November 20, 2017

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Chapter Books: an Inquisitive Animal and a Sweet Sleuth | November 2017 Xpress Reviews

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Boehme, Julia. Tafiti y el viaje al fin del mundo. illus. by Julia Ginsbach. 80p. Uranito. Feb. 2017. Tr $12.95. ISBN 9788416773053.

Gr 2-4 –Tafiti the meerkat is off to see the edge of the world. All his life he’s heard the tale of his ancestors’ perilous journey across the savanna to establish their present home. The dangers are many: the menacing bird of prey, Señor Gogo; King Kofi the ravenous lion; and the raging river. Tafiti must survive them all if he’s to prove that the innocent-looking hill in the distance, where his many antecedents came from, is indeed the end of the world. He sets off without telling his family—he only confides in his sibling, Tutu. Along the way he outsmarts King Kofi and rescues Pincel, a tasseled-ear red river hog. The aspiring-artist hog and Tafiti become great friends and protect each other on the journey until they reach the hill of Tafiti’s dreams. Ginsbach’s detailed illustrations are colorful and dynamic. The characters’ expressive faces add to the story’s charm. This is the first title in a popular children’s series originally written in German. The Spanish translation reads well and exhibits no awkward phrasing. The vocabulary is advanced, so young readers may need to keep a dictionary handy as they follow Tafiti and Pincel’s many adventures. VERDICT This early chapter book is successful as both a read-aloud with a favorite adult and as an entertaining transition to more complex children’s fiction.–Mary Margaret Mercado, Pima County Public Library, Tucson, AZ

Vulliamy, Clara. Dotty Detective. illus. by Clara Villiama. 176p. HarperCollins/Harper. Oct. 2017. pap. $4.99. ISBN 9780008243708.

Gr 2-4 –Dorothy Constance Mae Louis is an open book. And so is her diary. She and her very British family have happily relocated to a new home. This means a new bedroom, new school, and hopefully, new friends. Her classroom is lively and she easily makes a friend called Beans; they bond over their favorite detective show, Fred Fantastic: Ace Detective. The two, along with Dotty’s dog McClusky, form their own detective agency. In search of a case to solve, they set their sights on the class talent show. Petty classroom jealousies make Dot and Beans suspicious of an attention-seeking classmate. This contemporary book is refreshing, and readers will enjoy the British expressions sprinkled throughout. Dot’s diary is filled with commonplace details of her life, such as her favorite teatime snacks and her family’s antics. While the whodunit aspects are rather light, what sets this book apart is how the characters come together in a pinch. The diary layout is fun, and the black-and-white illustrations wonderfully fill in the gaps where the prose is limited. This will appeal to reluctant readers and those not quite ready for “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” or “Dork Diaries.” VERDICT A pleasant read that is perfect for emerging and/or reluctant readers, especially those looking for light mysteries.–Sada Mozer, Los Angeles Public Library

This article was published in School Library Journal's November 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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