I did some more TBR-diving over the last few weeks, and have some more middle grade quick takes!
Thundercluck!, by Paul Tillery IV & Meg Wittwer, (Oct. 2018, Roaring Brook Press), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-250-15228-3
How do you not check out a book that has the tagline, “Half moral. Half god. All natural chicken”? Thundercluck is about the valiant chicken of Thor. The story begins when Thor and the evil Under-Cook Gorman Bones fight as Thor defends his hen, Hennda, from the cooking pan. Thor hits Bones with lightning, but Hennda gets a jolt, causing her to lay a giant egg, which hatches and reveals a tiny chick with a horned helmet and little vest, and who shoots lightning from his beak. Behold, the birth of Thundercluck! Raised by Brunhilda, a young Valkyrie in Odin’s court, Thundercluck and Hennda are sent to Midgard (that’s Earth), to be kept safely hidden from vengeful Gorman Bones, but like every epic tale, the heroes return to do battle; it’s the Under-Cook versus the Valkyrie and her faithful chicken for the win!
Thundercluck! is the first in a new series – the next book is due out in September – and is a win for your middle grade readers. There’s a lot of hilarious moments, some good Norse mythology, epic battles, and, at the heart of the book, is the story of an enduring friendship. Black and white illustrations throughout are adorable and will keep readers turning pages. There’s a Thundercluck! website that includes an award-winning short on Thundercluck!, which was author Paul Tillery IV’s MFA thesis. Give this one to your younger mythology fans – if they like Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams’s Thunder Girls series, they’ll love this one!
The Tiny Hero of Ferny Creek Library, by Linda Bailey/Illustrated by Victoria Jamieson, (June 2017, Greenwillow Books), $16.99, ISBN: 978-0-06-244093-8
Ferny Creek School Library has a beloved librarian who goes on maternity leave, and her awful replacement wants to get rid of the library and make way for a testing space! Meanwhile, Eddie, a tiny green bug with a passion for books, finds himself in the library as he searches for his Aunt Min, who was injured and can’t get out of the library. Together, the two bookworms – bookbugs? – cook up a Charlotte’s Web-type strategy to plead for the library to stay as is.
The Tiny Hero of Ferny Creek Library is just adorable. The story, loaded with great book references, includes Eddie & Min’s “Bugliography” at the end; a nice listing of all the books mentioned, in one spot, and serves as a good readers’ advisory guide (and display guide). This is a love letter to libraries, particularly school libraries, which have had a really rough time of it these last few years. The heart of the story is the love for a school library, and its librarian, who makes the library a home for the kids at school, versus the mean Mrs. Visch, sister of the school’s superintendent, and testing enthusiast who sees books and reading as frivolous at best. Roller Girl’s Victoria Jamieson created adorable black and white illustrations, featured throughout the book, and really makes readers fall in love with Eddie, Min, and their quest to save the library. It’s a feel good story that book lovers will come to again and again, and reminded me of all the great memories I have from my first library and Mrs. Reale, my first school librarian, who always seemed to know what book to hand me when I needed it.