Book Review: The Door in the Alley by Adrienne Kress

Book Review: The Door in the Alley by Adrienne KressThe Door in the Alley by Adrienne Kress
Series: The Explorers #1
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on April 25, 2017
Genres: Middle Grade, Adventure
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
4 Stars

Featuring a mysterious society, a secretive past, and a pig in a teeny hat, "The Explorers: The Door in the Alley" is the first book in a new series for fans of "The Name of This Book Is a Secret" and "The Mysterious Benedict Society. "Knock once if you can find it but only members are allowed inside.

This is one of those stories that start with a pig in a teeny hat. It s not the one you re thinking about. (This story is way better than that one.)

This pig-in-a-teeny-hat story starts when a very uninquisitive boy stumbles upon a very mysterious society. After that, there is danger and adventure; there are missing persons, hired thugs, a hidden box, a lost map, and famous explorers; and there is a girl looking for help that only uninquisitive boys can offer.

"The Explorers: The Door in the Alley" is the first book in a series that is sure to hit young readers right in the funny bone.

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for THE DOOR IN THE ALLEY by Adrienne Kress!

Book Review:

THE DOOR IN THE ALLEY is the first in a middle grade series starring logical, responsible Sebastian and brave, bold Evie. When Sebastian encounters a pig in a teeny hat, his life is forever changed, because Evie comes into his orbit after that, on an impossible quest to save her grandfather.

Sebastian isn’t the typical hero of an adventure book like this. He has panic attacks at the thought of skipping school. He’s very rule-oriented and honest, sometimes to the detriment of his relationships with others (though he always tries to explain his point of view). Even when he stumbles onto The Explorers Society, full of older adventurers who have done outlandish things, he’s still Sebastian, the logical rule-follower. Sadly, the pig in a teeny hat was a minor part of the book, but still an important one.

I liked the writing style of THE DOOR IN THE ALLEY. It reminded me of Lemony Snicket and the like; I particularly enjoyed the funny footnotes from the author. The book itself reads quickly, with Sebastian and Evie bonding through their adventures and mishaps to find the Filipendulous Five, the truth of what happened to Evie’s grandfather, and a mysterious key. I liked how Sebastian and Evie recognized each other’s strengths and complimented each other, as well as tried to save each other when they got into danger. I also liked that an important character is an older woman; I won’t say which to avoid spoilers, but it was good to see.

I was disappointed by the cliffhanger ending; I’d hoped for a bit more closure. But as the pages trickled down, it was apparent that Big Important Things would happen in the next book. The Explorers is a series I would continue, as I liked the interplay between Sebastian and Evie, as well as the utterly fantastic Explorers Society the author created.

Socialize with the author:

Adrienne Kress:
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— leeanna

4 Stars
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Book Review: Flying Lessons & Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh

Book Review: Flying Lessons & Other Stories edited by Ellen OhFlying Lessons & Other Stories by Ellen Oh, Grace Lin, Jacqueline Woodson, Kelly J Baptist, Kwame Alexander, Matt de la Pena, Meg Medina, Soman Chainani, Tim Federle, Tim Tingle, Walter Dean Myers
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on January 3, 2017
Genres: Middle Grade
Pages: 225
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
4 Stars

Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology—written by the best children’s authors—celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.

In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books, industry giants Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson join newcomer Kelly J. Baptist in a story collection that is as humorous as it is heartfelt. This impressive group of authors has earned among them every major award in children’s publishing and popularity as New York Times bestsellers.

From these distinguished authors come ten distinct and vibrant stories.

Book Review:

FLYING LESSONS AND OTHER STORIES is a short but powerful anthology of diverse stories by diverse authors. Really, these stories could fit into any anthology, because the themes — sibling relationships, first crushes, friendship, etc — are universal. But these stories are extra important for young readers (and old!) who might not see themselves reflected in many books and stories.

The stories in FLYING LESSONS AND OTHER STORIES span a range of voices from a boy on vacation with his eccentric grandmother to a disabled basketball player to Sam, who’s awed by/wants to know the new girl at school. I would’ve liked to read longer versions of every story in the anthology, which for me, was a sign of each author’s success at pulling me into their characters’ lives in a handful of pages. I’m a greedy reader — I always want more when I get invested in characters.

The opening story, “How to Transform an Everyday, Ordinary Hoop Court into a Place of Higher Learning and You at the Podium” was a bit of an outlier at first for me. Unlike the others, it’s written from the second-person POV. But after I got further into the book, I personally took Matt de la Peña’s story as a way to open my mind. Grace Lin’s story about a Chinese girl sold into slavery who escapes her fate in an unusual way… I definitely want a book about Lingsi! And Meg Medina’s “Sol Painting, Inc.” hurt my heart for Merci and Papi. “Choctaw Bigfoot, Midnight in the Mountains” was the one story that I didn’t understand.

I didn’t find any of the stories too preachy or heavy-handed with messages. The kids are kids, doing their thing, and hopefully along the way, they’ll show the rest of us how to be more tolerant and open-minded of others who have different backgrounds/viewpoints than us. A great book for the intended middle-grade audience and adults too!

— leeanna

4 Stars
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