Pretty in Pink: Literary Classics

I hope you guys are ready for some serious February posts – like pink books, for one. When I was younger, I hated pink. Yuck. Now, I love it. I don’t like to wear it but I love it around me, and well, since I usually have books all around, I looked up some pretty in pink covers of classic books. And wow, there are some lovely ones out there! Also..I may have taken liberties with the definition of pink, or how much pink..

(This post does contain a few Amazon Afilliate links – these are in italics)

Starting out strong with Anna Karenina. I thought this cover was so beautiful, and sort of Hepburn-esque.

This Wordsworth Collector’s Edition of Alice in Wonderland is certainly wonderful! I love everything about it! That cute little rabbit, the mushroom, the playing cards – just so adorable!

The Great Gatsby is one of my all time favorite classics, and this Wordsworth Luxe Collection edition is gorgeous! I remember the first copy I ever owned was the iconic version by Francis Cugat that we probably all think of and recognize instantly. However, this version is just so pretty and delicate.

I am obsessed with this cover of Anne of Green Gables, and I am pretty sure Anne would be too. I am 100% putting this copy on my list to buy one day!

I think this copy of Little Women by Barnes and Noble is perfection! It sort of makes me think of quilts and samplers and the era that Little Women took place in.

I had so many to choose from with this title! I love how dreamy this edition is! I would have felt remiss if I had left the darling of the literary world, Jane Austen, off this list, and Pride and Prejudice is probably the most widely loved. (and this one might lean a little bit more lilac than pink..)

This Art Nouveau inspired set of love stories is absolutely beautiful. I love how this collection from Juniper Books includes Love in the Time of Cholera! favorite! I love Jane Eyre and while I already have a copy, I need one of these two! The first cover is by Signature Classics, while the second version is a Wordsworth Luxe. Which one do you think I should get? You guys pick!

What Wyatt’s Reading – January

Hi everyone!! It’s been a fun reading month, full of wolves and snow and adorable woodland creatures! We hit up our library at least twice a week, so I am not sharing all of the books that we read together, but I am sharing some of our favorites. I am also back to buying more books than I had been so some of these are from Wyatt’s own personal home library.

This post does contain Amazon Affiliate links. If you were to purchase a book using a link, I would make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

A Thing Called Snow was pretty loved universally around here, by the whole family. Zommer’s books are oversized and just beautiful. In this one a fox and a hare, born in the spring and about to experience their first winter, are on the lookout for snow. My Winter City was more my favorite, not Wyatt’s. I just loved this look at what winter looks and feels like, all the little details from frost in the dad’s beard to slushy bus rides. Noisy Night was all Wyatt. This one was pretty cool because you feel like you are going up a floor in the building with every page because the residents all complain about the noise above them, until we get to the very top. It was pretty cute. And finally, probably the favorite book of the entire month, No Fuzzball! Any cat lover will be delighted by this one, and how Queen Fuzzball adjusts to a new little kitten face in her kingdom. It is absolutely adorable and also, made us chuckle. Definitely a keeper.

Wyatt loved Wolfboy. I knew he would – he considers himself a wolfboy half the time. And I could certainly relate to the grumpy feelings of being hangry!

We finally got some snow around here the other day, so Wednesday afternoon, after playing in the snow, we came in, had hot chocolate, and read a stack of snowy picture books. When It Starts to Snow and Blizzard were two of our favorites! When It Starts to Snow is a book that feels slightly poetic, with how it keeps asking the questions “What if it starts to snow? What do you do? Where do you go? These questions are answered by all of the little woodland animals and made us feel all cozy, because we knew what we were doing on our snowy day. Blizzard was fantastic- we both loved it! The author John Rocco tells his story about the blizzard of 1978, and the part he played in helping his neighbors and community, along with his memories of that time. We both really enjoyed it! It probably was our favorite right after No Fuzzball.

I Love Books in the Otter series is one of Wyatt’s go to grabs right now. He loves it because he too, loves books, just like Otter, and going to the library.

As for longer read alouds, we read the second in the Heartwood Hotel series, The Greatest Gift. Wyatt loves these books about the animals who work and live and stay at the Heartwood Hotel. After we finished up The Greatest Gift we moved on to Fantastic Mr. Fox – we are still reading this one and while things seem grim for the foxes right now, we have faith that Mr. Fox will come up with something to save his family!

Have you read any of these?

Book Review: Outfoxed by Melinda Metz

Publishers Summary:

Visit the charming community of Fox Crossing, Maine in this witty, feel-good story about small town life, the power of belief, the importance of community, and one very special fox whose appearance heralds second chances, luck – or best of all, love. Animal lovers, fans of Hallmark happy endings, and those who enjoy smart, uplifting, heartwarming stories with a twist will be delighted by the latest tale from internationally bestselling author Melinda Metz.

The town of Fox Crossing, Maine, has something special—a legendary fox with a knack for bringing fortune, love, and happiness to anyone lucky enough to see it…
Victoria Michaud has lived in Fox Crossing her entire life without encountering the fabled fox. And then, on the day of her thirtieth birthday, she spots a beautiful, golden-eyed vixen . . . right before she also recognizes Bowen Gower, the guy who made her high school years hell. So much for good luck. Victoria already has enough to deal with, between running her Junk & Disorderly antique store and refereeing her divorced, still-bickering parents.
There are a lot of things Bowen doesn’t remember about growing up in this town on the Appalachian trail, and some he’s chosen to forget. Back to settle his grandfather’s estate, Bowen soon realizes it won’t be easy to make amends to those he wronged. But he’s eager to convince Victoria to give him another chance.
 It’ll take some doing—and perhaps more luck than one fox sighting can provide. Then again, sometimes one look is all you need . . .

My Thoughts:

To me, these are January books. I have read the first two books in January, and I loved them both. Then I tried to read this one, the third one in the series, before it’s NetGalley archive date in October. And I did, I read it, but I didn’t really give it a fair shake because I wasn’t in the mood for it at that time. So, this month I thought I would revisit this story at a time that felt better. I am such a mood reader! And I am so glad I did this because this time around I loved it!

This story deals with two sets of of siblings, Bowen and Tegan, and Victoria and Henry. Bowen and Tegan grew up in the town of Fox Crossing, as the grandchildren of the mayor but only recently returned upon his death. Victoria runs an eclectic antique store, while Henry has also been living out of town. He comes back to help his sister celebrate her birthday, and with all the central players now in town, the rest of the story can begin.

Romance is in the air in this little town, yet there is just so much baggage they all seem to be carrying around that needs to be dealt with before any of them can fully trust. And to me, in my opinion, that is what this book is really about. Letting go of the past, fresh new starts, second chances. Self-awareness, self-love. Bullying. The undercurrents of this book simply swirl with trauma and emotions that have not been addressed and it all seems to be coming home to roost (I feel like there is a pun in here).

The characters in this one are particularly interesting, with their flaws and eccentricities. I especially like Victoria and her crazy fashions – she just sounds like so much fun! And Tegan and her found art sculptures and statues, Henry..well he is sort of just typical I guess. Bowen is eccentric in that all work and no play way, but he is able to read people very well, so despite seeming like he shouldn’t be a people person, he kind of is.

And of course, there is the fox.

Overall this was a wonderful return to Fox Crossing, Maine, and I am so glad that I gave this book a second chance. Thank you to NetGalley for the original ebook in exchange for an honest review, although I did end up purchasing this book on Amazon this month.

Book Review: Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree

Goodreads summary:

After a lifetime of bounties and bloodshed, Viv is hanging up her sword for the last time.

The battle-weary orc aims to start fresh, opening the first ever coffee shop in the city of Thune. But old and new rivals stand in the way of success ― not to mention the fact that no one has the faintest idea what coffee actually is.

If Viv wants to put the blade behind her and make her plans a reality, she won’t be able to go it alone.

But the true rewards of the uncharted path are the travelers you meet along the way. And whether drawn together by ancient magic, flaky pastry, or a freshly brewed cup, they may become partners, family, and something deeper than she ever could have dreamed.

My Thoughts:

So I keep seeing people say the same thing over and over about this book, that it is a warm hug of a book. I even used it myself on Instagram to describe it, and frankly, it is true. It is 100% a warm hug of a book.

When I picked it up from the library, I was a little hesitant. Did I want to read a book about an orc? Well turns out I did, very much so. This book is just so darn cozy, something I never expected from a book that has an orc, a succubus, a ratkin, and a hob as the main characters. I loved all of the characters, but I am over here hoping for a book about Thimble. And a book about Cal too, who reminded me of Billy. This line in particular.. “Live long enough, you realize some folks can be handed a problem and some tools, and they’ll sort it out.” That is my husband in a line.

Anyways, I digress. Viv is an orc who wants to lay down her sword and live a quieter life, one without fighting and battles, one where she can sleep in the same place every night, and even better, one that involves that glorious magical bean water, coffee. This book is all about Viv starting a new life, forming a new tribe, finding her place. The description calls it a low stakes book, and it really is. It was such a calming read, so full of warmth. It will make you want to seek out a cozy spot and enjoy a cup of something warm and a little something sweet to enjoy, and just read the day away. (I ended up having a slice of alpine cake while reading – perfection, both book and cake)

I read this book in one day, which is something for me these days. I also had checked it out from the library but immediately ordered my own copy. Viv’s world is one I want to return to again and again!

What Wyatt’s Reading: Halloween Edition

Wyatt and I have been hitting the library hard this month, checking out and returning books, for both school and pleasure reading. It is not unusual for us to leave with 25 books at a time, which seems absurd but we need them! We really do….

What We Have Read So Far:

How to Haunt a House was a cute little book about little ghosts in ghost school, learning how to haunt a house. It was a non-scary Halloween story and pretty silly too.

Halloween is Coming explores the excitement that builds before the holiday. We liked it because of the disability representation, and because it was fun autumn read.

No Such Thing and There’s a Ghost in this House were very similar – both have a little girl main character who exclaim there is either no such thing as ghosts, or that they have never seen a ghost in their supposedly haunted house. In No Such Thing, little readers can have fun spotting the ghosts that the little girl doesn’t see, and in There’s a Ghost there are see through pages that make the ghosts appear on the pages. Both are really well done and fun, and I love the art in both. There’s a Ghost in this House is a bit creepier than No Such Thing.

Wyatt absolutely loved Inside a House that is Haunted, Trick or Treat Crankenstein, and A Tiger Called Tomas. These three were his favorites besides the above ghost books – all of the ghost books. Inside a House that is Haunted is a progressive, repetitive story like There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, with picture clues as well. Wyatt loved this one and I did too, because Wyatt had so much inadvertent speech practice with it. Trick or Treat Crankenstein is about a little boy who was so excited for Halloween only to have the day not go as he had wished. Wyatt was loving this story. And A Tiger Called Tomas was adorable – I loved the art, and this story of a boy who is shy and unsure. His Halloween costume lends him some confidence with its anonymity, and he learns that not only do people still know who he is, but that they like him.

Finally Stumpkin and Samurai Scarecrow. Stumpkin was sort of sad for me – this poor little pumpkin who is waiting and waiting to get picked and no one picks him. But it does have a happy ending! It was very sweet. Samurai Scarecrow is a cute little sibling Halloween story. Yukio is so excited for Halloween, but he gets tired of his little sister Kashi following him around and copying him all he time. He gets annoyed with her and lets her know it. Then feels bad about it. In the end though they make up but how it happens is a pretty big surprise!

On Our Shelf Waiting To Be Read:

There is still time before Halloween so we are going to keep on reading! We have some waiting on the shelf to be read which we will get to soon – and maybe a few more after these even!

I would love to hear your Halloween picture book favorites!

Book Review: Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martins Press for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Publisher Summary:

Down a narrow alley in the small coastal town of Mallow Island, South Carolina, lies a stunning cobblestone building comprised of five apartments. It’s called The Dellawisp and it is named after the tiny turquoise birds who, alongside its human tenants, inhabit an air of magical secrecy.

When Zoey Hennessey comes to claim her deceased mother’s apartment at The Dellawisp, she meets her quirky, enigmatic neighbors including a girl on the run, a grieving chef whose comfort food does not comfort him, two estranged middle-aged sisters, and three ghosts. Each with their own story. Each with their own longings. Each whose ending isn’t yet written.

When one of her new neighbors dies under odd circumstances the night Zoey arrives, she is thrust into the mystery of The Dellawisp, which involves missing pages from a legendary writer whose work might be hidden there. She soon discovers that many unfinished stories permeate the place, and the people around her are in as much need of healing from wrongs of the past as she is. To find their way they have to learn how to trust each other, confront their deepest fears, and let go of what haunts them.

Delightful and atmospheric, Other Birds is filled with magical realism and moments of pure love that won’t let you go. Sarah Addison Allen shows us that between the real and the imaginary, there are stories that take flight in the most extraordinary ways.

My Thoughts:

Sigh. This book was beautifully fantastic. I loved it so much! Just everything about it, every detail, every character, every surprise revealed, was perfect.

Zoey is filled with youthful enthusiasm, dreams, and gumption. She moves into The Dellawisp hoping to learn more about her deceased mother, but is also looking for community, for a sense of belonging, friendship, and she is determined that the residents of The Dellawisp will become that for her. Her character’s life was not all roses all the time, but she is filled with optimism and fun that is hard to deny.

Her neighbors are a quirky lot. There is Charlotte, a bohemian spirit and henna artist, Mac, a James Beard award winning chef who is known for his use of cornmeal, the Lime sisters who maintain separate apartments and don’t interact, and Frasier, the caretaker. They each have their own stories, the stories that have defined them up until now, full of love and love lost, full of shadows with rays of light.

The Dellawisp itself is a magical place. It has been a sheltering comfort for those that live there, hidden behind the main street that smells of sugar, with its special birds that exist only there, in that one place. Until Zoey arrives, and shakes things up in her own sweet way.

I don’t want to delve too much further into this story here, because I don’t want to give anything away. But this book made me smile and and cry and I was under the spell of its beauty the entire time I read it. When it ended, I wanted more and I sincerely hope that Allen visits this world and these characters again in a future book.

Before I wind this up though, lets talk about the food in this book. I love when food and memory and love are intertwined through the pages of a book. I think so many of us have food based memories – I know that I do. I think of my grandmother and my uncle when I make coconut tarts and Empire biscuits; hot cocoa on snowy days, the chicken and stars soup and Vernors that my mom would make me when I was sick – I could seriously go on and on. And in this book food is wound up here and there and everywhere, but most of all with Mac, whom I adored. I was so inspired by this book that I actually spent five hours the other day cooking and baking, standing in the kitchen barefoot and cooking up Carolina Chicken Bog and Plum Berry Cornmeal Cake. And dang, was everything so delicious! We will be eating the chicken bog for days and I have been eating the cornmeal cake for breakfast and it tastes amazing paired with my cup of coffee.

I absolutely adored and loved this book! I actually can’t wait to read it all over again.

What Wyatt’s Reading: Summer Edition

(This post does contain Amazon Affiliate links.)

We have read so many books together this summer! I set up a tent in Wyatt’s room and it has become a place for reading books together every day, which has been a pretty great addition to our summer. We’ve gone to the library countless times, and for the first time in two years Wyatt was able to go in with me and choose his own books. (I mean, I of course chose some for him as well – picture books are just so pretty!) We’ve filled bags and wagons full of books, happily carting them home with us, where we set them all out on the floor and look at them all, flipping through them before putting them on the library books shelf. With school coming up, we will still be reading a lot of books but we won’t be getting to the library quite as often as we do now, but I still will make it part of our Fridays, when I pick up my mom and the three of us go together, three generations who have grown up using the same library and still do.

I couldn’t list all of the books that we have read together this summer, but I do want to share our favorites!

We will start with Wyatt’s favorites, as is appropriate.

Knight Owl was adorable and Wyatt really got into the whole medieval theme, with the knights and dragons. You know I made a mental note of that! And it was super cute, about a little owl who becomes a knight taking over the night watch; unlike his predecessors who have gone mysteriously missing, he is able to stay up all night – and make some unlikely friends.

Don’t Eat Bees literally had him laughing through the whole book. Chip the dog is full of advice about what is ok to eat, and what not to eat…bees. It was cute and Wyatt loved it.

Cannonball was all about making a splash, learning how to execute the perfect cannonball, and to listen to your own voice even when you feel it is being drowned out by the voices and advice of others. Into the Outdoors was a simple little book, about well, being outdoors. My kiddo I think enjoyed the idea of being outside and the simpleness of the story. A Good Place is about bugs, so of course he loved that one. In it four little bugs are looking for a place to live; each place they try is not quite right. Finally they find the best place, the good place. He loved all the bugs and the colors – I liked the message regarding the importance of nature and gardens.

Acorn Was a Little Wild was another one that had him cracking up. Acorn was having himself a blast on all sorts of adventures when one day he is buried by a squirrel! There he is forced to stay patient because he is pretty well stuck. He still manages to enjoy himself, and never loses his free and wild spirit.

The Blue House by Phoebe Wahl is absolutely wonderful. Wyatt loved the illustrations in the is book, there is just so much to see. He also liked how the dad and son would have music and dance parties together, two things that Wyatt also loves. The overall storyline I don’t think he was too interested in, but he really loved looking the pictures over in this one.

And now for my favorites!

Let’s start with Sunrise Summer! I thought this book was so cool and different. It is about a family who relocates to Alaska every summer, not for vacation but for work. They travel as a family and work for a commercial salmon company, while living as part of a beachside community. They fish and get up in the middle of the night, eat cold spaghetti for breakfast in the rain, and overall just work really hard. But the sense of family and community and the satisfaction of doing a hard job well, while working together is sort of refreshing. This book also included infomation on how the fishing is regulated by the Alaska Game Office to ensure these fish are not overfished. It was sort of a fascinating book – for me at least. I think Wyatt was intrigued by the adventure of it all but wasn’t super interested in the fishing parts. Oh! The last few pages of the book are about Alaska and fishing and the author’s life and experience fishing for salmon in Alaska.

Sonya’s Chicken was another surprising book. Sonya is given three chickens to raise, and she cares for them well and loves them. One morning she discovers that a fox has stolen one of her chickens, and obviously is very upset. Her dad explains that “What might seem unfair to you might make sense to a fox.” He tells her a story about this fox, how he lives in the woods with babies that he needs to feed as well. So while they might be sad about the chicken, they can understand why the fox did what he did. Sonya still feels bad about her chickens but keeps the fox kits in mind. Eventually one of her remaining chickens lays an egg that hatches and Sonya has a brand new chick to raise. I really loved this one honestly. It is sometimes a tough subject, explaining to kids why nature can seem so mean, when other animals eat each other, etc, and I think this book did a spectacular job in explaining that, and how nature is a circle of life.

These next two are very similar. The More You Give and The Garden We Share both deal with grief and nature and lasting memories and honoring what you have been taught, and finally about the everlasting legacy of planting gardens or trees together. Let’s start with The Garden We Share. First, I loved that this book had characters that were friends despite decades between their ages. When I was little, I loved visiting my neighbors who were in their 80s and listening to their stories about Scotland and Canada and sitting with them on their porch in the summer. The little girl and her grandma in this book planted a garden together but by next spring the grandma had passed. I did surprise both Wyatt and I by bursting into tears in the middle of reading this book. It was just so beautiful but so sad and I thought about my uncle and how much I miss him, especially in the spring when planning and planting my garden. Just typing that makes my eyes well up with tears. Anyway, this book is gorgeous and if you have a child struggling with grief I recommend this book.

The More You Give…this is maybe one of my favorite books I have read all year, including books that I read for me. I feel like it is a modern day take on “The Giving Tree” which I loved as a kid but it is so depressing. In this story, a young boy and his grandmother live together and have a great life filled with pancakes and hugs and nature. Together they plant an acorn which becomes a tree, etc. Eventually the boy grows up and teaches his daughter this lesson and so on, until the meadow they lived in becomes a forest. I am not doing this book justice in this review. It is just so beautiful and I want everyone to read it because that will be infinitely better than whatever I have to say.

Book Review: Wild is the Witch

Goodreads Summary:

When eighteen-year-old witch Iris Gray accidentally enacts a curse that could have dire consequences, she must team up with a boy who hates witches to make sure her magic isn’t unleashed on the world.

Iris Gray knows witches aren’t welcome in most towns. When she was forced to leave her last home, she left behind a father who was no longer willing to start over. And while the Witches’ Council was lenient in their punishment, Iris knows they’re keeping tabs on her. Now settled in Washington, Iris never lets anyone see who she really is; instead, she vents her frustrations by writing curses she never intends to cast. Otherwise, she spends her days at the wildlife refuge which would be the perfect job if not for Pike Alder, the witch-hating aspiring ornithologist who interns with them.

Iris concocts the perfect curse for Pike: one that will turn him into a witch. But just as she’s about to dispel it, a bird swoops down and steals the curse before flying away. If the bird dies, the curse will be unleashed―and the bird is a powerful amplifier, and unleashing the curse would turn not just Pike, but everyone in the region, into a witch.

New witches have no idea how to control their magic and the consequences would be dire. And the Witches’ Council does not look kindly on multiple offenses; if they found out, Iris could be stripped of her magic for good. Iris begs Pike to help her track the bird, and they set out on a trek through the Pacific Northwest looking for a single bird that could destroy everything. 

My Thoughts:

I was so excited to read this book, as I absolutely adored The Nature of Witches, also written by Rachel Griffin. Plus, this book promised so many elements that I love: nature, owls, wolves, woods, magic. So when I settled in with this book and a cup of tea the other night, I already knew that I would more than likely love this book. And, I did.

Iris Gray loves her life in Washington. She loves the animal rescue she and her mother run, Foggy Mountain Animal Sanctuary. She loves the wolves, particularly a wolf named Winter, the animals they help, her mom’s “friend”, and most of all helping the animals using her special brand of magic that allows her to communicate with the animals. What she doesn’t like – or rather who – is Pike Alder, the intern at the rescue, who hates witches. After one particularly ugly incident between them, Iris practices a tradition taught to her by her grandmother, one that allows her to give her feelings to the earth, in a ritual that involves writing spells but not actually sending them into the world. However, the one that Iris intended for Pike but not really gets away from her, and could have terrible consequences, for more than just Iris and Pike.

I have to admit it sort of gave me anxiety! The rest of the story is about Iris trying to recapture her curse before it blows up, and to do so, she needs Pike’s help.

This book is a fast read, quick paced, and definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat. I even got a little teary at one part! I would love to read a sequel, as I enjoyed the setting of the animal rescue and the Pacific Northwest. And I feel like Iris and Pike’s story is not over yet!

This was a fun read, and if you are into witchy magic books and animals, this is a definite must.

Thank you to NetGalley for the chance to read this book and provide an honest review!

What Wyatt’s Reading – May

We had a really good reading month, full of books about the outdoors and nature!

This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links.

The Hike was one of our absolute favorites this month and it is definitely going to be purchased for our own library. We loved the story of these three little girls heading off on an adventure together, but it was the illustrated pages that we really enjoyed. We loved finding all the hidden and not hidden plants and animals throughout the pages, and reading the labels, discussing whether or not that it is something that we have spotted on our own hikes. We also loved the sketchbook drawn by one of the characters.

I usually love Cynthia Rylant, and Home is Where the Birds Sing is a lovely book but we were both lukewarm on it. I think it was just a little too young and maybe gentle for my now rough and tumble seven year old. It is a great book however, just not quite right for Wyatt right now.

Zonia’s Rain Forest however was one that Wyatt really liked. Zonia is friendly with so many of the animals in the rain forest that she lives in, and Wyatt loved all the different rain forest creatures represented. It does have a deeper message about respecting our planet as well. (I have this one added to our cart as well, since I hope to do a rain forest unit next school year.)

A few years ago I read an article about how there is a lack of diversity represented in children’s picture books particularly when it comes to spending time outdoors. Since then I have kept an eye out for books that do depict this diversity; I know that it is something important to me as well, finding books that show disabled children enjoying the outdoors or frankly, just disabled children doing anything besides educating others about their disability. Anyway, when I saw this on the shelf at the library I made sure to add it to our stack. At the time I had no idea that it was written by the activist and founder of @brownpeoplecamping, Ambreen Tariq, who advocates for “diversity, equity, access, and justice in the outdoors”. (check out her website for more info!) Fatima’s Great Outdoors is a fantastic read, and I particularly loved how Fatima seemed to gain confidence from nature. I also loved the strong family connection. Wyatt loved the camping itself – he is pushing for a camping trip soon.

Rafa Counts On Papa is another wonderful read. Papa and Rafa share a love for knowing how much and measuring, for anything at all. This was another of Wyatt’s favorites – he also likes to know how much as well.

Oona and the Shark – I picked this one up for me. I wanted to read it so I checked it out with our books. And I loved it. I loved how Oona was an inventor and shared her inventions, and I love how she worked so hard to become friends with Stanley the shark. She and Stanley were not making a connection until Oona realized that Stanley liked order and quiet. And the illustrations were very well done. Wyatt wasn’t super interested in this one but I loved it.

However, The Girl Who Wore Snakes was hands down Wyatt’s favorite. Ali is a little girl who falls in love with snakes after a classroom demonstration. She buys up all the snakes in the pet shop and wears them around proudly, believing them to be beautiful. They remind her of the sun and the earth and everything in between. However, not everyone agrees with her – until she finds that one kindred spirit who does. I think we both loved this book because we are apparently also kindred spirits with Ali. This one is hard to find to purchase but we did get it at the library easily.

Book Review: Mystery in Rocky Mountain National Park by Aaron Johnson

Goodreads Summary:

Secret codes, lost landmarks, and hidden clues in real locations.

This first book in the National Parks Mystery Series takes young readers, ages 7 to 12, on a fast-paced adventure set in the heart of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

The Story
Before Jake’s grandfather died, he was on the trail of a centuries-old mystery. And he has entrusted that mystery to Jake, leaving behind a set of hidden codes, riddles, coordinates, and other clues that lead Jake and his friends on a scavenger hunt through ten of America’s most treasured national parks.

In this illustrated and page-turning adventure, young readers will develop a love for reading while learning about natural history, wildlife, ecology and conservation, integrity, character, and friendship.

My Thoughts:

This was such fun middle grade read! I am such a fan of national parks and the outdoors and mysteries that I was excited to receive an ARC. I am very picky about the ARCs I choose to read; I get too nervous since I can be so wishy-washy about finishing books at times. However, I was super excited about this one and it hooked me from the very beginning.

Jake’s family is setting off on a multi-month road trip through the national parks and while that is already exciting for Jake, it gets even better. While they are at his grandmother’s house saying goodbye before the trip, he receives a gift that his deceased grandfather arranged for him. A scrapbook of photos, which Jake soon learns contains a secret code, and the start of a mysterious scavenger hunt.

Jake’s family is sharing their trip with Jake’s cousin Wes and his family, and also long time family friends and their daughter Amber. Jake at first doesn’t want to share this special hunt with Wes and Amber; for him, it is something special that his grandfather designed for Jake and he wants to keep that close. But after the group of parents surprise the three kids with their own summer project, he learns it is easier and more fun to work on the mystery as a group.

Jake, Wes, and Amber surprise them with an opportunity of a lifetime – the space and time to explore and hike on their own in the parks. This works out well for the kids since they have their own secret mission and that would be hard to do under the eye of the parents – especially since one of the first clues Jake receives is rather cryptic and hints at some danger! The kids are required to set up an itinerary, including the projected time they will be back, and present it to the parents the night before the hike for approval. They also are instructed on the three biggest dangers when hiking, how to avoid them, and what the ten essentials are that they should take on any hike. I loved this part of the book, and how practical skills were included within the story.

This book had a fast paced plot, that I imagine will hold the attention of young readers. I know that it held mine and when it ended I was not ready, I wanted more story!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I love the sense of adventure, the mystery, the history and nature, and all the opportunities for taking little “rabbit trails”. I can see readers wanting to learn more about so many different topics – ciphers, morse code, wildlife skills, mountain biking, history, the list goes on and on. I am looking forward to following this adventurous mystery to the end!

You can find the author Aaron Johnson and series information via any of these social channels:

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I received this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review.