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

Bedtime For Buzzy

Let's see what all the buzz is about...           

*I'm surprised there aren't more books out there encouraging kids to go to sleep in such a fun and productive manner -- author TJ Hackworth should be commended for the idea and the execution
*Dovetailing off of the last point, the degree of difficulty in concluding a story like this is extremely high, but Hackworth stuck the landing perfectly
*All of illustrator Sean Baptist's work was great, but the way he spanned the Courageous Explorer bridge across two pages was especially magnificent  

*Right off the bat, there is some potential for real reader confusion due to the boy being named Buzzy and the first image being of a Buzz Lightyear style toy
*While I appreciate the extra bit of meat and length that four scenarios provided, I couldn't help but wonder if the rule of threes exists for a reason 
*Toward the end, there is a page where all of the other toys are laid out on the rug but Moon Man appears to be strangely absent

This was an extremely difficult book for me to rate.  On the one hand, B4B does so many things right that it feels like a shame for me to give it anything but a Buy.  Yet, the things I remembered most about it between the time we first read it and now are negative; admittedly minor, but, nonetheless, significant.  That Buzz/Buzzy thing just oozes copyright weirdness to me, even though it's unintentional.  And since it sits on page one, it hits me like a ton of bricks each and every time.  My second con is more mood-dependent; but I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it with each passing reading.  Finally, there's an added wrinkle for us old-time movie buffs: namely that the title has me picturing Ronald Reagan and a monkey fitting into the plot somehow.  Again, not copyright infringement, but Buzzy and Bonzo are way too close for my brain (what with all the B's and Z's) not to get knocked off track.  Factoring all of these things together, I ended up knocking it down a peg despite the many strong attributes B4B brings to the table.                             

Buy / BORROW / Donate / Destroy