Book Review: Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery

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In two previous books, Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea, we observed the youthful adventures of an adorable young woman from Canada’s Prince Edward Island. We relished every moment as Anne Shirley matured from a bright-eyed orphan of eleven to the cusp of adulthood. Now, with two years of teaching experience under her belt, Anne seizes the opportunity to go to college, away on the mainland in Nova Scotia. There she is swept up in a ... Read More »

Book Review: The Cobra King of Kathmandu by P.B. Kerr

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By one of those funny coincidences that frequently befall readers of YA fantasy series, I put my hands on this third book in The Children of the Lamp series at the same time as The Hour of the Cobra, the second book in an equally fun time-travel series. So it happened that I read two “cobra” books in a row, and lived to tell the tale. If you have followed The Children of the Lamp so far, you already know ... Read More »

Book Review: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

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This book won the 1990 Newbery Medal for its moving, and at times agonizingly suspenseful, account of the courage of a family in Nazi-occupied Denmark, 1943. Though the details of the story, and its main characters, are fictional, Lowry points out in her Afterword that it is also historically accurate— including both frightening and fantastic bits which might seem too much to believe. The central figure is a golden-haired, ten-year-old Danish girl named Annemarie. Through ... Read More »

Book Review: The Blue Djinn of Babylon by P.B. Kerr

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John and Philippa Gaunt are not just a couple of filthy-rich, twelve-year-old twins. They are also Djinn — beings who can live hundreds of years, who are made of a “subtle kind of fire,” and who have power to grant wishes and to effect the luck of the world. Like Harry Potter, they can do amazing things. Unlike Harry, each of them only needs to remember one magic word (Philippa’s focus word is particularly addictive: ... Read More »

Book Review: A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle

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About a year after the adventures in A Wrinkle in Time, Meg and Charles Wallace Murry get another chance to put their special gifts to use. It has long been known that Charles, age six, is a very special child. Apparently, the balance of the whole universe depends on him now. And that is exactly what is threatened when a sickness, welling up from the most unimaginably tiny parts of him, endangers his life. It begins ... Read More »

Book Review: The Phoenix and the Carpet by E. Nesbit

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The sequel to Five Children and It picks up in the fall of the same year, when the children are beginning to miss having magical adventures. Then one rainy day, leading up to Bonfire Night (November 5), they decide to “sample” some of their fireworks inside their nursery. The result is a totally ruined carpet. Their mother buys a Persian rug to replace it, which turns out to be a magic wishing-carpet (it grants three wishes a ... Read More »

Book Review: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

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Meg Murry is having trouble coping with her adolescence. She isn’t doing well in school (except in math). She is temperamental and hyper-sensitive. Her teeth have braces, her eyes have spectacles, and her hair just can’t be tamed; she has a hard time believing that she’ll ever take after her gorgeous, multiple-doctorate, experimental scientist mother. Teachers and other kids don’t know what to do with her. Meanwhile, her younger twin brothers are normal and popular. ... Read More »

Book Review: The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

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We have already met the good doctor of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh, the one who talks to animals, the better to treat their aches and pains and to learn about the natural world. In this second book of his adventures, Doctor Dolittle gets a young assistant: Tommy Stubbins, who narrates this installment. Tommy tells us how he befriended the amazing doctor, how he decided he wanted to be a naturalist too, and how he started to learn to ... Read More »

Book Review : Abhorsen by Garth Nix

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In this third book in the series that also includes Sabriel and Lirael, a new “Abhorsen-in-waiting” has been revealed: Lirael, a Daughter of the Clayr and Remembrancer, who turns out to be half-sister to the Abhorsen Sabriel. This means that Lirael is next in line for the job of clearing up the undead riff-raff that increasingly plague the Old Kingdom, due to the conniving of Necromancers and evil spirits from beyond the grave. We’re not talking about Buffy ... Read More »

Book Review: The Akhenaten Adventure by P.B. Kerr

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Philippa and John Gaunt are not your ordinary, twelve-year-old twins. For one thing, they are totally different from each other: John is tall and dark and a magnet for trouble; Philippa is short and red-headed, with glasses and a cool, analytical mind. Nevertheless, they are so close to each other that they can almost read each other’s minds. Besides that, they are also a couple of the richest kids in New York City, with an ... Read More »