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Book Review: Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley

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Newbery medal-winning author Robin McKinley is well-known for her novel-length adaptations of fairy tales, such as Deerskin, Beauty, and Rose Daughter. This wonderful fantasy book is her version of “The Sleeping Beauty.” It takes place in a certain country where magic settles out of the air like dust, and where some people–fairies and magicians–make a living controlling the rambunctious magic that permeates everything. In that country, a king and queen invite 21 fairies to be ... Read More »

Book Review: Gold Unicorn by Tanith Lee

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The sequel to Black Unicorn finds young sorceress Tanaquil–whose gift is mending things–nearing the end of her travels to see her world, accompanied by a very patient camel and her adorable, talking pet peeve. As she turns toward home, toward the castle of her eccentric mother, Tanaquil strays into the path of a conquering horde–an army bent on subduing the entire world–and the icy young Empress who believes she is bringing peace and perfection to an imperfect ... Read More »

Book Review: Black Unicorn by Tanith Lee

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Tanaquil is a red-headed girl from a long line of red-headed sorceresses. But to her mother’s vast disappointment, Tanaquil is no sorceress. Not that Tanaquil is any happier with her lot, cooped up in a castle reeking with unruly magic, with only guards and servants for company, and a desert all around that burns by day and freezes by night. The only thing she has going for her is a talent for fixing things. One ... Read More »

Book Review: Deerskin by Robin McKinley

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From the award-winning author of several novel-sized fantasies featuring strong, romantic heroines, comes this adaptation of an R-rated Perrault fairy tale that was originally called “Donkeyskin.” Lissla Lissar is a princess whose beautiful, royal parents are the stuff of fairy tales, including the ones her own nurse tells her: how her mother is the most beautiful woman in seven kingdoms; how her grandfather sent her mother’s suitors far and wide to do impossible tasks to ... Read More »

Book Review: The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

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This Newbery Honor book is the first in a series of novels about the fantasy realm of Damar, which also includes the Newbery Medal-winning The Hero and the Crown. And Potterheads will be amazed to learn that this book contains both a Harry and a Draco. Only Draco, in this case, is a horse; and Harry is a girl. Set in a fantasy-world version of the British Empire of Queen Victoria’s day, in a country somewhat ... Read More »

Book Review: The Orange Fairy Book Editor Andrew Lang

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Mr. Lang’s prefaces to his twelve “fairy books of many colours” are often very informative, particularly about what makes fairy stories so important, and how to answer the objections of their critics. The preface to the Orange Fairy Book is no exception. Here Mr. Lang introduces 33 stories from a variety of cultures and traditions, admitting that some of the more “cruel and savage deeds” from the original stories had to be toned down a bit for ... Read More »

Book Review: Harry Potter and Philosophy: If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts by David Baggett & Shawn E. Klein

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Harry Potter and Philosophy: If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts edited by David Baggett & Shawn E. Klein Put on your thinking caps! It’s time to go to Hogwarts (extension program for Muggles) and study philosophy. Now, don’t give me that look. It’s not as bad as it sounds–certainly not the way it’s presented here. The authors of the sixteen essays in this cleverly edited book have used the magic of Hogwarts (and a lot of humor) ... Read More »

Book Review: The Merchant of Death (Pendragon, Book One) by D. J. MacHale

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Folks, I am without a doubt the doofus of the decade; for I bought only the first book of this series, to try it out and see if I would like it…and by the time I got around to reading it, I had so many other books (and so few dollars) lined up that buying the rest of the series was out of the question…and I can hardly wait to read them! In fact, I ... Read More »

Book Review: The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman

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The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman 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. And in this particular kingdom, in this particular age, the Prince is such a naughty ... Read More »

Book Review: A Sending of Dragons by Jane Yolen

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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. I hate having to say those last three words. But what that death made possible was a new kind of human being that can live in the cold temperatures of the Austarian night, and can ... Read More »