Kate, Michael, and Emma have passed from one orphanage to another in the ten years since their parents disappeared to protect them, but now they learn that they have special powers, a prophesied quest to find a magical book, and a fearsome enemy.
This may be a series I read just to see how the next 2 atlases are found. I liked this book, see the appeal for young readers, it’s got a little magic, a little mystery, a little time travel. It is being called a new Narnia for tweens, and that seems accurate enough, with just a bit of Harry Potter tossed in. I want to discover the identity of the mastermind behind it all.
In a society that purges thirteen-year-olds who are creative, identical twins Aaron and Alex are separated, one to attend University while the other, supposedly Eliminated, finds himself in a wondrous place where youths hone their abilities and learn magic.
Someone touts it as “Hunger Games meets Harry Potter” on the cover, not really, in my opinion. Yes, it has a magic element, a kindly, older mentor, and several sneaky boys. Yes, there is a point where children are weeded out of their society and sent to what they think is their death. However, I didn’t really find it to be a meshing of the two stories. Another book that I don’t think I want to read the sequel to, it was a fine story, but beyond that, it doesn’t really pique my interest. Kids may find it very fascinating, though.
After the death of Polly Portman, whose award-winning pies put the town of Ipswitch, Pennsylvania, on the map in the 1950s, her devoted niece Alice and Alice’s friend Charlie investigate who is going to extremes to find Aunt Polly’s secret pie crust recipe. Includes fourteen pie recipes.
A cute little mystery, a good book to get started on the genre if you’re young. I did enjoy reading it, even if I did have the culprit figured out fairly early! And I’ve got to admit that I want to try some of those recipes, they looked scrumptious.
This is a great adventure of three “Familiars” – animal buddies of wizards. The unusual trio are a blue jay (Skylar), a tree frog (Gilbert), and an alley cat (Aldwyn). The bird and frog know they have magical powers, but the cat uses his “street smarts” to pretend he knows magic. The wizards get abducted and the Familiars have to ge across many lands to rescue them. There is continuous action and concern about the future through the whole story. Many lessons in friendship, courage, and trust are woven into this excellent tale.
Alice’s best friend, Aunt Polly, was a kind-hearted woman who made pies and forged friendships like no other. When she dies, she leaves her award-winning pie crust recipe to her cat, Lardo. Alice is left in charge of Lardo, Lardo disappears, pie making fever abounds as a pie baking contest looms closer, Charlie works with Alice to find the cat thief, and Alice comes to realize that her gifts are worth sharing. Aunt Polly always brought out the best in people, even in her death.
This was a slower moving book but it had a great message. I enjoyed the peek into the future in the epilogue. This was a 2013-2014 Mark Twain Award Nominee.
In the “perfect” society of Quill, those who don’t follow the exact rules or meet the highest qualifications are weeded out when they reach thirteen. They are taken to the outer wall of the kingdom, through a gate always kept locked from the inside, and handed to some enormous Eliminators to be thrown into the Boiling Lake of Oil. Alex and the others knew they were doomed, but were very surprised to be welcomed by a giant flying tortoise and Mr.Today. They actually had escaped from a land of black and white with stiff rules to a colorful place where people were enjoyed and taught many magic and creative activities that would eventually save their lives. Alex missed his twin, Aaron, who was a Wanted in Quill, but visited him in dreams, hoping to someday bring him here to Artime. There are many surprises and lots of exciting experiences – good booki!
Just before summer begins, 13-year-old Ali finds an odd photograph in the attic. She knows the two children in it are her mother, Claire, and her aunt Dulcie. But who’s the third person, the one who’s been torn out of the picture?
Ali figures she’ll find out while she’s vacationing in Maine with Dulcie and her four-year-old daughter, Emma, in the house where Ali’s mother’s family used to spend summers. All hopes for relaxation are quashed shortly after their arrival, though, when the girls meet Sissy, a kid who’s mean and spiteful and a bad influence on Emma.
Strangest of all, Sissy keeps talking about a girl named Teresa who drowned under mysterious circumstances back when Claire and Dulcie were kids, and whose body was never found. At first Ali thinks Sissy’s just trying to scare her with a ghost story, but soon she discovers the real reason why Sissy is so angry. . . . Mary Downing Hahn is at her chilling best in this new supernatural tale that’s certain to send shivers down her readers’ spines.
Why were people warned to not go on Superstition Mountain? Was there really a lost gold mine there? Whose skulls were lined up on the ledge? Simon, Henry, and Jack couldn’t pass up the temptation to explore and had a very exciting adventure. Looking for historical information in the library introduced them to a new neighbor, Delilah, who also wanted to explore. Unfortunately, she had an accident on the mountain, which led to finding a hidden canyon and another mystery. This was an exciting book that was hard to put down (even as an aging adult).
Twelve-year-old Raine spends the summer at a mysterious artists colony and discovers a secret about her past.
I really think that this is going to be my favorite Mark Twain nominee. The characters were all so real and the storyline rolled out at a nice pace. Sometimes authors try to stuff things into their stories as they are reaching the end so it feels too rushed. I thought that Raine’s personality as an only child trying to deal with all the upheaval was well done, she is a very grounded character, not flighty like some authors might make their characters when dealing with similar plots. Very well done.
Growing up in the country is never easy, but it sure is funny–especially if you happen to have a sister obsessed with being glamorous, a grandma just discovering make-up, hippie friends who never shower, and brand new neighbors from the city who test everyone’s patience.
I loved April Grace! Having been the older sister, I can’t see her view of what’s it’s like to be the younger sister, but I loved her sarcasm when dealing with her sister. And as a kid, she is rather invisible and dismissed by adults when overhearing and seeing things they think are secret. Very good book, I can’t wait for the next one.
Will lives in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania with his mother and three sisters. His father is a doctor helping out in Washington and his brother is a prisoner of the South. It is 1863 and the Civil War is raging. Will dreams of being a drummer boy for the Union Army and doing heroic deeds, but his mom won’t let him join up. Then the war comes to Gettysburg. The bloodiest battle of the War is fought right on Will’s doorstep and he is right in the middle of it. He finds that war is not heroic deeds and glory but bloody, chaotic and terrifying.
This was an amazing story of what it was like in Gettysburg during the battle. Calkhoven does a great job weaving historical details into her fictional characters’ story. She shows the true horror of war, but also the selflessness of some of the people. I really enjoyed how she showed the townspeople opening their homes for the soldiers on both sides and taking care of the sick and wounded. She also provides historical notes at the end of the book with details about the battle and the Civil War.
2013-14 Mark Twain Nominee.
The Unwanteds is one of this year’s Mark Twain nominees. It is the story of the land of Quill where every year there is a sorting of thirteen year olds. Some become Wanted and go on to positions of power and influence, some become Necessaries who do the manual jobs, and some are Unwanted who are purged and sent to their deaths. In actuality, the Unwanted are taken to a magical land where their talents of creativity and imagination which had doomed them are cultivated and nurtured. But their world can not remain hidden forever. I really liked the ideas of this book but found the premise to be much more promising than the execution. The world building was very spare and the characters not very well developed. A lot of fluff and very little bones.
Will lives for football; he is a football star. Unfortunately his town, Forbes, PA, is running out of money and decides they can’t fund the football team this year. Forbes has seen better days; the Forbes Flyers shoe factory has gone out of business and taken all the jobs with it. People are moving away and the town is slowly dying. Will writes to New Balance and asks them to sponsor the team; and of course they do. Now he just has to get a team together. He convinces his dad, former football player sidelined for a knee injury, to coach the team. Unfortunately, he only has 10 players. He recruits new girl Hannah and bullied by his father Toby to join. All Will wants is a chance to beat the Castle Rock team in the championship.
I have read this book twice now and there is still a lot of football in this book. This book is all about football; I know nothing about football nor do I really want to. So all the passages describing plays and the games went right over my head. I am sure for people who follow football this was a fantastic portion of the book. Thankfully it is easy to skim the football parts and still know what is going on. I enjoyed this book even with the football. It was a little predictable: Will is a football genius, New Balance actually funds the team and the CEO comes to the championship, they silence Toby’s bullying dad by making him assistant coach, the whole town comes out to support them, etc. All things you would expect; there were very few surprises in this book. However, I am not sure kids will care. This is a quick read with lots of sports action. The characters are likable and you really do root for the team even though you know they are going to win.
In the summer of 1986, eleven-year-old April Grace, who lives on a rural Arkansas farm with her family, across a field from her grandmother, has her sense of Christian charity tested when a snooty couple from San Francisco moves into a dilapidated house down the road and her grandmother takes up with a loud, obnoxious, and suspicious-acting Texan.
In the small city of Strattenburg there are many lawyers, and thirteen-year-old Theo Boone thinks he is one of them, but his inside knowledge of the justice system means trouble when a cold-blooded killer is about to go free and only Theo can stop him.
by Helen Frost, 147 pages
When fourteen-year-olds Wren and Darra meet at a Michigan summer camp, both are overwhelmed by memories from six years earlier when Darra’s father stole a car, unaware that Wren was hiding in the back.
What if your parents got a crazy idea that they can manage a small farm in the middle of nowhere, and they drag you away from the only life you ever knew in the bustle of the city? That is exactly what happens to 12 year old Taylor McNamara just before starting school. Will the chicken poop flying everywhere and the bloating sheep get her down? Will she survive embarrassing moments of farm mishaps that leave their evidence on her stylish clothing? Will her friends help her succeed in convincing her parents that the farm life is not for them?
Taylor was a believable pre-teen who only wanted to be accepted in her new school, be able to make friends, and survive the chore of taking care of 74 farm animals. Her new friends are great; trying to help her in any way that they can. Taylor’s parents sound like typical adults who try something new, discover it is going to be stressful, and forget about the kid for a while. I like how the author let you in on the parents’ relationship throughout the story, too. All in all, it was a good book that I would recommend for tweens (especially if they are interested in the perils of farm life!)
Hannah is a maid at a hotel. She is working to support her family since her dad got sick. Frederick is a clockmaker’s apprentice. He is glad to be out of the orphanage and wants to create an automaton man. Guiseppe is a street busker. He plays his violin in the hope of making enough money for food and shelter from his padrone. These three young people’s lives come together in a way no one expected. They become friends and go on a quest for a missing treasure. The hunt leads them down paths they didn’t expect, including theft and murder.
This book is told from the perspectives of the three young protagonists. We learn their stories in the alternating chapters. They are interesting stories, but I have to admit I found this book a little slow. While the three storylines are interesting, they don’t truly intersect until the very end. I also found the ending just a little too easy. This is a kid’s book so of course I knew everything would turn out ok, but I don’t like perfect endings. They are certainly not true in life and shouldn’t be in literature. This is a 2012-13 Mark Twain nominee.
The Familiars is the tale of three magical familiars and their adventure to save their loyals (their humans). Aldwyn is a scrappy alley cat from the city who hides in a familiars store and becomes the familiar for Jack. He has to hide the fact that he is not magical like the other familiars: know-it-all blue jay Skylar and friendly tree frog Gilbert. When their loyals are kidnapped they decide it is up to the three animals to rescue them. What follows is a wild adventure through Vestia.
This is a wonderful fantasy book for middle grades. I enjoyed the journey aspect of the book as the familiars travel throughout the land encountering one narrow escape after another. Along the way they learn more about themselves and their abilities. This book is similar to other fantasy novels. You have the quest aspect, the trials and tribulations along the journey, and the discovery of abilities you didn’t know you had. It works really well with animals as the main characters. This is a great series for kids who like fantasy and animals. 2012-13 Mark Twain nominee.
Three ordinary children are brought together by extraordinary events. . . .As mysterious circumstances bring them together, the lives of these three children soon interlock, and they realize that each one holds the key to the others’ puzzles. Together, the three discover they have phenomenal power when they team up as friends, and that they can overcome even the darkest of fears.
I thought this book was just okay. I felt it was a little involved in details that didn’t matter to the story and it took a while to weave them all together and make the story seem coherent. I also thought it was a bit ripped off from the book by Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret.