Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Review - Rory: An Orca's Quest for the Northern Lights

Rory: An Orca's Quest for the Northern Lights

by Sarah Cullen & Carmen Ellis
illustrated by Zuzana Svobodov√°
Date: 2021
Publisher: Majestic Whale Encounters
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 36
Format: e-book
Source: Amazon.com

This little orca follows his big dream of seeing the Northern Lights. Who will he meet along the way?

Rory the Orca heard that there are beautiful lights in the sky called the Northern Lights. His friends and family don't believe they exist because none of them have seen it with their own eyes. Determined to prove them wrong, Rory sets off on his own to make his wishes come true.

As he travels north, he meets some unlikely friends along the way. A beautiful beluga, a sleepy polar bear and a dancing fox. This journey brings Rory the unexpected gift of true friendship.

Will Rory's dream of witnessing the magical Northern Lights come true?

Rory the Orca is a heartwarming children's book written in rhyme. If you or your child enjoy gorgeous animals, ocean adventures and stories about chasing your dreams, then you'll love Sarah Cullen and Carmen Ellis's tale of hope.

(synopsis from Amazon.ca; see it on Goodreads)

Rory: An Orca's Quest for the Northern Lights is a nice story, told in rhyme, about four rather anthropomorphized northern animals who join together to make a journey to see the northern lights.

The animals are adorable, and the aurora borealis are beautifully depicted. The rhymes and metre are surprisingly strong, so this would be a great book to read aloud to kids.

I'm not entirely sold on these four particular creatures teaming up as friends. In reality, the polar bear would probably eat the fox, and the orca might try to grab both of them and pull them into the sea... but since the animals are also wearing clothes and accessories, I guess we're supposed to suspend a bit of disbelief here.

Strangely, this story about the north is written by two sisters in Australia. I'm curious as to why this wasn't a story about a whale journeying to see the aurora australis.

In any case, I'm sure children will love this cute tale. It has great rhymes, nice (if somewhat unrealistic) characters, and appealing illustrations.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: 4/5
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3.43 out of 5

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Review - Mighty Mila

Mighty Mila

by Katie Petruzziello
illustrated by Nadja Sarell
Date: 2021
Publisher: Mighty Books, LLC
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 36
Format: e-book
Source: Amazon.com

Mila wants to prove to her family that she’s a BIG KID!

Her plan is to do everything on her own, without asking for help - not even once! She uses her creativity, willpower, and even her new cochlear implant hearing devices, to tackle one big kid activity after another.

But when faced with something new that she can’t figure out on her own, will Mila finally prove just how mighty she is?

Mighty Mila is silly, engaging, and fun for all kids (best suited for children ages 3-8), and contains the message that with imagination, perseverance, and even a little help from others, you can do everything and anything you set your mind and heart on.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is a cute, relatable story about a little girl who wants to prove she's a big kid by doing things all by herself. She also happens to use cochlear implants.

The story is cute and has a good message (i.e., even big kids ask for help when they need it), and the illustrations are adorable. I haven't read that many picture books that focus on disabilities in kids, and most of them tend to feature the disability in a big way. Mila's hearing loss is rather tangential to the plot, and the story is more focused on her showing everyone that she's grown up and independent (which is a scenario that pretty much any child can relate to). I did like the inclusion of little things like Mila enjoying hearing the crunch of her morning cereal, something that most kids without hearing loss probably take for granted!

There's a short bio of the real Mila (the author's daughter) at the back, as well as some teacher-led activities. But this doesn't have to be read in a classroom setting to be enjoyed. I'd recommend it to parents of kids who are looking for strong picture books about children with different abilities doing normal, everyday kid stuff.

Premise: 4/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 5/5

Overall: 4.33 out of 5