Welcome to Mini Reviews Monday, a She Latitude weekly feature where I talk about two books I’ve read–what’s it about, what’s good, what’s bad, and my overall verdict. Today we have two Middle Grade books to review: A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness) and All Four Stars (Tara Dairman). 🙂
A Monster Calls | Patrick Ness, Jim Kay (2011)
Middle Grade | 215 pages | ★★★★☆
What it’s about: The monster that shows up after midnight isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming… This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.
What’s good: Never have I read a book in which both the narrative and the illustrations tell a story of their own, complementing each other so wonderfully. A Monster Calls is beautiful, so sad and spooky in its own way that I can’t help but to think the story is a bit more mature than it lets on. This is no ordinary monster that appears under your bed every night—this monster is real. Despite the book being marketed as Middle Grade and Young Adult, I really do think it has elements many, if not most, of us can relate to.
What’s bad: Nothing, for once. The only reason why I’m not giving it a complete five stars is because I don’t believe the story will be as effective without the illustrations.
Verdict: So much yes. This book made my heart squeeze really, really hard… in a really, really good way.
All Four Stars | Tara Dairman (2014)
Middle Grade | 288 pages | ★★★★☆
What it’s about: When eleven-year-old Gladys accidentally set the kitchen on fire, her parents banned her from her all-time favourite activity, cooking. What a disaster! But the perfect opportunity to redeem herself soon presents itself when she is mistakenly contacted to write a restaurant review for one of the largest newspapers in the world…
What’s good: What a fun book! The moment I started reading it, I became immediately enamoured with all the food-related metaphors in the story. Gladys is super adorable and so passionate about food, you can really feel her love for cooking and baking just oozing through the pages. I read this before bed, which was a mistake because all the food descriptions made me hungry.
What’s bad: The middle slows down a little bit—there were moments when I breezed through some of the chapters because not a lot of interesting things was happening. I also think that it’s a bit unrealistic for a sixth grader to be able to write for a major newspaper, but hey, maybe Gladys is that good. I also wish her parents play a bit more of a role.
Verdict: Recommended for a fun read, no drama here. I love Gladys and absolutely enjoyed her passion for food!