Review: The Phantom Tollbooth

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: The Phantom Tollbooth
Author: Norton Juster
Publisher: Random House Bullseye Books
Release Date: 1961
Length: 256 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Children’s, Fantasy

For Milo, everything’s a bore. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he drives through only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the Island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason! Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing. Life is far from dull. In fact, it’s exciting beyond his wildest dreams. . .

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

I had never read The Phantom Tollbooth as a child, and I had no idea what my students and I were about to embark on this past year while reading.

The Skinny

Milo is not your typical boy. No, he doesn’t find joy or even contentment in anything. Everything is boring and useless. What is this life even for? Until one day he arrives home to find a tollbooth waiting with a manual and coinage, ready to take him to the Kingdom of Wisdom. Through a series of adventures and characters along the way, Milo travels around the kingdom and is soon tasked with rescuing twin princesses Rhyme and Reason. Nothing has been the same in the kingdom since they were banished, and many want them to set things to rights.

 

The Players

Milo – a young boy who is utterly bored with everything in life, nothing satisfies him or even slightly makes him content

Tock – a “watch dog” – a dog with a clock that can fly

The Humbug – a bug who can never make up his mind and is in general disagreeable, sometimes a hindrance

The Quote

You must never feel badly about making mistakes … as long as you take the trouble to learn from them. For you often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons than you do by being right for the wrong reasons.

The Highs and Lows

  • Milo. He is a young boy, but his character grated on my nerves…at first. Milo doesn’t see the point in anything. He doesn’t see the point in learning at all. Words didn’t matter. Slowly, as Milo traipsed from place to place, he slowly morphed and changed and grew. By the end of the book, he was the exact opposite of the boy he was at the beginning, and I liked that. He learns to talk to people and mean things, too.
  • Abstractions. Each of the places Milo visits and all of his tasks are rather abstract, so they aren’t really for younger readers. I’d say 10-12 is the right age to read this for the first time, especially independently. I read this with a group of my sixth-grade students, and I will say they remembered more intricacies and nuances of characters, actions, or words from previous days’ readings than I did. They also understood the jokes, which is 70% or more of the book. The play on words, puns, deeper meanings, and overall abstract language about abstract concepts were cause for pause and thought.

  • Adventures. As Milo moves around the Kingdom of Wisdome (see map), he has pitfalls and lessons learned along the way to his ultimate goal: reaching the Castle in the Sky and saving Rhyme and Reason. As Milo and Tock travel, they meet other characters (Whether Man, the Mathemagician, Kakofonous Discord, King Azaz the Unabridged to name a few) who help teach Milo something, and a few characters depart certain magical items to Milo that he will need to accomplish his mission. For example, he learns there is an almost limitless number of words, but choosing the right words for every occasion is important. He ends up in some serious situations and some funny ones, like when everyone else was eating such tasty treats at the King Azaz’s feast.
  • Lack of engagement. This is a slow book to wade through. Yes, you have to wade. Slowly. You want to finish the book, but you also want to move on to different, more engaging and fun reads. It takes a while to get through, but I appreciated the growth Milo experienced.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Norton Juster is an architect and planner, professor emeritus of design at Hampshire College, and the author of a number of highly acclaimed children’s books, including The Dot and the Line, which was made into an Academy Award-winning animated film. He has collaborated with Sheldon Harnick on the libretto for an opera based on The Phantom Tollbooth. The musical adaptation, with a score by Arnold Black, premiered in 1995. An amateur cook and professional eater, Mr. Juster lives with his wife in Amherst, Massachusetts.

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Review: Rosco the Rascal Visits the Pumpkin Patch

Title: Rosco the Rascal Visits the Pumpkin Patch
Author: Shana Gorian
Publisher: KDP
Release Date: September 2014
Length: 130 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Children’s

ABOUT THE BOOK

31752229On a sunny autumn day brother and sister James and Mandy head to the pumpkin patch with their friendly dog, Rosco, to choose a pumpkin for Halloween. While riding a hay wagon, visiting a petting zoo, and joining the kids on a scavenger hunt, Rosco sometimes makes mischief. But when the kids find trouble deep inside the corn maze, will Rosco shape up and help out? Join the kids and their rascally dog for fun and adventure in Rosco The Rascal Visits The Pumpkin Patch.  Recommended for grades K-3 (ages 6-9). Includes 15+ black and white interior illustrations.

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

 

my review

The Skinny

James and Mandy McKendrick visit the pumpkin patch with their parents and their fairly new-to-the-family dog. Rosco is a German Shepard and is a good dog in general, but he can get distracted easily. The McKendricks are known for their awesome Halloween pumpkin carvings. Mr. McKendrick always selects an overly large pumpkin at the patch, and the kids enjoy the petting zoo and corn maze.

This year the duo have convinced their parents they can manage the maze on their own. There are just two stipulations: they must stay together using the same punch-card, and Rosco must go with them. The deal is sealed and the kids set out only to find trouble deep inside the corn maze.

The Players

Rosco – an 85 lb. German Shepard, recently adopted, enjoys being off the leash, always gets up to some mischief

Mandy – 7 year old sister to James, likes the chickens,

James – 10 year old brother to Mandy, likes the piglets, doesn’t enjoy arguing with Mandy

Luke – 4 year old cutie in the corn maze

The Quote

Their giant jack-o-lantern would be the jewel of the neighborhood, every year. Trick-or-treaters would marvel at the size of it. Dad always loved the compliments.

So this day was about more than just petting zoos and hay rides for the McKendrick family. It was about finding another outrageously large pumpkin in that patch. It was about art and tradition.

As the holiday approached, the whole block at home would be anxiously waiting to see what new creation Mr. McKendrick would come up with this year. And trick-or-treaters would come from far and wide to delight in the spectacle on Halloween night!

The Highs and Lows

  • + Family. I love that this children’s story focuses on the positive values of family. I don’t think there are enough examples of this in reading as children outgrow picture books. This is the kind of family you want to live on your street, be your neighbor, help you out if you’re in a bind and list them as an emergency contact for your child’s school.
  • + Values. When James and Mandy stumble upon Rosco and what he’s found in the maze, the siblings step up. They extend a hand, are kind and compassionate, and stand up for someone who has been wronged in the right way. Rosco also helped with that a bit. 🙂 This is a great teaching tool!
  • + Funny. While there wasn’t rip-roaring laughter, I giggled in outbursts over the antics of Rosco and some of the dialogue among the family. It is cute and clean and light-hearted.
  • Plot. The plot spanned the course of one day and all the adventures throughout it. For the most part, the activities of each character are reflected in each chapter. The POV is 3rd person omniscient, so it might throw off younger readers who have never seen this before.

The Take-Away

This was a cute and light read for fall. What I liked most was the family doing things together and nobody throwing a fit or not participating. This is a great book to read as a family and can even bridge some of those conversations about what you like to do and can do as a family.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

Buy!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

8567620Shana Gorian is the author of the chapter series for kids, Rosco the Rascal. Titles include Rosco the Rascal In the Land of Snow, Rosco the Rascal Goes to Camp, and Rosco the Rascal Visits the Pumpkin Patch.

Originally from Western Pennsylvania, Shana has lived in Southern California for 20 years. She lives with her husband and two children, and the real Rosco, their German shepherd, Rugger.

Shana attended the University of Pittsburgh, earning her Bachelor of Arts in English Writing in 1994. She then attended San Diego City College, where she trained as a graphic designer. She went on to work as a website designer in San Diego for nearly a decade. But she always wanted to venture back to her love of the written word, and try her hand at fiction. Ten years into motherhood, she published her first children’s book. Shana is an avid lover of the great outdoors, and is always searching for more stories!

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Review + Giveaway: Rice & Rocks

BeachBoundBooks is pleased to be coordinating a Blog Tour for the charming children’s book written by Sandra L. Richards and illustrated by Megan Kayleigh Sullivan, Rice & Rocks. The tour will run from August 23 – September 13, 2016.

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About the Book

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Title: Rice & Rocksl

Author: Sandra L. Richards

Illustrator: Megan Kayleigh Sullivan

Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing

Publication Date: August 23, 2016

Genre: Children’s Picture Book

Number of Pages: 32

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Tradition takes flight in Rice & Rocks, a picture book celebrating culture and diversity.

Giovanni’s friends are coming over for Sunday dinner, and his grandmother is serving rice and beans. Giovanni is embarrassed he does not like ‘rice and rocks’ and worries his friends will think the traditional Jamaican dish is weird. But his favorite Auntie comes to the rescue. She and Giovanni’s pet parrot, Jasper, take him on a magical journey across the globe, visiting places where people eat rice and rocks. This exciting story celebrates the varied traditions of every culture while also highlighting the delicious similarities that bring us all together.

REVIEW

This book is all about celebrating diversity, differences and ways we are still alike.

Giovanni is an interesting little boy who loves “rice and rocks”, playing his trumpet, drawing frogs and more. When his aunt tells him grandmother is making rice and beans, a traditional Sunday family dinner, for his visiting friends, Giovanni looses it. They can’t serve his friends rice and rocks!

His auntie takes him on a powerful trip to all of the homelands of his friends – Japan, Jamaica, and N’Awlins. Giovanni quickly discovers that each of his friends also have rice and beans as a traditional dish.

When his friends come over, rice and rocks are a hit!

I loved the drawings and representations of the various ethnic groups. I feel that was a strong component to helping tell this story.

Read More »

Audiobook Review: Anne of Green Gables

814060Title: Anne of Green Gables
Author: L.M. Montgomery
Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press
Release Date: May 2013
Length: 320 pages
Series?: Anne of Green Gables #1
Genre: Classics, Children’s

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

As soon as Anne Shirley arrived at the snug, white farmhouse called Green Gables, she knew she wanted to stay forever…but would the Cuthberts send her back to the orphanage? Anne knows she’s not what they expected–a skinny girl with decidedly red hair and a temper to match. If only she could convince them to let her stay, she’d try very hard not to keep rushing headlong into scrapes or blurt out the very first thing she had to say. Anne was not like anybody else, everyone at Green Gables agreed; she was special–a girl with an enormous imagination. This orphan girl dreamed of the day when she could call herself Anne of Green Gables.

 

REVIEW

The Skinny

Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert had decided to adopt an orphan. They wanted a nice sturdy boy to help Matthew with the farm chores. The orphanage sent a girl instead – a mischievous, talkative redhead who the Cuthberts thought would be no use at all. But as soon as Anne arrived at the snug, white farmhouse called Green Gables, she knew she wanted to stay forever. And the longer Anne stayed, the harder it was for anyone to imagine Green Gables without her.

The Players

Anne – the spunky red-headed orphan who comes to Avonlea

Marilla – the strict disciplinarian, sister to Matthew

Matthew – the sweet and gentle spirit, brother to Martha

Diana – Anne’s one true friend

Gilbert – the boy Anne loathes and then loves

The Quote

 “You’d find it easier to be bad than good if you had red hair.”

The Narration

Colleen Winton does a fantastic job of portraying Anne and everyone of Emerald Isle. The variation and inflection in her voice and the bursting enthusiasm as Anne, with Marilla’s stark and drudgerly contrast was excellent.

The Highs and Lows

  • The Enchantment. Green Gables, Avonlea, and Anne are simply charming and enchanting. The setting couldn’t be more picturesque and lovely.
  • Years Gone By. Anne comes to Green Gables as a child, and the book spans the years sending her into young womanhood and becoming a mature young adult. It is hard to believe any of the characters except Anne and her schoolmates age over the years, but the last few chapters of the book reveal just what toll time has taken. And Anne handles it all with grace and strength.
  • Anne. She is spunky, wildly imaginative, long-winded, and stubborn. As Anne grows, she learns. She is not perfect by any stretch, and she understands the importance of learning from her mistakes, which are quite funny. She chooses to see the world in the best of lights, brimming with possibilities. Anne’s character is endearing and warms your heart.
  • Gilbert. From the moment he pulls Anne’s braids and calls her carrots, Gilbert has marked himself with a scarlet letter…at least in Anne’s mind. The two are such competitive rivals that they act as if they hate one another, refusing to speak to one another. They are young and ignorant, and as the years go by, the hate has been swallowed up in Anne to be replaced with fond feelings for Gilbert.
  • Marilla. She is old-fashioned for even 1908, and a strict disciplinarian. While the town’s girls are dressed in the modern fashion, Anne’s dress puts her at least twenty years in the past. Marilla is very hard on Anne, but she is also fair. As Anne seeks out the world without apprehension, the same cannot be said for Marilla, who took some time warming up to Anne.
  • Matthew. He is kind and warm and the opposite of Marilla. It is like they are two halves of one whole, and together they make everything work right. He understands things about Anne that Marilla refuses to recognize or bend to, like Anne’s desire for puffed sleeves.
  • The Chapters. While the book spans several years from Anne’s childhood into the late teens, each chapter is like a stand-alone story. For every chapter tells its own little story of Anne and her family and friends, usually with some scrape she has gotten herself into. By the end of the chapter, the incidents typically reach a conclusion.

The Take-Away

My two favorite scenes in the entire book were the big debacle over Marilla’s missing amethyst brooch (which sounds quite lovely), and Anne getting her dear Diana drunk on what she believed was raspberry cordial. In all, Anne is a little piece of all of us at some point in our childhood, and another piece of us for the rest of our lives: wanting to be wanted and loved. And she shows the best way to do that.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

The series is quite lengthy, so if you’re inclined to keep this around for re-reads or sharing with daughters/grandaughters/nieces, I’d say buy the books. I know I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series in the future.

 

About the Author

5350Lucy Maud Montgomery was a Canadian author, best known for a series of novels beginning with Anne of Green Gables, published in 1908.

She was born at Clifton, Prince Edward Island, Nov. 30, 1874. She came to live at Leaskdale, north of Uxbridge Ontario, in 1911 after her wedding with Rev. Ewen Macdonald on July 11, 1911 in Prince Edward Island. Her three children were born at Leaskdale, and she wrote close to a dozen books while she was living in the Leaskdale Manse before the Macdonald family moved to Norval, Ontario in 1926.

Maud died in Toronto April 24, 1942 and was buried at Cavendish, Prince Edward Island.

Review + Giveaway: The Sockkids Say NO to Bullying

BeachBoundBooks is pleased to be coordinating a blog tour for the children’s book The SockKids Say NO to Bullying, written by Michael John Sullivan and illustrated by Alexandra Gold. The tour will run from July 18 – August 15, 2016.5275020


About the Book

3318808 Title: The SockKids Say NO to Bullying | Authors: Michael John Sullivan and Shelley Larkin | Illustrator: Alexandra Gold | Genre: Children’s Picture Book/Social Issues | Number of Pages: 56 | Publisher: Insider’s Report, Inc | Publication Date: June 7, 2016 amazon2

The SockKids focus on educating children and adults how bullying affects us all and what we can do about it.Do you know where your socks go when they go missing in the washing machine? Well, the SockKids know! The SockKids are a mismatched family of socks that sometimes time travel through the spin cycle, teaching universal lessons of love and kindness, and focusing on creating a greater awareness of the many social issues that children are faced with today. The SockKids help to educate and encourage children from 2 to 92 to find solutions in helping to make this a better world. In this story, Sudsy and Wooly discover their human is being bullied at school and team up against bullies with Ethan’s newest friend, Olivia. They discover bullying hurts everyone and staying silent is not an option. More Inside! Children’s counselor and licensed therapist, Jamie Ross, gives adults and children guidelines on how to handle bullies.

Take a look inside the book…

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 REVIEW

The Skinny

Sudsy and Wooly go to school with Ethan, where he is excited to talk to new student Olivia about the book they are both reading. With a ragtag group of tough boy bullies, Ethan is embarrassed to talk to Olivia. With the help of Sudsy and Wooly, Ethan overcomes his fear and Olivia rescues his destroyed book. They quickly bond over Olivia’s newness and Ethan invites her to hang out with his friends, who try to help others. Together Ethan and his friends welcome Olivia to their school.

The Players

Rainbow – the loving mother sock. multi-colored

Sudsy – the adventurous son, green and orange

Sunni – Sudsy’s giggly baby sister

Wooly – Sudsy’s shy brother

Ethan – Sudsy’s human

Olivia – the new girl at Ethan’s school

The Quote

“No. There isn’t anything wrong with you just because you are different from others or have different interests. Every sock is different. We have different colors. We’re made of different fabric. We have different shapes and sizes. We even have different soap issues.”

The Highs and Lows

  • Anti-bullying. This book has a social focus: tips to prevent bullying, and what to do in a situation when you or a friend are bullied. It is very simple for younger readers to understand.
  • Important Lessons. This short and sweet book has several important lessons, including bullying, working together, and staying safe. It shows two types of situations and what to do in each to be helpful.
  • The SockKids. The socks are so incredibly cute and supportive. I liked the scene when Olivia tries to rescue the cat with Wooly, who is nervous, and Sudsy calls up encouragement.
  • Sudsy. I’m not sure what his name was supposed to be. It starts out Sudsy, then at school changes to stretch, and then turns back to Sudsy. Any editor should have easily picked up on this mistake.

The Take-Away

I can easily see this short and simplistic story for younger audiences turned into animated shorts. I hope there are more to come from the SockKids.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

For teachers in the younger grades and parents, I recommend buying this one to keep around to help teach those important life lessons.

About the Author

172142122 Michael John Sullivan is the creator of the SockKids. Constantly searching for his socks, he wondered whether the missing foot comforters had found another pair of feet to warm. Before his interest in socks, Sullivan started writing his first novel while homeless, riding a NYC subway train at night. Sullivan returned to his subway notes in 2007 and began writing Necessary Heartbreak: A Novel of Faith and Forgiveness (Simon & Schuster, Gallery Books imprint). Library Journal named Necessary Heartbreak one of the year’s best in 2010. His second novel, Everybody’s Daughter (Fiction Studio Books, 2012) was named one of the best books of 2012 by TheExaminer.com. Sullivan has written articles about the plight of homelessness for CNN.com, The Washington Post.com, Beliefnet.com, the Huffington Post, and America Online’s Patch.com service.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway

One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card or $25 PayPal cash prize (INT). Ends August 15, 11:59 pm, 2016.

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Michael John Sullivan and is hosted and managed by Stacie from BeachBoundBooks. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to email Stacie.

Review + Giveaway: Dragons Are Real

Tour Button

Dragons-cover-8x8-Medium (1)Title: Dragons Are Real
Author: Valerie Budayr
Publisher: Andy Press
Release Date: May 2016
Length: 32 pages
Genre: Children’s

Find the book: Goodreads |Amazon

What if I told you that all of the fairy tales, myths and legends that have been told about dragons over the years are WRONG? What if I told you that Dragons are indeed REAL and that they are different than you’ve ever imagined? Did you know that Dragons are the master of disguises? Did you know that they love sugar and sweets (at unacceptable levels) and will do anything for treats? Award winning author Valarie Budayr brings us this fairly true story based on her childhood friendship with a REAL live Dragon.

LOOK INSIDE THE BOOK! 

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REVIEW

This was an incredibly cute book! Whatever your perceptions of dragons are, YOU’RE WRONG!

I loved the REAL DRAGONS LOVE TO READ page, which is also above. They are extreme hoarders of books…Hmm, does that make me part dragon? 🙂

Real dragons don’t dance alone. 

I loved the illustrations and the use of color throughout the book. It was fantastic. The dragons were large and detailed, but they all presented the face of fun. They weren’t scary.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

This is a cute read for lower grades and younger children. It is funny and lighthearted. I definitely recommend buying this one just to keep around for years to come.

 

About the Author: Valarie Budayr

vbAward Winning and Best-selling author, Valarie Budayr inspires children and adults alike to experience their books through play, discovery, and adventure via engaging extension activities on her popular website,www.jumpintoabook.com. Valarie is co-founder of Multi-cultural Children’s Book Day , #ReadYourWorld, a celebration of diverse and cultural kid-lit shared with over 98 million people on January 27th. Her foundation puts hundreds of books into the hands of children in rural and intercity areas. www.multiculturalchildrensbookday.com Valarie’s other best-selling and award winning titles are: The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to our Garden, The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and A Year in the Secret Garden.

Twitter | Facebook (Audrey Press) | Facebook (Jump Into A Book) | Google+ | PinterestGoodreads|Website

About the Illustrator: Michael Welply

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Michael Welply was born in London in 1948. The family moved to Winnipeg, Canada, in 1950. He studied art in Winnipeg and then in Paris, but his idea of living from the sales of his paintings is somewhat compromised by the lack of buyers. He started his career as an illustrator in 1977 in London. In 1981 he returned to live in France with his American wife and their two children. Since then he has worked for publishers in both Europe and North America. To date he has illustrated over 80 books and more than 100 covers, in a wide range of subjects extending from detailed non-fiction to juvenile and adult fiction in the realms of fantasy, mythology, science fiction and fairy tales.

Blog Tour Giveaway

PicturePrize: One winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card or $100 PayPal cash prize, winner’s choice

Giveaway ends:May 30, 11:59 pm, 2016

Open to: Internationally

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Valarie Budayr and is hosted and managed by Stacie from BeachBoundBooks. If you have any additional questions feel free to send an email to stacie@BeachBoundBooks.com.

Review: Frankie Dupont and High Seas Heist

25820644Title: Frankie Dupont and High Seas Heist
Author: Julie Anne Grasso
Publisher: Independent
Release Date: July 2015
Length: 148 pages
Series?: Frankie Dupont Mysteries #4
Genre: Children’s, Mystery

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Frankie Dupont seems to catch odd-ball cases in the most unlikely places. You would think he would be used to it by now.  When his next case lands him on a luxury cruise liner full of devious chocolatiers with ulterior motives, Frankie will be expected to solve the crime, even before it’s committed.  Although his mind is certainly up for the challenge, Frankie realises his stomach is yet to find its sea legs.

***** Review *****

The Skinny

The Duponts are celebrating Fankie and his father’s birthdays at Enderby Manor when they open a mysterious package sent by Madame Marie Fontaine with four VIP cruise passenger tickets and four airline tickets for the entire family to come to her aid. The original plan changes change, and Mr. Dupont sets off to Antarctica with Frankie, Kat, Amy and Sherlock. When they arrive, no one is more surprised than Frankie to see Inspector Cluesome sitting on Madame Marie’s couch, let alone the tale they are about to tell of a suspected robbery about to occur. It turns out Madame Marie’s granddaughter also has her own reasons for calling Frankie and his dog to the ship.

The Players

Frankie Dupont

Sherlock – Frankie’s canine companion and investigative pal

Kat – Frankie’s cousin; friend’s with Amy; on Frankie’s investigative team

Amy – Kat’s friend; Angus & Archie’s sister; also part of Frankie’s investigative team

Mr. Dupont – Frankie’s father; a very thorough investigator

Madame Marie Fontaine – a wealthy woman who owns a cruise ship; reaches out to the Duponts for help

Madeline – Madame Marie’s granddaughter; she has a secret reason for wanting Frankie on the case

Vincent – a new employee on the cruise ship

Inspector Cluesome – an inspector from the Dupont’s hometown; involved in several of Frankie’s previous cases

Emmaline Legrand – a notorious thief and chocolatier; suspected of making a soon-to-be hit on the Fontaine family fortune

Hugh Legrand – brother of Emmaline; also a chocolatier

The Quote

“On the contrary, madam.” Cluesome stroked his mustache. ” I personally will vouch for the lad and lasses, and for what you plan for us to undertake, it’ll be a good idea to have some little eyes and ears on the ground.”

The Highs and Lows

  • + Plot. What more elaborate scheme to pull off than a high-stakes robbery on none other than a cruise ship? It’s incredibly hard to steal such a delicate item in a highly public and visible situation. And that is exactly what Frankie, his dad, and the investigative crew are there to prevent. Madeline’s story, the reason she has called Frankie, Kat, Amy and Sherlock to the ship, is also intertwined. As Inspector Cluesome and Mr. Dupont investigate the case for Madame Marie Fontaine, Frankie and his team investigate the case for Madeline.
  • + Inspector Cluesome. Inspector Cluesome has never been nice to Frankie, and yet he has an about face in this installment. While Madame Marie is dead set against something, Cluesome surprisingly swoops in support of Frankie. Perhaps the man has something to him after all.
  • + Sherlock. Sherlock steals the show in this installment. He is all over the place, and might as well be Kat’s lap dog when all is said and done, yet he saves the day!
  • – Madame Marie Fontaine. The wealthy chocolatier is very blunt, almost to the point of insulting and impolite. The way that she treats Frankie is one thing, and then the way she treats her own graddaughter is an entirely other.
  • + Vincent. Vincent, the brand new employee, is a minor character. However, he is very helpful and loyal to Madeline without question. He naturally picks up this role. He covers for her and helps her without expecting or asking anything in return.
  • + Frankie. Frankie is in his prime in this installment. His work on Madeline’s case is very heartwarming. Given the limitations they are working with on the cruise ship, it still seems that he is firing on all cylinders and going above and beyond.
  • + Madeline. Madeline is incredibly sweet, but a very pressured little girl. She is always doing “schoolwork” and has such a big responsibility on her hands. I don’t blame her for going behind her grandmother’s back.
  • + Stakeout! The stakeout cropped up naturally. The girls were talking and something clicked and the stakeout on deck was born. Who doesn’t like stakeouts?

The Take-Away

The plot of this installment was a quite elaborate, much like the first two books in the series. I was instantly drawn in. Who wouldn’t be with a high-stakes heist about to go down? And in such an isolated locale to boot. But it was when Madeline started sharing her case for Frankie and team to investigate that I knew something either amazing or disastrous was going to happen. I liked that Frankie, Kat and Amy were so willing to help Madeline solve her case and all the efforts they put into it. The fact that they were foiled over and over again just made it that much more angsty.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

If you’re not up for buying, definitely borrow. This is not one you want to skip!

***** About the Author *****

With a background in paediatric nursing, Julie Anne Grasso spent many years literally wrapping children in cotton wool. Every day she witnessed courage and resilience from the tiny people she cared for, which inspired her to write stories to entertain them. A science fiction nerd (she even owns a TARDIS), cupcake enthusiast and lover of all things mystery, she lives in Melbourne with her husband Danny and their little girl Giselle. Most days she can be found sipping chai tea and dreaming up wonderful worlds that often involve consumption of cupcakes.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads