Book Review: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

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This 1968 Newbery Medal winner has been made into several movies, and at least one of them (the one featuring Ingrid Bergman in the title role) was pretty well-known in my generation. I think so, anyway. It wasn’t until just lately that I read the book, which tells an intriguing, charming, and somewhat sad story. Claudia and Jamie have run away from home. Unlike many runaways, they didn’t attempt their escape until they had a good idea ... Read More »

Book Review: The Hound of Rowan by Henry H. Neff

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A MuggleNet reader named Tracy recently asked me to point her toward the series of books most nearly just-like-Harry-Potter. At the time I could think of a baker’s dozen of series, including Diane Duane’s Young Wizards, Emily Drake’s Magickers, Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci books, and so on. If I had read this book by then, I would have put it near the top of the list. The Book Trolley’s main idea is “If You Like Harry Potter, You May ... Read More »

Book Review: David and the Phoenix by Edward Ormondroyd

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Thanks to a reader named Pam, I found out about this book that first came out in 1957, and that was out of print until the Purple House Press issued a new edition in 2005. Let me quote what Pam wrote to me about this book… I read it a hundred years ago when I was in the third grade (actually 1958) and loved it. It was out of print for years and was reissued ... Read More »

Book Review: The Victory Garden by Lee Kochenderfer

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For Teresa Marks and her father, their tomato-growing competition against Mr. Burt next door is very important. For one thing, growing garden vegetables is part of the war effort in a small Kansas town in 1943. In case you missed your history class, that’s during World War II, when Teresa’s brother Jeff and many other young Americans went to Europe or the Pacific to fight against Germany and Japan. Which brings up another, even bigger ... Read More »

Book Review: The Pink Fairy Book by Andrew Lang (Editor)

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A single man living in a small town has to be careful not to let too many people see him reading something called The Pink Fairy Book. He mustn’t take it to the laundromat, or read it in the waiting room while his car is having in oil change, or pass time with it while his supper is cooking at the downtown diner (where, by the way, they actually serve brain sandwiches). If I have to explain ... Read More »

Book Review: Peace Breaks Out by John Knowles

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The post-World War II follow-up to A Separate Peace is another tragedy that will leave you nursing an aching heart and facing the evil that can live in the hearts even of the most promising youths. Whether it can be excused by the good mixed with it, is a question that will keep you up at night after you have read this tale. Pete Hallam is an athletic war hero, fresh returned to his old New Hampshire ... Read More »

Book Review: Lady Friday by Garth Nix

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The fifth book in the “Keys to the Kingdom” series brings Arthur Penhaligon one step closer to claiming the seven keys to the House, and the seven parts of the Will of the Architect – which is to say, this fictional universe’s creator. But each time Arthur uses the power of the keys, he also comes closer to becoming a full-fledged Denizen of the House. Once he completes that transformation, he will be unable to ... Read More »

Book Review: A Separate Peace by John Knowles

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This is a thin, quickly-read book that has one obvious appeal to Harry Potter fans: it is set in a boarding school. To be exact, a New England boys’ prep school, where the sons of the rich and powerful have gone for generations to prepare for college. Only these sons are preparing to go to war, as the novel is set during World War II. A not-so-obvious reason this should resonate with Harry’s fans, is that it ... Read More »

Book Review: Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel

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This sequel to Airborn finds Matt Cruse interning as a navigator’s assistant on a somewhat disreputable flying freighter. When the crew sights a legendary ghost-ship, rumored to have disappeared into the sky with loads of treasure, their attempt to salvage it nearly ends in calamity. Matt’s thanks for saving everyone’s life is to have his internship canceled and to be sent back to the airship officer academy in Paris. Matt is no stranger to meagre rewards. His ... Read More »

Book Review: Ben and Me by Robert Lawson

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This favorite story is a piece of lighthearted historical fiction of the “talking rodent” subgenre, from Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator and Newbery Medal-winning author Robert Lawson. The narrator, Amos the mouse, is humorously conceited as he tells how he and Benjamin Franklin collaborated in inventing the Franklin stove, how Franklin played a dirty trick on him during his experiments with electricity, and how he led a revolution of mice at the French court. He also slyly ... Read More »