Book Review: Measle and the Slitherghoul by Ian Ogilvy

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Back in the third Measle adventure, Measle and the Mallockee, we caught a glimpse of something shapeless, slimy, and very, very dangerous. Now that something is on the move. Its name is the Slitherghoul. For centuries it has been locked up in an underground cell, guarded and studied by wizards, but mostly left alone. No one knows what evil spell created it, but only that it absorbed its creator, a young apprentice wizard named Sheepshank. Then, ... Read More »

Book Review: Keys to the Demon Prison by Brandon Mull

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It’s the fifth and final “Fablehaven” adventure, and the world is coming to an end. More of the world’s magical game preserves are falling to the Society of the Evening Star, which is collecting the five hidden talismans needed to open the demon prison of Zzyzx. Young Kendra and Seth Sorenson, along with their family and friends, are charged with protecting these powerful objects, and the five “Eternals” who must die before the bad guys ... Read More »

Book Review: The Magic and the Healing by Nick O’Donohoe

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The author of this book was at a late-night party with colleagues of his wife – a veterinary student – when an emergency call came in. A bear cub had been hit by a car and needed immediate surgery. O’Donohoe tagged along as the vets, unable to look up the proper anaethesia for bear cubs because the library was closed, improvised on the principle “Let’s pretend it’s a big, fat, mean dog.” Out of nowhere ... Read More »

Book Review: The King’s Fifth by Scott O’Dell

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Scott O’Dell (1898-1989) is widely, and justly, regarded as one of the USA’s most important children’s authors. Only the second American to win the international Hans Christian Andersen Award (a distinction he shares with only four other American authors and one illustrator), he won a 1961 Newbery Medal for Island of the Blue Dolphins and, in a fifty-five-year career, published over two dozen more young-adult novels, mostly historical fiction set in Mexico or the American southwest. Four ... Read More »

Book Review: Measle and the Mallockee by Ian Ogilvy

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A couple years ago, I gave a pile of slightly-used books to the young children of some friends I was visiting over the New Year. Among them were the first two Measle books by Ian Ogilvy. During that holiday I even read portions of the first book aloud, complete with character voices. Such was the glee of those children that, to this day, I am told Measle and the Wrathmonk and Measle and the Dragodon are among their favorite ... Read More »

Book Review: Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

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This 1961 Newbery Medal winner has come to be regarded as a classic of historical fiction for young readers, written by one of America’s most honored children’s authors. I remember seeing a film based on this book when I was a grade-schooler, and the feelings of heartbreak and loneliness that I associated with that film were still on target when I read the book at age 40. It’s an amazing, inspiring, exciting story, rich in ... Read More »

Book Review: The Silver Crown by Robert C. O’Brien

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The award-winning author of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH wrote a book in the 1960s that is kind of a cross between a medieval fantasy and a Gothic horror novel, only it’s set in the Eastern U.S. in the 1960s, and the race riots and social unrest of that era are an element in the horror. Frightening as it is, I remember my fourth-grade teacher reading it to my class, and it still chills me ... Read More »

Book Review: Measle and the Dragodon by Ian Ogilvy

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Sometime British actor, and now American author, Ian Ogilvy continues to show his writing chops in this sequel to Measle and the Wrathmonk. Aimed at a slightly younger audience than the Harry Potter books, Ogilvy once again creates an atmosphere laced with equal parts goofiness and menace, and then turns loose his plucky little hero, Measle Stubbs. Only weeks after destroying the evil Wrathmonk Basil Tramplebone and getting his wizardly parents back, Measle is happier than he has ... Read More »

Book Review: The Unknown Shore by Patrick O’Brian

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Before the storied friendship of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin was a gleam in Patrick O’Brian’s eye, he gave the world this book featuring a very Aubrey-like young midshipman named Jack Byron and his boyhood friend, surgeon’s mate Tobias Barrow—who is like Stephen in all ways short of being Irish. For a dress-rehearsal of Stephen’s Irishness, see the main characters in the even earlier novel The Golden Ocean, to which this book is a strange sort of sequel. ... Read More »

Book Review: Od Magic by Patricia A. McKillip

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I really must be more careful about how I throw around words like “best” and “favorite.” But from a fairly early chapter in this book, I was already thinking about using them in this review. Let’s call it the best book I have read since the last book I anointed “best of the year so far.” If you’re a mature Harry Potter fan, looking out for something similar, yet ready to sink your teeth into ... Read More »