Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
For the most part, the story works, and I did care about the main character and what he was hoping for. The ending is the kind that kid readers always want: the young protagonist actually GOT to enter the fantasy realm, rather than learning some precious lessons on how to hold the magic in one’s heart but knowing that “fantasy world” does not quite exist. So, kudos to Beasley on that front. I was hoping that once we learned the back story of the aunt, I would have had more sympathy toward her behavior but she remained a two-dimensional device and not fleshed out character all the way through. Definitely felt that the writing is a bit plain and some details could be trimmed to tighten the pacing, but totally see it appeal to certain young readers.
The Darkness Dwellers: Kiki Strike #3. (Galley)
by Kirsten Miller
Finished. The first 2013 children’s book that I got to read. A whole bunch of girls (5-8 grade) have been waiting for this to come out for a long long time! Hurray for its final appearance AND happy that they will definitely enjoy it. They will find that the plotting is as adventuresome and surprising as the previous two installments and the tone is as sassy. It’s also delightful to read Ananka’s TIPS for girls that encourage kindness and level-headedness throughout the story.
Who would have thought? Richard Peck: the 21st Century Austen for the 8 to 10 set? But he IS! This little gem of a book has all the good stuff:
A cast of talking mice whose actions and living conditions are completely believable and are in tune with children’s fantasy play; a twisting, surprising, and humorous upstairs/downstairs comedy that involves Royalty and seafaring; the perennial favorite plot progression allowing the lower class main characters go up the social ladder due to good luck and hard work; and clean grown-up romances.
Peck’s deft hand also created a great protagonist in the no-nonsense Helena and made her think and speak properly like one would have from the late 1800s. I was completely charmed!
(And the full-page incidental illustrations add to its charm even more!)
Quick – go and get a copy and treat yourself and your young readers!!
As all children’s lit lovers know, this is one of the most anticipated sequels of the year. With the success of The Lost Hero, Riordan set himself quite a high bar to pass — and he came in slight short. Percy is not as witty or clueless (ironic given that he lost most of him memories) as the beloved, unexpected everyday hero in the previous series. The two new “heroes” do not generate the same reader admiration that the three new leading characters (Jason, Leo, and Piper) from Lost Hero. And Hazel and Frank’s potentially awesome powers did not quite get the play each could have.
That said, the book is still full of quirky scenes and exciting adventures. I especially love the notion that the Amazons are the power behind amazon.com and totally enjoy the Harpy Ella and her voracious appetite for books. One of my students wrote a reaction to this book and I agree with her musings on some stylistic and character development matters. Here’s the link: http://blogs.dalton.org/scifan/2011/11/17/603/
Filed under Uncategorized
by Catherine Risher
I found myself thoroughly engrossed in this tale of fantasy/scifi blend. Usually, I get annoyed by authors who mix magical elements in otherwise supposedly a science fiction world. It always seems to be a cop-out: when something cannot be sufficiently explained with scientific theories or technical knowledge, we just throw in some magical powers and voila, the story can move on. Fisher did something different here: she created a world of magical elements with a few technological gadgets thrown in here and there. The little guessing games of what each object is (an easy one is a pair of binoculars made with the “unfamiliar” materials – plastic? -) entertains and intrigues the reader.
I would have liked to see the Dark City developed a bit more — the city is too vaguely described and I simply couldn’t figure out why there are still people in this place since the readers are not shown how the commerce works to support such a place and its inhabitants.
Still, can’t wait for the book to be released (May) so I can promote it to my young readers and can’t wait to read the 3 sequels which will come out in quick succession: June, July, and August!
(Based on the Advanced Readers Copy)
by Robert Muchamore (First in the Cherub series)
It’s definitely a fun ride. Many young readers must really enjoy the fast pace, the satisfying notion that one can behave badly with light consequences or even rewarded for such behaviors, and the espionage aspects of the storyline.
by Pseudonymous Bosch
I really should have heeded the recommendations, enthusiastic and spirited, from many different readers in several grades for the last few years. Why I felt reluctant to read this title for so long, I have no idea. Reading this book was absolutely a fun experience! Although some more experienced readers might find the meta-fiction aspect a bit heavy handed or derivative (ala Snicket or Scieszka & Lane,) I think young readers who encounter this type of storytelling format for the first will definitely eat it up with gusto! At the same time, I don’t find myself propelled to read on the rest of the series. What is lacking? Perhaps certain genuine emotional bond between this reader and the characters who serve as pieces on a game board and don’t quite come through as “real” people.