Mr. Ginger and the Disappearing Fish by Chris Wardle

 The fifth and final installment of the Mr Tinfish series will definitely remind you of why you love the series in the first place.

The tremendous amount of noise caused by the recent arrival of hundreds of seabirds has Mr. Choli up in arms. He’s determined to bring this issue before Mr. Vinegar and get a stop put to this immediately.

Mr. Ginger, on the other hand, is more concerned with the problem of disappearing fish. While this is the reason all the birds have come to rest near the river at Daphne Wood, the other problem is that he certainly can’t cook all his delightful and interesting meals without a fish supply.

Mr. Vinegar is more concerned about what the birds’ roosting is doing to his roof. Something must be done!

As everyone in Daphne Wood rises to another challenge, Mr. Ginger gets to try a new adventure, William Tinfish comes up with a new idea, and Mr. Vinegar is shocked over new developments.

They say all good things must come to an end, but I am certainly sad to know that I won’t have any more books in the Mr. Tinfish series to read. In this engaging final installment, the hundreds of seabirds looking for food have come to the river of Daphne Wood. Not only are they loud, there certainly isn’t going to be enough fish for everyone if they stick around.

But the larger problem is that the fish don’t seem to like the change in the ocean currents. The warmer waters, which Daphne the polar bear isn’t fond of, aren’t liked by the fish either. So, the fish moved to a new location, causing a shortage of a very necessary food supply for many of the residents of Daphne Wood.

In Mr. Ginger and the Disappearing Fish, readers find much of what they have enjoyed in the earlier books in the series:  the kooky characters whose quirks make for many funny moments; the cooperation amongst all the members of Daphne Wood to meet the challenges climate changes bring upon them; and the numerous expeditions that include some interesting communications between the expedition teams and Mr. Vinegar.

I found the addition of the seabirds in this book to make for some great conversations and situations. Wardle knows exactly what he needs to do to move this story along . There is never a moment when the reader isn’t eager to turn the pages. Despite the fact that this book is dealing with a very serious issue, Wardle continues to find a way to get young people thinking, while providing them with an enjoyable read.

If I remember correctly, Wardle is also the one who draws the illustrations for Mr. Ginger and the Disappearing Fish, and the other books in the Mr. Tinfish series. I would  love to have some of these drawings framed on the wall of my office. I could also see a nursery decorated with the animals of Daphne Wood.

While Mr. Ginger and the Disappearing Fish brings the story of Daphne Wood’s zany residents to an end, I like how Wardle left them. I could see some Daphne Wood short stories coming out of this. Perhaps if I beg, the author will give us another book to enjoy.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Mrs. Cat-biscuit’s search for the downward land by Chris Wardle

 The residents of Daphne Wood return in this fourth installment of the Mr. Tinfish series, Mrs. Cat-biscuit’s search for the downward land.

The birds and animals have overcome many obstacles as a result of the climate changes. Having moved from their original homes and settling in Daphne Wood, they have created a community that has met the challenges they face.

When an earthquake rocks Daphne Wood, it brings with it greater challenges than they have ever faced before. Can they continue to pull together to adapt to their ever-changing environment?

In Mrs. Cat-biscuit’s search for the downward land by Chris Wardle, old and new characters come alive–quirks and all–through a new story of how climate change impacts the environment.

The birds and animals have faced many challenges so far:  a threat to their homes; establishing a new community; growing crops that can survive the increasingly hot conditions; and how to keep up a respectable fish supply while the ice shelf shifts and thickens.

In this new installment, changes brought on by an earthquake send some residents of Daphne Wood off on two separate expeditions. Readers who have explored the first three books of the Mr. Tinfish series, will fondly remember Mr. Choli, Mr. Ginger, Mr. Vinegar, Daphne, the Tinfish family, and many others. New characters are met along the way, and it is going to take everyone to overcome this latest challenge.

Having five cats, I’ve always loved Mr. Choli and Mr. Ginger: their love of food, their love of naps, and their hatred of water. While assigning human characteristics to these characters, Wardle also manages to get them to act very much like the birds and animals they are.

What Wardle has done well in this book is continue the spirit of cooperation and problem-solving that began with the first book in the series.  In addition, his passion in creating these quirky characters is evident. Between his possible sightings of pirates and sea monsters, I’m surprised Mr. Taverre the parrot hasn’t fainted dead away.

Finding books that educate and entertain can be difficult. Wardle has managed to create four books that do just that. Mrs. Cat-biscuit’s search for the downward land, like the other books in the Mr. Tinfish series, helps young people realize the impact climate changes have on our environment while making them laugh from time to time.

Come back tomorrow for my review of Mr. Ginger and the Disappearing Fish.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Little Big Wolf by Carlton Scott

Nathan dreams he is exploring the rocky trails of the forest when a large wolf pounces. Suddenly the wolf appears nervous, and Nathan and he stumble upon two hunters. Nathan soon discovers the other source of the wolf’s anxiety, a pup that is too sick to play.  Nathan tends to the pup, then he and the wolf continue their adventure.

Little Big Wolf by Carlton Scott brings young readers on an adventure into the forest, where a young boy befriends a pack of wolves. Soon, she discovers, however, this is just Nathan’s birthday dream.

I have to admit to being on the fence over this book.  The storyline is good, though I’m not sure I care for a young boy wandering off into the woods and becoming friends with wild animals. The prose flows relatively smooth, but I guess I’m missing the point of the book. Perhaps the author is going for a subtle humans and animals can easily share the same world and humans should help animals in need type of message, but that isn’t truly clear to me.

The other thing that stood out to me is the illustrations. In Grin’s Message, the author fully illustrated the book. But in Little Big Wolf, Scott opted to use nature photographs along with his drawings of Nathan, the wolves, and other people or things superimposed (I believe this is the correct term) over them. It gives the book an amateurish feel, besides looking odd.

It’s a nice story, but after reading Grin’s Message I was hoping for a bit more.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher:  Ends of the Earth Books
  • ISBN:  0-9636652-8-6
  • SRP:  $9.95

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    Grin’s Message by Carlton Scott

    A charming story with an excellent message is what you’ll find in Grin’s Message by Carlton Scott.

    Grin is a bottlenose dolphin who likes to help others. When Ollie the Octopus gets caught in the trash between some stones, Grin helps him get free. He encourages Ollie to spread his message and help others, which Ollie does when he meets Moo Moo and Mee Mee the manatees. But it will take all of them to get Grin out of trouble when the time arrives.

    Grin’s Message is an enjoyable rhyming story that encourages children to help each other. In addition to the more subtle message of protecting our environment, Grin, the manatees, and Ollie show readers how wonderful it can be when we all do what we can to help out.

    Beautifully written and illustrated by Carlton Scott, Grin’s Message is sure to have many young fans.

    Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher:  End of the Earth Books
  • ISBN:  0-9636652-7-8
  • SRP:  $9.95

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    What’s the Difference? by Suzanne Slade

    Title: What’s the Difference?
    Author: Suzanne Slade

    Illustrator: Joan Waites
    Paperback or hardback: 32 pgs, Hardback and Paperback
    Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing

    Publication date: March 2010
    ISBN-13: 978-1-607180-708 (H) $16.95/978-1-607180-814 (P) $8.95 

    Reviewed by Kathy Stemke

    This endangered animal subtraction story points to the ways man has helped endangered animals to change their fate.  Each charming rhyme by author Suzanne Slade offers a simple subtraction problem for children to solve. 

    “Twelve furry otter pups in a grassy bed, two hunt for clams below.  How many rest instead?” 

    While children learn about animal habitats and eating habits this book points out how the Endangered Species Act has protected many animals.  Joan Waites’ beautiful watercolor illustrations bring the different environments to life. 

    “Gray bats hibernate inside warm caves during winter. There are only about nine caves in the U.S. where endangered gray bats can hibernate, and the openings of some have been blocked.” 

    The plight of eagles, prairie dogs, butterflies, whooping cranes, gopher frogs, crocodiles, salmon, bowhead whales, gray bats, manatees, otters, and red wolves are discussed in detail.  As a teacher I can recommend What’s the Difference? as a great resource in the classroom or home library. 

    As with all of Sylvan Dell’s books there are several fact and activity pages in the back of the book.  Sylvan also provides many on-line resources for teachers and students to use.

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