REVIEW: Ridge Writers on Books

‘Jack Death’ By M.L. Windsor, B&W drawings, Creston Books, hardcover, 169 pgs., 2016, $12.99 (and two more)

By DONNA MCCROHAN ROSENTHAL

Readers ages 8-12 will find plenty of weird, wild doings in Jack’s encounters with ogres, trolls, elves, and Grim Reapers in M. L. Windsor’s debut novel, just right for Halloween. It came out last year to huge acclaim, and the fan base grows. Its ogres gobble people and generally live in the Magical Creatures Reserve.

One of Jack’s classmates, Urkel, son of Ubork the reserve’s head guard, bullies and punches Jack and has a great deal of troll blood in him. Ubork smells like a thousand garlic bulbs mashed together with microwaved fish. One girl, Nadine, has a Secret that sets her apart from everyone.

It happens that Jack does, too. His mother has a thing for shortbread biscuits, but that’s not the Secret. It’s that his dad is Death. He can’t tell anybody, for fear of getting second-hand blame.

Jack attempts to lead a normal life while people go about hoping the ogres and goblins won’t escape the compound. But wow, do they ever! And with the help of a lemon-headed villain! Jack and Nadine spring to action and their fast-moving adventure crackles with twists, turns, humor, and surprises.

With Death’s key role in the story, “Jack Death” probably doesn’t suit the very young. But expect fans of Lemony Snicket, Percy Jackson and Harry Potter to enjoy it and to read it again for the clues they missed the first time.

Also, not new but worth noting, “Cooking Light’s the Ultimate Kid-Approved Cookbook (ample color photos, Oxmoor House, spiral-bound hardcover, 144 pgs., 2011, $19.95) offers more than 100 healthy recipes for food that tastes good and that youngsters can help prepare. Instructions identify appropriate ages from 3 to 12 for assisting by pouring ingredients, kneading dough and using vegetable peelers, along with assigning roles for adults.

Brand new, Chronicle Books’ “My Little Cities” series of board books (each by Jennifer Adams, illus. Greg Pizzoli, 22 pgs., 2017, $9.99) introduces children ages infant to 3 to the sights and sounds of San Francisco, New York, London, Paris, and more. Following the cute rhymes and pictures, each concludes with quick facts such as “San Francisco’s cable cars are a symbol of the city…. the last remaining manually operated cable car system in the world.”

The fun starts here, from a lively yarn about a clever boy to kitchen activities to armchair trips to exciting places.

This monthly column is written by members of Ridge Writers, the East Sierra Branch of the California Writers Club. Meetings are held the first Thursday evening of each month at Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church and free programs are offered throughout the year. Ridge Writers’ book “Planet Mojave: Visions from a World Apart” is available at Red Rock Books and other local venues.

Story First Published: 2017-10-20