with ease from literary historical fiction like Boxers & Saints, to superheroes, like The Shadow Hero, Avatar, the Last Airbender and Superman, and on to everyday life, like Level Up, American Born Chinese, and The Eternal Smile. As a former high school computer science teacher, who made comics at night, Yang is a big supporter of teacher kids to code at an early age and his newest graphic novel seriesSecret Coders: Get With the Program!, created with Mike Holmes, bringing what Yang calls a "Saturday morning energy" to it, does just that.is designed to do just that. There is even an excellent website for the book filled with great instructional videos, coding activities, including a downloadable file that lets you create Little Guy, the robot from the book, on a 3D printer!

Stately Academy, the setting of Secret Coders: Get With the Program!, is a bit like Hogwarts. As Yang says, it's a secret school that "teaches coding instead of magic." And, as Yang points out, coding is even better than magic because you can do it at home! Hopper is new to the slightly creepy, sort of mysterious Stately Academy. She gets pudding chucked at her head, makes a fool of herself in Mandarin class and at lunch her earrings, shaped like the number 7, trigger a startling reaction in a weird bird.

Seeing this oddity, Eni, son of a software engineer, comes over to investigate. Besides having some mad skills on the basketball court, Eni has a solid grasp of binary numbers and explains the controlling binary code to Hopper with a cool demonstration using pennies and chalk. Once Hopper gets it, the two experiment on the bird and begin to understand why the number 9 appears all over the school. There seem to be secret codes everywhere at Stately Academy and as Eni, his buddy Josh and Hopper break them they travel deeper and deeper into the secrets of the school and the crusty old janitor, Mr. Bee.




Some secrets are exposed and even more are unearthed by the end of Secret Coders: Get With the Program!, which has a bit of a cliffhanger. Book 1 is a great set up, focusing on making sure that readers understand binary code (over more character  and plot development) before moving on to the next book in the series, Secret Coders: Paths & Portals, which comes out in January of 2016!



Source: Review Copy

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6. Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish by Barry Deutsch, 142pp, RL 4


I can't ever imagine getting tired of Barry Deutsch's self-possessed, stubborn heroine or the slightly As  one review
succinctly, perfectly signed off, "This consistently clever and thoughtful series has not lost a particle of momentum." One of my favorite little things that comes with each new book is the new tagline! For book three in this brilliant series, Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish, the it reads, "Yet Another 11-Year-Old Time Traveling Orthodox Jewish Babysitter." As always, Deutsch's books are a marvelous mash-up of a fairy-tale-fantasy world and an Orthodox Jewish community. With book three, we get a glimpse into the world of Fruma, Mirka's stepmother.


Just before leaving Mirka home alone to babysit her little sister Layele, her stepmother Fruma drops some cryptic comments about happenings in the woods near their home. Tasked with doing the Shabbos shopping at Hershel's Grocery, Mirka drags a frightened Layele into the woods first so that she can get help in finding out what Fruma meant. A very funny scene with the troll Mirka fought in the first book ends with a magic hair tie that affords Mirka and Layele to see Fruma as a teenager.  A non-Orthodox teenager!


A magic fish, a wish made by teen-Fruma and a tricky second wish that traps the fish cause trouble for Mirka and Layele, who finds herself the vessel for the fish at one point. The fish is determined to exact revenge on Fruma and Mirka finds that she has to use her brain and her empathy instead of her sword to outwit the vindictive fish. Mirka is a compelling character both because of her flaws and her strengths. She is headstrong and determined and always breaking rules and disregarding her elders, and for this I love her. But what I love even more is watching Mirka think (and fight) her way to redemption and success.

Books 1 & 2 in the Hereville Series:








Source: Review Copy

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7. Baba Yaga's Assistant by Marika McCoola, illustrated by Emily Carroll, 136 pp, RL 4

Baba Yaga's Assistant is the superlative new graphic novel written by Marika McCoola and illustrated by Emily Carroll, who brought us the eerily wonderful graphic Through the Woods. I am a HUGE fan of fairy tales (my secret dream is to get a PhD in fairy tales and write a killer dissertation...) and always excited to see a story that features one of the lesser known (to Americans) characters

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8. The Chronicles of the Black Tulip: The Vanishing Island, Book 1, by Barry Wolverton, 338 pp, RL 4

In 2012 I reviewed Neversink, a superb, Watership Down-esque tale of animals living in the Arctic Circle by Barry Wolverton. I've been waiting three years to see what he does next and The Vanishing Island, the first book in the Chronicles of the Black Tulip series is every bit as exciting as Neversink and inventively set in the alternate past of 1599! The town of Map is the "dirtiest,

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9. Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself by Judy Blume, 376 pp, RL 4

I was nine when Judy Blume's only novel for kids set in the past was published. Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself debuted in 1977, sandwiched between Blume's better known novels for older readers, Forever and Wifey. Being just the right age in the 70s, I read the core cannon of Blume's books - Blubber, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, Then Again, Maybe I Won't, Deenie and

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10. George by Alex Gino, 195pp, RL 4

George by Alex Gino is a groundbreaking, vitally important, perfectly written addition to the shelves of children's literature. George is the story of ten-year-old George Mitchell who knows she is a girl, in spite of physical appearances. Over the course of the story, George struggles with what she knows to be true and wanting to tell the people in her life this truth. I came to George,

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11. Libby of High Hopes: Project Blue Ribbon by Elise Primavera, 280pp, RL 4

In 2012 I reviewed Libby of High Hopes, written and illustrated by Elise Primavera, calling it a gem of a book. In the almost eleven-year-old Libby, Primavera created a character who, in her struggle to get what she newly discovers she wants most in the world, must also confront her own shortcomings and disappointment. Libby Thump is one of the most genuine literary girls I have

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12. The Marvels by Brian Selznick, 672 pp. RL 4

Books like The Marvels by Brian Selznick are why I read and books like The Marvels what keep me reading, in the hopes of recreating the magical experience of being completely immersed in another world, another time. If you have read The Invention of Hugo Cabret then you know the special gift and pleasure you are in for when you hold this gorgeous 672 page tome in your hands and prepare

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13. The Doldrums, written and illustrated by Nicholas Gannon, 340 pp, RL 4

The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon is rich with promise. The pages of this beautiful book are thick and creamy. Gannon, a graduate of Parsons School of Design, illustrates The Doldrums with characters and a palette that are ethereal, eccentric and inviting. The hero of The Doldrums, which will be followed by a sequel, is Archer B. Helmsley, one of the thousands of children born every day who

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14. The Stratford Zoo Midnight Review Presents: Macbeth AND The Stratford Zoo Midnight Review Presents: Hamlet written by Ian Lendler, art by Zack Giallongo, colors by Alisa Harris



The Stratford Zoo Midnight Review series by Ian Lendler and Zack Giallongo is going to do for Shakespeare what George O'Connor has done for Greek mythology with his Olympians series. Last year they debuted, The Stratford Zoo Midnight Review Presents: Macbeth, and now, as promised by the peacock at the end of Macbeth, The Stratford Zoo Midnight Review: Romeo and Juliet has arrived!


The Stratford Zoo Midnight Review Presents: Macbeth takes a pretty intense, adult play about a thirst for power, a prophecy and more than a few murders and, miraculously, makes it kid appropriate. As The Stratford Zoo Midnight Review Presents: Macbeth begins, there is a quick set up where readers see a pink, tentacle-y arm unlocking cages all over the zoo and the audience taking their seats while seagulls hawk "Peanuts! Earthworms! Ice cold bananas!" and, "Carrion, rotting carrion!" Panels, sometimes strategically placed, allow glimpses of the audience and their reactions as the play unfolds.

Macbeth, as played by the lion, is adored by all, plied with food and hungry for something new. He realizes that if he eats the king he will become the new king. It's not food Macbeth wants, it's power! Loads of ketchup and an elephant getting up out of his seat disguise the murders that Macbeth commits to become and stay king. Lady Macbeth, as played by a cheetah, realizes, most dramatically, that her spots just will NOT come out (and a key word in her famous speech about them is changed to "dumb.") MacDuff, as played by a stork, defeats Macbeth, fulfilling the prophecy because he wasn't born from a mother, but "delivered," and, happily, everyone that he has eaten in his quest for power pops out of his mouth! The actors take a bow, the audience leaves and, as the zoo opens we see kids wondering what the animals do all night, since they seem to sleep all day...



In The Stratford Zoo Midnight Review: Romeo and Juliet the animal actors return with another of Shakespeare's tragedies and a rooster and a bear in the titular roles. The same family of monkeys return for the play, and the little one quips and complains and tussles with a lamb, Lydia, but ultimately enjoy the play and find friendship after the curtain closes, echoing that action on the stage.  The writing and casting of The Stratford Zoo Midnight Review: Romeo and Juliet is brilliant. Romeo and the Montagues are roosters (and chickens) and part of the Verona Petting Zoo and known as "Petters." The Capulets are Wilders, bears living in the wilderness. The two meet at a costume party where Romeo is wearing a bandit mask and Juliet is dressed as (a very cute) Abraham Lincoln. Lendler gets around the love, marriage and death aspects of the story by having Romeo and Juliet want to be best friends and Juliet deciding to enter into early hibernation.



Giallongo's illustrations are bright and colorful and hilarious. The plans for Juliet's party include juice boxes and a blow-up bounce house. The Stratford Zoo Midnight Review: Romeo and Juliet is a more brightly colored book, perhaps because of the roosters. Once again, the violence and death is tactfully handled by having an elephant in the audience - this time with a date in tow - stand up and block the stage. The story and art work together perfectly, once again, in this totally entertaining graphic novel. Kids don't need to know that they are reading a Shakespeare play to enjoy or understand the story - it works on its own. The bonus is, maybe 5 years down the road when they read the play in high school, they will already know the story! Once again, the zookeepers clean up after the play, baffled by a bottle of "Hibernation Juice" they discover amongst the trash. The next play/graphic novel promises to be a comedy and I can't wait to read it.


Source: Purchased (Macbeth) and Review Copy (Romeo & Juliet)

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15. brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, 328 pp, RL 4

Winner of the National Book Award, the Newbery Honor Medal (her third) and the Coretta Scott King Award for Authors, brown girl dreaming is worth every medal and more. Like the Newbery Medal winner this year, Kwame Alexander's Crossover, Woodson's book is a verse novel - two verse novels wining ALA awards in the same year! While Jacqueline Woodson's memoir in verse, brown girl dreaming, is

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16. Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones, illustrated by Katie Kath, 216 pp. RL 4

I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones with perfect illustrations by Katie Kath! First, it is an epistolary novel, one of my favorite kinds of books. Next, in Sophie Brown, Jones has created an ethnic character who speaks matter-of-factly about being discriminated against because of the color of her skin. I am always thrilled to find

0 Comments on Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones, illustrated by Katie Kath, 216 pp. RL 4 as of 5/25/2015 8:11:00 PM
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17. Secret Letters From 0 to10 by Susie Morgenstern, translated by Gill Rosner, 137pp RL 4

First reviewed on 11/16/08, Secret Letters from 0 + 10 left a great impression on me. A wonderful, quiet story, Morgenstern's writing is superlative. Your children will remember this book long into adulthood. Secret Letters from 0 to 10 by Susie Morgenstern is a gem of a book. It turned up on the shelves of the bookstore one day and I was drawn to the cover, its length and the fact that is

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18. The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson, pictures by Garth Williams 97pp RL4

Written in 1958 and winner of the Newbery Honor, The Family Under the Bridge is the story of how an old hobo named Armand, who wants nothing of homes, responsibility and regular work, ends up with all of these as well as a family of children. Set in Paris, France in a time when hobos were more like wandering gypsies than the people living on the streets these days, the story follows Armand

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19. The Cabinet of Earths, written by Anne Nesbet, 258 pp, RL 4

The Cabinet of Earths, debut novel from Anne Nesbet stands out above recent fantasy novels I have read for the creation of main character, twelve year old Maya. For me, Maya can take a place at the table with strong girl characters in fantasy novels alongside Hazel, hero of Anne Ursu's beautiful Breadcrumbs. At the head of this table is Lyra Belacqua, the fearless, complex, heartbreaking

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20. Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley, 304 pp, RL 4

Art by Diana Sudyka Circus Mirandus is the debut novel by Cassie Beasley and it comes with a lot of advance excitement, a movie deal and praise, all of which are deserved. When I first read the blurb for Circus Mirandus, I was reminded of a book that made an impression on me when I was in junior high, Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes. And, while both books are set at a

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21. Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson, 240 pp, RL 4

Roller Girl is the absolutely magnificent debut graphic novel by picture book author and illustrator Victoria Jamieson. Jamieson has an inviting, crisp illustration style and a gift for storytelling that rivals the master, Raina Telgemeier. With Roller Girl, Jamieson introduces readers to Astrid, a 12 year-old who discovers her passion the same summer she discovers the complexities and

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22. The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson, 258 pp, RL 4

The Abominables is a posthumous publication from Eva Ibbotson with illustrations by the wonderful Fiona Robinson. Ibbotson is best known for the magical creature filled books she herself called "romps." While her works always have a rich vein of loving kindness running throughout, Ibbotson had a gift for creating kooky characters with bad ideas and and bad intentions as well as those with

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23. Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey, forward by Jane Goodall, 96 pp, RL 4

The introduction for Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey begins by noting that Jane Goodall "has been chosen as the most recognized scientist in the Western world." Regardless of how accurate that statement is, the fact remains that Jane Goodall is still alive, has been working in her field for over 50 years and her subject is something that is almost universally appealing

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24. Why'd They Wear That?: Fashions as the Mirror of History by Sarah Albee, forward by Tim Gunn, 186 pp, RL 4

There are so many things I love and am fascinated by in Why'd They Wear That? Fashion as the Mirror of History by Sarah Albee! From the multitude of fascinating facts to the fantastic graphics, I am worried this review could go on endlessly. However, what I love most about Albee's book is what comes at the end, right before a timeline, author's notes, further reading and resources,

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25. A Divided Night by Jennifer A. Nielsen, 317 pp, RL 4

Jennifer Nielsen is the author of the widely praised Ascendance Trilogy, set in a kingdom on the verge of civil war. Neilsen is also the author of the Mark of the Thief trilogy set in Ancient Rome that combines history, fantasy and fast paced action. Nielsen's newest book, A Night Divided, is a stand-alone work of historical fiction set in a time and place that is rarely visited in

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