Showing posts from May, 2009

Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix, 314 pp RL 5

Newly in paperback, Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix is a novel for middle grade readers and is Book One in her new series, The Missing. Haddix has plans for at least seven books in this series, due out at about one a year. Author of over twenty books, seven of them comprising the very popular Shadow Children Series, Haddix is known for writing suspenseful stories.

Because this is a suspense novel with surprises and twists, if you think you might read this book and don't want any of these revealed to you - which, in my opinion is the best way to read suspense - do not read this review. If you do not want a major plot point revealed and if you or your children plan to read this book and purchase it from a bookstore - DO NOT LOOK AT THE BACK OF THE DUSTJACKET of the hardcover. There is information pertinent to the second book in the series, due out in August of 2009, Sent. This information IS NOT revealed on the back of the library edition. If you don't mind reading a few …

Wolf Brother (Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, #1) by Michelle Paver, illustrations by Geoff Taylor, 293 pp RL 4

Set 6,000 years ago when all of northwest Europe was forest, Michelle Paver'sWolf Brother, the first book in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness begins just after a bear has attacked Torak and his father. As Torak's father is dying, he makes Torak promise to find the Mountain of the World Spirit and ask it to help destroy the bear before the bear, who seems to be possessed by a demon, destroys the forest. He also insists that Torak stay away from humans and remember to always look behind him. Torak agrees and unwillingly accepts his father's knife, giving him his own, to take on the Death Journey with him. As he places the Death Marks on his father to help his three souls unite on the death Journey - the circles on the heels marking the name-soul, a circle over his heart marking the clan-soul and finally a circle on his forehead to mark the Nanuak, the World-Soul, he knows he cannot make this journey on his own. Raised alone in the Forest by his father who is of the Wo…

Dinotrux written and illustrated by Chris Gall

Chris Gall's illustrative style reminds me of a combination of Chris Van Allsburg and David Weisner. He can be almost photographically realistic and marvelously fantastical at the same time. With Dinotrux, he hits a sweet spot that kids (and parents) will not be able to resist. In fact, by the time I finished the story time in which Dinotrux debuted, one copy had already been sold!
Really, the name and the cover illustration says it all. And who among us, when driving down the road and pointing out back loaders, graders and the like to our kids has not had a fleeting thought on the similarities between construction trucks and dinosaurs? Which is exactly why this book works so well. Gall has hit upon a common but heretofore undocumented communal idea. The story itself is not long or complex, which is great because most (not all, of course) kids phase out of trucks and dinosaurs by the time they are five or six. The dinotrux are big, bad brutes clomping around the earth mak…

Clemency Pogue and The Scrivener Bees by JT Petty, illustrations by David Michael Friend, 165 pp, RL 4

With Clemency Pogue and the Scrivener Bees, JT Petty continues the story he began in Book #2 in the series, Clemency Pogue and the Hobgoblin Proxy. The first book in the series, Clemency Pogue, Fairy Killer, can be read as a stand alone and, for younger children, I suggest exactly that. The story of the changeling with a chip on his shoulder, Inky Mess, begun in Book#2, continues in Book #3 and gets increasingly darker - much like Cornelia Funke's Inkworld Trilogy. And, as I discovered at the end of Book #3, the saga continues! It has been two years since Clemency Pogue and the Scrivener Bees was published and still no resolution! Does Inky destroy Make-Believe or can the amazing Clemency and her hobgoblin crew, Chaphesmeeso and Kennethurchin, who's secret, true name Clem uncovers by the end of the book, finally put a stop to his evil ways?
Even though I have to wait for the answer to this question, I still had fun getting to it. Book #3 is swarming with new and horribl…

100 Cupboards (Book 1) by ND Wilson, 289 pp, RL 4

ND Wilsonwins the award for the creation of the best fantasy creature you might actually like to have as a pet, the raggant, as does Jeff Nentrup, for bringing it to life with his painterly talents. Sort of a thinking girl's unicorn, the raggant looks like a chubby, cuddly baby rhinoceros with wings and is used sort of like a homing pigeon or a bloodhound. Raggants are sent to find someone and can only do this once as a raggant stays with the person it finds until it dies, never letting anyone see it fly. And it eats cat food. Since the main character of100 Cupboards, Henry York, is not united with his raggant until the end of the story, I can't tell you if it grows to the size of an adult rhinoceros, but perhaps that question is answered Book 2 in the series, Dandelion Fire. And, I have read that this is to be a trilogy, although I could not confirm that on the author's website. Besides having a really cool new magical animal in it, 100 Cupboardshas one of the best maps…

Interview with Diana Leszczynski, author of "Fern Verdant and the Silver Rose"

This is my first author interview and basically, I am an excited fan asking questions about things that I would like to hear the answers to. I hope that my interests are somewhat universal and that my interview skills develop over time so that this is not my first and last author interview ever... If you read this interview before reading Fern Verdant & the Silver Rose, thank you! If not, please be sure to come back to it after you finish reading this remarkable new book! You will want to know the nuts and bolts as well as the inspiration behind the story.

Do you read children's literature, if so, what?

Yes, I read children’s literature and adult literature, and any literature I can get my hands on. I read old and new. Most recently, I finished Hoot; which I liked a great deal. I am looking forward to Scat. Carl Hiaasen’s sense of humor is great. I read The Penderwicks, which I loved because it took me back, tonally, to books I read as a child. One of my favorites is H…

Fern Verdant and the Silver Rose by Diana Leszczynski, 263 pp RL 4

Fern Verdant & the Silver Roseby first time author Diana Leszczynski(subject of my first ever authorinterview) is one of those rare books that, thanks to an intriguing title and artwork by the amazingly talented and prolific Brandon Dorman, illustrator of one of my all-time favorite jackets for one of the best books written last year, Newbery Honor winnerSavvyby Ingrid Law, jumps off the shelf and into your hands. Once it's there, thanks to Diana Leszczynski's wonderful writing, you just can't put it down.
As I readFern Verdant & the Silver Rosebits and pieces reminded me of so many other wonderful books that I have loved. Like the main character of Savvy, Mississippi Beaumont, Fern is the recipient of a unique gift on her thirteenth birthday. The wickedly evil, child hating antagonists in the book reminded me of some of the best aspects of Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events as well as al most everything by Roald Dahl. The Dickensian names (you can…

My First Author Interview with First Time Author Diana Leszczynski

I am honored to announce my first ever author interview (via email) with Diana Leszczynski, author of Fern Verdant and the Silver Rose. This amazing, unique book somehow got past me when it was published in November of 2008 and I am so thrilled that Diana sent me an email asking me if I would like to read and possibly review her book last month.  Once I started reading, I couldn't put the book down.  I became an instant fan and I want to share my enthusiasm and inspire as many people as possible to read this wonderful book, for selfish reasons, mostly - I want there to be a whole series of books about Fern!
Because I feel so strongly about this book, I decided to do my first ever author interview in the hopes of piquing interest even further. Being my first ever author interview, what follows is basically a giddy fan who has been given the chance for a behind-the-scenes peek into her new favorite book.  I hope you find it even half as interesting as I did.   I am posting the interv…

The Lost Cities: A Drift House Voyage by Dale Peck, 385 pp RL 4

The Lost Cities: A Drift House Voyage by Dale Peck finds the Oakenfeld children back in New York City, at home with their parents. Nine months have passed since they were sent to live with their Uncle Farley in Eternity Bay, Canada, and summer vacation and a visit to Drift House awaits them. Bickering as usual, Susan and Charles are returning home when their doorman presents them with a package that was left for them. Wrapped inside an oilskin and addressed to, "Susie and Charlie-o-o-Oakenfeld" they find a hefty book with the words, The Lost Cities, embossed on the cover and an empty space below where something else must have once been affixed. The book, the missing amulet from the cover and the mysteries held inside propel the story and the Oakenfelds, minus Murray who intentionally catches chickenpox and is forced to stay home, back onto the Sea of Time and into the past.

InDrift House the story takes place only on the Sea of Time with brief visits to the Island of th…

SLOB by Ellen Potter, 208 pp RL 4

Ellen Potteris the creator of my favorite clairvoyant sleuth, Olivia Kidney, who now has three books to her name. She has also written Pish Posh, which also involves some serious detective work on the part of main character Clara Frankofile. With SLOB we have the honor of meeting Owen Birnbaum, a narrator who is one point shy of having a genius IQ, which is what he tells people because his mother told him long ago to stop telling people what his actual IQ is. Owen is also 57% fatter than the average twelve-year-old boy and completely endearing, flaws and all. Owen's story is the kind that you want to relate from beginng to end to the closest warm body - like you feel after seeing a really great movie with someone other than your best friend or spouse. Fortunatley, I was able to to convince my husband, sixteen-year old daughter and eleven-year old son (who chooses not to read fiction, despite my cajoling and bribes) to read SLOBso that we could all talk about it together. It …