Gregory Maguire, the author of Wicked and The Hamlet Chronicles, now treats us to a brand new story about a rogue tooth fairy called What-the-Dickens. Orphaned at birth, this skibberee bumbles his way through his first days of life and tries to find out where he fits in. He'd really like to become the pet of McCavity, a cat who unfortunately lacks a soft spot for winged creatures. He knows he doesn't want to be adopted by the bird who sings off-key. But when he meets Pepper, a tooth fairy on a mission, he thinks he must be on to something.
But skibbereen are suspicious sorts, and Pepper's colony isn't receptive to this stranger. Can he learn enough about their ways and prove himself worthy of belonging to their ranks?
The tale of What-the Dickens is a story-within-a-story and is told by Gage, an older cousin who has come to stay with three children during a natural disaster that cuts them off from power, food, and civilization. Their story runs parallel with the events in What-the-Dickens' life, and eventually intersects in a satisfying twist.
The writing in this book is truly delightful. As I read to Ben, we stopped often to appreciate Maguire's work—amazing descriptions, clever wordplay, ironic coincidences, etc. It was a teensy bit challenging as a read-aloud, only because of the frequent passages of dialog that don't indicate the change in speaker. It's no problem when you're seeing the pages, but a little trickier if you're only hearing it. However, in the hands of a skilled artist, I imagine that this would be a fantastic audiobook!
What-the-Dickens is wonderful modern-day fairy tale. Don't expect to get carried away by the plot, but instead enjoy the humor, the interesting characters, and the unique look at the world of a tooth fairy.
This is a great book. The plot moves along quickly, making for an easy read. The characters are charming and unforgettable—children and tooth fairies alike. Though easy to read, this novel is very exciting. I would recommend this to both young and old readers.
When Timothy Malt finds a stray dog outside his home in suburban London, he has no idea of the adventures in store for him. It all begins with a simple enough task: locate the dog's owners and conduct a canine reunion. According to his tag, the dog is named Grk and lives at an English address which turns out to be the Stanislavian Embassy. But when Tim and his family show up to return the dog, they stumble upon international turmoil as the ambassador and his family (who happen to be Grk's owners) have just been deported back to Stanislavia amidst a military coup.
Tim's parents are content to leave Grk at a local dog pound so that his owners can eventually catch up with him or he can be adopted by a new family. But Tim knows what can happen at the pound, and he also knows Grk is a special dog that no one would ever leave behind by choice. He's determined to find Grk's family, and his mission leads him on a solo international voyage full of danger and intrigue.
A Dog Called Grk is almost purely plot and reads much like an action movie. In fact, a web search on the title revealed an entry by the same name on IMDb. This book would be a great choice for a reader who likes to keep things moving without getting sidetracked by character development, setting descriptions, etc. Be aware that there is some violence, probably along the same lines as a book like Artemis Fowl.
This book might not have been the best choice for Ben and I to read together. It takes us a while to get through a book since our time for reading aloud is limited. I think he would have gulped this down in a few days if he was on his own. He seemed to like it more than me, but sometimes that's just part of sharing books with your child—taking pleasure from their enjoyment of the story. We laughed together quite a bit as we read, however, and that's always a sweet experience.
I didn't appreciate the author misusing God's name in this book, so I edited those parts on the fly as I read them to Ben. I wonder if that's more acceptable in books that are published in England. Regardless, it seemed like an unnecessary distraction.
This was a very fast-paced and good book. I especially liked how the author tied in references to typical dog behavior in the novel, adding hilarity to an otherwise action-packed story. This book also touches a bit on politics. I recommend this book to any fans of action.
Eleven-year-old Anna Smudge stumbles on to a career of helping people figure out their problems while she gets handed a doozy of her own to solve. While juggling loads of homework and therapy sessions in a storage closet of her apartment building, she has to unravel a complex mystery involving an escaped hitman, her off-kilter art teacher, and someone named Mr. Who. Her father's life depends on it! Her band of misfit yet likable friends joins with her in cracking a case that has the adults of New York City so baffled that they deny the very existence of Mr. Who.
We received an advance reader's copy of Anna Smudge: Professional Shrink from the publisher, Toasted Coconut Media. It's the first in a series of books titled The Professionals, featured on their website WhoisMrWho.com. They describe the book as a graphic novel and despite the fact that the only illustrations are at the beginning of chapters, it definitely reads like one, explaining its debut at the New York Comic Con this February.
I have to begin by saying that this book is not the type I would normally choose to read. It's a fast-paced action story low on emotional involvement. Ben and I read this book separately and I was tempted to give up several times because it just wasn't clicking with me. Ben, on the other hand, zipped through it in a couple of days. But after we watched the Nancy Drew movie, I could see some similarities between the two female sleuths that made Anna a little more appealing. Finally, I got hooked on the mystery and finished it quickly after that.
I'm still a little torn about this book because it isn't as sweet or kind-hearted as the ones I like to recommend. It's a little crude here and there, but no more so than an average family movie like Kicking and Screaming. It's a very modern book, and that probably says a lot about why it's not my favorite ;) But it's an interesting concept, the unique characters are smart and capable, and kids who enjoy quick-moving mysteries should be amply entertained. I'm looking forward to seeing how this series develops.
I really enjoyed this book. It is fast paced and has lots of action. I disagree with the fact that Anna Smudge is a touch crude, and if I'm wrong it is because it is a modern story. There is a slow beginning, but the book builds up speed like a train until the cliff-hanger ending. I highly recommend this book to any young mystery fan.
"The monsters under your bed are real!" Nightmare Academy is the first book in a series about the Nightmare Dimension. After some nightmares, kids encounter real monsters.
When Charlie Benjamin dreams, monsters leave the Nightmare Dimension and enter his world through a portal. After a particularly dangerous dream, Charlie is whisked off to the Nightmare Academy, a school that teaches kids to control their nightmares. Just after he arrives, Charlie unfortunately meets one of the four most powerful monsters called Barakkas the Rager. The monster causes all sorts of mayhem in Charlie's life.
Nightmare Academy should really be a Level 4 3/4 book, but since there are many battles and some killing in the novel (it sounds worse than it is), it qualifies as a Level 5. Nightmare Academy is an entertaining tale of a young boy and his adventures in a very imaginative world.
The Maximum Ride books are some of the best I have read. It took me five days to read the first two books, The Angel Experiment and School's Out - Forever (the fourth was just released). Try out this series and you won't be able to stop reading.
The Maximum Ride series is about a group of six kids. They are normal, except for the fact that they are 2% bird. The "flock" grew up in a lab where they were experimented on. Avian DNA was injected into them as babies, and they grew wings.
The flock escaped from the lab and lived peacefully in the mountains until one day Erasers (other lab experiments who can morph into wolves), attack them and kidnap Maximum's sister, Angel. Thus begins the Maximum Ride series.
I highly recommend the Maximum Ride series to anyone who likes the Pendragon series, enjoys adventure or has dreamed of flying.
*I was excited to find that a Maximum Ride movie will be released in 2010!
From the author of the Artemis Fowl series comes Airman, an enthralling tale of a soaring adventure. Airman is about Conor Broekhart, a boy who loves to fly. He has a wonderful life on the island of Great Saltee. Conor has a great instructor who teaches him fencing, flying, and standard school subjects. He is also good friends with the princess of the Saltee Islands. But his life changes one night when he is blamed for the murder of the king and sent to prison on Little Saltee, where he has to fight for survival.
This is a spectacular book. It is a little complicated, but not too much so. It is very suspenseful and exciting. I recommend this novel to any fan of fantasy, mechanics, or the Artemis Fowl series.
The Thing About Georgie is that he is a dwarf. And in Georgie's mind, that affects everything about his life—the clothes he wears, the way he turns on lights, the activities he joins, even the friends he has...and doesn't. And just about the time Georgie has figured out how to navigate his world, it gets turned upside-down. His parents announce that they are having another baby (who will probably be taller than Georgie very soon), he has a big fight with his best friend, and for a group project, he gets paired with his least favorite person in school.
Georgie feels pretty much on his own in the midst of his misery, and can't figure out how to clean up any of these messes. But when he finds help from an unexpected source, he starts to see that everything he thought he had figured out might have caused some of his problems in the first place.
For a book that's primarily about relationships, The Thing About Georgie still has an underlying what's-going-to-happen-next vibe that kept us zooming through it. I love it when a book can teach us something without ever feeling like a "And That's One to Grow On" PSA. Lisa Graff steers plenty clear of that preachy pitfall, while showing us what happens when we get through life based on a very narrow definition of ourselves: we limit the delightful surprises we might discover about who we are and who we can become.
My favorite part about this book is how the author keeps the story flowing with an exciting plot and interesting characters. She also reveals an unexpected twist about who narrates certain portions of the book. But my favorite thing about Lisa Graff is that she is helping me out big time with a school assignment by answering interview questions for a career project. Thanks, Ms. Graff!