Member Reviews

This was a fun read! I think kids will enjoy this middle grade book. I loved that the kangaroo helped the main character with his problem.

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What a wonderful adventure. Xavion and Jameison (a kangaroo) met at recess everyday and hung out together which was good because Austin and Chris, 2 boys in Xavion, class picked on him. Jameison cheered Xavion up and they became good friends. The author did a good job showing how lonely life can be when one is bullied. Just having a friend - even a kangaroo - can mske a big difference.

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Comical and very easy to read. Kids will enjoy this early middle grade book and relate to the imaginary Kangaroo friend who helps the young boy deal with his problems.

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Xavion has big feet. When his classmates tease him, he gets even by yelling a name at one of them. He's heard by a teacher and loses his recess for a week. Not fair...

BooksGoSocial and Net Galley let me read this book for review (thank you). It has been published and you can read it now.

While he's out sitting under the time-out tree, he's suddenly aware of a kangaroo there. His name is Jamieson and he wants help to get back home. They chat and then his teacher shows up, but she doesn't see the kangaroo. Neither does he at the moment.

He gets so he's looking forward to his time under the tree. Then it rains but Jamieson comes to see him in the room he's stuck in. The kangaroo has explained how he got to the states but now he wants to go home. Australia is a long way away but Xavion has an idea. Since Jamieson can jump high maybe he can win the top prize at the carnival: Airfare to wherever you like. Jamieson gets a ticket to Austalia and now Xavion has to find him a ride to the airport.

After all these adventures, Xavion doesn't listen to the boys that used to tease him and it's no fun anymore...

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My daughter had a bit of a tough time getting into this book, but once she did she enjoyed it. She especially enjoyed the characters and their interactions.

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After a bit of teasing from his friends about how big his feet grew over the summer, Xavion snapped. He knew better than to fight with his friends, but he was tired of the comments. Giant feet were great for jumping, but people were always tripping over them and Xavion was super tired of hearing about them. So, when his friend shouted names at him on the playground, he fought back by yelling “four-eyes” at one of his friends with glasses.

Xavion felt bad as soon as he said it, but Mrs. Barnes heard him, so he is stuck in time-out for five recesses in a row. He got tired of watching the other kids play and decided to rest. Falling asleep quickly, he was awakened by a kangaroo tugging on his sleeve. Confused, Xavion thought the he might be dreaming.

Soon he finds out the kangaroo’s name is Jamieson; he is straight from Australia and needs Xavion’s help. Each day, during recess, Jamieson returns to Xavion and tells him about how he got tricked by some Ravens and really wants to get back home. Between the two of them, they hatch a plan.

Never Talk To Ravens is an engaging and entertaining illustrated chapter book for kids ages 7 to 10 to enjoy. The focus on kindness, helping others and actions leading to consequences are important issues for children to understand and work through. I really love that Never Talk to Ravens allows children to understand the concepts of the issues, yet does not bonk them over the head “do this, not that”. It allows kindness and helping others to subtly sink in as children read the story.

I really enjoyed the story, characters and message in Never Talk to Ravens. It is perfect for the age group intended. If you have younger children, they would most likely enjoy you reading it to them. I am excited to see it is the first book in the Xavion and Jamieson Adventure Series.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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This was a great juvenile fiction book. I read this book with my kids (ages 9 and 6). This book was fun, funny, and educational. I used this book to reiterate to my kids that ignoring kids that are teasing or bullying you, takes the fun out of it for the bully. We also talked a lot about whether these things were happening in Xavion's head or in real life. This book was a fast read book-it had 8 chapters but several pictures throughout. I think this book would be appropriate for 5 year olds through 11/12 year olds. The illustrations in this book were great--they looked almost animated.

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At first, I thought this wasn't too bad. The technical aspects of the writing were surprisingly strong. Unfortunately, it didn't last. By the time I got to the end, the writing was starting to fall apart, the plot had taken a decidedly stupid turn, and I was just glad it was all over.

This seems like one of those books that gets written because it sounds like something kids might like. In reality, though, it's just a disjointed mishmash of plot points held together by an overused framing device that's not even subtle. It's hinted at from the very first paragraph that it's all a dream; then that point is belaboured until I started to wonder if Xavion was suffering from narcolepsy. (He sleeps through all his recess time-outs, and nobody seems to think this is worrisome!)

As for those time-outs, they're completely unfair and show Xavion getting punished for giving a bully a taste of his own medicine. He's tormented daily about the size of his feet--something he can't help. When he tries to tell a teacher, the bullying just gets worse, until he finally fights back and calls one of the boys "four-eyes". This lands him with recess time-outs for a week, while the bullies get to continue merrily making snide remarks whenever the teacher's back is turned. Had this been satisfactorily addressed, I might not have been as bothered by it. But the eventual resolution to the bullying problem is Xavion just ignoring the boys, even though they still continue with their behaviour (just with less frequency). That's not satisfying, either from a real life-message perspective or from a storytelling one.

Let's talk about the storytelling for a moment. The basic premise here is that Xavion, bored from being in time-out, dreams of a kangaroo named Jamieson. (Yes, that's probably a spoiler. If it's not supposed to be, the hints need to be meted out much more carefully.) Jamieson ended up in New York after being tricked into a jumping contest by a group of ravens who wanted part of the grand prize... which was one million pepperoni pizzas. Using a series of trampolines and a rubber-band slingshot, he was flung up into the atmosphere (where the laws of physics broke down completely... don't even get me started). He grabbed an airplane's wing and flew all the way to New York, where he encountered Xavion. He wants to get back to Australia in time for his birthday on Sunday, so Xavion takes him to the carnival where he enters another jumping contest (in which he has to ring a bell that's 50 yards in the air) to win an airplane ticket home. This takes place on Saturday afternoon, but no matter... he still manages to make it home for his birthday in Australia by Sunday. (Having a family member who lives in Australia, I spotted the problem right away. It would've already been Sunday in Australia when Jamieson was competing in the contest! Given the length of the flight, it would've been Monday before he got home... and yet, the book states that he made it home in time for his Sunday birthday.)

The pictures look sort of like stock illustrations, and I almost wonder if the storytelling was partially constrained by which pictures were available. Sometimes they seem like they're specific to the story, but other times they're just pictures of random objects like a phone and a treasure map (which, according to the text, should've been a printed list of flight times).

I did like the idea of a male kangaroo wearing a fanny pack (since he doesn't have a natural pouch of his own), but that was about all I really enjoyed here. The plot has logistic problems, characters defy the laws of physics and get away with bullying, and everything sort of falls apart after the first few chapters. Xavion was unbearably dense (he was constantly wondering why his teacher thought he was sleeping, as if teachers just go around randomly accusing their students of having imaginary naps), and he wasn't developed all that well as a character. I guess you could argue that the whole premise was him coming to terms with his big feet, but the plot was a very convoluted way to get there.

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