Saturday, August 16, 2014
With that opening line, author Jill Osborne's second book in The Good News Shoes series entitled Riley Mae and the Ready Eddy Rapids launches into a new adventure starring twelve year old Riley Mae. The story starts on a private jet ride with Riley Mae trying to digest all the shocking information she discovered on her last adventure (in book one). Little does she know, but there are still some lingering issues she must deal with.
But, issues aside, there's a reason for the private jet. Riley Mae isn't your typical tweenager; she's a shoe model! And in order to get just the right photo in just the right setting, she and her photography team fly out to Montana in style. Once there, Riley must learn how to ride the rapids like a pro... while pausing between plunges for a smile at the camera.
Sounds simple enough, but it's a bit more complicated. When someone sabotages a photo-shoot, throwing Riley out of the raft and into the churning waters of the river, she discovers there is still another mystery to solve. Add in a young boy battling cancer, a new friend searching for her birth mother, and an angry bear, and you'll see Riley's got a surprise waiting for her around every bend!
The story entertains with a balance of tension and humor, but still carries a few gentle spiritual treasures for the reader. For example, the cancer victim (named Sunday) has such an amazing, uplifting, and inspiring attitude, and such a pure love of Jesus, that you can't help but be drawn to and want to embrace that kind of faith. Plus the story references sponsoring needy children, a great life lesson as well. In many places, our main character turns to God in prayer when struggling to understand what is happening in her life.
On a side note, be aware that some of the story deals with death threats and abandonment by a parent.
What I Like: I appreciate how the story shares the Christian faith without being preachy. The moral lessons are so well woven into the story, they don't feel artificial. The characters are likable too, especially Sunday, who melts your heart. It's a good, clean adventure. I also love the artwork on the cover. It's very visually appealing.
What I Dislike: This book makes a TON of references to events that transpired in book one. Therefore, if you haven't read book one (as I didn't), parts of the story will be confusing. A short prologue summarizing the first book would have been tremendously helpful. I'd go so far as you warn you not to read this book until you've read the first one, so I included a link for it as well. It's called Riley Mae and the Rocker Shocker Trek, and it rings in at Christianbooks.com for $6.29 for paperback, Amazon.com at $7.19 for paperback or the kindle version for $4.27.
Second, there were also a few events in the book that I felt were unnecessary. For example, one entire chapter was devoted to Riley playing a tough game of ping-pong with her photographer. It was pleasant enough, but did not advance the story. (It actually could have been removed from the book without making any impact on the plot.) However, that is a minor annoyance, and it's very likely that young readers will take great delight in such scenes just because it gives them more time to hang out with the storybook characters.
Overall Rating: Bear with me on this. As a stand alone book, I give it a VERY GOOD because the references to the first book left too many unanswered questions in the plot. However, as a series book read IN ORDER, I give it an EXCELLENT rating. In other words, fill in the holes, and I'd "rapidly" be caught up in Riley Mae's world.
Age Appeal: 8-12 years
Publisher Info: Zonderkidz , 2014; ISBN: ; Paperback/Kindle/MP3/Audible book, 251 pgs., $7.99
Buy the paperback NOW at Christianbook.com for $6.29, the ebook for $4.99, the MP3 CD version for $8.99
OR Buy the paperback at Amazon.com for $7.19, the Kindle version for $4.27, the MP3 CD version for $10.07, or the Audible audio version for $13.12.
Special Info: The third book in the series is also available. Find the paperback Riley Mae and the Sole Fire Safari at Christianbook.com for $6.29 or at Amazon.com for $7.19.