Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon

As the youngest in her family, Dory really wants attention, and more than anything she wants her brother and sister to play with her. But she’s too much of a baby for them, so she’s left to her own devices—including her wild imagination and untiring energy. Her siblings may roll their eyes at her childish games, but Dory has lots of things to do: outsmarting the monsters all over the house, escaping from prison (aka time-out), and exacting revenge on her sister’s favorite doll. And when they really need her, daring Dory will prove her bravery, and finally get exactly what she has been looking for. With plenty of pictures bursting with charm and character, this hilarious book about an irresistible rascal is the new must-read for the chapter book set.

dory

 

This early chapter book may just be my new favourite.  Sibling dynamics are hilariously explored, and reflected my childhood growing up with two younger siblings.  Even though I am the oldest, I sympathized with Dory ‘Rascal’ as she longed to play with her older siblings.  When Dory’s siblings brush her off and try to scare her with Mrs. Gobble Gracker (an imaginary 507 year old baby thief), her wonderful cast of make-believe characters (including her leprechaun fairy godmother) come to life.   Dory is one big ball of energy, and I too, would be exhausted after an afternoon with her.

Her adventures are illustrated with black and white drawings throughout the book. They truly add to the hilarity. Just looking at the faces of Dory’s siblings (p.144) as she retrieves a ball from the toilet makes me want to gag! Kids will love it!   In the end, the story’s message is sweet and heartwarming.  All children no matter the birth order, have a special role in the family. I definitely will be recommending this book to early chapter book readers, especially fans of Junie B. Jones. Can’t wait for installment #2!

More reviews:

“…this inventive child is irresistible…Charming, funny, true to life.” –Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Time spent with Dory is time well spent.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review

Your Constant Star by Brenda Hasiuk

Some people are lost, maybe for good, but others are found.

Faye is the “good” adopted Chinese daughter. Bev is the wild child. Mannie is the unambitious stoner. What brings them together—and tears them apart—is a need to move beyond the clichés and commit to something—anything—that will bring meaning and joy to their lives.  When Faye’s long-lost childhood neighbor, Bev, turns up out of the blue, wanting something from her old friend, Faye goes along with Bev’s plan. But Mannie, the joyriding daddy of Bev’s baby, has a half-crazed romantic agenda of his own. As one cold, miserable prairie spring inches toward summer, a series of unexpected and sometimes explosive decisions sends the trio hurtling toward disaster. A darkly funny portrayal of three unforgettable teenagers feeling their way into adulthood in an imperfect world.

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Your Constant Star revolves around three flawed Winnipeg teens and an unwanted pregnancy (aka. “little alien.”) “Happy ho-hum” Faye introduces this young adult story, followed by pregnant Bev, and her druggie boyfriend, Mannie.  While the different perspectives were interesting, I enjoyed reading about Faye’s cultural heritage and adoption story the most.   That being said, for various reasons, I didn’t particularly like any of the characters.  They annoyed and frustrated me. Especially when they embraced the ‘I don’t give a %&#$’ attitude and put themselves and others in serious harm. However, I recognize I don’t fit into the intended reader audience, and perhaps Faye, Bev and Manny would have a different effect on teenage readers.

Indeed, CM Magazine writes:

“With all their flaws, the three narrators jump off the page with terrifying realism. They are teenagers to make any parent or guidance counselor cringe in recognition. Hasiuk doesn’t flinch from adolescent anger and frustration…Bev, Mannie and Faye are hard to forget…A novel for older teens who want realism with no preachiness…Recommended.”

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