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 »

Book Review: Sir Thursday by Garth Nix

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In this fourth book of the seven-book series titled The Keys to the Kingdom, Arthur Penhaligon reaches the midpoint of his campaign to claim his rightful inheritance to the extra-dimensional “House,” where the seven stewards of the Architect’s Will have not been doing their job faithfully. Already Arthur has liberated three parts of the Will and appropriated three of the keys, making him ruler over the lower three demesnes of the house: the “Lower House” (formerly ... Read More »

Book Review: Freaks by Annette Curtis Klause

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Over the years since I started pushing the Book Trolley, many avid readers have urged me to get into the books of Annette Curtis Klause, a British-born, Maryland-based children’s librarian and sometime author perhaps best known for her romantic teen-werewolf novelBlood and Chocolate. I can give no excuse except “Twilight Saga burnout” for the fact that I didn’t read one of her books until now, and not the werewolf one either. Based on reading this ... Read More »

Book Review: Drowned Wednesday by Garth Nix

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The beginning of Arthur Penhaligon’s third adventure in the House begins while he is still recovering in the hospital from the depradations of Grim Tuesday. Yet, in contrast to Mister Monday and Grim Tuesday, who both did everything in their power to keep Arthur from coming after their respective Keys to the Kingdom (while at the same time forcing him to deal with them), Arthur’s third quest begins with an actual invitation from Lady Wednesday ... Read More »

Book Review: The Book of Story Beginnings by Kristin Kladstrup

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Lucy Martin has just moved into a century-old farmhouse in Iowa, overlooking the Missouri River bluffs, which her father inherited from his Aunt Lavonne. It seems like a nice place for her parents to work out problems in their marriage. But what will Lucy do? Why, Lucy will have an adventure. The adventure begins when Lucy finds journals belonging to her long-lost Uncle Oscar, who disappeared in 1914. This is the reason Aunt Lavonne took ... Read More »

Book Review: Grim Tuesday by Garth Nix

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For Arthur Penhaligon, no time at all has passed since he returned home from his adventure in Mister Monday, but back in the House (which the Architect placed at the center of all creation) months have gone by, and trouble has been brewing. Now that Arthur has vanquished the Trustee of the Lower House, the “Morrow Days” (Tuesday onward) are concerned. They want to crush this young mortal before he can threaten the domains they rule. ... Read More »

Book Review: The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby

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In an east-coast U.S. city, sometime in the 1800s, three children who have never previously met each other have a strange adventure together. Together and separately, the face a series of challenges that may determine their future happiness, their family’s welfare, their personal survival, and/or the fate of a nature sanctuary adjacent to the city. All of these destinies are caught up together, intertwined, and depend on the qualities of courage, resourcefulness, and friendship in ... Read More »

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

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Like the other fairy books edited by Andrew Lang, The Violet Fairy Book is packed with stories (35 of them) from many countries and most continents, stirring illustrations by H. J. Ford, and a captivating collection of magical creatures, brave princes, lovely princesses, plucky peasants, clever rogues, things delightfully familiar, and things surprising and unique. There are more than a month’s worth of bedtime stories here…if you can hold yourself to one story per night. More likely, ... Read More »