Mouse Vacation by Philip Roy

October 26, 2016

mouse-vacation-cover_final-286x300Mouse Vacation by Philip Roy and illustrated by Andrea Torrey Balsara is the fourth book in the Happy the Pocket Mouse Series.

Happy dreams of taking a holiday like his neighbour Mrs. Farrell. When he approaches his human friend John, about his ideas, John and Happy’s ensuing conversation will take the reader on a journey that covers many areas on the globe.

The soft watercolour closeup illustrations of Happy throughout this tale of the Pocket Mouse, expertly captures and mirrors the expressions that often young children convey when having similar conversations with an adult.  The lists that Happy and John compile reveal the difference each character has about taking a vacation. Happy’s  trips are all to farway places, whereas John’s rational for his choices are made from a more humble origin.

Eventually, a compromise is reached by both, which has Happy and John taking a journey via an overnight bus trip to the seashore.

At 32 pages, the expressive illustrations highly compliment the text and allow the reader to become fully engaged with Happy and John’s tale.

Although the story is simple in the telling, I found that Happy’s big ideas of ‘taking a vacation’ is an original way of introducing  world cultures, places and maps and engage young children! A great curriculum connection for primary children!


Highly Recommended! FIVE STARS!


[Book supplied by Ronsdale Press in exchange for an honest review]

Slide by Norah McClintock

September 26, 2016

slideIn the “Seven Prequels” set, Slide by award winning author Norah McClintock, is one of the titles in the latest “Seven” series phenomena published by Orca Book Publishers.

Readers familiar with the characters in these books, are re-introduced to them as  boys who are a bit younger…namely in 13 years old range. The characteristically dare-devil grandfather and grandson relationship that is often core in these narratives, is replaced in  McClintock’s tale by grandson Rennie ‘hanging’ with his adventure rule-bending grandmother as he gets to travel with her to a ski resort in the back country, despite his stepfather’s adamant instructions to the contrary.

McClintock creative writing style weaves together action, adventure, mystery and murder with humour as Rennie experiences the first ever pangs of ‘love’ in the midst of trying to satisfy  and solve some very unusual circumstances.

The story accelerates with a dizzy pace that has the reader hanging on to every sentence until it ‘slams’ to a stop!

This is a story that can be enjoyed by junior and intermediate students!
Highly Recommended!


[ARC supplied by Orca Book Publishers in exchange for an honest review]



Minrs by Kevin Sylvester

August 8, 2016

minrsMinrs by Kevin Sylvester


What a captivating story! For myself the setting of this narrative reminded me of the Big Nickel in Sudbury [Ontario, Canada]where one takes a long elevator ride way underground!
Once upon a time, mining an asteroid for resources would have been the stuff of science fiction lore….but this is no longer the case.
In “Minrs“, the combination of science, technology with the concept of mining in outer space, has created a realistic suspenseful, action-adventure tale, filled with as many twists, turns and bumps as experienced on a roller-coaster ride!
Action accelerates, as a communication blackout with Earth occurs and a chain of bizarre events unfolds simultaneously, catapulting those living on the asteroid into a race for survival!

Five Stars!
Highly recommended for all middle grade fans!


Blood Oath by Don Cummer

October 9, 2015
published by Scholastic Canada

published by Scholastic Canada

Blood Oath by Don Cummer

published by Scholastic Canada

c.2015; 231 pages

[a companion to Brothers at War and A Hanging Offence]

Blood Oath. Two, short powerful words that can define a multitude of things. An oath can mean to be a pledge, a bond, a vow …. an affirmation…they are all words that play a pivotal part in the telling of this story.

Author Don Cummer has chosen to chronicle a little known part of Canadian history by creating a narrative that is fast pace and riveting. Jake and Eli began their friendship by relying on each other in their daily lives. Neither could guess how much that bond would be repeatedly tested in the months that led up to and included one of Canada’s most celebrated wars, The War of 1812.

Cummer skillfully crafts a descriptive layered story that is enriched through the use of alternating perspectives. This allows a better understanding into the protagonists, as they often are witness to the same event. The view points taken by Jake and Eli are a reflection of family values and attitudes during a time period when friendships and loyalties are as flexible as the direction of the winds of change.

This is a tale full of adrenaline, heart pumping adventure that is sure to test the reader’s loyalities until the last page!


[Grade 4,5,6,7]


Student testimonial:

Myles and the Monster outside ; by Philippa Dowding

September 26, 2015

Miles and the Monster outsideMyles and the Monster outside by Philippa Dowding
Published by Dundurn Press
c2015; pp.154
Series: Weird Stories gone Wrong

Author Philippa Dowding succinctly sets the tone, on page 7, with one sentence, “you should know, before you even start this book, that it’s a little scary” in Myles and the Monster outside, the second book of her new series “Weird Stories gone Wrong”.

Within the short span of 154 pages, a reader is taken on a roller coaster collision of fear, imagination and the unknown.

“Myles and the Monster outside” begins with mundane and monotony as invisible companions that accompany Myles as he and his family embark upon the adventure of leaving all that is familiar behind and beginning anew.

Mist-like fingers, glowing red eyes, a windshield that cracks are all elements that keep a reader gripping the binding of this book with white-knuckled apprehension and at the same time pushing deeply into the back of a chair!

Once again, Dowding has created a story that challenges a reader to seek ‘courage’ in the face of the unknown……no matter what form the unknown takes.

This is truly a tale that borders upon being an urban legend stirred with a splash of truth!

Highly recommended for Grade 3,4,5 !!!!!

Five Stars!!

“Loyalist to a fault” by Evan Munday

September 19, 2015

Loyalist to a faultPublished by ECW press

[ARC generously supplied by Jenna Illies]
301p. c2015

The colourful ghoulish cover is just a teaser to what a reader can expect when they dive into the latest installment in Evan Munday’s nominated series Dead Kid Detective Agency!

If a reader is the least bit of a detective and observant, the title Loyalist to a Fault, is a clever play on an well known saying ‘loyal to a fault’ which provides a clue to the new, intriguing story involving the intrepid October Schwartz and a group of distinctly ‘spirited’ teen shades!

A story of unique friendships intertwined with decidedly weirdly poignant situations of midnight rendezvous in the local library, grave-digging in February, a pirate, a burning ship, intrigue and an interjection of horror-filled scenes …… captured my attention with such a force, that you can not help but become an unintentional invisible member of the Dead Kid Agency!

The helpful list of characters and appendix of passing references at the end of this third book in the series, allows the reader to delve deeper into the “important cultural history” that is alluded to throughout the narrative.

Mr. Munday adroitly crafts a tale that is a genuine unique blend of perspectives, voice, intrigue-filled social situations, aspects of the macabre laced with snippets of historical facts. Along with these components, and an opening paragraph that states how “many mysteries open with a heinous crime in progress” and in almost the next breath, reveals that….October, commits such an act, will totally ‘kidnap’ readers from the start!!!

Highly Recommended!!
for Grades 6,7,8!!!   Five Stars!

Genres: Mystery; Supernatural; Adventure; Humour

Eco Warrior by Philip Roy

May 8, 2015

Published by Ronsdale Press, Vancouver , BC: c2015 [ARC generously supplied by Ronsdale] In the seventh book of the awesome series Submarine Outlaw,  Alfred and his first mates are no longer EcoWarrior [book 7] by Philip Roy‘outlaws’ on the seas. Alfred now turns his homemade vessel toward Australia and pursues his dream of helping the environment become reality.  Unfortunately for Alfred, his ‘relaxed’ arrival in Perth is marred by a series of events that find him the centre of unwanted attention by authorities. When he is forced to make a quick escape via the help of a self-styled environmental activist-hippy named Merwin Hughes, the road to becoming an environmentalist is accelerated. Allowing Merwin aboard his submarine leaves Alfred uneasy. However, once the decision is reached, both individuals acknowledge this change in procedure – one with enthusiasm – the other with great reluctance. As the pair now travel toward the Southern Ocean, a stunning appearance and consequent interaction with a blue whale and her calf  leads Alfred to reflect on what he has encountered and witnessed during his many ocean travels. Caught up in the  pandemonium and violence of illegal whaling activities, Alfred soon comes to realize that every action counts. This seventh book in Philip Roy’s series adroitly explains environmental activism in a manner that it is comprehensible to readers at any level! Although Alfred’s past voyages are all filled with adventure, new perspectives and understanding, there is a subtle shift in this novel. Readers of Eco Warrior will be swept up in the innocence and trust exhibited by the blue whale and her calf.  They will also experience similar feelings of horror, anguish and desperation as did Alfred and Merwin, as the scenes of conflict unfold between the Sea Shepherd and the whaling ship. The uncertain plight of the oceans is stark – but Roy leaves the candle of hope lit within Alfred and the reader! Highly Recommended !! Grade 6,7,8,9

Student reaction to Eco Warrior:

Kevin “ I wanted to go right out and follow in Alfred’s footsteps and make a difference for the better!!”

Below is a bulletin board inspired by Eco Warrior!

World Oceans Day every day!


Series: Submarine Outlaw : Book 7 Subjects: Environmental Activism; Whales; Endangered species; Ocean life; Adventure; Environmental Protection; Ocean life; World Oceans day; Greenpeace; Sea Shepherd Genres: Action-Adventure; Whales; Submarines; Oceans United Nations World Oceans Day Video: