June Book Reviews
Author: Hill Country Bookstore

For Younger Readers
Prudence Wants a Pet
by Cathleen Daly
Little Prudence wants a pet, but her parents aren’t keen on the idea. So imaginative Prudence comes up with her own pets, like “Branch,” “Twig,” an old shoe named “Formal Footwear,” her little brother and an old tire. All prove to be humorously, yet understandably, unsuccessful as pets. Finally, her perseverance pays off and her parents give her a cute kitty as the perfect birthday gift. The pen-and-ink line drawings with a splash of bright watercolors show Prudence dancing across the pages with expressive body movements and visible joy and disappointment. And you have got to love the humor that her mom and dad exist only as legs and the occasional pointing finger. For ages 4 to 7.

Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a
Single Word
by Bob Raczka
This is a very clever book to entice children to love the reading and writing of poetry. It will also invite them to use imaginative methods in all types of writing. This is a collection of word games masquerading as poems; they are created by rearranging the letters of a single word to form other words and then using those words to create a poem. Ingenious! Some are simple (“friend” becomes “fred/finds/ed”) and others are more complex (“Constellation” becomes the lines “a/silent/lion/tells/an/ancient/tale.” Described as part anagram, part rebus, part riddle, these poems capture a scene from a child’s daily life and present a puzzle to solve. This book’s main message is simply “play with your words!” Ages 6 and up.

For Older Readers
The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman
by Meg Wolitzer
Three quirky 12-year-olds (Duncan, April and Nate) don’t seem to have much in common except that each has travelled to compete in a Scrabble tournament and each is struggling to fit into their own families. Duncan possesses a supernatural power that gives him an unfair advantage and ethical dilemma. April’s family is sports-oriented and doesn’t understand the appeal of Scrabble. Nate’s father is obsessed with the game to the point of homeschooling Nate in one subject only – winning the Scrabble championship. Readers will keep turning the pages to unravel the mystery of who wins the $10,000 first place prize. As an added bonus, readers will get great Scrabble tips. Ages 11 and up.

Lost and Found
by Shaun Tan
This is a collection of three stories previously published and illustrated by Shaun Tan. Written in spare yet lyrical text, “The Red Tree” is the tale of a solitary girl having a not very good day, exploring her feelings as they shift from disappointment and confusion to alienation and despair. A more upbeat tale of freedom and imagination is “The Lost Thing,” about a boy who discovers an unusual but friendly object and must decide what to do with it. The final story is John Marsden’s “The Rabbits,” an allegory about imperialism; a fable about Australian history written so simple and melodic that it verges on poetry.

These stories are undeniably strange, emotionally diverse and unsettling. The appeal of the illustrations is inevitable with their mixed media images comprised of both human and surreal characters set in scenes of complex architecture, bits of calligraphy and postage stamp–sized drawings. Ages 10 and up.

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