Children’s lit Reviews | Lola and the New School, Yasmin The Detective, and How Science Saved the Eiffel Tower!

Today is August the first and we would like to wish a warm publication day to Lola and the New School, Yasmin, and How Science Saved the Eiffel Tower!

These were all wonderful children’s books; two of which are fiction and one is nonfiction. Regardless of what you are after, I definitely recommend each one. Below are our spoiler free reviews of each book.

Thank you to NetGalley and to the publishers for these advanced readers copies in exchange for honest reviews.

Lola and the New School

Review:
4.25. This is a cute story by author Keka Novales who grew up in Guatemala and illustrator Gloria Félix, raised in Mexico.

It is about a girl named Lola who has changed schools in the middle of the school year, saying goodbye to her old connections and learning to adapt and make friends at her new school.

I really liked the format of the book – you are first introduced to the main characters, including Lola, Mama, Dad, Abuelita, and Abuelo and are given some interesting facts about each of them. Then starts the story which features several beautiful illustrations representative of the story, each featuring our main character, Lola. This is followed by both an English and Spanish glossary, questions and writing prompts, a recipe (Abuelita’s freshly squeezed Limeade), and author biographies.

My favourite part about the book is how strong Lola’s bond is with her family, and in particular, how her mother and abuelita give her strength and knowledge to face challenges at her new school environment. Abuelita is such a wonderful, kind and loving individual who shares highly meaningful and impactful advice that I think can be applied in many new environments and situations. I really love the incorporation of Spanish and Guatemalan facts/heritage within the novel and would definitely recommend this to young readers ages 5-7 and for children educators!

Yasmin

Review:
This is a very beautifully illustrated chapter book written by Pakistani American author Saadia Faruqi and illustrated by Egyptian-born illustrator Hatem Aly. In this book, Yasmin’s grandmother loses several objects which include a button, a thimble, and a pair of glasses and Yasmin is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery at play!

I really enjoyed the illustrations and thought they were drawn beautifully! The colours and the image placements were done very well throughout the book. Each character has distinct features and focused on elements that enhanced the story well. For example, the image that showed Yasmin watching her favourite detective Dr. Hoo while being completely engrossed in the story as Nani comes in to discuss her dilemma. It introduced characters and their interests well.

There are some discussion prompts that are helpful for learners and educators and there is a Urdu glossary at the end with a pronunciation key for various terms in Urdu. Fun facts were provided about Pakistan at the end of the book, and a binocular DIY guide is added in for extra fun!

Regarding the story, I really enjoyed Yasmin and her family and I thought it provided a fun and easy to follow mystery to be solved for young readers. I did have one qualm re: the story when it came to the retrieval of items, though it’s very minor, I simply think that both parties could have been happier at the end. Nonetheless, it was very cute! And a good read for readers K-2.

How Science Saved the Eiffel Tower

Review:
What a cool and uniquely illustrated children’s nonfiction book packed with awesome scientific and historical information!

Written by Emma Bland Smith and illustrated by Lia Visirin, “How Science Saved the Eiffel Tower” details how exactly the Eiffel Tower was effectively saved and not torn down due to the scientific additions added to the building by Gustave Eiffel.

Each page has beautifully illustrations of the Eiffel Tower’s construction during the late 1800s and the reaction of the general public and officials at the time. The clothes, buildings, structures, and environment displayed wonderful detail and the text was readable (though, at times a bit small) throughout.

I had not realized how many scientific applications there were re: the Eiffel Tower, from weather measurements, to aerodynamics, even wireless radio transmission! I also did not realize there were restaurants and an apartment at the tower as well in which it’s creator, Gustave Eiffel, lived in until passing away at 91 years of age.

At the back of the book, there are many features: an epilogue, French glossary, interesting facts about the Eiffel Tower, a Timeline, and author/illustrator biographies. (There’s even a cat on the back cover – how purr-fect!)

I would definitely recommend this book to young readers as I thought it was trés fantastique! Perfect for young readers aged 8-10.

QOTD: Which book suites your tastes the most? Let us know!

REVIEW | Wildseed Witch

Storygraph | Goodreads

Author: Marti Dumas
Title: Wildseed Witch
Published: May 10, 2022
Pages: 352
Format: E-ARC and Hoopla
Rating: 4 stars

Today I am reviewing Wildseed Witch by Marti Dumas, a middle grade fantasy featuring an all-BIPOC cast. This is about an aspiring and raising makeup YouTuber who learns that she’s a witch and gets sent off to a private Witch Camp/finishing school. While at Les Belles Demoiselles, she learns to be a witch alongside extremely talented and powerful girls; however, she is a “Wildseed” as she comes from a family of non-witches, unlike the other girls who attend the school. Hasani must learn how to succeed and harness her magical abilities in her own way.

I thought that this book was a lot of fun and very thoughtful. Hasani is a very relatable and likeable character that has flaws, insecurities, and also amazing strengths, thus making her an awesome protagonist. You see how she learns to navigate exclusive social groups within her school, forming friendships and facing obstacles within them. You also see her grow personally within domains in her life, be it: accepting responsibility, learning to live with difficult family dynamics, and learning how to forgive others (and herself). Additionally, I enjoyed the incorporation of Creole heritage and New Orleans/Louisiana history into the book.

In regards to pacing, the first half of the book is pretty easy to fall into as you learn about Hasani and her background and I felt like this was fairly quickly paced. Towards the middle it was a bit slow, but then it picked right back up again in the last third of the book.

I’m looking forward to reading more in the series as I want to learn more about how the magic system works and know the range of Hasani’s potential magical capabilities. My cat Olivia and I would also like to see more cat appearances in the future! And, gosh, Erick Davila is such a talented artist. This artist illustrated the covers for: The Inheritance of Zoraida Cordova, With the Fire on High, and Clap When You Land (among others!)- I can’t wait to see what book cover number 2 will look like.

Olivia and I definitely recommend this book and hope you will enjoy it! It’s perfect if you would like a book about young witches that ultimately shows character development, friendships, and family.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Content Warnings: Classism, Toxic Friendship, Bullying, Slavery, Colonization, Infidelity, Suicide, Abandonment.

QOTD: Will you be reading this book?
Let us know!