November Book Review #2

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Photo taken by me from my Kindle copy. 

Nellie Nova Takes Flight

By:  Stephenie Wilson Peterson and Illustrated by Elie Dagher

Summary: Nellie appears to be a normal nine year old girl. But Nellie is not normal. Nellie is an amazingly gifted scientist who lives in a family of amazingly gifted scientists. One day, her brother, Niles, who is eleven, teases her (as all respectable big brothers do). This time, however, Niles goes too far when he tells Nellie that girls are silly and no woman has ever changed the world. This sets off a spark of an idea in Nellie’s most amazing mind and sends her down the path to create a time machine and meet wonderful women who made a mark on the world. First stop, Amelia Earhart! With a few bumps along the way and a government agency out to steal her technology, Nellie and Niles are in for an incredible adventure! (via Amazon)

This is the first book in the Nellie Nova series of children’s science fiction/action & adventure books. It was particularly interesting to take a leap into Nellie’s world as an adult reader. It brought back some of the whimsy I had when enjoying books like the American Girl Historical series when I was younger, but I definitely want to read it with some members of the target audience to see how our reactions would differ.

Pros

Whimsical Writing Style: The writing was very well done for the intended age group. It was simple, and easy to read, without “dumbing down” more complicated concepts for the reader.  When a complicated term or concept did come about, such as time travel, it was explained with a clear consciousness that made the idea intriguing and engaging without overwhelming the reader with too much information. The writing style also had a quirky quality to it that  reminded me of the playfulness that attracts so many children to the Judy Moody series.

Engaging Plot: The plot was exciting and fast paced, and weaved interesting tidbits of history throughout the narrative without forcing them down the reader’s throats. I couldn’t help think of Jack and Annie’s adventures in The Magic Treehouse books–the Nellie Nova’s of my childhood. Nellie and Niles’s journey’s through time were neatly compacted in a cohesive plot that really emphasized the impact people can have on the world if they really put their effort into a cause they believe in.

Illustrations: I have to give credit to the artist of these books. The illustrations added a lot to the whimsical atmosphere and made me smile every time I came across one.

Cons

Point of View: The book is told in third person, but the narrator often inserts themselves into the story to offer explanations or add commentary that might not have otherwise been included. While this technique worked quite well for the former application, I found myself taken out of the story at times due to some of the switches. It also resulted in a lot of info dumps that could have easily been avoided had it been told completely in third person deep point of view, or first person through Nellie’s eyes, allowing us to connect to her more quickly.

Format: I got this book on my kindle, and though I assume more people are likely to buy it in paperback form to read allowed with their kids, it annoyed my that the pages did not turn when i adjusted the device. I like to read my books in portrait form,  the book is designed to be read only in portrait form on the kindle, with two pages to a screen. The result was abnormally small font that made it difficult to read.

Overall: ⅘ Stars. This book was a very enjoyable and whimsical journey that would absolutely recommend to anyone who has grade school age children who love science, history, reading, and girl power.

Recommendation: The Phantom Tollbooth

For Milo, everything’s a bore. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he drives through only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the Island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason! Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing. Life is far from dull. In fact, it’s exciting beyond his wildest dreams. . . .  (via Goodreads)

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