Book Review: The Frog Princess by E. D. Baker


  The Frog Princess by E. D. Baker “Ah-hah!” said the frog. He hopped toward me, his eyes never leaving my face. “I’m delighted to hear that you like me! In that case, would you be so kind as to do me the eensy-weensiest little favor?” Emma (short for Emeralda) is a big, clumsy princess who likes to visit the swamp just outside the castle crounds and to hang around with her aunt, a witch ... Read More »

Book Review: The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald


The sequel to The Princess and the Goblin begins with a taste of the sort of disappointment that, in real-life stories, often follows the “happily ever after” ending. Curdie, the miner’s son, no longer has the Princess Irene to protect or the goblins and their bizarre creatures to fight against. He doesn’’t whistle or sing any more, he no longer spends much time looking at beautiful animals and plants, he is not such a good son to ... Read More »

Book Review: The Golden Key by George MacDonald


A boy named Mossy hears tell of a golden key that can be found at the end of the rainbow. One evening at sunset, he crosses into fairyland and finds that key—only to become involved in a much longer quest, to find the lock that it opens. A girl named Tangle runs away from her sad home and is adopted by a fairy grandmother, who is served by feathered fish that swim through the air. ... Read More »

Book Review: H.M.S. Surprise by Patrick O’Brian


I am occasionally criticized for focusing my readings (and writings) too narrowly, and not posting enough reviews of adult novels. Well, here’s an adult novel for you, definitely. There is so much historical research behind these books, they should be required reading for history majors. Like a veritable Sybill Trelawney, O’Brian “channels” the style of speaking, the political situation, the social attitudes, and the intricate details of ship-to-ship warfare in the British Navy of the ... Read More »

Book Review: Post Captain by Patrick O’Brian


This is the second book in the series that began with Master and Commander. It continues to follow the, at times, strained friendship between a brash young Royal Navy officer named Jack Aubrey and the physician, ship’s surgeon, naturalist, and sometime spy named Stephen Maturin. It picks up in 1803, at the end of the short-lived Peace of Amiens that divided Britain’s war against Napoleon in two. As Spain makes up its royal mind whether or ... Read More »

Book Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry


Few books have been recommended to me by more readers, and I guess few books you read this year will provoke as much thought as this multiple-award-winning, futuristic fantasy. Jonas lives in a community that, at first blush, might seem like the ideal future world. No one suffers. There is no war, poverty, or disease. Everyone is kind and courteous, living useful lives in well-adjusted family units. From birth to death, all the stressful decisions ... Read More »

Book Review: The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Selma Lagerlöf


Translated from Swedish by Velma Swanston Howard In 1909, Selma Lagerlöf became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Three years earlier, she wrote this delicious book that weaves true lessons of the history, geography, and wildlife of Sweden into folk tale or fairy tale episodes. It is sometimes exciting, suspenseful, and scary. Other times it is witty or silly. And now and then, it is so wistful and even tragic that ... Read More »

Book Review: Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian


You may have seen the very excellent film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, a curiously titled film, so named because it is loosely based on two different books by the same author. Patrick O’Brian’s long series of naval novels about a British captain in the Napoleonic Wars begins with this book; the one called The Far Side of the World was the tenth of twenty books, all of them centering on the exploits of ... Read More »

Book Review: The Callender Papers by Cynthia Voigt


This “gothic novel for young readers” won the Edgar Allan Poe award and comes from the Newbery-medal-winning author of Dicey’s Song. Set in the late 1800’s, it is the tale of a thirteen-year-old girl, raised by a schoolmistress “Aunt” (who actually isn’t a blood relative) who is hired to spend the summer sorting out the family papers of a cold and forbidding widower named Mr. Thiel at his secluded mansion in the New England countryside. Jean ... Read More »

Book Review: Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce


All right, I’ve finally done it. After 4,322,845 e-mails begging, bribing, threatening, and demanding that I read something by Tamora Pierce and review it for the Book Trolley, I finally took the hint. Now PLEASE don’t say I never listened to you! And pleeeease believe me when I say that I WILL read more books by Tamora Pierce and review them in due time. So please be patient! I would only make this last promise ... Read More »