Bats, Bandits, and Buggies by Nancy Oswald

Bats, Bandits, and Buggies by Nancy Oswald
Publisher: Burro Books
Genre: Middle Grade (8 – 12 y.o.) Historical, Fiction, YA
Rating: 5 stars
Review by Snowdrop

Bat, Bandits & Buggies is the fourth book in the Ruby and Maude Adventure Series. These books can be read in any order.

In Colorado Springs, the summer of 1898, thirteen-year-old, Ruby is bored, bored, bored. What starts out as a plan to train her donkey, Maude, to pull a buggy, ends up in a prickly business deal with her friend Roy, who has run away from Cripple Creek to escape his misery of working in the mines.

Roy lives with his peculiar Aunt Agnes, the caretaker of a mansion where things go bump in the night. Ruby suspects his aunt is involved with two bandits who dress in black and appear and disappear without a trace.

After eavesdropping on a mysterious couple, Ruby is terrified Roy may be the bandits’ next target. Her suspicions come true when the gun-brandishing bandits capture her and Roy.

Will the two escape? Is there a connection between the bandits, Aunt Agnes, and the mansion? What other surprises await Ruby and Roy in their seemingly sleepy little town? Find out in Bats, Bandits, & Buggies.

While I am not of this reading age anymore (9 to 12), who could possibly ignore a book with this title? Regardless of age, I had a blast. Set in the late 1800’s, this middle grade children’s historical fiction story would be a quick and fun read for anyone. Ruby and Roy with her donkey Maude, decide to run from bad personal situations and end up right in the middle of a mystery. In some ways, out of the fire and into the pot, a possible very dangerous place to be.

What a neat change in genre this is. It’s almost a cozy mystery for middle grade readers. I love the historical fiction setting. This is clearly written and very easy to follow, but it sure never lets up on suspense.

Of course, it’s biggest draw is what I mentioned previously. Who can resist two kids, a donkey, some bandits, and a mystery?

Bats, Bandits, and Buggies is Book 4 in a series titled “Ruby and Maude Adventure”. Check it out.

Insects in the Infield by Nancy Oswald

Insects in the Infield by Nancy Oswald
 Publisher: Burro Books
Genre: Historical, Middle Grade
Length: Full Length (182 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 9+
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Ants, bees, dragonflies, limping millipedes… Buster would rather ignore his brainy sister Maggie’s insect zoo, but he needs her help with the carnival fundraiser for his baseball team, the Cougars. Unfortunately, Buster needs more than fundraising help from his sister. His failing math grade is at a full count—one more strike and he won’t be able to play in the game against the three Pirate bullies: Chewy, Ace, and Rip. The town of Ashville may never be the same after these rival teams clash. Bugs and baseball don’t mix.

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As an adult reader, Insects in the Infield is an inspiring read for younger readers. It’s a story that children can relate to being if they are failing in a school subject, dealing with a smart younger sibling, balancing sports and school learning and also handling bullies. Its an interesting story line with lovable characters and full of humor. Insects in the Infield is Animal Planet mets ESPN; the author gives educational scientific names for the insects and also she does a good job on the baseball game play descriptions. It is also a simple, laid back novel when children didn’t have much technology and they looked forward to outside play.

I enjoyed the relationship between Buster and his younger sister Maggie. My favorite character Maggie is very smart and isn’t ashamed of it. Maggie has book smarts and is happy to help her brother with his math and it is so cute how she is so organized with teaching and is so happy to teach. She also makes the lessons interesting for Buster by showing him the relation between math and baseball. Also, I enjoyed how Buster’s friends also chipped in to help Buster pull his math grade up. This really is important and showed true friendship.

It seems it took the parents quite awhile before they realized how badly Buster was doing in math, but when the teacher brought it to their attention the parents put rules into play. As with life there are bullies, and the author didn’t shy away from building tough bullies in this novel, but the fingerprints in blood on the notes were a bit much for me.

Insects in the Infield is a book where insects have talent, and the neighborhood baseball team rivalry is a big community event. Pick up a copy of Insects in the Infield to find out if Buster is able to pull up his failing math grade and find out if the Cougar’s be able to win a victory against the Pirates.