Book Review: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman


At the urgent request of many, many Book Trolley visitors, I feel compelled to put in a word or three about Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy, a teen-oriented fantasy series that includes the books The Northern Lights (The Golden Compass), The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. These stories bring together a boy from our world (?) and a girl from a parallel world in which the Reformation, the Age of Reason, and the Industrial Revolution never happened and ... Read More »

Book Review: The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis


The aptly-named last title in the seven-book Chronicles of Narnia brings the wonderful adventures in that magic world to a heartbreaking and yet victorious close. The beginning of the end comes when a lion-skin washes ashore and the wicked ape Shift conceives a plan, making use of the innocent donkey Puzzle to deceive the good folks of Narnia. Pretending that Aslan has returned, Shift sells Narnia to their Calormene enemies and afflicts the talking beasts and trees ... Read More »

Book Review: Watership Down by Richard Adams


Watership Down by Richard Adams Don’t be deceived by the title. The book has nothing to do with a shipwreck, or any kind of vessel whatever. Watership Down is a place–a pleasant, natural place, whose threatened inhabitants include a group of young rabbits. Hazel, Fiver, Pipkin, Hawkbit, Bigwig, Dandelion, and other friends break away from their “Owsla,” flee the destructive encroachments of men, and set off in search of a new home. It is a ... Read More »

Book Review: Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce


This book first came out in 1958, which is important to know if you’re going to follow the time-line of the story. It’s about a then-present-day boy named Tom Long, who is miserable about being exiled to his boring aunt and uncle’s flat for the summer, instead of being able to romp around the backyard with his beloved brother Peter. The reason is Peter has the measles, so if Tom doesn’t have them he has ... Read More »

Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee


Naturally, I have to recommend that you see the award-winning, classic film based on this book, starring the late Gregory Peck. As a movie buff it would go against my principles not to. But I also, wholeheartedly, recommend reading the 1960 novel by Harper Lee. It is an incredibly moving experience. Whether you have seen the movie or not, the image that probably comes first to your mind is the trial of a black man accused of raping ... Read More »

Book Review: The Borrowers by Mary Norton


Mary Norton’s original book begins with a little girl who spends time every afternoon working on a quilt with a very old widow who boards in her parents’ house. The girl complains about how a crocheting needle disappeared off a bottom shelf overnight, and the old lady (Mrs. May) wonders whether this house has borrowers too. The girl becomes curious, so the old lady tells her a story that her little brother told her many years ago. ... Read More »

Book Review: The Dragon of Never-Was by Ann Downer


The Dragon of Never-Was by Ann Downer   Further to Hatching Magic, this book reunites a young wyvern (try to picture a catlike dragon) with a similarly young wizard. Vyrna (the wyvern) and Theodora (the wizard) have been separated by an ocean since the Events of Last Summer – when they put a stop to the plans of an evil wizard that involved time travel, demon possession, and the summoning of a Chinese dragon in the ... Read More »

Book Review: The Somebodies by N.E. Bode


The Somebodies by N. E. Bode It has already been two books since Fern and Howard, switched at birth, have been switched back – but they remain “sort of” sister and brother, and grow more so as their third adventure progresses. It begins in school, where they are expelled after Fern turns her atrocious teacher’s hair into a live (but tiny) pony. Howard’s real parents, the Drudgers, step in with a court order to send ... Read More »

Book Review: The Nobodies by N.E. Bode


The Nobodies by N.E. Bode In this sequel to The Anybodies, Fern is eager to go to Camp Happy Sunshine Good Times, where she will be surrounded by other “anybody” children; that is, children who can hypnotize people and objects, shake things out of books, and shape-change. She wants to learn more about how to use her powers, and make friends with other kids like her. She also wants to spend time with her almost-sort-of-as-it-were brother ... Read More »

Book Review: The Anybodies by N.E. Bode


The Anybodies by N. E. Bode For a quick-reference guide to some of the best children’s fantasy books, there’s no better place to go than a children’s fantasy book about children’s fantasy books. A recent, famous example is the Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke. Another example is this book, whose elusive author owes a lot to adult fiction writer Julianna Baggott. I have to admit, when I was first told to read The Anybodies by N. E. Bode, I ... Read More »