Saturday, May 18, 2024

Snoopy's Beagle Scout Tales by Charles M. Schulz

Today's read isn't really anything new but heads into a much-loved direction. The Peanuts gang was well-known to me and my siblings, and my kids still enjoy watching some of their seasonal shows. I'll admit that I'm always a bit skeptical when it comes to the continuation of such series once the author is no longer creating them. So, I'm hitting this one with mixed expectations.

Peanuts Graphic Novels
by Charles M. Schulz
Simon Spotlight
Middle Grade Fiction
ages 8 and up
160 pages

Enjoy nature with the Peanuts gang in this graphic novel that features classic Schulz comic strips, previously published stories, and an all-new original camping-themed story!

Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the rest of the gang spend time in the great outdoors in this collection of graphic novel short stories that includes the classic Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown! 

GOODREADS     /     B&N      /       AMAZON      /      BLUE BIRD CROZET


The Peanuts gang heads to outdoor-camp adventure with all of their quirks and ideas to face new obstacles in their very own way.

This is a collection of five stories, each one heading outdoors to the realm of summer camp. At the beginning, there is a table of contents to help readers quickly locate the tale they want to visit. While one of these is written by Schulz (not illustrated, though), the other four originate from other authors but remain true to Schulz's general style. Between each one, there are short, original comic snippets from Mr. Schulz.

This is an endearing collection with the gang as they're known and loved. Charlie Brown is his usual, awkward self as he tries to overcome new obstacles. While even normal life aspects tend to give him trouble, he faces bullies and more in these adventures, always with his friends at his side. Of course, the Peanuts' gang has their inner-ripples, which lead to all sorts of funny situations. And Snoopy is underway with his troop of birds to sneak in that extra zest at all the right moments.

The stories are grabbing and hit a bitter-sweet note of truth, while keeping humor high. But that's also one of the reasons this gang is so enjoyed. Young readers will find many situations they can identify with and giggle (or roll their eyes) most of the way through. There are more than a few life lessons and times to groan right along with Charlie Brown, making it a relevant read to still enjoy. Some of these do come across with a tiny bit more bite than Schulz had, but it still remains very much along the lines Peanuts has embodied.

It was interesting to compare the artwork from the original to the 'new'. The artists have remained mostly true to Schulz's style but with clearer lines and brighter colors. This does make the reading easier/clearer for the intended age group. The wonderful personalities of the characters also guarantees that the reading skills are gently pushed thanks to the, sometimes, broader vocabulary in the dialogue. 

It's a fun collection for young Peanut fans or those who enjoy well-done, situation humor. 

Friday, May 17, 2024

Movies Showing Nowhere by Yorick Goldewijk

 I might be jumping things a bit with today's doesn't hit the shelves until October. Well, that's if you don't speak Dutch. This book was released in 2021 and was suppose to hit the English speaking world the beginning of last month...but didn't make it thanks to a shifting schedule. Whoever thinks the publishing realm is easy or predictable, has simply missed the mark. So now, it appears to be hitting the world this coming Fall, but I couldn't wait to read it until then because it really looks that good.

by Yorick Goldewijk
Translated by Laura Watkinson
Pushkin Children's Books
Middle Grade Fantasy
256 pages
ages 8 to 12

OCTOBER 1st!!!

A prizewinning middle grade fantasy adventure about memories, loss and time travel.

On the day Cato came into the world, her mother left it. Cato's dad has been a mere shadow of a person ever since, and Cato has given up reaching out to him. When she finds a mysterious card from an abandoned movie theatre and discovers it has reopened, Cato decides to go take a look. There appears to be something strange about the cinema. The movies showing there are no ordinary movies and somehow the cinema seems to be in connection with the past...

Looking for adventure and the truth about her mother, Cato is swept into a dangerous journey through time and memories, straight to a place deep within her heart. A place she had always managed to keep locked away. And then she faces a choice that will change her life, and that of her father, forever.



The mysterious atmosphere of old theaters meets a fantastical journey into memories to create an adventurous read with tons of heart.

The day Cato was born, her mother died, and this has hung over her and her father's heads their entire lives. He barely recognizes her existence and the only reason things run somewhat smoothly is thanks to the busy-body neighbor, who seems to think she's part of the family. Cato wishes everything could change. When she discovers a card announcing the opening of the old cinema, her curiosity leads her to the theater where she meets the new owner. Cato agrees to work for cinema and soon learns that only one visitor comes each day, and that the movie screen isn't what it appears to be. Instead, it's the portal into memories...and the owner of the cinema claims it's part of Cato's job to step into it.

It's no wonder that this book has won several prizes. The writing flows very well (kudos to the translator). The story carries that magical touch to invite to dreams. Cato is a kind girl, who is at odds with the world around her. She's a bit prickly because of that but in a way which makes her easy to sympathize with.  The characters around her don't really gain as much depth in the same way, but this is also the heart of the plot. It's a tale of discovery as she learns more about the people around her and, therefore, about herself.

Everything about this read carries a lightly mysterious and magical flair. From the secretive neighbor, who seems to be hiding an agenda, to the odd old woman on the street, nothing is as it seems. Then, there's the old cinema with its amazing eerie atmosphere. Even without tons of descriptions, the author brings the dusty, historic building across vividly, creating a setting which invites to adventure. Readers will wish they could visit it themselves and wonder why anyone would be willing to drink squash juice served with popcorn. 

The story rounds off very well by the end and creates a read with tons of heart, which surrounds loss and how circumstances can change a person's view on life. There were a couple hiccups on the logic end, but these barely surface thanks to the smoothness of the rest of the read. It's a lovely, fantastical journey with heart, which touches on a difficult theme and offers hope.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Your Throne Volume One by Sam

This month, I seem to be hitting quite a few graphic novels, especially in the young adult direction...which is fine by me, since time is tight this time of year. We planted corn this week and now, I have to hit my upper garden beds, since my tomatoes are slowly taking up my living room windows and really, really, really need to make it outdoors. And then, there's the zucchini. 

I'm going off on a tangent here...zucchini is usually a plant that can feed a village. But not here. We have squash bugs, which destroy the plants right before they produce. (Stupid bugs!) BUT I finally got my hands on diatomaceous earth. This contains 80-90% silica, which is said to dry out the bugs and make it impossible for them to chomp away at the stem and roots. So, I'm praying for tons of zucchini this year. I'll get back to you on how that all works out. 

Anyway, graphic novels fly by faster on the reading end than traditional ones, so I was happy to see so many in my pile. Today's looks like one I'll either love or hate...and if I hate it, then I'll try the diatomaceous earth on it? Maybe not.

Do any of you know how to pronounce diatomaceous?

by Sam
WEBTOON Unscrolled
Young Adult Fantasy
288 pages

OCTOBER 1st!!!

A powerful noblewoman has to rewrite her entire revenge plan when she wakes up in the body of her sworn rival. Your Throne Vol. 1 collects the first 12 episodes of the stunning fantasy WEBTOON comic by SAM, which has over 830 million reads worldwide.

Tensions are brewing under the seemingly calm surface of the Vasilios Empire, a kingdom ruled by the Imperial Family and the Temple. Lady Medea Solon has lost her place next to Crown Prince Eros but resolves to do whatever it takes to win back what's rightfully hers. However, she’ll have to rewrite her entire revenge plan when she wakes up in the body of her sworn rival.


Revenge and evil-queen-vibes sink into an unexpected game, where everyone plays their own strategy while unknowingly taking the role of someone else's pawn.

Medea should have been queen but lost her place when the prince chose the other girl instead. Now, she's out for revenge, but before she can take it, the craziest thing happens, and she wakes up to find herself in her rival's body. While she quickly regains her footing and has all intentions to continue with her initial goal, her new and different perspective of the situation reveals a much more complicated scheme. What started as a simple plan to destroy one person has warped into a battle to save the entire kingdom.

I went into this hoping for a darker, cliche story, which would offer a bit of expectations weren't high. But this gives quite a bit more and promises to lead into an exciting series of intrigue and many hidden agendas. The beginning shows Medea in a terrible light as a vengeful young woman, who embodies the villain. It made her very hard to like or connect with, especially when juxtaposed with the angelic rival. During the first pages, I did wonder if I'd made a bad grab. Also, not much time is spent sinking into the situation or world, leaving a bit of confusion especially since Medea's hate seems very unfounded. But this ill-balanced beginning does end up setting off the tale better than first appears.

While this starts with an overly cliche atmosphere, the twists and turns flip everything on its head to create an original and grabbing read. There is a lot of room for character growth, and even in this first volume, that arc comes across well. To say that there's quite a bit going on is an understatement, and that guarantees quick pacing throughout. With all of the webbed intentions, this could quickly grow confusing but flashbacks root the background and keep things from flying out of control. Normally, I'm not a huge fan of such back-and-forth, but it works well because the reader gets hit with a truckload of information in this first volume. While it seems to border on confusing at times, it manages not to go too far, but instead, sets the base for so much more to come during the upcoming volumes.

The art style fits the story. The color tones match the atmosphere and subtly portray each 'queen' in a way, which supports how the reader is supposed to see them at that moment. The visual changes match the plot and balance well with the text.

I am looking forward to the next volume, especially since this beginning has laid such an intricate base. There are more than a few questions as to the intent and goals of several characters, and it will be exciting to see where this all might lead.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook for Kids by David Borgenicht and Justin Heimberg

Today's read caught my attention right away.  I loved such reads as a kid, my siblings enjoyed them, and my own kids would have gobbled up survival facts. I am curious to see how detailed this read gets and hope it's a lot of fun, too. 

by David Borgenicht and Justin Heimberg
Illustrated by Wenke Kramp
Quirk Books
Middle Grade Nonfiction
128 pages
ages 8 to 12


The best-selling (and wildly hilarious) Worst-Case Scenario series is back with 40 extreme survival tips for kids ages 8-12, great for adventurous fans of the I Survived books.

Erupting volcanoes. Ravenous sharks. Pooping in the woods. The great outdoors is a weird, wonderful, and scare-your-pants-off terrifying place. Whether you’re freezing in the Arctic, escaping quicksand in the jungle, or befriending tarantulas in the desert, this guide has you covered. (Figuratively, not literally. We didn’t have the budget for a blanket-sized book.) Bust this guide open and discover step-by-step instructions for surviving the most extreme situations that Planet Earth can throw at you. 

Learn how  Dodge a charging rhinoceros, ride out a sandstorm, navigate by the stars, build a snow cave, cross piranha-infested waters…and much more. Yeah, the outdoors can be scary, but big deal. You’ve got this indispensable, laugh-out-loud survival guide. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get out there.



Survivalist and adventure fans hit information for hardcore situations, and that with tons of humor tossed in.

From ice landscapes to jungles...from Africa to South America and more, this read visits dangerous and sticky situations, which readers may or may not ever face, from all ends of the globe. Surviving a shipwreck on an island, facing down a mountain lion, or even understanding the first hints of a tsunami no longer count to secret skills after hitting these pages. The chapters divide up the possible predicaments by settings (jungle, ice, etc.), give a one paragraph introduction, and then dive into several scenarios and how to deal with them with short tips and hints. 

Some skills are useful and good-to-know. Others are interesting but probably will never arise...which doesn't mean the information is useless, though. Each situation is delivered with a sense of adventure and humor, which never underplays the true danger but keeps it light-hearted and fun. The information holds general, easy tips (nothing overly technical) and will have readers proud that they know some things others probably don't. The information is also correct, which does add to the all-around-knowledge aspect and really can help out if the need arises. It's an extremely varied mix, which adds to the fun.

The writing is very fitting for the middle grade audience. The reader is directly addressed, and while the authors 'play' with each scenario and add jokes, they never talk down to the readers, either. It guarantees smiles and also helps the information sit better in the memory. There are added questions toward the end of each chapter, which hold a bit of real information checking but also offer ridiculous answer possibilities to bring snorts and giggles. The illustrations also add humor but do help readers understand the information given in the text (like how to construct emergency shelters). 

It's a fun read with tons of information, too, and I do see readers enjoying this one quite a bit.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Morgana and Oz Vol. 1 by Miyuli

Today's read doesn't hit until September, but I've been too curious to see if it's any good to wait that long. It's a graphic novel for the teen audience and should be a light, fun read. This one is going to play around the relationship between a witch and a vampire...and now that I think about it, I haven't read a vampire story for a very long time! Wow. It was just a couple years ago that vampires and witches were all over YA literature. Interesting how things constantly change.

Anyway, I'm hoping this one isn't all gushy and swoony but rather packs some humor, adventure or something along those lines, too. So, off we go!

Volume 1
by Miyuli
WEBTOON Unscrolled
YA Paranormal
320 pages


What happens when a struggling witch meets an angsty vampire? Either love or war.

Morgana belongs to a long line of witches, and Oz to the rival vampire clan. After a chance encounter . . . and maybe a few stray spells . . . these two need to find a way to work together, or risk all-out war between coven and clan.

It's a Romeo and Juliet story where a boy and a girl from two rival clans, one a vampire and one a witch, meet cute, like each other, but then the girl makes a serious mistake and turns the boy into a cute kitty.

Collecting episodes 1-19 of the hit fantasy WEBTOON series



Take a accident-prone witch, a lost vampire turned cat, and a coven/clan war, and chaos is guaranteed.

The witches are determined to finally find peace with the rival vampire clan after generations of fighting and invite them over for a first dinner. No magic is allowed, but Morgana can't stand the color of the dress her mother chose for her. When her magic backfires—again—, it doesn't unleash chaos but she does run across someone lurking outside on her way to the dumpster. As her and the vampire, Oz, exchange first greetings as awkwardly as possible, the dinner inside erupts into chaos. Soon, the house is standing in flames, the vampires swear deadly war, and Morgana ends up with a vampire-turned-kitty in her arms. Somehow, everything needs to be fixed, but Morgana is the last witch, who can be expected to achieve that job.

I was expecting quite a bit more romance, and I'm so glad that this aspect didn't hit nearly as strong as it might have. Instead, this read takes on a sweet, funny, and chaotic tone with just a touch of secret agendas to add a dash of mystery...but very slight. The tale concentrates more on Morgana and her inability to control of her magic as she desperately wants to meet expectations and become a good witch. Her super kind personality and willingness to overlook others' negative points, makes her a heroine to root for. She's naive but not stupid and has quite a bit of potential for growth during the series. Oz doesn't come across as strongly in this first volume, which works fine and simply lays the groundwork for more to come on his end. He does add the needed grit to create smile-worthy situations, though.

This is a fun, easy read with quick and even pacing the entire way through. While the tensions between the coven and clan members are obvious, darker moments are held at bay by the lighter humor and quirky situations. The over-the-top personalities of most of the characters is endearing, and yet, it's clear that a couple might not hold the genuine intentions as they appear to have. But this side is only hinted at and, I'm assuming, will carry much more importance as the series continues. 

The graphics tend to take darker hues (not always but overall), while the characters...especially Morgana...remain wide-eyed and more open in their style. This fits well with the story's atmosphere, and also allows the hints of darker aspects to maintain present without gaining too much footing against the sillier side. Many scenes also hang toward the individual characters rather than fuller settings and surroundings. This allows the personalities and emotions to shine. When more is needed, the backgrounds are well done, making it easy to slip into every moment. 

It's a fun read, and I am looking forward to seeing where it goes from here because there promises to be several unexpected twists and turns...and tons of character growth.