Spies and animals — but no princesses

REVIEW: Ridge Writers on Books


Two weeks ago at the NCIBA (Northern California Independent Booksellers Association) Disco-very Show, publishers revisited top 2018 titles and previewed some set for imminent release. They included a trio of engaging treats likely to captivate kids:

“Mac B. Kid Spy: Mac Undercover” (by Mac Barnett, color illus. Mike Lowery, Orchard Books/Scholastic, hardcover, 160 pgs., $12.99, ages 7-10) reveals the N.Y. Times bestselling author’s account of his childhood adventures as a spy for Queen Elizabeth. She phoned one day, according to Mac, asking him to locate the missing Crown Jewels. She wrote him a note so that he could miss a school day to undertake the mission. When he arrived in London, he learned that he had to retrieve not a crown, and not jewels, but the Coronation Spoon. The case led him to the president of France, the KGB and a step-by-step guide for breaking into the Louvre. Clever, playful drawings help tell this funny caper, No. 1in the “Mac B. Kid Spy” series. The next, “The Impossible Crime,” hits the stands in December 2018.

“Animal Antipodes: Global Opposites” (Carly Allen-Fletcher, color paintings, Creston, hardcover, 32 pgs., $17.99, ages 5-11) explores “antipodes,” places directly opposite from one another on the Earth. Warm, vibrant pictures show and discuss the animals that live in their different, unique habitats. For instance, from Santiago, Chile, where condors glide high above, “dig to China” to see forested mountains, the ancient city of Xi’an, and pandas munching bamboo.

“The Absolutely Positively No Princesses Book” (Ian Lendler, color illus. Deborah Zemke, Creston, hardcover, 30 pgs., $16.99, ages 4-9) starts with Lilliana Arianna de Darlingsweet-Amazingface, Princess LaDeeDa for short. A girl in overalls tells her to leave, because it is not a princess book. LaDeeDa offers to sprinkle a handful of glitter. Or use her enchanted wand. Or toss in a tiara. But the zero-princess-tolerance lass refuses, saying, “Glitter rubs off and makes a mess.” Besides, she counters, she doesn’t need a wand or tiara, because she has a paint brush and a rubber band. She’d rather go to a ranch or climb a tree. The two debate until they reach a better solution: they’ll become friends.

A winning formula for young readers: Jewels, spoons, condors, pandas, glitter and a new kind of princess tale!

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.

Story First Published: 2018-10-19