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Book Review: Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Tanglewood Tales—buy the paperback—free Kindle book by Nathaniel Hawthorne—wiki him Recommended Ages: 11+ You may have heard of the Tanglewood Music Festival in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. This festival is named after the mansion where the festival is held. The mansion was named after the nearby cottage where Nathaniel Hawthorne stayed while writing this book. And the cottage, according to my sources, was named after this book—a sequel to the same author’s A Wonder-Book ... Read More »

Book Review: Snuff by Terry Pratchett

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Snuff—buy it by Terry Pratchett—his website Recommended Ages: 13+ According to Fantastic Fiction, this is the 39th novel of Discworld—taking all the novels featuring Tiffany Aching, Granny Weatherwax, Rincewind, Death, the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, and whatnot in one heap. It’s an amazing achievement, especially given that I was hoaxed into believing that Terry Pratchett was done writing them half a dozen books back. After all these books about a flat world balanced on the backs ... Read More »

Book Review: The 7 Professors of the Far North by John Fardell

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  The 7 Professors of the Far North by John Fardell Sam is thrilled when his parents tell him that he gets to spend his Easter holiday with Professor Ampersand and his adopted niece and nephew, Zara and Ben. But he never expected the adventure that soon develops, as the professor and five of his colleagues are kidnapped by the ruthless Professor Murdo. The three children follow an amazing “underground railroad” all the way to ... Read More »

Book Review: The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer

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  The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer This Newbery Honor Book by the author of The House of the Scorpion conjures a unique world in which futuristic fantasy and ancient folklore are intertwined. Set in the year 2194 in the African nation of Zimbabwe, it relates the adventures of three sheltered, privileged children when they escape from the walled compound of their father (the country’s ruthlessly efficient security chief) to have an adventure ... Read More »

Book Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

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Her website Recommended Age: Adult with crossover appeal, 15+ The first in a series of adult novels that are filled to the brim with details that place the magical world directly in to modern day Oxford. The story of reluctant witch and keen academic of alchemy, Diana Bishop, begins in the dusty and mysterious setting of the Bodleian library. For those missing Hogwarts these libraries feel wonderfully familiar. Likewise fans of Pullman’s Lyra will get ... Read More »

Book Review: The Scarecrow and His Servant by Philip Pullman

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The Scarecrow and His Servant—buy it by Philip Pullman—his website Recommended Age: 10+ This book by the author of The Firework-Maker’s Daughter and The Ruby in the Smoke combines a fairy-tale concept with elements of the picaresque novel. That is to say, it presents a hero from humble origins, making his way through a corrupt world in a series of funny, ironic adventures. Seemingly set in Italy around the time of the Napoleonic wars, this ... Read More »

Book Review: The Ogre Downstairs by Diana Wynne Jones

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The Ogre Downstairs—buy it by Diana Wynne Jones—her website Recommended Age: 10+ This is a delightful tale, full of charm and laugh-out-loud humor. Plus, the theme of a “blended family” resonates with the personal experience of many of us. The Brants and the McIntyres are living under one very British roof, since Mrs. Brant (a widow) married Mr. McIntyre (a divorced, single Dad). But after only a couple months, things aren’t going too smoothly. Sally, ... Read More »

Book Review: So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane

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This 1983 book is the first of nine books in the Young Wizards series, which in many ways should be right up your alley (if you like Harry Potter, that is). The author is a prolific science fiction writer who has contributed a number of books to the growing list of Star Trek titles, as well as the Net Force series co-authored by Tom Clancy, and other interesting-sounding series including Doors and Cat Wizards. The ... Read More »

Book Review: The Cockatrice Boys by Joan Aiken

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From the Wolves series, featuring Dido Twite, I had already come to regard Joan Aiken as a wonderful writer with a flair for colloquial British speech, humor, adventure, and the clash of titanic forces of good and evil. From Diana Wynne Jones’ Deep Secret I had come to regard the Starscape label as being possibly the best-kept secret in young-adult fiction. Both of these impressions are confirmed by The Cockatrice Boys, a Starscape book by ... Read More »

Book Review: Perloo the Bold by Avi

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The author of Tales from Dimwood Forest brings us this intriguing fantasy novel for the young. Two tribes have been at war, on and off, as far back as history remembers: the rabbit-like Montmers and the coyote-like Felbarts. Among the few Montmers who know anything about this history, is bookish, shy Perloo. But when the old Granter of the Montmers is on her deathbed, she decides to elevate Perloo to be her successor…instead of her ... Read More »