‘The Nocturnals: The Ominous Eye’ by Tracey Hecht

the-nocturnals-the-ominous-eye-hechtThe Nocturnals: The Ominous Eye is the second in Tracey Hecht’s The Nocturnals middle grade series illustrated by Kate Liebman. The book follows three nocturnal friends: Dawn the fox, Bismark the sugar glider, and Tobin the pangolin, as they attempt to save their forest home from a threatening, yet seen beast.

Dawn, Bismark, and Tobin have formed a team called The Night Brigade, which is devoted to protecting the animals of the night from any terrors that might arise. So when a great earthquake of sorts is felt, and the forest animals feels threatened, the friends embark on a quest to solve the mystery of the mysterious quake and its source. Along the way they meet a new friend Polyphema, a tuatara who seems to know a bit about the beast, not to mention she has a third eye with which she claims she can see the future, past, and present. As they go, the friends incur the help of other animals in the forest in an attempt to trap the beast and end its horrors once and for all, but the mysteries keep mounting.

Not necessarily contiguous with the first book, The Nocturnals: The Mysterious Abductions, Hecht writes a novel that can stand on its own and allows readers to jump right into the series and backtrack later. The characters are each unique, loveable and sometimes annoying in a way that the reader can’t help but be invested in them. Even the so called “bad guys” have an element of sympathy and understanding about them that teaches young readers to think critically about how they treat the people around them and what might be going on in those “bad guys” lives. Ideas of disability and difference also arise in the novel in a way that teaches acceptance. The Night Brigade accepts everyone for who they are, the Brigade is compassionate, forgiving, and brave, but they can also be scared too. Hecht does a great job of tying together themes and morals centering around acceptance, understanding, and friendship.

Published by Fabled Films Press, The Nocturnals: The Ominous Eye will be released on September 20, 2016. You can preorder a copy at your local bookstore.

Read more fiction book reviews at Centered on Books.

FTC Disclaimer: This book was given to me in return for a fair and honest review of the text.

‘Lucy & Andy Neanderthal’ by Jeffrey Brown

lucy-and-andy-neanderthal-brownMeet Lucy and Andy Neanderthal, the main characters of Jeffrey Brown’s most recent episodic graphic novel Lucy & Andy Neanderthal. The book is a series of adventures that Lucy and Andy embark upon together from hunting mammoth to sewing clothing. Lucy is a misunderstood artistic genius, while Andy is your typical annoying little brother.

The novel is both hilarious and informative. While Lucy, Andy and other members of tribe undergo some wacky experiences, Brown is always quick to point out when the fictional tale clearly strays from known facts about Neanderthals. Interspersed between the slides are commentary and notes on the current scientific information we have about whatever the main topic of the episode is. Whether it is communication, weaponry or socialization, Brown lays out all the facts while also taking the liberty to give Lucy and Andy well-developed personalities, and his story an imaginative edge.

At the end of Lucy & Andy Neanderthal, Brown also gives the reader a full synopsis of where science is in terms of what is known about Neanderthals. He points out that science is always changing, and that what information he has provided in Lucy & Andy Neanderthal in 2016 is not necessarily what will be true 20 years from now when we have even more information to work with.

A fun, educational and fast-paced read, Lucy & Andy Neanderthal is a worthwhile read for both children and adults.

Crown Books for Young Readers will release Lucy & Andy Neanderthal on August 30, 2016. You can preorder a copy at your local bookstore.

Read more fiction book reviews at Centered on Books.

FTC Disclaimer: This book was given to me in return for a fair and honest review of the text.