Miscellaneous

[Book Review] A Surprise for Caroline (American Girls: Caroline, #3) by Kathleen Ernst


Caroline imagined it would be great fun to have two girls staying at her house for the winter. But her friend Rhonda Hathaway and her cousin Lydia are both twelve, and sometimes they seem to be better friends with each other than with Caroline. Worse, they’d rather stay inside styling hair than go skating and sledding! Nothing Caroline tries seems to change things, not even the special Christmas gift she gives Rhonda. Finally, hurt feelings lead Caroline to make a rash decision–one that puts all three girls on very thin ice!


The third book in the American Girls: Caroline series, A Surprise for Caroline, is the War of 1812-era protagonist’s winter story. The book’s main theme is friendship, and so Caroline finds herself at odds with her two friends, Rhonda and Lydia, who are two years older than her and have more sophisticated interests. When Caroline wants to go outside to play, they would rather focus on more ladylike–and less childish–activities.

I’ll admit I was quite surprised–perhaps even a bit disappointed–by how Ernst resolved the plot; I expected Rhonda’s younger sister, Amelia, to play a much larger role in the story. As Caroline is feeling childish compared to her friends and has no interest in their preferred pastimes, I honestly expected her to bond with Amelia, who, being far and away the youngest girl in the house, clearly suffered similarly. However excluded Caroline felt by the gap between herself and her older friends, one can only imagine that poor little Amelia was far lonelier. I honestly think Ernst picked the lesser of two potential plotlines by passing over the idea of Caroline bonding with Amelia in favor of a reconciliation with Lydia and Rhonda.

But that’s not to say it’s a bad book. It’s as endearing a story as one would expect from the American Girl line. Caroline’s a great addition to the franchise, a wonderful character who’s both likable and realistically flawed. I definitely recommend the Caroline series to anyone interested in giving the American Girl books a go, and I can’t wait to see how her story ends.


Want to buy this or another American Girls: Caroline product? Refused by the Call is an Amazon Affiliate; support the blog by buying from one of the links below!
amzn_assoc_placement = “adunit0”; amzn_assoc_search_bar = “true”; amzn_assoc_tracking_id = “aftanith-20”; amzn_assoc_ad_mode = “manual”; amzn_assoc_ad_type = “smart”; amzn_assoc_marketplace = “amazon”; amzn_assoc_region = “US”; amzn_assoc_title = ” “; amzn_assoc_asins = “1593698879,1609581008,B00NAFTFW6,1609580842”; amzn_assoc_linkid = “05f9c60ea5c2240e05a0739ecec6c93d”;
//z-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/onejs?MarketPlace=US

Advertisements
Miscellaneous

[Book Review] Claw The Giant Ape (Beast Quest, #8) by Adam Blade

Everyone in Avantia knows the terrors of the jungle: creatures that pluck men from the ground and eat them whole: plants whose rich scents could overwhelm a person at twenty paces. Few dare to enter–and fewer still return.

But Tom has no choice. The next stage of his journey lies at the very heart of the jungle, where a terrible creature resides, evil as the wizard who created him.


Claw the Giant Ape is the eighth installment of the Beast Quest series, Adam Blade’s extremely long and ongoing series about two children’s quest to save Avantia from the Beasts that threaten it. So far, we’ve seen the series shift from a story about Tom and Elenna struggling to free the six Beasts, Avantia’s protectors, from the grasp of a wicked sorcerer named Malvel to a series about their quest to destroy six news Beasts created by Malvel. So remember when, in my Ferno the Fire Dragon review, I wrote

If you, like I, were worried that Adam Blade’s Beast Quest would be an extremely black-and-white adventure series about children pointlessly slaughtering Always Chaotic Evil “monsters”, you can stop worrying.

Well, I was wrong. It’s become exactly that, and I’m extremely disappointed. Hopefully once this particular six-book mini-quest is complete, the series will shift back toward rescuing instead of slaughtering. Otherwise, I’m probably not going to stick around.


Want to buy this or some other Beast Quest book? Refused by the Call is an Amazon Affiliate; support the blog by buying from one of the links below!
amzn_assoc_placement = “adunit0”; amzn_assoc_search_bar = “true”; amzn_assoc_tracking_id = “aftanith-20”; amzn_assoc_ad_mode = “manual”; amzn_assoc_ad_type = “smart”; amzn_assoc_marketplace = “amazon”; amzn_assoc_region = “US”; amzn_assoc_title = ” “; amzn_assoc_asins = “0545068649,0439906512,1408338394,B00406X22S”; amzn_assoc_linkid = “05f9c60ea5c2240e05a0739ecec6c93d”;
//z-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/onejs?MarketPlace=US

Miscellaneous

[Book Review] Barbie: The Front Window


As a successful dressmaker in the Victorian era, Barbie has everything she could ever want–except the right to vote! When the local paper refuses to print a story on women’s rights, Barbie’s and Skipper’s beliefs are put to the test. They have to act–even if it means losing everything.


Barbie has gotten a lot of flack over the years. She’s been accused of causing anorexia, promoting vapid materialism, and reinforcing gender stereotypes. If you’re on board with that and genuinely believe that Barbie is going to have such a negative influence on your children that you simply can’t bear to associate with the brand, this book is obviously not for you. Personally, I think that’s a damn shame. It’s a pretty great book for introducing children to feminism.

Over the years, Barbie dolls have been produced that presented the characters as a teacher of American Sign Language, an American football coach, a surgeon, a paratrooper, the United States president, an astronaut, a NASCAR driver, and many, many other careers ranging from traditionally feminine roles to ones that break gender barriers. Here, Barbie becomes an even more impressive feminist icon: an 1800’s crusader for women’s right to vote.

In the story, Barbie’s teenage sister, Skipper, is working on her school’s paper with Becky, the paper’s wheelchair-bound adviser. When she’s tasked with writing a story on “women in business”, she’s disappointed; businesswomen are old news. What’s interesting about women running businesses? But her research leads her to Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and their paper, The Revolution. And she discovers that back in the late 1800’s, Susan B. Anthony even made a visit to Skipper’s town!

From there, she learns the story of The Front Window, a short-lived feminist newspaper run by a local female dress shop owner upset with the mainstream local newspaper’s refusal to write about Anthony and her beliefs. So when she drifts off to sleep in the library, what could she possibly dream about but the story of The Front Window?

What The Front Window–the book, that is–boils down to is an All Just a Dream historical fiction story that casts Barbie as a women’s rights crusader in an attempt to teach children about the women’s suffrage movement and the prejudice women faced in the 1800s.

I highly recommend the book to Barbie fans, though sensitive children unfamiliar with the concept of sexism might be more upset than educated. For those children that can handle the subject matter, I would advise complementing this with some nonfiction about the women’s suffrage movement, as it doesn’t cover a ton of actual history; it also fails to address modern sexism, leaving a younger reader with the impression that there’s no such thing. If you feel your child’s old enough to be introduced to that particular issue, you might want to look into following this up with some books addressing second-wave and modern feminism. Unfortunately, I haven’t read much on the subject and can’t recommend anything in particular.

Also, be sure to check out other Barbie books in this series, if you enjoy this one. They’re adorable, fun, and often educational; great reading for young children.


Want to buy this or another related product? Refused by the Call is an Amazon Affiliate; support the blog by buying from one of the links below!
amzn_assoc_placement = “adunit0”; amzn_assoc_search_bar = “true”; amzn_assoc_tracking_id = “aftanith-20”; amzn_assoc_ad_mode = “manual”; amzn_assoc_ad_type = “smart”; amzn_assoc_marketplace = “amazon”; amzn_assoc_region = “US”; amzn_assoc_title = ” “; amzn_assoc_asins = “0717289621,B007G5ZSX6,B004LLDN3A,B01DD7FQ7I”; amzn_assoc_linkid = “05f9c60ea5c2240e05a0739ecec6c93d”;
//z-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/onejs?MarketPlace=US

Miscellaneous

[Book Review] The Secret of the Attic (Magic Attic Club, #1) by Sheri Cooper Sinykin


Alison, Heather, Keisha, and Megan find a golden key that turns out to unlock the attic in a neighbor’s old Victorian house. Once inside, Keisha spots a trunk filled with wonderful costumes—ball gowns, a ballet tutu, and many, many more.

It’s not long before the best friends find beautiful dresses that seem meant for them. And when they stand together in front of the old-fashioned mirror, they suddenly find themselves on an adventure in the past!

At first they don’t know what’s happened, or how to help the young girl whose Christmas party seems ruined. Why dos she look so familiar? And how will they ever get back home? The answers they discover are the beginnings of the Magic Attic Club!


I’m sure most people who either were or raised a little girl after 1986 are familiar with the American Girl dolls and their corresponding books. The Magic Attic Club franchise is similar, though far more obscure (it also seems to have gone out of business or otherwise been discontinued); rather than American Girl‘s historical characters who are sold as dolls and star in their own series of chapter books, the Magic Attic Club is a set of four (later six) modern characters who are sold as dolls and star in one continuous series of fantasy chapter books.

The premise of the Magic Attic Club series is simple: four girls—Heather Harden, Keisha Vance, Megan Ryder, and Alison McCann—discover that the mirror in their neighbor’s attic has the magical ability to send them through time and space to a place corresponding with whatever costume they try on. Dressing up as a princess will result in a fantasy adventure in your typical quasi-medieval Europe setting; dressing up as a cheerleader will whisk you away to a cheerleading camp; and dressing up in an Olympic skater’s outfit will have you competing for gold on the ice. It’s an interesting concept, a bit similar to the Magic Tree House series, but rather than focusing on teaching history or science, it focuses on teaching social lessons like confidence, leadership, and bravery.

In The Secret of the Attic, Sheri Cooper Sinykin introduces readers to the original four girls, the concept of the magic attic, and the owner of the magic attic, an elderly woman named Ellie. Helping others is a major of theme of the book, but as far as I’m concerned, the subplot is far more interesting. It’s Christmastime, and Megan, Keisha, and Alison have invited Heather, the new girl, to their celebration… but Heather’s Jewish and doesn’t celebrate Christmas, which leaves her feeling awkward and a bit alienated; she has yet to tell her friends any of this. Obviously, she finally does and is reassured by her friends; she and Keisha even bond a bit over some of the similarities between Chanukah and Kwanzaa traditions.

All in all, it’s a cute story; nothing groundbreaking, but a nice way to introduce the series nonetheless. It might be a nice thing to read during the holidays if your child, like Heather, is feeling awkward about not celebrating Christmas or, conversely, might need some help understanding how children who don’t celebrate Christmas might feel a bit left out during that time of year. If you can get your hands on the series, I definitely recommend giving it a try; perhaps its strongest aspect is how multi-ethnic it is, with the core cast of characters including two ethnically unspecified white girls, a Sephardi Jewish girl, an African American girl, and a Native American girl. Of the three girls whose ethnicities are identified, their cultural history is considered very much a part of the characters, being referenced throughout the series and explored as thoroughly as possible, given the short length and young audience of the books.


Want to buy this or another Magic Attic Club book? Refused by the Call is an Amazon Affiliate; support the blog by buying from one of the links below!
amzn_assoc_placement = “adunit0”; amzn_assoc_search_bar = “true”; amzn_assoc_tracking_id = “aftanith-20”; amzn_assoc_ad_mode = “manual”; amzn_assoc_ad_type = “smart”; amzn_assoc_marketplace = “amazon”; amzn_assoc_region = “US”; amzn_assoc_title = ” “; amzn_assoc_asins = “1575130017,1575130033,1575130076,B001QHCJ9Q”; amzn_assoc_linkid = “05f9c60ea5c2240e05a0739ecec6c93d”;
//z-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/onejs?MarketPlace=US

Miscellaneous

[Book Review] Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House, #1) by Mary Pope Osborne


Where did the tree house come from?

Before Jack and Annie can find out, the mysterious tree house whisks them back to the prehistoric past. Now they have to figure out how to get home. Can they do it before dark… or will they become a dinosaur’s dinner?


Dinosaurs Before Dark is the first book in the wildly popular (and still ongoing!) Magic Tree House series. Though I don’t quite count it among my favorites, it had a huge presence in my early childhood and impact on my formative years. I cannot possibly recommend this series enough to young readers. It’s equal parts education and entertaining, introducing children to both history and fantasy through the magic of books. There’s even a nonfiction companion series, Magic Tree House Research Guides (later retitled Magic Tree House Fact Trackers).

In Dinosaurs, Jack and Annie, a seven- and -eight-year-old brother-sister duo from Frog Creek, Pennsylvania, discover a mysterious treehouse in the woods near their home. When they climb up to investigate, they find it abandoned, but filled with books. And as they’re going through these books, an unwitting wish from Jack sends them back to prehistory, where they find themselves face to face with dinosaurs. The rest of the book involves the children trying to return home, but it sets up the larger plot of the Magic Tree House series’ first four books–that is, Jack and Annie’s mission to unravel the mystery of the tree house.

Like I said, I highly recommend the series, and I look forward to rereading it this year. Not to mention checking out the two or three books that have been published since I last revisited the series!


Want to buy this or a similar product? Refused by the Call is an Amazon Affiliate; support the blog by buying from one of the links below!
amzn_assoc_placement = “adunit0”; amzn_assoc_search_bar = “true”; amzn_assoc_tracking_id = “aftanith-20”; amzn_assoc_ad_mode = “manual”; amzn_assoc_ad_type = “smart”; amzn_assoc_marketplace = “amazon”; amzn_assoc_region = “US”; amzn_assoc_title = ” “; amzn_assoc_asins = “0679824111,0375802967,B0000696AZ,B00O4E43VK”; amzn_assoc_linkid = “05f9c60ea5c2240e05a0739ecec6c93d”;
//z-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/onejs?MarketPlace=US

Miscellaneous

[Book Review] Amber the Orange Fairy (Rainbow Magic: Rainbow Fairies, #2) by Daisy Meadows


Fairyland is home to seven colorful sisters. Together, they are the Rainbow Fairies! They keep Fairyland dazzling and bright. But when evil Jack Frost sends them far away, the sisters are in big trouble. If they don’t return soon, Fairyland is doomed to be gray forever!

Rachel and Kirsty have already found one Rainbow Fairy, but now Amber the Orange Fairy is trapped in a seashell! Can they rescue her, too?


Amber the Orange Fairy is a marked improvement over Ruby the Red Fairy, the first book in the Rainbow Magic: Rainbow Fairies series. Unlike Ruby, which came across as more of a prologue than an independent story, Amber the Orange Fairy has a more traditional (and satisfying) story structure to it and adds a few extra elements to make the (still rather meager) plot more interesting.

After Kirsty and Rachel find Amber and take her to where Ruby is hiding, the girls are introduced to another new character, a talking frog from Fairyland named Bertram. And he comes bearing a message: another group of fairies–the Cloud Fairies, who I can only assume have their own series later in the massive Rainbow Magic continuity–spotted Jack Frost’s goblin henchmen heading to Rainspell Island to stop the girls from rescuing the seven sisters. These new antagonists are only briefly seen in Amber the Orange Fairy, but I expect they’ll be returning for the next few books at least.

I’ll definitely keep reading the Rainbow Magic series for at least a few more books. Hopefully it will continue to improve.


Want to buy this or another great gift for the fairy fan in your life? Refused by the Call is an Amazon Affiliate; support the blog by buying from one of the links below!
amzn_assoc_placement = “adunit0”; amzn_assoc_search_bar = “true”; amzn_assoc_tracking_id = “aftanith-20”; amzn_assoc_ad_mode = “manual”; amzn_assoc_ad_type = “smart”; amzn_assoc_marketplace = “amazon”; amzn_assoc_region = “US”; amzn_assoc_title = ” “; amzn_assoc_asins = “0439744652,B003MIIIYM,B01M6WPM4W,B00IVLINFY”; amzn_assoc_linkid = “05f9c60ea5c2240e05a0739ecec6c93d”;
//z-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/onejs?MarketPlace=US

Miscellaneous

[Book Review] The Ultra Violets (The Ultra Violets #1) by Sophie Bell


Meet four best friends. They’re not super… yet.

IRIS: Visionary, artist, leader–the glitter-glue that holds the group together.

CHERI: A girly-girl on platform roller-skates who’s never met a rescue puppy she didn’t immediately-and-madly love.

SCARLET: Short enough that you won’t see her sneaking up behind you. Freckled enough that you might mistake her for innocent. But look out! She can pants a bully faster than you can say O-M-Jeepers!

OPALINE: Loveable, huggable, supershy, sweet as pie…or is she?

And introducing CANDACE. Not just any babysitter—she’s a Teen Genius, thankyouverymuch!

What happens when four best friends find themselves splattered with mysterious purple goo during a routine sleepover? Iris, Cheri, Scarlet and Opaline are about to become…

THE ULTRA-VIOLETS!


I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from The Ultra Violets, but I figured there was no harm in giving it a try. And I am quite glad that I did; The Ultra Violets is friggin’ awesome.

Let’s start with the artwork. Does that cover up there remind you of anything? For me, it struck me as kind of cross between Powerpuff Girls and Johnny Test–and it turns out that there’s a reason it seemed so familiar. As it turns out, the artist, Chris Battle, has worked on some of my favorite childhood shows, including Powerpuff Girls, Dexter’s Laboratory, and Xiaolin Showdown, and his work really brings some extra magic to the book. I absolutely love it.

But that’s not to say that the book itself can’t hold its own. The Ultra Violets genuinely surprised me; I expected some child-aimed superhero stuff mixed in with friendship themes and maybe a love interest or two… and when I got instead was a hilarious, clever story about four very modern “BFFs”, their über-genius ex-babysitter, and an immoral science corporation up to no good. It’s absolutely the kind of thing I would expect to watch on Cartoon Network, thanks to both Battle and Bell’s input.

In The Ultra Violets, Sophie Bell offers up a spectacular blend of pop-culture references (everything from the Bangles to Lady Gaga to Star Wars to lolcats to Pokemon) and wordplay (“full frontal nerdity”, “the Joan River”, “the Helter Shelter”), plus a main cast of girls who each happen to be an endearing kind of super trendy, futuristic Valley Girl. Each of them, save perhaps Opaline, is chic, obviously affluent, and constantly spouting goofball slang like “viomazing!” It is absolutely hilarious.

Now, I imagine that these same things will frustrate some individuals every bit as much as they delight me; if you’re not up for reading something that exudes adorability and pop culture from its every pore, The Ultra Violets probably isn’t for you. Seriously, damn near every word of this book–and those words are written in purple, by the way (which I honestly found a bit hard to read in certain lighting, so that may be an issue for some individuals)–seems to be a reference or a pun of some kind, and again, I love it. It is just the wackiest shit, and I grinned like a moron the whole way through.

And if you’ve noticed how critical and serious I am about most books… well, it’s downright amazing how much I loved this; if the rest of the series is as great as this first novel, I sense a new potential favorite. I definitely can’t wait to get my hands on the sequels–my local library finally bought copies!–and I will absolutely look into reading more of Bell’s work in the future.

I highly recommend The Ultra Violets to any middle grade readers interested in reading about some kick-ass superheroines.


Want to buy this or another great girl power story? Refused by the Call is an Amazon Affiliate; support the blog by buying from one of the links below!
amzn_assoc_placement = “adunit0”; amzn_assoc_search_bar = “true”; amzn_assoc_tracking_id = “aftanith-20”; amzn_assoc_ad_mode = “manual”; amzn_assoc_ad_type = “smart”; amzn_assoc_marketplace = “amazon”; amzn_assoc_region = “US”; amzn_assoc_title = ” “; amzn_assoc_asins = “1595146032,1595146474,1595146482,B001GU04Y0”; amzn_assoc_linkid = “05f9c60ea5c2240e05a0739ecec6c93d”;
//z-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/onejs?MarketPlace=US

Miscellaneous

[Book Review] Ruby the Red Fairy (Rainbow Magic, #1) by Daisy Meadows


Fairyland is home to seven colorful sisters. Together, they are the Rainbow Fairies! They keep Fairyland dazzling and bright. But when evil Jack Frost sends them far away, the sisters are in big trouble. If they don’t return soon, Fairyland is doomed to be gray forever!

Rachel and Kirsty discover Ruby the Red Fairy in the pot at the end of the rainbow. Can they help find the rest of her Rainbow sisters . . . before it’s too late?


I have to admit, Ruby the Red Fairy isn’t quite what I wanted it to be, and if its flaws hold steady throughout the rest of the series, I’m not sure how long I’m going to stick around. Because, if you haven’t heard of the series before, Rainbow Magic is long (and seems to be ongoing?). Think Baby-sitters’ Club long. Unless my numbers are off, there are over 140 of these teensy books, most of them being divided into shorter series focusing on specific “types” of fairies–ocean fairies, petal fairies, jewel fairies, party fairies–basically, it seems that there’s a set of fairies for just about every noun that the author and/or publishers think will appeal to children.

In this first installment of the series, we meet our main characters, Rachel and Kirsty, as they arrive on Rainspell Island, where they will discover something magical–a little red fairy. As it turns out, there’s a crisis in fairy land, and the seven rainbow fairies have been sent to Rainspell Island; in their absence, the fairy land has lost its color, and so the girls must find, rescue, and return each of the fairies to their home.

Ruby the Red Fairy focuses on the girls’ rescue of–you guessed it–a little red fairy named Ruby. And by the time it’s over–which is phenomenally swift as the book is less than seventy pages long–I couldn’t help but realize that I hadn’t actually read a book. I’d read a prologue. In Ruby the Red Fairy, the girls meet one another, find the fairy, go to Fairy Land to get the exposition and their quest… and then the book’s over. The entire book is just beginning. Very weird.

That in mind, I’d recommend Ruby the Red Fairy to very young readers edging their way into chapter books. The stories are super short, the type is rather large, and there are illustrations on just about every page. But if you do set down with your son or daughter to read Ruby the Red Fairy… well, you might want to think about having a copy of Amber the Orange Fairy and the rest of the first batch of sequels handy just in case they too wonder where the heck the rest of the story is.


Want to buy this or another great gift for the fairy fan in your life? Refused by the Call is an Amazon Affiliate; support the blog by buying from one of the links below!
amzn_assoc_placement = “adunit0”; amzn_assoc_search_bar = “true”; amzn_assoc_tracking_id = “aftanith-20”; amzn_assoc_ad_mode = “manual”; amzn_assoc_ad_type = “smart”; amzn_assoc_marketplace = “amazon”; amzn_assoc_region = “US”; amzn_assoc_title = ” “; amzn_assoc_asins = “043973861X,B003MIIIYM,B01AYNONX2,B018IJCADE”; amzn_assoc_linkid = “05f9c60ea5c2240e05a0739ecec6c93d”;
//z-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/onejs?MarketPlace=US

Miscellaneous

[Book Review] The Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet (The Secrets of Droon, #1) by Tony Abbott


A hidden door. A magical staircase. Discover the world of Droon!

Underneath the steps leading down to Eric’s basement is a hidden storage space. It’s dusty and old–nothing special at all. But when Eric, Julie and Neal all huddle inside the gray room together, something unbelievable happens. A glittering light and then a rainbow-colored staircase appear. And as the kids take their very first step down into the mysterious land of Droon, they know that only magic and adventure await them!


Unlike most of the other children’s books and series I’ve been reviewing recently, I never read The Secrets of Droon as a child; as a matter of fact, I’d never heard of the series until a few years ago. But I’m glad I finally got around to checking it out; if The Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet is any indication, it’s going to be quite the fun, creative series.

So far, the story seems to revolve around your typical fantasy and kidlit cliches: the boy-girl-boy trio of heroic children, the Faux Action Girl who’s really little more than a Damsel in Distress, the good wizard who doesn’t actually seem to help much, and the evil Lord Scaryname who commands both powerful magic and hordes of monsters. On the other hand, it offers glimpses of some far more fascinating elements.

For one thing, the world-building is quite interesting. It’s the kind of creative that I’m rather inclined to simply call “wacky”. One of the characters is a “spider troll”–that is, he’s a giant tarantula with a human head–while the gang’s transportation is a six-legged bison named Appa six-legged camel named Leep. There’s a definite sense of whimsy to the world-building that I like; it’s throwing your typical fantasy elements–doors to other realms, flying carpets, invisibility cloaks–in with mix-and-match critters and a setting that isn’t just your typical knockoff Medieval Europe.

But by far the most interesting thing about the Droon series so far is that it seems to run on some kind of Law of Equal Exchange. As the wizard explains it, “For every object left [in Droon], a thing from Droon will appear in [the kids’] world.” Nothing seems to come of this in The Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet, but I’m excited to see what Abbott does with it in later books.

I’m not quite comfortable yet recommending this series to any particular audience–for all I know, it could completely change course over the next few books–but I’ll definitely be reading more. It’s certainly piqued my interest.


Want to buy this or a related product? Refused by the Call is an Amazon Affiliate; support the blog by buying from one of the links below!
amzn_assoc_placement = “adunit0”; amzn_assoc_search_bar = “true”; amzn_assoc_tracking_id = “aftanith-20”; amzn_assoc_ad_mode = “manual”; amzn_assoc_ad_type = “smart”; amzn_assoc_marketplace = “amazon”; amzn_assoc_region = “US”; amzn_assoc_title = ” “; amzn_assoc_asins = “0590108395,B00Y3G2JYC,B00YMIVLMW,0140449396”; amzn_assoc_linkid = “05f9c60ea5c2240e05a0739ecec6c93d”;
//z-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/onejs?MarketPlace=US

Miscellaneous

[Book Review] Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots (The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids, #1) by Debbie Dadey & Marcia Thornton Jones


There are some pretty weird grown-ups living in Bailey City.

Teachers never last in the Bailey school third grade. And when Ms. Jeepers takes over the class, the kids are sure she’ll quit, just like all the rest. But this Transylvanian teacher has a strange way of getting what she wants. Now the kids are starting to wonder: Will they survive Mrs. Jeepers?


Three chapter book series stand out in my memories of childhood: A to Z Mysteries, in which three children solve mysteries in the fictional town of Green Lawn; Magic Tree House, in which two children travel through time—and to Camelot—in the titular tree house; and The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids, in which four kids try to prove that the adults of their town are actually various mythological creatures.

Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots is the first book of the Bailey School Kids series and introduces the five main characters: Howie, Liza, Melody, and Eddie the class clown… and of course, Mrs. Jeepers, the aforementioned vampire in the polka-dotted dress.

Now, the entire Bailey School Kids series—more than fifty books total—runs on the same Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane premise. Never once is an adult confirmed to be supernatural… but they also never quite manage to clear their names. In this book, the main quartet and their class have managed to run off their third grade teacher, Mrs. Deedee… but her replacement, Mrs. Jeepers, isn’t going to be cowed quite so easily. With her Transylvanian accent, her creepy old mansion, and her mysteriously hypnotic green brooch, she’s clearly a vampire—and only Eddie is willing to push his luck with her.

The main plot of the book is two-fold; while the kids try to discover whether or not their teacher is really a bloodsucking fiend, Eddie’s determined to keep her from earning the class’s complete obedience. Unusually for the series—this is the only case of it, in fact—we get a flash-forward at the very end with a few paragraphs taking place at the end of the children’s third grade year, and the kids reflect on having Mrs. Jeepers as a teacher.

All in all, I highly recommend the series. I won’t quite call it a favorite of mine, but I was definitely a fan as a child and continue to be quite fond of it. It’s fun and suspenseful—for a young child, at least—and maybe even a little scary. I’m honestly a bit disappointed that the series seems to have ended in 2006, but it had a great run while it lasted; I look forward to revisiting the rest of the series in 2014!


Want to buy this or another Bailey School Kids book? Refused by the Call is an Amazon Affiliate; support the blog by buying from one of the links below!
amzn_assoc_placement = “adunit0”; amzn_assoc_search_bar = “true”; amzn_assoc_tracking_id = “aftanith-20”; amzn_assoc_ad_mode = “manual”; amzn_assoc_ad_type = “smart”; amzn_assoc_marketplace = “amazon”; amzn_assoc_region = “US”; amzn_assoc_title = ” “; amzn_assoc_asins = “059043411X,059022638X,1417640537,0606185372”; amzn_assoc_linkid = “05f9c60ea5c2240e05a0739ecec6c93d”;
//z-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/onejs?MarketPlace=US