Showing posts from July, 2013

Well Witched by Frances Hardinge, 400 pp RL: MIDDLE GRADE

First reviewed in 2010, Well Witched remains the BEST ghost story for kids I have read. Harding is a brilliant, diverse writer and this book will give readers chills and make them think! Well Witched is a remarkable and completely different follow- up to one of my all time favorites, Fly By Night , which Frances Hardinge published as her first novel for children in 2006. Whereas her debut is an alternate-historical fiction work set in a skewed medieval period when guilds controlled society, her new book is a supernatural thriller set in contemporary times. What seems like a typical story of three tweener kids wasting their time over the course of a summer soon turns out to be anything but. Well W itched is a haunting, haunted story of children who make a horrible mistake and find their lives overlapping with some truly sad and disturbed adults. Ryan and Chelle, odd outsiders who are picked on at school, are taken under the wing of the slightly older Josh. He is brash,

Scepter of the Ancients, Skulduggery Pleasant Series, Book 1, by Derek Landy, illustrations by Tom Percival, 416 pp, RL 4

First reviewed 11/20/09, this standout series features one of the most awesome girl protagonists I've encountered in middle grade fantasy. Stephanie/Valkyrie is smart, brave funny and not afraid to get beat up, which happens from time to time as she fights evil alongside Skulduggery Pleasant, the coolest, skeleton detective out there! A trilogy in the US, this series is actually an 8 book series in the UK, where it was first published.  The Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy, illustrations by Tom Percival, despite the fact that it is currently only three books long, has had three different cover designs as well as a title change since book one, Scepter of the Ancients (the new title of the first book in the series) was published in 2007. Since I often judge a book by it's cover, this phenomenon caught my eye right away. The above covers are my favorite - the girl in the illustration, Stephanie, is one of the main characters and also one of t

The Brixton Brothers: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity written by Mac Barnett, illustrations by Adam Rex, 179pp RL 4

First reviewed in 2009, Mac Barnett's fantastic quartet of Brixton Brothers books is an uncommon contemporary mystery that boys and girls will love. Steve Brixton, a fan of a Hardy Boys-type mystery series, The Bailey Brothers , finds himself embroiled in one case after another, turning to his literary heroes for help, often finding himself in deeper trouble...  I'm sorry. I am apologizing in advance for the length of this review. If you want to know about The Brixton Brother's and the Case of the Case of the Mistaken Identity , scroll down a paragraph or so. Otherwise, stick around to find out everything I learned about Mac Barnett: Writer and Strongman for Hire , this new children's book author who has burst onto the kidlit scene with two picture books and a chapter book all in one year, in addition to the other amazing things he is doing. Basically, this is my review of Adam Rex's The True Meaning of Smekday (in which I crammed in all sorts of related i

The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart, illustrated by Chris Riddell, 275 pp, RL 4

First reviewed in 2010, The Edge Chronicles still occupy a large part of my imagination and that of my kids'. Stewart and Riddell are the perfect pair, the story and illustrations magnificently matched. The world they create is richly detailed, the characters complex and memorable, the adventures breathtaking. A MUST read for all lovers of fantasy. As I was reading Tony DiTerlizzi's newest venture,  The Search for WondLa  I couldn't help but think of  The Edge Chronicles , an amazing series that I started reading to my kids in 2004 and began writing a review of a year ago today. The similarities (and differences) between DiTerlizzi's book and those of British writing and illustrating team  Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell  gave me that nudge I needed to sit down and tackle this gorgeously illustrated, lavishly populated series that is crammed full of amazing creatures, characters, geography and, of course, adventure. But first, I must let you know (or rem