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Charlotte's Library





Updated: 2017-11-17T17:40:14.144-05:00

 



This week's round-up of mg sci fi and fantasy from around the blogs (11/12/17)

2017-11-12T09:22:10.524-05:00

No round-up last week because I was at Kidlitcon (yay!).  But here's what I've gathered from this past week; let me know if I missed your post!The ReviewsBeneath, by Roland Smith, at Redeemed ReaderBlueberry Pancakes Forever (Finding Serendipity, 3) by Angelica Banks, at The Haunting of Orchid ForsythiaThe Bone Thief by Alyson Noel, at Kiss the Book Brave Red, Smart Frog: A New Book of Old Tales, by Emily Jenkins, at Becky's Book ReviewsCogheart by Peter Bunzl, at Escape from RealityA Crack in the Sea, by H.M. Bouman, at SemicolonDeath Dragon's Kiss:The Manakor Chronicles Book #2, by T.K. Kiser, at Hall Ways BlogDragonfly Song, by Wendy Orr, at Bluestocking ThinkingDragon's Green, by Scarlett Thomas, at SemicolonThe Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken, at Hopeful ReadsGiant Trouble, by Ursula Vernon, at Log Cabin LibraryJourney Across the Hidden Islands, by Sarah Beth Durst, at alibrarymamaJourney's End, by Rachel Hawkins, at Charlotte's LibraryLast Day on Mars, by Kevin Emerson, at alibrarymamaLumberjanes: Unicorn Power, by Mariko Tamaki, at  books4yourkids.comThe Magic Misfits, by Neil Patrick Harris, at Hit or Miss BooksNervermore: The Trials of Morrigan Crow, by Jessica Townsend, at Waking Brain CellsThe Nutcracker Mice, by Kristin Kladstrup, at Charlotte's LibraryParsley, Sage, Rosemary and Time,by Jane Louise Curry, at Time Travel Times TwoPeter Nimble and His Fantatic Eyes, by Jonathan Auxier, at Pages Unbound ReviewsThe Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine, by Mark Twain and Philip Stead, at the NY Times Book ReviewScavenger's Hunt by Mike Rich, at Log Cabin LibraryThe Supernatural Sleuthing Service, by Gwenda Bond and Christopher Rowe, at Book NutWatchdog, by Will McIntosh, at Ms. Yingling ReadsWishtree, by Katherine Applegate, at Hit or Miss Books and  SemicolonThe Wizards of Once, by Cressida Cowell, at The YA's NightstandTwo at Falling Letters--The Dragon With a Chocolate Heart, by Stephanie Burgis, and Race to the Bottom of the Sea, by Lindsay EagerA Lockwood and Co. series overview at Fuse #8Other Good StuffNew MG speculative fiction from over in the UK, at Mr Ripleys Enchanted BooksGreat Superhero stories for all ages (kid ages, that is) by me at B. and N. Kids BlogTop 5 Middle-Grade Novels Featuring Superheroes, at A Backwards Story[...]



The Nutcracker Mice, by Kristin Kladstrup

2017-11-12T09:13:38.540-05:00

The Nutcracker Mice, by Kristin Kladstrup (Candlewick, MG, Oct2017), is  truly delightful reimagining of the Nutcracker Ballet, performed by the mice who have their own ballet company beneath the stage of Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. The original ballet is about to have its first performance by the human dancers, and the Russian Mouse Ballet will be staging their own performance at the same time. The mouse ballet must succeed, or else the mouse company will be short of food (received from their audience) and they might have to close their curtains. But the plot of the Nutcracker is not a mouse friendly one, and more and more mice have chosen to watch the human dancers, with their elaborate costumes and scenery, instead of the bare-bones mouse performances.Esmeralda is a rising mouse star...but can she successfully lead her company to a reworking of the Nutcracker that is both mouse-friendly plotwise, and that is also not a mere imitation of human dance but a reimagining of the art of ballet that celebrates all that is graceful about mice?  With the help of a human girl, who has shown she is a friend to mice, the answer is a resounding Yes!  Here's what I especially liked:--the human girl is the daughter of one of the theatres costume makers, and makes lovely (mouse-sized) dresses for her doll, which become mouse costumes  (I like descriptions of beautiful doll dresses made by talented kids) and the mice make miniature posters for their performance (I like miniatures).  --I know the music of the Nutcracker by heart, and so I could play it in my head for the dancing bits, which made it extra nice for me--I have mouse issues of my own, and it was a useful tip that mice are repulsed by peppermint oil.  I might well invest in some.Here are some other good things:--the prima donna ballerina mouse is mean to Esmeralda but instead of being humbled, comes all be herself to the realization that there are things Esmeralda can teach her about mouse ballet and is willing to learn from her.  And Esmeralda is willing to teach her with no hard feelings.--Esmeralda is a pioneer of the unfettered tail approach to mouse ballet, which, though I'm not sure the author was deliberately trying to make the point or not, seems a very body positive message.So all in all, a charming book I highly recommend to fans of people-like animals, ballet, and doll dresses!  I'm not intrinsically attracted to people-like animals, but these were lovely mice!disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher[...]



Journey's End, by Rachel Hawkins

2017-11-07T20:16:51.360-05:00

The moment I hear of Journey's End, by Rachel Hawkins (G.P. Putnam, MG, October 2016) back in the early fall of 2016, I knew I wanted to read it--what with time travel, Scotland, magical fog, and written by an author whose YA books I have found extremely entertaining.  But it just missed the cutoff for the Cybils Awards that year, and as an Elementary/Middle Grade speculative fiction panelist, I had to focus on what was nominated.  But read it I did, eventually, and so when the Cybils rolled around again, I made sure that it made it onto the list.

Here's why I like it--

I find the set-up very relatable.  An American girl, Nolie, is spending the summer with her scientist father in an isolated coastal village in Scotland, Journey's End.  He's there to study the mysterious fog bank, know as the Boundary, that hovers just off shore.  Nolie is faced with that all too real tension of "will I make a friend," and happily she does, with a local girl, Bel, who is facing the all too real tension of "my best friend ditched me when a cool new girl moved to town."

The mysterious fog bank is cool as all get out.  It has its origins in a great wrong done to a young woman centuries ago.  It swallows people up.  And has started to creep closer to land....

Not only is the fog spooky, but is has also just spit out a boy it swallowed up back in the early 20th century, a boy who Nolie and Bel find and try to help.  The future is strange to young Albert, and it's fun to see how his abrupt transition plays out.

The two girls solve the mystery of the fog, and thwart its advance, in a believably way, with plenty of good emotional tension.  The Boundary is kept at bay when the lighthouse on the island it enshourds is lit.  Arthur was lost when he tried to relight it back in 1918, and now it has gone out again.  If it isn't relight, the danger is very real for Journey's End and it's people.  But the only way to relight it is to go inside....

So it's both a fun friendship story and a creepy adventure mystery, with a bonus helping of an entertaining time travel plot, and another bonus of a ghost-hunting plot (ghost hunting being Nolie's hobby, and the circumstances giving her plenty to work with).  I found it tremendously appealing, and others who like their fantasy rooted in reality but richly magical will probably agree!

Kirkus agrees with me, and goes into more detail about the plot (thank you Kirkus.)



Dismantling the patriarchy at Kidlitcon 2017

2017-11-04T13:50:39.509-05:00



Unfortunatly 1 session wasn't quite enough for me, Caroline Carlson, Melissa Fox, and Sylvie Shaffer to complete our important work. We needed a double session.



Time Knot, by M.C. Morison, for Timeslip Tuesday

2017-10-31T21:00:17.011-05:00

Yay!  The power just back on after being knocked out in the fierce storm Sunday night, so I can do a Timeslip Tuesday post!  I have been meaning to write about this one for several weeks, so I'm glad to finally be doing it.  Time Knot, by M.C. Morison (Lodestone Books, June 2017), is the second in the Time Pathway series, the first being Time Sphere (my review)

There's a lot of plot going on in these two books, so I'm not going to try to summarize the whole thing.  The basic premise is that there is a group on the good side of the time continuum who want humanity to improve, and a group on the bad side who are working to promote chaos.  An English teenager, Rhory, finds in the first book that he has the gift of time travel (though he can't actually control it).  He has a pivotal role to play in the age old struggle, and the second book sends him first to 17th century Sweden, and then to Alexandria, in time to see the Great Library burn, and to help rescue some of its treasures. Along side Rhory's point of view are the stories of other characters, primarily a girl from Egypt and a Swedish boy, both of whom stand with Rhory on the side of good.

The fact there are multiple points of view, coupled with a plot that includes much magical stuff alongside the time travel, and a very generous cast of both supporting characters and antagonistic ones, means that the reader is somewhat challenged viz keeping everything straight.  I decided halfway through that I wouldn't worry about that too much, and just enjoy the particular moments of the story I was in.  Which I did, whether it was escaping from religious zealots through the snows of Sweden or exploring the labyrinth of the Great Library...Because we see a lot of the past from characters who are native to it, at times it reads more like historical fiction/fantasy than time travel, but that is fine with me!

Teens who like magical destinies with an anchor in the real world and history will enjoy this one; teens looking for romance tortured by temporal complications, as happens in so many YA time travel stories, will not find enough here to satisfy them (which makes this a fine pick for 11 or 12 year olds as well as teens).  Adult readers who enjoy richly detailed historical fiction might also find this more YA centered story a fun change of pace.

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher




This week's roundup of middle grade sci fi and fantasy from around the blogs (10/29/17)

2017-10-29T09:01:47.926-05:00

Another week, another round-up!  Let me know if I missed your post.The ReviewsThe Adventurers Guild by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos, at proseandkahnThe Apprentice Witch, by James Nichol, at Pages Unbound ReviewsThe Door Before, by N.D. Wilson, at Random Musings of a BibliophileDragonfly Song, by Wendy Orr, at Log Cabin LibraryElizabeth and Zenobia, by Jessica Miller, at NerdophilesEmbers of Destruction, by J. Scott Savage, at Ms. Yingling ReadsThe Empty Grave, by Jonathan Stroud, at The Book Nut and  BibliobritThe False Prince, by Jennifer Neilsen, at Fantasy CaféGiselda the Witch, by J S Rumble, at Nayu's Reading CornerThe Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O’Shea, at Fantasy LiteratureThe Imposter Princess, by Vivien Vande Velde, at Charlotte's LibraryInvasion of the Scorp-Lions, by Bruce Hale at A Backwards StoryJoplin, Wishing, by Diane Stanley, at SemicolonThe Lost Kingdom by Matthew J. Kirby, at Hidden in PagesThe Lost Kingdom of Bamarre, by Gail Carson Levine, at GeoLibrarianMe and Marvin Gardens, by Amy Sarig King, at SonderbooksNevermore, by Jessica Townsend, at The Book NutThe Peculiar Incident on Shady Street, by Lindsay Currie, at Cracking the CoverThe Piper's Apprentice, by Matthew Cody, at Fantasy LiteraturePodkin One-Ear (Longburrow #1), by Kieran Larwood, at Mom Read ItA Properly Unhaunted Place, by William Alexander, at alibrarymamaSerafina and the Black Cloak, by Robert Beatty, at Pages Unbound ReviewsThe Shadow Cipher (York book 1) by Laura Ruby, at Pages Unbound ReviewsThe Silver Mask, by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, at Say What? and Charlotte's LibraryThornhill, by Pam Smy, at booksforyourkids.comThreads of Blue, by Suzanne LaFleur, at Ex LibrisWishtree, by Katherine Applegate, at Middle Grade NinjaZinnia and the Beas, by Danielle Davis, at That's Another StoryAuthors and InterviewsWendy Orr (Dragonfly Song) at Charlotte's LibraryLindsay Currie (The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street) at Mr Ripleys Enchanted BooksSara Lewis Holmes (The Wolf Hour) at Laura Purdie SalasSamantha M. Clark (The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast) at Watch. Connect. ReadKatherine Applegate (Wishtree) at Middle Grade NinjaOther Good StuffFive creepy books set in New England, at the B. and N. Kids BlogThe Harry Potter Synopsis That Most Publishers Turned Down, via TorThe Myers Briggs Personality Test reworked for book bloggers, at Charlotte's Library[...]



The Silver Mask, by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

2017-10-28T15:22:55.242-05:00

The Silver Mask, by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare (Scholastic, upper MG, October 2017), is the fourth book of the Magisterium series, and I feel that by the time the fourth book comes along, anyone who will care to read about it will already have ready the first three books, so I'm going to be free with my spoilers!

If you  haven't, here's a link to my review of the first book, The Iron Trial, and you can go back and start at the beginning.

So if you recall from the earlier books, there was a prophecy about Cal and Tamara and Aaron-- 'One will die, one will fail, another is already dead.'  Cal is already dead in a strange and twisted sense of having had his soul kicked out of his body in infancy, and replaced by that of the arch villain of bad magic, aka The Eater of Death.   The end of book 3 was a killer, literally, and poor Aaron became the one who would die.  Which leaves failure for Tamara. 

So I was expecting that this book to be about that.  It wasn't.

It starts with Cal being broken free from prison, which doesn't (no surprise) lead to a peaceful time spent recovering in some pleasant refuge.  Instead, Master Joseph holds him and Tamara, and another student met in the first books, in a different sort of prison.  Master Joseph is determined to make Cal into the Eater of Death for real, and as an incentive to force Cal to master death, Aaron's dead body waits for Cal to bring it back to life.  It's a horrible psychological torture.

And that's all I'll say about the plot, except for one last detail. The nascent romance begun in the earlier books becomes considerable less nascent...and it's nicely awkward, as befits a story for tweens (10-14 year olds).

This is a great series for that age group--the snarky, conflicted, Cal relying on his good friends when he can't do it all alone is the sort of character kids (and grownups, for that matter) love, and the stakes are high, but hope is always present and there are many touches of humor to make readers chuckle even when things are dark.  The ending will have readers of all ages wanting the next book Now Please (except that the next book is the fifth of a planned five, and though I want things to end happily, and though binge rereading the whole series will be fun, I'd like more than five....)

Here's another review, at Jen Robinson's Book Page.

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher





Dragonfly Song, by Wendy Orr, with an interview

2017-10-27T11:02:21.075-05:00

Today's the US release day for Dragonfly Song, by Wendy Orr (Pajama Press)-- a lovely middle grade historical fantasy about a girl who becomes a bull-leaper in Bronze Age Crete.Aissa was born to play a special role in her community--she is the firstborn daughter of the priestess, and in the normal way of things she should have been trained to someday take her mother's place, listening to the scared snakes and maintain balance between the people and the world around them.  But Aissa is born with an extra thumb on each hand, and though these are easily cut off, she is still imperfect, making her unsuitable to follow her mother's footsteps.  So a story is told that she died at birth, and instead she's sent up into the hills to be raised by a humble but loving family, not knowing who she really is.When that family is killed by raiders, Aissa takes deep to heart her mother's last words to her as she was hidden out of sight--that she shouldn't make a sound.  Mute and nameless, she becomes a drudge in the town where her birth mother is priestess.  Feared and despised, she sees one chance to change her future--to be chosen as tribute to Crete, and taken to perform the bull-dances of the Cretan bull-king. When this chance comes, Aissa finally flies free....and finally she has a choice about what her future will hold.  Written in alternating sections of verse and prose, this is an unforgettable story of an extraordinary girl touched by ancient magic, one that I enjoyed very much.It's my pleasure today to welcome Wendy Orr to my blog, with an interview and pictures she shared.1.       At what stage in the shaping of the story did Aissa's name come to mean dragonfly?  It's a perfect metaphor for her own lifecycle— the period of being flightless, underwater, unlovely, before emerging iridescently into the air. And how did the title come about?  I'm curious about that, because of course dragonflies don't sing, and neither did Aissa.... Oh, I hadn’t seen all those metaphors! Thank you. The dragonfly theme started in a slightly surreal way, in that when I finally saw the shape for the story, it seemed to be enclosed in a beautiful blue bubble. The next day I saw a dragonfly, the exact same shade of blue, and felt that it was confirming the story. After that I consistently saw dragonflies whenever I worked out something significant about the story. I therefore had Kelya see dragonflies at the Source as a symbol that she was making the right decision, and then realized that Aissa’s name should mean dragonfly. I admit that by this stage it took a bit of self-talk to remind myself that I was the boss and since Aissa’s original island is fictitious, I could decide on the language! However it wasn’t till the book had gone to print that I learned that the dragonfly was a symbol of the Minoan goddess and/or her priestesses. (One of the dragonflys that visited the author) My original title was the Snake Singer, which no one liked except me – kids I trialed it on reacted quite negatively, which was a pretty good reason to change it. I don’t remember who came up with Dragonflly Song– I’d like to think it was me, but suspect it was my editor. The song that bursts through Aissa’s mutism – a bit like the dragonfly breaking free of its chrysalis - is so significant that it definitely deserves to be in the title.  2.         How did you decide where to switch between verse and prose?  Which was easier to write? Was this your first time writing fiction in verse form?  What were the pros and cons?My original aim was to write the more internal thoughts in verse and background in prose, but it was a bit looser than that in practice. It’s the first time I’ve written fiction in free verse, but it’s how I usually ‘hear[...]



Rebel Seoul, by Axie Oh

2017-10-26T18:52:30.650-05:00

If you  like near-future-earth science fiction (if not quite 200 years counts as near future), with military robots and conflicting visions of  what the government should be, and teens caught up in the push of forces (maybe) beyond their control and struggling to find peace to love each other and come to terms with both past and present, and want a page-turner of a book that will keep you engrossed and absorbed even if those things aren't tops on your reading list, do go get your hands on Rebel Seoul, by Axie Oh (Tu Books, YA, September 2017).I really enjoyed the book, and I don't, in fact, like futuristic urban grit and inequality, such as this future Seoul offers, and which the main character, Lee Jaewon, deals with on a daily basis (economic inequality, gangs).  My want to read list includes almost no books featuring robots of war, or high tech war in general, yet I was gripped and fascinated by Jaewon's military training, and his relationship with a girl his own age, Tera, who is herself a crafted weapon of war.  I don't particularly like totalitarian governments suffering massive casualties while suppressing Nationalist rebellions, but here the war did not drive the plot, but rather gave the main characters a stage on which to change, and grow, and become real to me. It was also interesting that Totalitarian did not equal Nationalist, as it so often does.Basically, this is a book that, in clear and vivid prose, asks interesting questions of interesting people caught in an interesting setting and plot.  And really, who could ask for more?  (well, I guess I could have asked for a peaceful bit where Jaewon and Tara spend several weeks exploring an abandoned temple in the mountains, appreciating the antiques, foraging for food, and perhaps taming a small woodland creature, but I enjoyed it lots without this.  They did get a day in the ruined temple, but they were too beat up/and about to be attacked again to enjoy it....).So the Kirkus review calls this a "plot-heavy" story as if that's a bad thing, and I'm not sure what they mean.  I was certainly aware that there was a plot, but I thought I was reading a book about two lonely teenagers caught in a war they didn't want to fight, trying to make peace with their lives and their ghosts and keep from getting killed while falling in love with other, so heavier on the character side of things than the Big Plot side of things.  I think of "plot-heavy" books as being ones I start to skim because too much is Happening and I Don't Care, but I did not skim any of Rebel Seoul.  Kirkus also says some of the dialogue was stilted; I did not notice this, and it's pretty easy to throw me out of a story with clunky dialogue. I am also willing in general to let characters talk in stiff, even awkward, language if they are expressing difficult emotional thoughts while people are trying to kill them or such like.Short answer--I read it with great pleasure in a few hours that flew by, and can see why it won the 2014 New Visions Award from Tu Books.disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher[...]



The Imposter Princess, by Vivian Vande Velde

2017-10-23T06:19:32.493-05:00

The Imposter Princess, by Vivian Vande Velde (Scholastic, middle grade, 2017), is another fun book from an author I can count on to entertain in a slightly provocative, twistily entertaining way!

This story is a standard swap scenario--a fairy girl nicknamed Phleg uses magic to take the place of perfect princess Gabriella.  Gabriella, not having been warned of the coming swap, is stunned to find herself waking up in Phleg's rustic home, surrounded by a passel of eleven rough and tumble siblings, and expected to do Phelg's chores.  It takes all her princessly training to keep her polite. Phleg, of course, has no princessly training at all, and causes a certain amount of consternation back  in the palace as a result.

Gabriella acquires a bit of Phleg's toughness to add to her polish and politeness, and Phleg softens a bit away from the hurly burly of her home.  She also falls in love with the young prince who is supposed to marry Gabriella....and Gabriella might or might not become, in the future, more than just friends with Phleg's oldest brother....Both the two main characters are interesting personality stories, and their efforts to cope with their altered identities make for good reading!

So in short it's a fun and interesting cross-cultural exchange in which that, although not desperately deep, has heroines with enough intelligence and introspection to be very companionable guides to their swapped lives.

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher



The Myers Briggs personality test, adapted for book blogs

2017-10-22T19:33:46.887-05:00

Ever wondered what your blogs personality type was?  Now you can find out, with this special adaptation of the "Myers Briggs personality test for book blogs"! (not affiliated or endorsed by the Myers & Briggs Foundation."At Kidlitcon 2017, in Hershey PA Nov. 3 and 4, I'll be running a session on using this adaptation of the Myers Briggs personality test to springboard a discussion on participants' blogging strengths and weakness, and how to use it as a starting point to think about what makes you happy as a blogger and a book reviewer, and things you might like to change.  I don't actually Believe that it is all true, necessarily, but I find MB an interesting take on preferences for ways of being in the world that has lots of applicability to the ways in which we review books.Please take the personality test below (I might tweek it a bit in the next two weeks) and let me know your blog's personality type in the comments.  I'm still working on the descriptions of each book blog personality, and I'll be putting those up probably next weekend.In the interests of simplicity, the test is divided into four sections, labeled according to the MB categories.  When you score it, you will be one of the two types for each section, and you'll end up with four letters, one from each section.Note: “You” conflates your blog and yourself; it's not the actual you.  When appropriate, you (the blogger) should answer the questions as if it was your blog answering them.Extrovert vs Introvert (E or I)1. do you(a) comment on blogs that are new to you, and try to reply to most, if not all, comments you get on your blog?(b) wait for other bloggers to find you; when someone comments on your blog, mostly you just wish for blogging platforms to come with “like” buttons.2. do you(a) seek out new blogs to read; it’s always good to make new blog friends!(b) feel comfortable staying in touch with the few blogs familiar to you that you’ve been following from the very beginning; those are enough to make you feel connected.3. Would you rather(a) participate in all manner of blog social activities (hops, readathons, challenges, blog tours, using other types of social media to promote your blog posts, etc.)(b) stay quietly in your own corner of the blogosphere 4.  In your blogging circle, are you(a) pretty well caught up on blog reading and blogger news(b) not caught up either of the above5. Do you(a) actively seek out connections to publishers and authors to expand your social network?(b) feel pleased when such a connection comes your way, and try hard to remember to foster it. If you have more "a"s than "b"s, your blog is an extrovert, if not, it's an introvertIntuition vs Sensation (if you are new to MB personalities, read the description here, after you take the test!)1. In writing a book review are you more likely to (a) do it in what seems to you “the usual” way (either your own usual way or an external idea of normative book blogging format)(b) do it your own way, and not always the same “own way” 2.  Writers of blogs should(a) “say what they mean and mean what they say.” Clarity of communication is important.  No one has the time to spend much effort trying to figure out what you are getting at and then maybe get it wrong.  (b) enjoy the pleasure of communicating more elliptically through analogy and metaphor, not coming to the table with interpretations and critiques already set in stone but exploring your way to conclusions in the process of thinking about the book while writing about it.3. Is it worse to(a) skip from topic to topic from post to post without any concern for coherence or continuity of the ensemble, so that people ask “what is even the point of the blog? Is it books or garden pests[...]



This week's round-up of middle grade sic fi/fantsy from around the blogs (10/22/17)

2017-10-22T08:26:43.607-05:00

Welcome to this week's gathering of middle grade fanstasy and science fiction posts from around the blogs; it's a bit light today, so I probably missed stuff--let me know!  I myself had little to contribute because I was setting up and running my library's booksale, so today I am sore both in body (books being heavy) and spirit (customers being scarce).  Sigh. The ReviewsAkata Warrior, by Nnedi Okorafor, at books4yourkids.com and  The Book WarsBubbles by Abby Cooper, at The O.W.L.The Empty Grave, by Jonathan Stroud, at A Reader of FictionsThe Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi, at Jean Little LibraryLiesel and Po, by Lauren Oliver, at Say What?Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend, at The Book WarsThe Night Garden, by Polly Horvath, at Mom Read ItThe Nutcracker Mice by Kristin Kladstrup, at Read Till DawnThe Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie, at Log Cabin LibraryRace to the Bottom of the Sea by Lindsay Eagar, at Charlotte's Library and  Read Till DawnThe Shadow Cipher (York Book 1), by Laura Ruby, at alibrarymamaThreads of Blue by Suzanne LaFleur, at The Children's WarThe Worst Witch by Jill Murphy, at Log Cabin LibraryThree at The Book Search--Last Day on Mars, Brave Red Smart Frog, and Masterminds-PaybackAuthors and InterviewsJonathan Rosen (Night of the Living Cuddle Bunnies) at CynsationsPhilip Pullman at The GuardianOther Good StuffAn introduction to the books of Diana Wynne Jones from a Christian perspective, at Redeemed ReaderSophie Quire and the Last Storyguard, by Jonathan Auxier, is this year's "young adult" winner of the Sunburst Award for excellence in Canadian iterature of the FantasicA look at the Akata Witch series at Torand finally, here's one to look forward to in 2018--a new mg fantasy from Sarah Prineas![...]



Cover Reveal for The Lost Books: The Scroll of Kings, a new middle grade fantasy from Sarah Prineas!

2017-10-19T08:36:27.817-05:00

I am a huge fan of Sarah Prineas; in particular I love her middle grade Magic Thief series!  And so I am just thrilled as all get out that she has a new middle grade fantasy coming next year, and honored to host its cover reveal!

The Lost Books: The Scroll of Kings (HarperCollins Children's) will hit shelves June 26.

Here's the blurb:

For years, all the libraries in the kingdom have been locked up. 

Is it to keep the books safe from readers?

Or...is it to keep readers safe from books?

Alex is an apprentice librarian, and he is certain that books have a secret, powerful history.  Unfortunately, his elderly master is a lot more interested in bug poop than in teaching Alex anything useful.  When the old man dies under extremely suspicious circumstances, Alex travels to the palace and impersonates his master so he can take up the position of royal librarian—a job that is far more dangerous than he ever imagined. 

The young queen, Kenneret, is pretty sure this scruffy, obnoxious boy is not who he claims to be, and she doubts he’s really a librarian, either.  But she has other things to worry about, so she agrees to give Alex fifteen days to prove himself.  That’s enough time for him to discover that he was only partly right—books aren’t just powerful, they’re alive.  Even worse, some of the books possess an ancient, evil magic that kills librarians, and now they are coming after Alex.  A book about the weather attacks him with lightning bolts; a book about vines tries to strangle him; a book about explosives is ready to blow up, and the book about swords...

...well, you know.  It’s a good thing Alex knows how to fight. 

With the help of the queen and her illiterate brother, Alex has to figure out who, or what, is controlling the books and their power.  If they can’t, the entire kingdom could be at risk. 

Doesn't it sound great!  And it the description weren't enough to entice you, here's the gorgeous cover:



(This could be me, trying to cope with all the books plotting world domination in my own home)

Thank you, Sarah!  I can't wait.



Race to the Bottom of the Sea, by Lindsay Eagar

2017-10-16T20:10:56.657-05:00

I am not drawn to pirate books.  So I almost said no when offered a review copy of Race to the Bottom of the Sea, by Lindsay Eagar (Candlewick, middle grade, October 2017), which as you can see from the cover illustration has pirates.  But I could not resist a book about a girl who is a brilliant young marine biologist with steampunkish overtones (I like girl scientist books and a touch of the mechanical).  And so I said "yes please" and the book arrived, and I read it with  enjoyment, though not without some doubts (about which more below).11 year old Fidelia Quail has grown up assisting her marine biologist parents in their endeavors, devising ingenious devices including a small submarine.  When her parents leave her on the deck of their boat to keep an eye on the weather while they use the sub to go below, Fidelia lets the appearance of a shark (a species she's never seen before!) push the safety envelope; the fierce weather of the Undertow arrives faster than she thought it would, and her parents never resurface.Life on dry land with her librarian aunt doesn't inspire Fidelia, but wracked by guilt and grief, she copes with the dull days as best she can.  But then she is kidnapped by pirates! There's actually a good reason why the pirates have come to kidnap her--one of Fidelia's prototypes (not yet actually functional) is a way to breath underwater.  And the leader of the gang of pirates needs this device to recover a lost treasure that sank long ago....So Fidelia goes to sea again, on a once grand pirate ship that's now practically a wreck, with a tiny crew and a notoriously wicked, and utterly obsessed, pirate captain--Merrick the Monstrous-- driving them on. It is a good distraction for her, helping her work through her depression, and Eagar does a nice job making the voyage, in which not much Adventure actually happens, interesting.  The dynamics of the pirate crew (all two of them), the Captain, and Fidelia are interesting,  Fidelia's marine biological thoughts and her work on her water-breathing system likewise.  There are lots of touches of humor,  and for those who really do like things to Happen, there are flashbacks to several years back that provide the (more adventurous) context for the current situation. But though I enjoyed reading it, and the pages turned briskly, there were two things that bothered me, one big and one small. First, the reader, and Fidelia, fall prey to something that felt like Stockholm Syndrome.  Merrick is really quite monstrous, and has done terrible things (including kidnapping and threatening Fidelia) but he is limned in such a way that he becomes more and more a romantic figure with whom Fidelia and the reader must sympathize than the manipulative killer he actually is. This needs to happen for the story's emotional arc to be satisfying, but it felt distasteful to me.  Likewise, the way he controlled the physical circumstances of the woman at the heart of Merrick's romantic past story was not something that made him anyone I'd want to be involved with, and so I resented ultimately feeling sorry for him.Second, the crew of two plus a captain is not sufficient to sail such a large sailing ship and it is tricky if not impossible to sail around inside a cave (because most caves aren't windy).  This ship behaves more like it's motorized. Do, however, read this if you love smart sciencey girls inventing things that both save the day and add to the world's knowledge of marine biology!  Here's the Kirkus review, that notes the same positive things I do.disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher.[...]



This week's round up of middle grade sci fi and fantasy from around the blogs (10/15/17)

2017-10-15T09:49:52.629-05:00

Another week, another round up.  Please let me know if I missed your post!First--today is the last day for public nominations for the Cybils Awards!  Show a favorite author some love!  Here's a collection of links to lists of the as yet unnominated, including one for Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction.  I've put stars next to books reviewed this week that are eligible and haven't been nominated yet....Nominate here today!The ReviewsAkata Warrior, by Nnedi Okorafor,  at alibrarymama Clash of the Worlds by Chris Columbus, Ned Vizzini, and Chris Rylander, at Say What?*Code Name Flood, by Laura Martin, at Jen Robinson's Book Page A Crack in the Sea, by H.M. Bouwman, at alibrarymamaThe Creeping Shadow, by Jonathan Stroud, at Say What?Elizabeth and Zenobia, by Jessica Miller, at Falling Letters The Farwalker’s Quest (Farwalker’s Quest, Book 1) by Joni Sensel, at Hidden in Pages*Guardians of the Gryphon's Claw, by Todd Calgi Gallicano, at Charlotte's LibraryImpyrium, by Henry Neff, at The Write PathLast Day on Mars, by Kevin Emerson, at Fuse #8The List, by Patricia Forde, at B and N Kids BlogLumberjanes: Unicorn Power, by Mariko Tamaki, at Book Nut*The Many Worlds of Albie Bright by Christopher Edge, at ProseandkahnRace to the Bottom of the Sea by Lindsay Eagar, at Puss Reboots and Log Cabin LibraryThe Taster's Guild, by Susannah Applebaum, at Leaf's Reviews*Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic by Armand Baltazar, at From My Bookshelf*Tumble and Blue, by Cassie Beasley, at SemicolonThe Seventh Wish, by Kate Messner, at That's Another Story*A Single Stone, by Meg McKinlay, at SemicolonSpirit Hunters, by Ellen Oh, at This Kid Reviews BooksThe Wolf Hour, by Sara Lewis Holmes, at By Singing LightThe World's Greatest Adventure Machine, by Frank Cole, at Always in the Middle and The Haunting of Orchid ForsythiaAuthors and InterviewsSara Lewis Holmes (The Wolf Hour), at Charlotte's LibraryFrances Hardinge (Face Like Glass) at The GuardianGarret Weyr (The Language of Spells) at Fuse #8Other Good Stuff"Fantasy is the Realm of Idealism": Tamora Pierce in Converaation with the Female Fantasy Authors She Inspired" at  TorlTwo great book lists of scary stories, at SLJ and Book Riot[...]



The Doughnut Kingdom (Cucumber Quest #1), by Gigi D.G.

2017-10-12T18:20:54.167-05:00

The Doughnut Kingdom (Cucumber Quest #1), by Gigi D.G. (FirstSecond October 2017), is a cute and fun graphic novel for young readers.

My younger son, now 14, has been a fan of Cucumber Quest webcomic for years, and he and I were both very exited to get the book in our hands--he because books are more fun to read, and me because books are all I read, and I was very curious to see what this Cucumber Quest thing was all about.  It's the story of a young rabbit person, Cucumber, whose plans to spend peaceful years at magic school are derailed when a mysterious oracle tells him he has to go save the kingdom.  He knows he's not up to the task of overthrowing the evil queen, and so does his little sister, Almond.  Fortunately Almond sets off after him, determined to be an epic hero in her own right, and her sword skills save him from almost immediate defeat.

She's thrilled to be off on a quest for the fabled Dream Sword; Cucumber less so.  And Carrot, the really rather pathetic excuse for a knight who's joined them, doesn't add much to Cucumber's  confidence.  As for the oracle, she turns out to be much more interested in keeping up with her tv shows than she is in helping quests along, and in fact has carelessly handed the Dream Sword over to an infamous young thief, Saturday.  Can the brave (and less brave) bunnies really succeed against the powerful enemies who are threatening world domination?  Almond thinks yes, Cucumber not so much.

The bright pictures and zippy story carry readers along very nicely indeed.  It's funny, and a tad subversive (Almond's heroic potential is dismissed at first, but she's not going to let anyone keep her from the fun!).  This first volume is something of a stage-setter, and apparently things will get even more exciting in future adventures.  Enthusiastically recommend to fantasy loving eight to ten year olds, who will, if they are like my own child, eat up the zesty sweetness of Cucumber's adventures!

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher





Guardians of the Gryphon's Claw, by Todd Calgi Gallicano

2017-10-11T16:53:47.335-05:00

Guardians of the Gryphon's Claw, by Todd Calgi Gallicano (Delacorte, middle grade, Aug. 29 2017), is a fun start to a new adventure series that will have fans of magical creatures clamoring for more!

Sam London is an ordinary sort of boy who wants very much to have his own special Thing.  None of the usual things (sports, arts, music) have done it. But then, a series of dreams leads him to an encounter that will truly make him extraordinary.  On a rock outcrop in the south west, he comes face to beak with the awesome majesty of Phylassos, Lord of the Gryphons.  And Phylassos needs his help.

Long ago, the great gryphon bound all mythical creatures in an enchantment that renders them (mostly) invisible to humans, and (mostly) powerless to act directly in the human world.  He sacrificed one of his own claws to serve as a talisman to hold that magic in place.  But there are those among the non-human peoples who chaff at the restrictions imposed on them, and they are rising up against Phylossos.

Sam, to his amazement, becomes part of a strangely assorted group (including an agent from a top secret government department) racing around the world to find and secure the claw before it is captured.  He's not just extra baggage, but a useful and important member of the team.  Many of the mythical creatures are on the gryphon's side, but many others are not, and so there is magical creature mayhem and danger aplenty as the pages turn quickly.

It's not deeply subtle, and some of the good guys are just too talented for me to swallow, so I don't think I'll ever feel the need to re-read it.  But I was perfectly happy to read it this first time, and will be happy as well to read the sequel.  There are plenty of amusing bits, and it's an excellent pick for readers who like the wind in their hair as they rush with the story from one danger to the next, and of course it's especially good for devoted fans of magical creatures!  And the stakes are made high enough, both for the world and for individual characters, not all of whom make it to the end of the book, that it's a bit more than lightweight fun.

Short answer--if your kids' ears prick up when you say "gryphon," "yeti," "tanuki," or "cynecephalus" (especially the last one, because that kid is a die hard magical creature fan!) offer this book.

NB:  Guardians of the Gryphon's Claw is eligible for this year's Cybils Awards, and has not yet been nominated!  Click here to nominate this or any other fine book in a variety of categories.

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher



The Wolf Hour, by Sara Lewis Holmes, with a rather different sort of interview

2017-10-09T07:51:31.594-05:00

The Wolf Hour, by Sara Lewis Holmes (Arthur A. Levine, middle grade, Sept. 2017), is a lovely book for those who like to venture into the dark woods of stories made horribly real (and who don't mind spiders, because there are lots of spiders....)Magia has lived all life at the edge of a vast Polish forest, the Puszcza, a dark and magical place.  Her father is a woodcutter, and Magia wants to follow in his footsteps, though he warns her against this because those steps lead into the heart of the forest.   And in the Puszcza stories have become real, played out over and over again, with deadly consequences.  When Magia is forced to follow into the forest, she finds herself caught in the web of an evil enchantment that threatens not just her own future but that of her whole family.  With young girls vanishing into the forest, and her father lost there as well,  accusations of witchcraft leveled at her, and her mother and siblings fallen into a magical sleep, Magia must find the strength to confront the woman controlling the threads of the stories and break those threads once and for all.  Her only ally is a wolf, Martin, who fell afoul of his own story when he failed to grasp that he was supposed to be eating the three little pigs (he'd rather be snug in a good library reading, as is the case with so many of us....). But Magia, with her red hood, is bound by her own story to be a wolf-killer....It is a haunting story, that leads the reader along with Magia into a web of alternate realities.  It not a fairy tell retelling, but more a twisting and re-use of familiar stories, used to excellent effect to create the challenges that lie within the Puszcza.  The occasionally intrusion of the narrator (which I sometimes find annoying, but didn't here) worked to great effect, keeping readers thinking and aware of Stories and Storytelling.  Magia is one of the most lonely heroines I've read this year, and it was easy to sympathize and mentally encourage her as she pressed onward.  Not only does she have fight an evil, magical antagonist, she has to resist the expectations of ordinary human folk, making her very relatable.  Martin the wolf, with his penchant for a good book, and failed efforts to break the story of the three little pigs (not because he knew that's what he was doing, but because he simply was not interested in being a vicious killer), is one of my favorite wolf characters ever, and possibly even more relatable!  His efforts to communicate with the pigs never work; he never found the right words to get them to listen (which was, within the framework of the story they're trapped in, not possible in any event, but I felt for him as he tried his best).The Wolf Hour doesn't fit neatly into standard "this is a middle grade" book categorization (for ages 9-12) , though that's where I'd put it.  It really is an all ages book, one that encourages and rewards thoughtful reading. When I enjoy a book, I generally don't think about it much, but I found myself doing so here, and it enhanced my pleasure and let me relate in a deeper way to Magia as we both tried to unravel the enchantments of the forest.  In fact, I was thinking so much that I actually underlined bits of the book that struck me as breadcrumbs on the trail into the story and dogeared the pages to come back to.  (I was reading an ARC.  I would never do this to a finished copy).I then offered some of these passages to Sara Lewis Holmes for her thoughts on them!And so, a rather different sort of interview:"You must learn the paths [...]



This week's round-up of middle grade science fiction and fantasy from around the blogs (10/8/17)

2017-10-08T07:29:23.697-05:00

Welcome to this week's gathering of middle grade sci fi/fantasy goodness!  Please let me know if I missed your post.First--nominations for the Cybils Awards are open.  Any kids book published in the US or Canada between Oct 16 2016 and October 15 2017 is eligible, and anyone can nominate. There are lots of great mg sci fi/fantasy books that haven't found their champions yet! I've made two lists-a long list here, and one that specifically lists diverse books here.  I've also starred the books reviewed this week that are eligible and haven't been nominated yet.The Reviews*The Adventurers Guild by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos, at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers and Book BriefsBrave Red, Smart Frog, by Emily Jenkins, at  Sharon the Librarian and Waking Brain CellsThe Case of the Cursed Dodo, by Jake G. Panda, at Log Cabin Library (audiobook review)Cry of the Icemark, by Stuart Hill, at Sydne Marie GernaatThe Dragon with a Chocolate Heart, by Stephanie Burgis, at alibrarymamaElizabeth and Zenobia by Jessica Miller, at Waking Brain CellsThe Empty Grave, by Jonathan Stroud, at Hidden in Pages*A Face Like Glass, by Frances Hardinge, at SemicolonFortune Falls, by Jenny Goebel, at The Shannon Messenger Fan Club*Ghosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford, at Charlotte's Library and BooksForKidsBlogThe Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill, at Alexa Loves BooksA Handful of Time, by Kit Pearson, at Time Travel Times Two*Into the Shadowlands (book 2 of Monsters or Die) by Cynthia Reeg, at Always in the Middle*The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street, by Lindsay Currie, at Ms. Yingling Reads*The Ship of the Dead, by Rick Riordan, at B. and N. Kids BlogSorcery for Beginners, by Matt Harry, at Geek MomSputnik's Guide to Life on Earth, by Frank Cottrell Boyce, at Redeemed Reader*Thornhill, by Pam Smy at proseandkahn and The NY Times   *Toto-The Dog-Gone Amazing Story of the Wizard of Oz, by Michael Morpurgo, at Always in the MiddleThe Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor book 1) by Jessica Townsend, at Mr Ripleys Enchanted Books and divabooknerdWildwood, by Colin Meloy, at Leaf's ReviewsWishtree, by Katherine Applegate, at Lu and Bean Read*The Wizards of Once, by Cressida Cowell, at B.and N. Kids Blog*The Wonderling by Mira Bartok, at Mrsreadsbooks*The World's Greatest Adventure Machine by Frank L. Cole, at The Write PathThree at Ms Yingling reads-- Sven Carter and the Trashmouth Effect, by Rob Vlock, The Empty Grave, by Jonathan Stroud, Ship of the Dead, by Rick RiordanAuthors and InterviewsNnedi Okorafor (*Akata Warrior) at the NY Times Laurie McKay (Villain Keeper series, most recently *Realm Breaker) at Boys Rule, Boys ReadOther Good StuffA great list of spooky MG for Halloween at Batch of BooksA look at some new fantasy in the UK at Mr Ripleys Enchanted BooksThe Terror of Trees, at Seven Miles of Steel Thistles"A Wrinkle in Time star: 'It means everything to be a girl of color' and play lead role" at EW"Giant straw animals invade Japan" via Bored Panda[...]



Castle in the Stars: The Space Race of 1869, by Alex Alice

2017-10-07T16:56:17.398-05:00

Castle in the Stars: The Space Race of 1869, by Alex Alice (First Second, September 2017) is the most beautiful graphic novel I've read so far this year, and on top of that, it is one of the most interesting stories I've read this year of any genre. It is an oversized book, so the pages have plenty of room for both the detailed illustrations and the detailed plot!

Claire Dulac knew that she was taking a risk when she flew her hot air balloon to the very edge of the stratosphere.  But she judged it one worth taking--if she could find the aether, a mysterious element, air travel, and possibly even space exploration, would be possible. She promised her husband that she would return to him and their son...but she didn't.

The boy Sarphin, won't give up hope that somehow she survived.  And when, a year after she disappeared, a mysterious letter arrives from someone claiming to have found her logbook from that last journey, his hope is renewed.  The letter summons them to the castle of King Ludwig of Bavaria, a "mad" king who dreams of flying ships powered by aether.  The king hopes Claire's husband and son can continue his work, but in the meantime, Bismark dreams of a united Germany given power on the world stage by controlling aether themselves.  His spies are everywhere, and Seraphin and his father are in danger....

So this is part steampunk, part historical fiction, part a celebration of the fabulous creativity of the Victorian age, when scientists were making incredible discoveries and writers were exploding with romantic creativity.  It is a book that screams "give me as a present!" and so, if you need a gift for:

--a young graphic novel fan in general (teenaged rather than a young kid, because the story is a bit complicated and some knowledge of history is helpful.  But there's nothing particularly "young adult" about the plot, so if you have the right sort of 9-12 year old, who likes detail, and history, and machines, offer it up!)
--a fan (of any age) of steampunk, Jules Verne, or late 19th century European history,

this is the one!

I was in fact tempted to keep my review copy hidden from my own teenaged graphic novel reading son, but he is a judge for the Cybils Awards in the graphic novel category, and would be reading this before Christmas in any event.  Here are his thoughts, at his own blog, A Goblin Reviews Graphic Novels.  He would have liked getting it as a Christmas present.

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher



We need diverse books nominated for the Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction category of the Cybils!

2017-10-14T10:22:11.567-05:00

Diversity isn't a criteria we use to evaluate books for the Cybils Awards, but we do like having diverse books on the shortlists.  This is hard to do, though, when books by diverse authors and books with diverse characters aren't nominated.   Here are a few that are eligible for the Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction category (for which I am the team leader).

It is very depressing, how short this list is.  I think this is the slimmist year since I've been paying attention for diversity in middle grade sci fi and fantasy.  And this list is not short because lots of diverse books have already been nominated (they haven't-I think we have two so far--The Gauntlet, and Rise of the Jumbies).  So I hope I've  missed lots, because of not knowing every author and not having read every book.  Please put more in the comments, and I'll add them!  And please also nominate them, and lots of other diverse books in all the other categories!  Here's where you go to nominate (by October 15).  Even it they don't end up being shortlisted, it's a way to show the authors you appreciate them, and to give them a bit of publicity.

Books by diverse authors:
Akata Warrior, by Nnedi Okorafor (now nominated)
The Ghosts in the Castle, by Zetta Elliott
Spirit Hunters, by Ellen Oh  (now nominated)
The Mesmerist, by Ronald L. Smith  (now nominated)
Rebellion of Thieves, by Kekla Magoon
The Crystal Ribbon, by Celeste Lim
Voyage to Avalon (Mice of the Round Table, #2) by Julie Leung
Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic, by Armand Baltazar
A Properly Unhaunted Place, by William Alexander (now nominated)

Books with diverse characters who are central to the story:
A Crack in the Sea, by H.M. Bouwman  (now nominated)
Ghosts of Greenglass House, by Kate Milford  (now nominated)
Journey Across the Hidden Islands, by Sarah Beth Durst  (now nominated)
The Curse of the Chocolate Phoenix, by Kate Saunders
One Way or Another, by Annette Laing

Here's a longer list of books I made that not yet nominated; perhaps some of these are also diverse (?)



Ghosts of Greenglass House, by Kate Milford

2017-10-05T10:28:46.315-05:00

Ghosts of Greenglass House, by Kate Milford (2017, middle grade, Clarion Books), was my most anticipated book of 2017 (I loved the first book, Greenglass House, very much, and if you haven't read it first, do so before reading this because spoilers).  It was released 2 days ago, so I'm later than I wanted to be getting a review up, but it was for a good reason--my 9th grade made friends this year with an 8th grade girl who also loved Greenglass House, and so I passed on my ARC to him to lend to her, which made me (and her) both happy--it has always been my dream that my boys' friends would be happy recipients of my ARCs and this hasn't happened as much as I had anticipated....So Ghosts of Greenglass house takes place a year after the last book.  Once again it is Christmas, and it has been a year since Meddy, the ghost girl who once lived there has turned up.  It is slowish to start; Milo, whose parents run Greenglass House as a hotel, is disgruntled and cranky (partly because he is a Chinese adoptee, and has just had to deal with an insensitive teacher), and there's no snow yet.  There's only one guest in residence--a young art student in love with the stained glass windows.  But then guests arrive.  The first to come are dear characters from the first book--Clem and Georgie, professional thieves.  Their most recent job, liberating an extraordinary map, went sour, and they need to lie low.  Then the Waits ( mummers and carol singers) arrive, and the peace of Greenglass House is shattered when one of them is poisoned, and the treasures that Clem and Georgie have brought with them are stolen.Milo is of course eager to solve this mystery, and happily Meddie turns up to assist, and once more they fall into the role-playing game that helped them out last time.  And once more storytelling brings clarity to the puzzle, and lots of hot chocolate is drunk, and more of the strange history of Nagspeake is revealed. And there's another ghost involved...  So of course I loved reading all this!Because the oddball collection of individuals who make up the Waits are not actual guests, the story takes place in basically a day and a half, which made it somewhat more frantic than book 1; there was less time for Christmassy peace, and things felt a tad squashed. I was also slightly disappointed that Meddie didn't do more; Milo has to do almost all the figuring out himself.  But still it was a great read!   I look forward to reading it again, out loud closer to December, to the 9th grader referenced above, who has already asked me to do so.  Knowing how things unfold, and the slower pace of reading out loud, will let me enjoy it even more!disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher[...]



Some elementary/middle grade books that haven't been nominated for the Cybils yet

2017-10-15T19:21:32.765-05:00

Updated!I know that nominations for the 2017 Cybils Awards  don't close till the 15th, and I also know that we have lots of good books nominated.  But I am twitchy about the books that haven't been nominated, especially the ones I haven't read yet; what if one of those is The One for me to champion?  And not that I am competitive, but ordinary Middle Grade Fiction is ahead by about 28 nominations.....So here's a list of books that haven't been nominated yet; it's still an incomplete list, but I will be adding to it when I have time and updating it as books get nominated.   I'm not personally endorsing any of these, though several I did like lots, and though I'm pretty sure they are all eligible, I won't be doing Deep Checking until they get nominated...Feel free of course to nominate a book that isn't on this list! This is where you go to nominate.  You'll need to create a Cybils identity, but then you'll see all the different categories where you can nominate books (you get a nomination in each category).The Ghosts in the Castle, by Zetta ElliottRebellion of Thieves, by Kekla MagoonThe Crystal Ribbon, by Celeste LimVoyage to Avalon (Mice of the Round Table, #2) by Julie LeungTimeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic, by Armand BaltazarThe Curse of the Chocolate Phoenix, by Kate Saunders One Way or Another, by Annette LaingThornhill, by Pam SmyThe Daybreak Bond, by Megan Frazer BlakemoreThe Last Panther, by Todd MitchellThe Secrets of Hexbridge Castle, by Gabrielle KentThe Journey to Dragon Island by Claire FayersThe Many Worlds of Albie BrightIf the Magic Fits, by Susan SchmidHorizon, Scott WesterfeldThe Griffin of Darkwood, by Becky CitraThe Star Thief, by Lindsey BeckerEdgeland, by Jake Halpern Jed and the Junkyard War, by Steven BohlsSilo and the Rebel Raiders by V. PeytonThe Emerald Tablet by Dan JolleyHatched, by Bruce CovilleThe Dog Ray by Linda CogginThe Goblin Crown, by Robert Hewitt WolfeThe Beginners Guide to Curses by Lari DonStormwalker by Mike RevellRace the Night, by Kirsten HubbardDefender of the Realm, by Mark Huckerby and Nick OstlerThe Painting, by Charis CotterMaggie and the Flying Horse, by E.D. Baker Dragon's Green, by Scarlett ThomasThe Doll's Eye, by Marina CohenThe House of Months and Years, by Emma TrevayneThe Night Garden, by Polly HorvathThe Girl with the Ghost Machine, by Lauren DeStefanoWormwood Mire, by Judith RossellThe Silver Gate, by Kristin BaileyThe Mage (Foxcraft #3), by Inabalie Iserles The Wizard's Dog, by Eric Kahn GaleGold, by Geraldine MillsTumble and Blue, by Cassie BeasleyMonsterland, by James CrowleyThe Bone Snatcher, by Charlotte SalterWonderling, by Mira BartokThe Lost Kingdom of Bamarre, by Gail Carson LevineJoplin, Wishing, by Diane StanleyEmily and the Spellstone, by Mike RubensThe Princess and the Page by Christina Farley Rules for Thieves, by Alexandra OttHolly Farb and the Princess of the Galaxy, by Gareth WronskiHow to be a Supervillain, by Michael FrySiren Sisters, by Dana LangerThe Emperor of Mars, by Patrick SamphireRealm Breaker, by Laurie McKay[...]



this week's roundup of middle grade sci fi and fantasy from around the blogs (10/1/17)

2017-10-01T08:32:21.106-05:00

Welcome to this week's round up of middle grade fantasy and science fiction from around the blogs!  Please let me know if I missed your post.First--Cybils nominations are now open!  Anyone can nominate books (one book for each category), and so I hope you all go nominate (at a minimum) your favorite Elementary and Middle Grade speculative fiction book!  I'm the category organizer, and I'm also a proud mother, because for the second year, my own teenaged son (his blog is A Goblin Reviews Graphic Novels) is a panelist in the graphic novel category.The ReviewsBattle of the Beasts, by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini, at Say What?Beast and Crown, by Joel Ross, at Ms. Yingling ReadsCurtain of Mist, by M. Pardoe, at Charlotte's LibraryThe Dragon With a Chocolate Heart, by Stephanie Burgis, at That's Another Story and  Semicolon Everything You Need to Know about Nightmares! And How to Defeat Them, by Jason Segal and Kirsten Miller, at The Reading Nook ReviewsGhosts of Greenglass House, by Kate Milford, at Log Cabin LibraryThe King's Ransom (Young Knights of the Round Table) by Cheryl Carpinello, at Mythical BooksOrphan Island, by Laurel Snyder, at Bibliobrit and SemicolonThe Neddiad, by Daniel Pinkwater, at Puss RebootsThe Royal Ranger, by John Flanagan, at Leaf's ReviewsThe Silver Mask (Magisterium #4) by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, at Jen Robinson's Book PageSerafina and the Splintered Heart (Serafina #3) by Robert Beatty, at Sharon the LibrarianTuesdays at the Castle, by Jessica Day George, at Completely Full BookshelfThe Tiny Hero of Ferny Creek Library, by Linda Bailey, at Redeemed ReaderUnusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer, by Kelly Jones, at Finding WonderlandThe White Tower, by Cathryn Constable, at Cracking the CoverWishtree, by Katherine Applegate, at Ms. Yingling ReadsThe Wizards of Once, by Cressida Cowell, at Minerva ReadsThe Wonderling, by Mira Bartok, at Charlotte's Library and  Say What?The World’s Greatest Adventure Machine, by Frank L. Cole, at Mom Read ItYork: The Shadow Cipher, by Laura Ruby, at SonderbooksAuthors and InterviewsSara Lewis Holmes (The Wolf Hour) at Finding WonderlandMira Bartok (The Wonderling) at Cracking the Cover  and Great Kid BooksJames Ponti (Dead City triology) at From the Mixed Up FilesOther Good Stuff"Exploring Miyazaki's Fantasy World" at TorWitch Week is coming to the Emerald City Book Review at the end of OctoberTen creepy Middle Grade books for Halloween, at Batch of Books[...]



Curtain of Mist, by M. Pardoe, for Timeslip Tuesday

2017-09-26T19:43:29.002-05:00

Curtain of Mist, by M. Pardoe, is an old one from the UK--1956.  It is a classic timeslip story, of three children and their tutor who slip through time to ancient Britain just before the invation of the Romans.  It starts so beautifully, with the three kids (boy, girl, boy) trying to adjust to life in the Scottish castle of their grandparents, and their new tutor arriving to try to catch them up to a British standard of education (they'd lived in the South Pacific with their parents before this, thought the oldest two had been to school already in England).   And the youngest brother has made friends with a strange boy from the past called Cymbel, who he has met through a thin spot in the fabric of time.

It's not clear which of the two boys is slipping from their own time, but it is very intriguing and vividly clear and I was so looking forward to more tension between past and present, tensions between lessons and the outdoors, and tensions between grandparents and somewhat untamed children.

Then-RATS.  The three kids and the tutor all time travel for real back to Cybel's home time of late Iron Age Britain, where it turns out he is a prince of a domain far to the south who has run away from being schooled on the holy island of Iona.  And this would be ok, with the modern folks coping with life in the past, but instead being an  interesting story, the book turns almost 80% didactic, and Teaches about Celtic Britain.  Sometimes flickers of story and character would emerge briefly, only to be swallowed by descriptive details again.  .

I was really frustrated. The first thirty pages or so were so darn enticing.  Probably if I had read it as the young Celtophile I was back in the day, my youthful imagination would have filled in the story to make a satisfying read for myself.  But that ship has sailed, and I will sadly shelf this one in my time slip shelf, never to be read again.