The Adventures of Gracie & MonkeyBear (Book 1)

Looks like we're about to embark on another adventure!          

*If I ever get around to publishing my own children's book, I will immediately call Lore Mountain Productions for a price quote; the care they take in manufacturing is unparalleled (I especially liked the textured cover)
*The amount of creativity and imagination displayed by the two protagonists was awe-inspiring
*My kids couldn't stop laughing at my attempts at reading the Voosurian language out loud  

*I hate to use the word clunky, but I can't think of another synonym for the lack of flow between major and minor events in this story
*While I admit the 90-degree text and illustration rotation on certain pages gave the book added character, there was something about the experience of rotating the hardcopy that irked me 
*I couldn't stop whining about having to parse through Voosurian and English text across multiple pages

I wish you knew how badly I wanted to give C.S. O'Kelly's book a Buy rating on looks alone.  As I have already alluded to, AG&M's publishers appear to have spared no expense in bringing O'Kelly and illustrator Jordy Farrell's combined vision to life.  It really looks great -- I cannot stress this enough.  Still, looks aren't everything!  There's a lot going on inside of here, and that's the main problem.  For all of its creative charms, the plot felt, to me, at least, like it kept tripping over itself on its way to the finish line.  And since the best part of any adventure is the journey, this doesn't bode well for Gracie & MonkeyBear.  [Brief request to authors everywhere: stop joining words together and capitalizing the first letter in what was the second word?  I can't be the only one who hates this, right?!]  Look, there's enough adventure here to make it worth a read or two, no doubt.  Alas, that's as far as AG&M will take you on your quest toward building the perfect collection...         
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The Adventures of Zoe Flynn & Alex Everhart: The Disappearing River

A mind is a terrible thing to waste. 

*Authors David and Gail Mittan's MakeThinkers format, which gives children the opportunity to use critical thinking at chapter breaks, transforms the reading experience from passive to active  
*While I had to force my kid to finish reading this book with me, he did enjoy the challenge presented by trying to solve the crafty riddles
*The inspirational quotes by famous people seem age-inappropriate to me by about five years or so, but since it's all about MakeThinking, I'm gonna give it a pass

*My son mockingly laughed at most of the place and tribe names; methinks they're just a tad goofier than necessary
*There are a couple of instances where the story pauses in-chapter to make room for an italicized question...I found these distracting and felt they should have been included within the chapter break segments instead
*I will never be a fan of generic throwaway closing paragraphs whose primary and secondary purpose is to hype up the possibility of future books


All you need to know about this effort can be gleaned from the title itself.  Just look at how long that thing is!  Go ahead and say it out loud and tell me you don't think it sounds unwieldy.  Unfortunately, the story gives off a similar vibe.  Now I realize that I shouldn't hold it against the authors for submitting something that is significantly longer than almost any other book on this site.  That said, the entire time I was reading it, I found myself coming up with ways to boil it down and condense it.  Lord knows, my seven-year-old tackles hardcovers way longer than this.  So for him to lose interest about halfway through must mean something, right?  Okay, this review is coming off more rude than I want it to, so let's put a fork in this River.  In short, I really liked the real-world methodology, but felt like it was hamstrung by the fictional universe it was forced to revolve around.  UPDATE: after speaking with the authors, I've been informed that their book(s) are intended to be digested one chapter at a time.  In fairness to them, I am including a link that details what they're trying to accomplish.  Please visit it to give the Mittans the honest shake they deserve.  

Buy / Borrow / DONATE / Destroy