June Minireviews – Part 2

So, like I said, I read a lot of children’s books in June.  I was in the mood for some comforting rereads!!

The Pink Motel by Carol Ryrie Brink – 4*

//published 1959//

In this adorable book a family inherits a motel in Florida.  They go down over winter break to get things in order to sell it.  Of course, the children love it and want to stay, especially when they arrive and find that the motel is painted a bright, vibrant pink – which, in turn, seems to attract unusual residents, some of whom have been coming to stay there for years.  All the characters in this book are great fun, and there is just enough mystery to keep things moving.  This is an old favorite that I highly recommend.

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell – 4*

//published 1960//

I hadn’t read this book since high school, but it’s held up pretty well over the years.  I was always a sucker for books about people living on their own in the wilderness, and that’s the premise of Blue Dolphins as well.  This book covers a weirdly long amount of time (I realize it was based on a true story and the author was working within those parameters but still) so it somewhat lacks urgency, but was still an interesting and engaging story.

The Snarkout Boys & the Avocado of Death by Daniel Pinkwater – 4.5*

//published 1982//

Wow, I love this book so much.  Pinkwater is absolutely insane and his books are not for everyone, since they frequently read like a weird dream, but I honestly love every page of this book.  It had been a long time since I’d actually read it all the way through and it’s even more ridiculous than I remembered, but in a way that made me super happy.  If you’re looking for something that is complete and utter nonsense, look no further than Pinkwater. This book may also appeal to you if you: love avocados, have ever known a mad scientist, think high school is biggest waste of time ever, ever used to sneak out of the house, or wish you had a 24hr movie theater in your neighborhood.

The Snarkout Boys & the Baconburg Horror by Daniel Pinkwater – 4*

//published 1984//

If you enjoy Avocado of Death, you’ll enjoy Baconburg Horror as well.  This one is a little more scifi trope-y (it involves a werewolf), but the main reason I don’t enjoy it quite as much is because Avocado is a first-person narration and the narrator is a huge part of what makes that book entertaining.  The same kid is narrating in Baconburg, but he only narrates part of the book – other parts jump around to third person randomly, which makes the whole story feel a lot more choppy and not quite as fun.  Still, Baconburg is well worth the read if you enjoyed the first book, and this photo of Pinkwater’s “biography” in the back of the book may give you a small clue as to whether or not you will find him entertaining!

O the Red Rose Tree by Patricia Beatty – 3.5*

//published 1972//

Believe it or not, I’m still slowly working my way through all the books that I own, many of which I haven’t read since high school!  This is one of those books that I purchased back in the mid-90’s and hadn’t read since then.  This is a perfectly nice historical fiction about a group of friends who help an elderly neighbor complete a quilt she’s always dreamed of making. Set in Washington state in the 1890’s, the challenge to the girls is to find several different types of red cotton (that doesn’t bleed) at a time when that type of cloth was rare and expensive.  This leads to several entertaining adventures and a few life-lessons.  While I enjoyed this one just fine, I don’t really see myself rereading it – so it has headed off to a new home, giving me one more spot for a new book on my shelves!!

The Nickel-Plated Beauty

 

by Patricia Beatty

Published: 1972

In this historical fiction set along the northwest coast, the Kimball family is poor but happy.  When the oldest Kimball child orders a brand-new (and very expensive) cookstove C.O.D., he has no idea that he will be expected to pay for it when it arrives.  Through a series of events, the children arrange for the storekeeper to hold the stove until Christmas, giving them all summer and fall to try and earn the money.  The rest of the story follows their ingenuity and persistence as they work hard to earn the stove for their mother.

I’ve been reading several of Beatty’s book recently, because I seem to have acquired them at various booksales over the years, but have never really sat down and read through them.  While I have decided to pass on most of them, this one was a keeper for me.  The family is delightful, and the unselfishness of the children, as they devote all of their spare time to earning money so they can purchase a present for their mother, is admirable and touching.  This family seemed more real than many of Beatty’s other characters, and I enjoyed their dialogue and interaction.

This book is still a 3/5 for me, but a high 3, and a keeper for my library.

Bonanza Girl by Patricia Beatty

 

Published: 1962

In this story, a widow and her children move to a mining town in Idaho.  Once there, Mother realizes that there aren’t any other children, so her plans to teach school are not really a viable possibility.  Luckily, she had been befriended along the way by a strong young Swedish woman, who sets herself up as the family protector, and persuades Mother to set up something the town really needs: a decent restaurant.

While the story is fine, it was a bit slow, and quite a bit pointless.  Although they have an enemy who  keeps trying to make trouble, there really isn’t any kind of ultimate goal for the book.  Everyone meanders along, searching for gold, packing mules, cooking pancakes, picking berries, and nothing really happens.  The end, involving an avalanche, also seems a bit implausible.  Short story, I ended up packing this book off on Paperback Swap.  For me, it was a 2/5.