Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Review of Malcolm Under the Stars

As previously mentioned, I am a sucker for animal stories. Last year I enjoyed reading Malcolm at Midnight, so I was excited to learn during a webinar I participated in that a sequel was on the way. I immediately requested an ARC so I could find out what the Midnight Academy was up to now.

In this follow-up, McKenna School is in danger of closing. Concerned about what will happen to the Nutters, Lankies, and themselves, the Midnight Academy decides to investigate further. They recover a rare coin and a strange code, which only adds to the mystery.

After striving to be accepted in the school, now Malcolm struggles to negotiate with all types of outdoor critters such as owls, cats and raccoons. Luckily, his honesty and and willingness to listen help him in his quest, and his survival.

Fans of the Poppy books by Avi will enjoy the sense of adventure, and even though there are no shortage of stories starring rodents, WH Beck's narrative has integrity. The pencil illustrations by Brian Lies once again add visual interest, and his style gives the animals a playful quality. No surprise since Lies has previously written and illustrated his books that star bats. (My favorite is Bats at the Library.)

I try to extract a crumb (as Malcolm would say) of wisdom from every single book I read, and I think I found the one in this book when I read this passage:

"You don't get to decide who to help or how to help or even to judge what kind of help they're asking for.  . .who are you to decide any of that?" (127).

To me, that passage represents one of the most important lessons I have learned in life. It's so easy to judge people, and sometimes we don't even realize we're doing it. What makes one person so superior to be able to judge another- aren't we all just trying to survive?

Malcolm Under the Stars will be released in August.

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