Two Mini Book Reviews {Zebra Forest // Hide and Seek}

Hello!

Today, I’m taking a break from my standard book review, and instead, posting two mini reviews for two middle grade books! The first is of Zebra Forest, a debut novel by Adina Rishe Gewirtz. That cover is definitely a new favorite of mine :) And the second is called Hide and Seek, a fun, fast-paced mystery by Kate Messner. What did you read this weekend?

Zebra Forest

Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz

Summary: When eleven-year-old Annie first started lying to her social worker, she had been taught by an expert: Gran. “If you’re going to do something, make sure you do it with excellence,” Gran would say. That was when Gran was feeling talkative, and not brooding for days in her room — like she did after telling Annie and her little brother, Rew, the one thing they know about their father: that he was killed in a fight with an angry man who was sent away. Annie tells stories, too, as she and Rew laze under the birches and oaks of Zebra Forest — stories about their father the pirate, or pilot, or secret agent. But then something shocking happens to unravel all their stories: a rattling at the back door, an escapee from the prison holding them hostage in their own home, four lives that will never be the same.

{kindly taken from Goodreads}

My Thoughts: I was so ready to love this book. The synopsis sounded wonderful; I thought it sounded like a great story for the intended age group. I fell in love with the cover, mostly due to the bold use of color and image, and I heard a lot of good things about it! Unfortunately, while I expected a more fast-paced story, what was delivered was a very character-based story. I don’t particularly think the writing was bad, I just think my expectations were geared in the wrong direction.

Annie has matured much quicker than most kids her age. Having to take care of herself and her little brother when her Gran goes into her “spells,” she has learned to take care of her social worker, buy the groceries, and deal with the bills. I really liked Annie. One positive I have about the book is that the character development was excellent. The author set up their actions and emotions so that it revealed enough about each person. They weren’t all likable {Rew and Andrew Snow come to mind} but not everyone is meant to be liked! As I said before, the story is much more character-based than it is made out to be. The whole plot develops around the challenges they overcome and the relationships made. Is that a bad thing? No, but I was hoping for something more just to happen. The plot seemed to drag on, which could potentially bore the reader. Thankfully it is a short read, making out at 200 pages, so I stuck with it, but I can’t say every kid will.

Pros: Really strong character development.

Cons: The plot needed more substance.

Heads Up: One of the main characters escapes from prison, and the topics discussed are a bit heavy.

Overall: I give it 3 stars {***} and I recommend it for ages 11 and up.

Hide and Seek (Capture the Flag, #2)

Hide and Seek By Kate Messner

Summary: José, Anna, and Henry are junior members of the secret Silver Jaguar Society, sworn to protect the world’s most important artifacts. When they discover that the society’s treasured Jaguar Cup has been replaced with a counterfeit, the trio and their families rush to the rain forests of Costa Rica in search of the real chalice. But when the trail runs dry, new mysteries emerge: Who can they trust? Is there a traitor in their midst? With danger at every turn, it will take more than they realize for José and his friends to recover the cup before it falls into the wrong hands.

{kindly taken from Goodreads}

My Thoughts: This is the second book in a series! Who knew?! :) Kidding aside, I had no idea that this was a series when I picked it up, but I’m really excited to get the first one. I read another one of Kate Messner’s books a few years ago, but I haven’t checked out her books since. Even so, she still delivered strong writing and an entertaining story for anyone looking for a good mystery.

José, Anna, and Henry are fresh off the case of finding the original Star-Spangled Banner when another mystery falls into their hands – the infamous Jaguar Cup has gone missing! Although I haven’t read the first book in the series, the author provided the background needed so you could read them out-of-order. However, unlike some other series, the background information never felt repetitive and it flowed nicely into the story. The mystery wasn’t anything new; it was pretty easy to guess who did it. However, the action of the case was very entertaining, and I didn’t want to put the book down as José and his friends tried to catch the culprit! The writing was strong, and there were very few “holes” in the storyline. The characters were developed, as well, and it was nice to see such a good group of friends that complemented each other. The only thing I would have liked to have seen was the crush story written about more. That plot line was kind of left in the open air.

Overall, Hide and Seek was so cute! I can’t wait to see the next book come out.

Pros: Strong writing and characters.

Cons: One storyline wasn’t tied up. {and there was no evidence that it would be developed in the next book either.}

Heads Up: Nothing!

Overall: I give it 4 1/2 stars {**** 1/2} and I recommend it for ages 10 and up.

Have a happy rest of your day! I’m off to watch the Tony’s :)

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