Posted in Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Break the monster codes with Sleuth & Solve: Spooky

Sleuth & Solve: Spooky: Decode Mind-Twisting Mysteries Inspired by Classic Creepy Characters, by Ana Gallo/Illustrated by Victor Escandell, (Aug. 2021, Chronicle Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9781797205908

Ages 8-12

I do love a good code-breaking book, and this one is right in step with the season. Part of Chronicle’s Sleuth & Solve series, Sleuth & Solve: Spooky puts readers up against the creepiest characters to solve mysteries. Unlock a mummy’s hieroglyphics; discover the Frankenstein monster’s hideout; help a deceased aunt keep her promise to her niece. There are nine mysteries to solve, with a cryptograph available to help readers break the codes. Readers can use their problem-solving skills to unravel the mysteries, and it makes for a great addition to escape room challenges or spy school programs. The stories are told in entertaining comic book style, with characters wandering around the page offering prompts and thinking points. Each spooky creature gets a little factual bio at the beginning of the section, giving readers some context to the game as it unfolds. Great for cooperative gaming, the mysteries work best when teams can work together to solve the puzzles.

Display and booktalk with escape room books like the Escape Room Adventure series from Schiffer Books. Check out Sleuth & Solve and Sleuth & Solve: History for more code-breakers in the series.

Posted in Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Pets and Their Famous Humans… perfect for animal lovers

Pets and Their Famous Humans, by Ana Gallo/Illustrated by Katherine Quinn, (Apr. 2020, Prestel Publishing), $17.95, ISBN: 978-3-7913-7425-3

Ages 8-12

People love their pets. They’re our babies, our muses, our best friends. Pets and Their Famous Humans takes a look at 20 famous pet-human duos throughout history. There are dogs and cats, sure, but there’s also Dorothy Parker’s crocodiles, adopted by the writer when they were left in a New York taxi. There’s Grip, Charles Dickens’ talking raven (who you can also visit, albeit stuffed, in the Free Library of Philadelphia), Granizo, Frida Kahlo’s fawn, and Babou, Salvador Dali’s ocelot. There are pampered pooches and cats, like Archie, Andy Warhol’s dachshund, who had a gold Tiffany & Co. charm on his collar, and Karl Lagerfeld’s cat, Choupette, who sported a diamond-encrusted collar and had her own assistant. Many of the pets were their human companions’ muses, sitting with them and inspiring artwork, or support animals, providing unconditional love and a calming presence.

Each spread offers a biographical spread on the celebrity pet, with a small bio on their companion human. Color paintings of each famous human-pet pairing, which one can easily imagine hanging in one’s salon. This is a fun choice for animal lovers.