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Capture the Flag
Kate Messner


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Gabriel Finley & the Raven's Riddle PDF Print E-mail
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Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle
George Hagen

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What You Need to Know:
• Gabriel Finley discovers that he has a special connection with ravens, and he hopes that this revelation might
  lead to the whereabouts of his missing father.
• Some ravens in the story become evil by eating human flesh.
• Riddles and puns are used throughout the book.
• This book is the author's first novel for kids.
Sweet Book Summary:
A young boy named Gabriel discovers on his 12th birthday that he has a special relationship with ravens. He learns that he, along with his father and uncle, are each the "amicus" of a raven which means that they can communicate with ravens and even "paravolate" or merge with them to fly. Riddles, a favorite hobby of Gabriel's, are the way that ravens greet each other, and these greetings also help them to know the good ravens from the evil valravens. Gabriel's father and uncle have been missing for years, so with his new-found knowledge, Gabriel decides to search for them. Luckily, he has a few friends, both human and fowl, to help him because he will need to get past the evil valravens and their leader, Corax, in order to find his father.

I liked the usage of riddles and puns throughout the story and the quirky characters were compelling, but I thought the story was somewhat lacking in depth and purpose. There are not-so-subtle messages about forgiveness and selflessness, and a great scene of self-discovery when they cross a bridge over the Chasm of Doubt, but the plot resolves too easily and the magical elements are limited. The only real violence is the killing of birds, but the one thing that is a little disturbing is the way that the valravens become evil. It happens when they eat the flesh of their amicus - a human. I'm not a bird person, so the basic concept of a world where birds communicate - and sometimes swarm/attack - is not at all appealing to me, but for those who don't mind that aspect of the story, there is some fun to be had here. And for those who do like it, there is likely to be a 2nd, as the ending sets up perfectly for a sequel.
Author: George Hagen Illustrator: n/a Published: 2014, 384 pages
Themes: Animals, Books for Boys, Character/Values, Family Life, Fantasy, Friendship
Sweet Discussion Questions:
• Would you like to be an amicus for a raven?
• Which riddle did you like the best?
• Why do you think the owls like puns while the ravens like riddles?
• How can you tell a valraven from a regular raven?
• How and why does Gabriel's friend, Somes, change throughout the story?
• What does Gabriel do to help Somes along the way?
• Why does Corax turn evil, but Gabriel's father does not?
• Would you have trusted Septimus? Would you have forgiven him?
• Why does Gabriel's Aunt Jaz commend Gabriel for choosing trust over selfishness?
If You Liked This Book, Try:
Wildwood, Colin Meloy
The Bridge to Neverland, Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson
The Apothecary, Maile Meloy
Breadcrumbs, Anne Ursu
This recommendation was written by: Melissa G.
Maps PDF Print E-mail
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Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski

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What You Need to Know:
Maps is an exquisite, non-traditional atlas.
Maps would make a wonderful gift. You could even put it on your coffee table (it's that beautiful!).
• This book has a wide age-range: toddlers to adults will marvel at this book.
Sweet Book Summary:
Maps is not your traditional atlas. It is a stunning collection of paintings that depict our world - and that is not an exaggeration. It also doesn't provide the traditional information an atlas provides. Instead, this book focuses on the history, culture and natural resources of each country. There is so much to see on every page/map. It is reminiscent of a Richard Scary book, albeit a more artistic, sophisticated Richard Scary. The similarities to the beloved Scary books lie in the fact that you can pour over one spread for hours and find something new to look at. This book will introduce you and your little one to far-flung places, without every leaving the comfort of your home.
Author: Aleksandra Mizielinska & Daniel Mizielinski Illustrator: Aleksandra Mizielinska & Daniel Mizielinski Published: 2014, 40 pages
Themes: Geography, Reference, Exquisite Illustrations
Sweet Discussion Questions:
• After reading this book, what countries would you like to visit? Why??
• Which country most intrigues you?
• What did you learn about that country that you never knew?
• Pick a country the authors didn't provide a detailed map of and make your own.
If You Liked This Book, Try:
Life-Size Aquarium, Teruyuki Komiya
How the World Works, Christian Dorion
This recommendation was written by: Melissa Y.