Tuesday, November 10, 2020

The Book Review Club (November 2020)

Welcome to the November 2020 edition of the Book Review Club. It's our post-election, post-coronavirus-vaccine-news meeting, and we have books to recommend! A little trivia: Shakespeare didn't like November; he never mentions the month in any sonnets or plays. Happy Thanksgiving to all who are celebrating in whatever shape or form. We're thinking of spatchcocking our turkey. Yes, it's a real thing! Enjoy the reviews! (trivia from thefactsite.com)

 (MG, contemporary)
By Joanne Levy

WHO IS TANKSY? (MG, contemporary)

Interesting quandary for me this month: I've read several terrific books and couldn't decide which one to review. Nice problem! Many people tell me they have trouble reading during these troubling times. Not me. I could read till the cows come home or till the gray whales swim by in both directions (trying to inject a Calif vibe here :) ). To be honest, it's writing that's giving me fits.

Anyway . . . the quandary got me thinking about kids and reading and reluctant and developing readers. This led me to Orca Publishing and then to Orca Currents. Of which I have never read a single one. Orca Currents are high interest, low reading level (2.0 - 4.5 grade level) for a middle-grade audience (10-14 year olds) and short (14,000-16,000 words). Put all this together and, frankly, it sounds like no mean feat to write.

Both FISH OUT OF WATER and WHO IS TANKSY? knock it out of the park. (I've given up on the Cali vibe) Both books are interesting, age appropriate, move quickly, deal with big topics, and have relatable, growing characters who resolve their issues. In under 150 pages! It's incredible. It's masterful. It's a good read.

In FISH OUT OF WATER, 12-year-old Fish Rosner deals with gender stereotyping. He's interested in knitting and Zumba as opposed to watching sports and playing water polo or hockey. Various adults and friends are unhappy with Fish's choices. He is alienated by his best friend. Fish learns to be true to himself and his mitzvah project. He's definitely a hero readers will root for and learn from.

Bev Katz Rosenbaum tackles finding your voice and speaking up against adults in power in WHO IS TANKSY? No one listens to 14-year-old Tanya Kofsky, not at home or at school. She notices social injustices everywhere, especially those involving the authoritarian administration at school and spray paints very clever messages at night on the school wall. Other students, faculty and even the lunch ladies join Tanya's rebellion. Tanya also finds the courage to stand up to her narrow-minded grandfather. Tanya makes a difference. What a powerful message! 

Kudos to Joanne Levy and Bev Katz Rosenbaum! 
(reviewed in order read :) )

(Dear FCC: bought and bought)

And now....onto the rest of our reviews. Please click through. You won't want to miss a single one!


Phyllis Wheeler: SAVE ME A SEAT by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan (MG, contemporary) 

Jody Feldman: COO by Kaela Noel (MG, contemporary with a hint of magic)


Lucy Sartain: YOU HAD ME AT HALO by Amanda Ashby (YA, fantasy romance)

Margy Lutz: INDIAN HORSE by Richard Wagamese (historical, Canadian)

Patti Abbott:  LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND by Rumaan Alam (literary)

Linda McLaughlin: THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL by Abbi Waxman (humorous, contemp)

Ray Potthoff: FALLOUT by Sara Paretsky  (thriller)

Sarah Laurence: WRITERS AND LOVERS by Lily King (literary)   


Jenn Jilks: KAMALA IN CANADA by Kaj Hasselriis (middle grade, graphic, biography)

Jenn Jilks: TREE BEINGS by Raymond Huber & Sandra Severgnini (middle grade, environmental)

Scott Parker: THE WAY WE ALL BECAME THE BRADY BUNCH by Kimberly Potts (popculture)

Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!


  1. I like that these books offer this type of message for young adults. These sound like good books with a positive message. Thanks for reviewing. Lucy

    1. There's a huge variety of books on the publisher's website. I think providing hi-lo books is a great way to get kids reading.

  2. How wonderful to have a publishing imprint designed to accommodate a low reading level while still tackling complex issues relevant to the reader! I'm a bit tardy this month, but I just posted my review. Thanks for hosting and reminding me!

    1. Loved your review. I already requested Writers and Lovers from the library. :) I do think Orca Publishing is providing an important service.

  3. I've never heard of spatchcocking. Looked it up. It looks like a great way to cook a turkey, especially if you like crispy skin, which I do. Have a great Thanksgiving. We will be on the road in Arizona. I may or may not get some sliced turkey from the deli like I did for the last two years. Turkey white meat is my favourite, but Wayne isn't a turkey fan. Maybe we'll just take the day to be thankful. - Margy

    1. My kids want zero turkey this year! I'm on the lookout for a small turkey and whatever they come up with. I will let you know if we spatchcock or not!

  4. PS Henry spatchcocked our turkey the year we lost power and thought we'd need to grill it. Upside: more evenly cooked meat and faster too. Downside: can't stuff it or carve it at the table. I think he's planning to do it again this year.

    1. Interesting! I may contact you for tips. 🦃

  5. What a great concept for reluctant readers. The Tanksy book sounds good.

  6. I used to teach spec. ed., and was always on the lookout for high-interest/low vocabulary books.
    Good luck spatchcocking. I've heard of it, of course, all the shows I watch did turkey talks at our Thanksgiving!

  7. I enjoyed several of these reviews. Thanks, Barrie!


Comments are always welcome!