Review: Binky Under Pressure by Ashley Spires

 

Title: Binky Under Pressure

Author: Ashley Spires

Publisher: Kids Can Press

ISBN: 978-1554535040

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

In Binky’s third adventure, our intrepid, sometimes accident-prone hero is shaken out of his routine when he’s forced to contend with Gracie, a dainty striped foster kitty who comes to live at Binky’s space station (aka his home at 42 Sentinel Parkway). Binky instantly resents the new arrival, whose cute face and perfect manners are downright annoying. Indeed, Gracie seems too perfect. So Binky decides to do some undercover investigating and discovers a shocking truth about the family guest. Soon Binky is thrust full-throttle into a situation that puts all his Space Cat skills to the ultimate test!

Review:

Binky’s back for another humorous adventure, and this time around he has a companion.  A decidedly unwanted companion, in the form of foster kitty Gracie.  When Binky’s beloved humans introduce him to his new room mate, he’s apprehensive at first, and then plain annoyed.  She’s eating his food, using his litter box, and playing with his best friend!  How could they do this to him?  Taking matters into his own furry paws, Binky explains to Gracie that there just isn’t room in the space station for both of them.  Then Gracie pulls out her triumph card – she’s a member of F.U.R.S.T., and she outranks him!

I loved this outing for Binky.  Gracie is there to evaluate him, and report back about his worthiness to keep his space cat card.  Binky being Binky, it’s kind of touch and go as he blunders his way through one test after another.  It’s only after an actual alien invasion that he’s finally able to strut his space cat stuff and save the day, with some team work with his CO.

The art showcases Ashley Spires’ distinctive comedic look.  Binky’s plump torso and triangle shaped head mask a skilled warrior who deals death to alien invaders with little hesitation.  Gracie is drawn with more cunning lines, and at first, I doubted her ability to commander a well-run space station like Binky’s.  A little adversity and a stealth invasion pushed those thoughts right out of my mind.

If you are looking for a chuckle worthy escape from the stress of your day, grab one of the Binky books and be prepared to laugh.  A lot.  If you want to laugh even more, read them aloud.  To anything.  Make sure you vocalize the sound effects.  You’ll be rolling around on the floor, even the dog isn’t quite as amused as you are.

Grade: B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: Binky to the Rescue by Ashley Spires

 

Title: Binky to the Rescue

Author: Ashley Spires

Publisher:  Kids Can Press

ISBN: 978-1554535972

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

While in hot pursuit of an alien invader (a bug), Binky accidentally falls out the space station porthole (bathroom window) and finds himself in outer space (outside) for the very first time. But just as Binky begins to explore, he discovers that his copilot, Ted (stuffed mousie), is trapped beneath an enemy warship (wasps’ nest)! Binky must rescue Ted from the clutches of these evil aliens. Will he be able to save his best friend? Can Ted survive his ordeal? Does Binky still suffer from space gas? This book will delight graphic novel readers of all ages.

Review:

Binky’s back!!  This time around, he takes on an alien warship (wasps’ nest) to save his humans and his best friend Ted. When a mission goes awry and Binky is separated from his loyal copilot Ted, it’s time to take off the kid gloves!  The aliens aren’t going to get away with holding the stuffed mousie prisoner, and Binky will put himself in grave danger to rescue his friend.

LOL!  I just love this series, and I can hardly wait for more.  Binky rocks!  He is so dedicated to keeping the space station free of alien intruders, and every day is an exhausting battle to dispatch the sneaky invaders.  When an accident propels him out into space, Binky has to think fast.  There’s no oxygen or gravity, and his clever solutions to these little problems had me laughing.  Loudly.  The whole book pretty much had me in stitches, and that’s not such an easy thing to do.  After all, I don’t have a sense of humor, don’t ya know?

The art once again elevate Binky’s adventures to high levels of amusement, and Ashley Spires captures wonderfully expressive drawings in every panel.  Binky may not say much, but with those charming illustrations, he doesn’t have to.  Every emotion is clearly evident as they flicker across his football shaped head.

If you haven’t read Binky the Space Cat or Binky to the Rescue, give yourself a little treat this holiday season and check them out.  You will be rolling on the floor in fits of laughter.  Resistance is futile.  (Hey, if it worked for the Borg, it will work for Binky!)  Bring on his next adventure!

Grade: A-

Review copy obtained from my local library

Review: Binky the Space Cat by Ashley Spires

 

Title: Binky the Space Cat

Author: Ashley Spires

Publisher:  Kids Can Press

ISBN: 978-1554534197

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

This book is hilarious!  I love Binky and his determination to save his humans from aliens, aka bugs.  He is so concerned about the safety of his humans that he becomes a card carrying member of F.U.R.S.T., or Felines of the Universe Ready for Space Travel.  He trains hard, he studies hard, and he devotes his every effort to protecting his humans from alien domination.  There’s only one problem – he’s never been outside of the space station, otherwise known as the family house.  Priceless!

This graphic novel is so much fun, and it really helped to brighten my day.  Told with humorous text and comical illustrations, Binky’s adventures are not to be missed.  From his incredibly plump and oddly shaped body, to his cute little mousie companion, Ted, Ashley Spires’ art delights and enchants. Binky gets himself into just enough trouble to keep the laughs coming and to keep his antics fresh and amusing. 

Grade: A

Review copy obtained from my local library

Picture Book Review: Suki’s Kimono by Chieri Uegaki & Stephane Jorisch

 

 

Title: Suki’s Kimono

Author: Chieri Uegaki

Illustrator: Stephane Jorisch

Publisher: Kids Can Press

ISBN: 978-1553377528

 

 

From Amazon:

I loved this gentle, beautifully illustrated picture book so much that it deserves a post all by itself!

It’s the first day of school after summer break, and Suki is eager to go back to class.  Her older sisters, however, are appalled at her wardrobe choice. Suki is going to wear the pretty, floaty kimono that her grandmother gave to her when she visited them during the summer.  Her sisters think that Suki simply can not go to school looking so…weird! 

What an awesome book!  Suki is adamant that she is going to wear her kimono to school, because she loves it and she loves that her grandmother gave it to her.  Wearing it makes her feel happy and special, and it helps her remember the wonderful time she spent with her grandmother.  Despite the stares and snickers from classmates, she holds her head high and proudly shows off her beloved kimono.  By the end of the day, she’s even made her peers see her, and a part of her culture, differently.

I loved this book, because even when the other children at school were making fun of her, Suki refused to allow them to change how she feels about herself.  She even makes them open their eyes so they can look at her in a new way.  The watercolors that accompany the story are like Suki: pretty and bold and demanding of a second glance. 

Grade: A

Review copy obtained from the library

The Adventures of Jack Lime by James Leck Novel Review

 

Title: The Adventures of Jack Lime

Author: James Leck

Publisher: Kids Can Press

ISBN: 9781554533640

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Meet Jack Lime, private investigator, who solves problems for his fellow Iona High students. Sometimes he falls for the dames who hire him, sometimes he falls in the river and sometimes he falls asleep (he s narcoleptic). But rest assured that whether he s tracking down a missing banana-seat bike or a kidnapped hamster, or cracking open a trivia tournament betting ring, Lime will follow every lead.

Readers will identify with this funny, cynical sleuth who has the makings of a top-notch PI, though his personal life frequently goes awry. In these three stand-alone detective stories, readers will immerse themselves in an offbeat fictional world populated with eccentric characters where everything is not as it seems.

With its bland cover, I wasn’t expecting much from Jack Lime.  Happily, I was wrong.  This was a fun, fast read, and the lead character, Jack, made the book.  I love this kid!  He thinks he’s a tough guy private eye, reminiscent of hard-boiled PI’s like Mickey Spillane, but he’s got an Achilles’ heel.  He has this condition, see, one that causes him to fall asleep at the most inopportune times – like when he’s about to get into the fight of his life or get tossed into a river.  Makes it really hard to be intimidating.  Plus it’s just plain embarrassing!

Jack’s charismatic personality carries the book, which is comprised of three cases.  While I didn’t find the mysteries very compelling and wished that they offered a little more variety than finding the missing object/pet/person,  I did enjoy reading along to see what Jack would say or do next.  His escapades kept the pages turning. His bravado is tempered by a marshmallow interior, and the poor guy ends up with more black eyes than a family of raccoons.  His misadventures give his grandmother conniptions, and she sternly tries to keep him in his place.  Of course he’s much too dedicated to his clients to let a beating or two, or even his crabby granny,  get in the way of solving each new case.

Though on the short side and only weighing in at slightly over 120 pages, The Adventures of Jack Lime provides plenty of entertainment.  With an engaging hero who is humorous and insightful, Jack will have you smiling and wishing you could spend a little more time with him.

Grade: B

Review copy provided by publisher

The Midnight Curse by L.M. Falcone Novel Review

 

Title:  The Midnight Curse

Author: LM Falcone

Publisher:  KCP Fiction

ISBN: 9781554533589

Reading Level – 9+

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

A deep, raspy voice whispered, The midnight curse has been passed on to you! 

Thus begins a frightfully wacky adventure that will have young readers turning every page in spine-tingling anticipation. Lacey and her twin brother, Charlie, are visiting England to find out if they inherited anything from their reclusive uncle Jonathan, but before long, Charlie realizes he might not have inherited anything but the family curse. It’s a bad one he’ll shrivel up and die unless someone ventures to the attic to face a malevolent spirit.

Curse removal is a complicated game involving a gothic cast of shifty characters. The twins sure have stirred things up, and the clock is ticking on Charlie’s curse. Can they finish what they started?

This is one of those books that proves that you can’t judge a book by the cover.  While the cover is dark and mysterious, it didn’t really grab my attention or scream “Read me!”  I initially picked it up to flip through the pages, something I find myself doing with all of the new books I receive.  Maybe it’s to see if there is any magic lingering on the pages or to smell the tang of paper and ink – I don’t know why I do it.  All I know is that once I opened this book, I couldn’t put it down. 

This is a very fun, slightly creepy romp as Lacey tries to save her brother from a curse that has been passed on to him by their Uncle Jonathan.  Uncle Jonathan betrayed his best friend Robert, and in retaliation, Robert cursed Jonathan to a life of misery.  He has spent every day since sleeping in water, because he will shrivel up and die if he is not submerged in H2O by  midnight. After Jonathan dies, Lacey and Charlie travel to England with their mother for the reading of the will, and once there, a ghost gives Lacey a present to give to Charlie.  It turns out to contain the curse, and now Lacey is frantic to discover a way to save her brother from becoming a dried out husk.

The characters were so much fun!  I guess it’s not every day that you discover you are cursed, and Charlie is having a few problems accepting his watery bed chamber.  He also isn’t the bravest guy in the world, and it is Lacey who has to swallow her fear and try to keep a level head during the entire frightening episode.  Mrs Rothbottom, the nutty lady who tries to help them, also gives the book a lot of personality.  You don’t know for sure whether or not she’s a quack, but she sure talks up a good game.

Though I thought the resolution was too easily won, The Midnight Curse is a rollicking adventure, and the action doesn’t let up for a minute.  It’s a very quick read,  and narrative is sprinkled with a delightful blend of humor and creepiness.  Lacey is given an opportunity to show her mettle, and her commentary throughout the story is fresh and engaging.

Grade: A-

Review copy provided by publisher