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The Amazing World of Gumball Vol. 1: Fairy Tale Trouble by Ben Bocquelet
The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler
The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin
Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
Curse of the Arctic Star by Carolyn Keene
Demon Book 1 by Jason Shiga
The Dragon That Lived Under Manhattan by E.W. Hildick
The Drowning Spool by Monica Ferris
Fenway and Hattie by Victoria J. Coe
Ghostbusters International by Erik Burnham
Graveyard Slot by Michelle Schusterman
Hip Hop Family Tree Book 4: 1984-1985 by Ed Piskor
How to Avoid Extinction by Paul Acampora
Imagine a World by Rob Gonsalves
It's a Tiger by David La Rochelle
Just Like Me by Nancy J. Cavanaugh
The Little Island by Margaret Wise Brown
The Lost Compass by Joel N. Ross
The Magic Mirror by Susan Hill Long
The Mechanical Mind of John Coggin by Elinor Teele
Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Ottoline and the Purple Fox by Chris Riddell
Pouncing on Murder by Laurie Cass
Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World by Bryan Lee O'Malley
Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart
The Soprano's Last Song by Irene Adler
Stealing the Game by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld
The Underdogs by Sara Hammel

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5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

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The Mechanical Mind of John Coggin: 11/14/16

The Mechanical Mind of John Coggin by Elinor Teele

The Mechanical Mind of John Coggin by Elinor Teele is a strange book about a pair of siblings trying to find their place in the world. Imagine if you will Six Feet Under combined with Big Fish but set in the middle grade fiction world of Here Be Monsters.

John Coggin and his little sister Page live with Great Aunt Beauregard. John has spent his whole life learning how to make coffins as part of Coggin Family Coffins. John though wants nothing more than to invent things — to build anything that isn't a coffin.

That's where the Big Fish part comes into play, and I'm thinking more of the film, rather than the interconnected set of short stories. Like Ed Bloom Sr., John and his sister leave home (in this case, run away) and join the circus.

The circus is one of a few stops in John and Page's itinerary, through a series of villages nearly as wacky as Ratbridge. As this is a bildungsroman, John must ultimately face his greatest fear and confront both the death of his parents and the abuse of Great Aunt Beauregard.

Other reviews call out the adults in the book for being unilaterally awful to the Coggins children. They aren't — save for the aunt who might as well be the sister of Gregory Anton (Gaslight, 1944). The other adults initial reactions are filtered through John's fear and embarrassment. Like Big Fish, though, the truth behind their apparent motivations are brought to light in the final chapters.

Four stars

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