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Official Review: The Travels of Adventurous Alexander and...

Please use this sub-forum to discuss both middle-grade and younger children's books, including picture books, easy readers, and children's chapter books. Topics for books aimed at children 12 and under go in this forum.

Official Review: The Travels of Adventurous Alexander and...

Post Number:#1 by bookowlie
» 06 Nov 2017, 12:24

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Travels of Adventurous Alexander and Relentless Russell" by Kristina Kozak.]

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3 out of 4 stars
Review by bookowlie
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The Travels of Adventurous Alexander and Relentless Russell: Dominican Republic is a non-fiction children’s book written and illustrated by Kristina Kozak. Two brothers, known as Adventurous Alexander and Relentless Russell, go on a jeep tour with their parents while vacationing in the Dominican Republic. They visit a chocolate plantation, a farm, and a school, among other places. The story is based on a trip the author took with her husband and sons.

The account of the family’s vacation alternates with trivia about the Dominican Republic. Each page of the sightseeing story alternates with a page of photos and facts about the Dominican Republic. This information relates to the stops along the jeep tour. For example, when the family visits a farm, the opposite page provides information about sugar cane harvesting.

The story is easy to understand and the author does a good job of setting the tone of a fun yet educational tour. There is a busy, compressed feel, as each sightseeing excursion is quickly explained and then it’s on to the next destination. The main characters are not well developed and there is no backstory given for their nicknames. I did, however, enjoy the tour guide’s clear explanations of the various places they visited along the way.

The accompanying informational pages include several interesting tidbits, such as the process of amber mining. However, these pages are written in a textbook style and might not appeal to children. Since there are no chapters, I can understand why the facts were placed on the pages opposite each sightseeing stop in the story. Still, the different style of writing on these side-by-side pages gives the book a cluttered feel. It’s as if a teacher was reading a story and constantly running to the blackboard to highlight related facts after each page.

The sketched illustrations are sweet and give a handcrafted appearance to the book. However, the brothers are inconsistently drawn. In some of the pictures, one boy is much shorter than the other while other pictures show them to be almost the same height. The boys' faces are not depicted the same way on different pages and they sometimes look older. It was also a little odd that the children's parents and the tour guide weren't included in any of the illustrations.

I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. It is a warm reminiscence of a family vacation that is both entertaining and educational. I would recommend this book to children ages 6-10 who enjoy reading true stories and learning about other locales.

******
The Travels of Adventurous Alexander and Relentless Russell
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Re: Official Review: The Travels of Adventurous Alexander an

Post Number:#2 by gali
» 07 Nov 2017, 12:17

Sounds like a sweet book for kids interested in the subject. Too bad the informational pages are written in a textbook style. I am glad you enjoyed the book despite its flaws. Great review!
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Re: Official Review: The Travels of Adventurous Alexander an

Post Number:#3 by kislany
» 07 Nov 2017, 13:00

I really disliked reading textbooks as a child (probably because I had to study them), so I hope the book's format won't put children off from reading it, as it does sound like a great otherwise. Fun review!
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Re: Official Review: The Travels of Adventurous Alexander an

Post Number:#4 by bookowlie
» 07 Nov 2017, 13:09

Thanks Gali and Kislany! The book was very cute and educational. I can see children possibly skipping over the textbook-style pages, although, as an adult, I thought those pages contains some interesting facts about the Dominican Republic.
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Re: Official Review: The Travels of Adventurous Alexander an

Post Number:#5 by kandscreeley
» 07 Nov 2017, 13:11

It's too bad that the illustrations seem to vary so much. It is interesting that they have trivia in there as well, though. I like that. Thanks for the review.
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Re: Official Review: The Travels of Adventurous Alexander an

Post Number:#6 by bookowlie
» 07 Nov 2017, 13:22

kandscreeley wrote:It's too bad that the illustrations seem to vary so much. It is interesting that they have trivia in there as well, though. I like that. Thanks for the review.


Thanks Kandscreeley. I really learned a lot of interesting facts about a country I knew little about. For example, most children only attend school until the fifth grade. After fifth grade, school is not free and many people are too poor to pay.
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Re: Official Review: The Travels of Adventurous Alexander an

Post Number:#7 by Kat Berg
» 09 Nov 2017, 11:02

This sounds like a really interesting children's book. I am really curious to see the various aspects of the book after reading your description.
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Re: Official Review: The Travels of Adventurous Alexander an

Post Number:#8 by bookowlie
» 09 Nov 2017, 11:05

It's a very cute book. Based on the way the title is worded, I wonder if the author is planning a series with each book about a different destination.
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Re: Official Review: The Travels of Adventurous Alexander an

Post Number:#9 by Kat Berg
» 09 Nov 2017, 11:08

bookowlie wrote:It's a very cute book. Based on the way the title is worded, I wonder if the author is planning a series with each book about a different destination.

What a good excuse for a family vacation, right? :)
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Re: Official Review: The Travels of Adventurous Alexander an

Post Number:#10 by bookowlie
» 09 Nov 2017, 11:10

She can always tell her family is a work vacation to do research for an upcoming book. :)
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Re: Official Review: The Travels of Adventurous Alexander an

Post Number:#11 by Mercy Bolo
» 11 Nov 2017, 04:48

Besides the drawbacks, this looks like a book that could help children learn more about the Dominican Republic.
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Re: Official Review: The Travels of Adventurous Alexander an

Post Number:#12 by bookowlie
» 12 Nov 2017, 08:58

Mercy Bolo wrote:Besides the drawbacks, this looks like a book that could help children learn more about the Dominican Republic.


I agree! I certainly learned a lot about a place I knew very little about.
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Re: Official Review: The Travels of Adventurous Alexander an

Post Number:#13 by hsimone
» 12 Nov 2017, 11:33

My family is from the Dominican Republic actually, so the content piques my interest! Not sure if I like the jumping from one sightseeing excursion to next so quickly; it seems the story might be too stiff, especially if the characters aren't developed well. However, I'm glad that you were able to enjoy the tour guide's clear explanation and the book overall. Thank you for providing both positives and things that could be improved in this read. :)
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Re: Official Review: The Travels of Adventurous Alexander an

Post Number:#14 by Lincolnshirelass
» 14 Nov 2017, 06:54

This evokes memories of the 'Young Traveller' books that I devoured as a child!
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Re: Official Review: The Travels of Adventurous Alexander an

Post Number:#15 by Mallory Whitaker
» 15 Nov 2017, 23:02

Great review! I think I'd be a little bored reading a textbook-like explanation of amber mining (personally) and I'm an adult. I can't imagine being a child and trying to read about that. Then again, I made it through a lot of technical explanations in the Little House books around that age so you never know. Either way, this sounds a little outside of my wheelhouse.
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