Book Review: The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
Book Reviews / November 17, 2004

The 1987 winner of the Newbery Medal is this quickly-read little book, set in an unnamed kingdom in an unspecified age when highwaymen were the objects of song and legend, when dancing bears and dog-and-rat pits were major forms of entertainment, and when spoiled little princes had whipping-boys to take their licks for them.

Book Review: A Sending of Dragons by Jane Yolen
Book Reviews / November 17, 2004

The third book in the Pit Dragon Trilogy finds young dragon-master Jakkin and his beloved Akki living desperate lives as refugees in the mountains, haunted by grief, pursued by searching choppers, and befriended by the five hatchlings of the late Heart’s Blood.

Book Review: Dragon’s Blood by Jane Yolen
Book Reviews / November 17, 2004

This is the first novel in the Pit Dragon Trilogy that continues with Heart’s Blood. The author has also written a Young Merlin Trilogy and a Tartan Magic trilogy, as well as a Starscape book entitled Briar Rose.

Book Review: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Book Reviews / November 17, 2004

Ms. Levine’s first children’s novel is this 1997 Newbery Honor Book, which has recently been made into a movie. (Robbie’s note: Whoops. Don’t go to see the movie after all. It really stinks.) And in a way, it’s nothing new. It’s another version of the classic Cinderella tale, which has been made into countless movies (like Ever After), books (like Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister) and even operas (La Cenerentola by Rossini). But this version has some fascinating twists that make it quite its own tale, and its heroine will win you over.

Book Review: The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
Book Reviews / November 17, 2004

Though this book won the 1985 Newbery Medal for excellence in children’s literature, it is a rather grown-up book. I suppose that proves that a book doesn’t have to be about children, or even necessarily written for children, to be enjoyed by young readers.

Book Review: The Cockatrice Boys by Joan Aiken
Book Reviews / November 10, 2004

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 series (penned by a variety of authors) 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 the daughter of American poet Conrad Aiken.

Book Review: Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson
Book Reviews / November 10, 2004

The author of Ben and Me and illustrator of Mr. Popper’s Penguins won a Newbery Medal in 1945 for both writing and illustrating this story. And in my opinion, it should be a children’s classic.

Book Review: The Holy Bible by miscellaneous authors
Book Reviews / November 9, 2004

There are several good reasons not to include a review of “the Good Book” on the Book Trolley. First, MuggleNet does not sponsor any particular religion, and my views about the Bible are not necessarily the views of MuggleNet, its webmaster, its editors, or its devoted readers. I’m sure they have no intention of letting this site be used for religious propaganda. Second, it might seem beneath the dignity of the Bible, to those of us who regard it as the Book of Books, to place it alongside such literary works as The Cricket in Times Square and The Mouse and the Motorcycle. And third, though I would argue there is nothing sacrilegious or satanic about the magic in Harry Potter and most other fairy-tale/fantasy stories, I certainly don’t want to put the mighty, historical acts of God on par with storybook magic.

Book Review: Sour Land by William H. Armstrong
Book Reviews / October 20, 2004

This is a companion book to Sounder, and in my opinion, an even more moving book. Perhaps its power lies in its personal, intimate nature. Unlike Sounder, this book is full of characters with lifelike names. It does not come across as a universal parable—though it may be that—but as a portrait of a handful of very specific, individual people. People who are bound together by loss and by love, by hard work and the enjoyment of stories, by the unfolding of nature’s beautiful secrets, and by the grim reality of the ugliness that remains in the heart of man.