Mud Show Monday

Welcome to the First Ever Mud Show Monday!

What is a Mud Show? 

A Mud Show is a circus show in tents. Many shows perform in arenas now, but mud shows still put up tents at fairgrounds and perform in…you guessed it…the mud. Of course it’s a bit of an exaggeration…unless it rains. Then it really lives up to its name.

What happens on a Mud Show Monday?

Book reviews!

My Mud Show Memos, as I like to call them, will cover a broad range of the latest and greatest children’s, middle grade, and young adult books on the market. Every Monday, I will post a conglomeration of reviews in one “muddy” post 😉

Hopefully my words aren’t muddied or muddled at all, but Mud Show Monday has such a nice ring to it, I couldn’t resist.

I hope you enjoy my Mud Show Memos every Mud Show Monday. Maybe enjoy a mud pie while you read!

To: The Crayons

From: A Concerned Crayon Enthusiast

Subject: The Terms of Your Strike

I was dismayed to read of your strike as recounted by Drew Daywalt in “The Day the Crayons Quit”. Poor Duncan! What’s a boy to do?

I do commend you for addressing your problems directly and succinctly. Now Duncan might have hope of rectifying the situation. I must also commend Oliver Jeffers for capturing your plight so magnificently with his illustrations.

I never imagined crayons could face such difficulties, but my eyes have been opened and I do hope the whole box of you, and Duncan, can reach an amicable resolution.

I admit I chuckled a bit (poor Peach!) but I am motivated to dig out my own box of crayons in the hopes they are not nearly as disgruntled. If they are, however, I can only hope their pleas are as eloquent and informative as yours.

I had these stars laying around, I’ll give you all 5 since you made me chuckle and I was quite surprised with your creativity. I’ll pass along your book to everyone I meet, your concerns are appropriate for children of all ages.

 

To: Super Heroes

From: A Citizen

Subject: Do You Have A Spare Bear?

Wow! I learned so much about what it means to be a super hero from Carmela LaVigna Coyle in “Do Super Heroes Have Teddy Bears?”. Now I’m trying to follow along with the illustrations by Mike Gordon and hoping I can become a super hero too.

I enjoyed the question and answer format. It really cleared up a lot of questions I had about super heroes and how to become one…but now I see that I may or may not need a teddy bear.

Just wanted to send you a quick memo asking if I need a specific type of teddy bear or if any old bear will do? I guess that will be my first super hero dilemma.

Speaking of dilemmas, I did expect a bit more in the villain department, but I was still amused with your super hero antics and clever illustrations. I think children ages 3 to 7 would enjoy your super story too.

Since super heroes are like super stars, here are 4 bright shiny stars for you. They’d look good on a cape…or a blankie.

 

To: Young Adults

From: A Fellow Reader

Subject: What would you do?

Cammie McGovern tackles tough issues with her novel “A Step Toward Falling”. Main characters, Emily, Lucas and Belinda are connected by a terrible event. Though they know little of each other at the time of the event, as the story unfolds they learn about themselves and each other as they each struggle with the consequences of their actions, or inaction, that night.

Told from both Emily and Belinda’s viewpoints, each girl reflects back on the night of the incident. They contemplate how one mistake, be it action or inaction, has grossly altered each of their lives. Courage in difficult situations is the plot’s driving force, but underlying themes of doing good, belonging, and overcoming adversity are also at the forefront.

Teens will likely connect with the characters of Emily and Lucas as they struggle to fit in with their peers while navigating the difficult and fast moving waters of high school. Guilt and the desire to do good, is a feeling readily understood, as many face regret from action, or inaction, in the face of conflict or difficult decisions.

The topics of sexual assault and people with disabilities are sensitive ones, and Cammie McGovern handles the topic with understanding and grace. Teens can gain perspective from the book’s portrayal of individuals with disabilities and may even be encouraged to seek out volunteer opportunities.

While I felt difficult topics were handled with care, I also felt some reactions by adults in the book were unbelievable. Without giving away too much of the plot, I’ll only say I feel Lucas and Emily were punished more severely and made to be more villainous than was warranted. Do I think their actions (or rather inaction) were right? No, absolutely not. But their inaction is what guides the whole plot. I think the point that bystanders must take action when witnessing a crime, could have been accomplished differently than by sentencing community service and villainizing them.

Overall, the book left me wanting more of a resolution. The initial, terrible event is eventually addressed, but there are so many other issues that the topic provides little satisfaction when it’s finally out in the open. The characters perpetually struggle internally and externally, with little headway ever being made. There is much to say about all the characters’ interpersonal relationships, but the most genuine and touching interaction between Emily and Lucas occurred in the book’s last two pages.

I do think “A Step Toward Falling” is worth a read and allows for personal reflection on how we interact with others, how others perceive us, and how we would react in a crisis. It’s a book that encourages personal growth and understanding of others, though the characters don’t always excel in these aspects.

Foul language is limited and sex is not discussed in detail. The plot has many fun elements and the alternating point of views between Belinda and Emily is an engaging story-telling format. Appropriate for teens of all ages.

3.5 stars overall

Are you an author or publisher? Have a book you’d like me to review? If my reviewing style appeals to you, head on over to my Book Review Submissions page and send me your query (or book). New book reviews every Monday!