Book Review: Heart’s Blood by Jane Yolen


This is the middle book of the Pit Dragon Trilogy, that begins with Dragon’s Blood and concludes with A Sending of Dragons. Jakkin has become a free man and a dragon-master in his own right, by a combination of talent and ambitious hard work. In Dragon’s Blood he stole a baby dragon from his master, Sarkkhan, and trained her up to be a promising young pit-fighter named Heart’s Blood. Now he works for his former master but has a barn and ... Read More »

Book Review: Dragon’s Blood by Jane Yolen


This is the first novel in the Pit Dragon Trilogy that continues with Heart’s Blood. The author has also written a Young Merlin Trilogy and a Tartan Magic trilogy, as well as a Starscape book entitled Briar Rose. Picture the planet Austar IV, a dry forbidding world, and at one time a penal colony. One of the things mankind found on this nasty ball of sand and rock was a nearly extinct species–real dragons. And through breeding and training, the species has been ... Read More »

Book Review: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine


Ms. Levine’s first children’s novel is this 1997 Newbery Honor Book, which has recently been made into a movie. (Robbie’s note: Whoops. Don’t go to see the movie after all. It really stinks.) And in a way, it’s nothing new. It’s another version of the classic Cinderella tale, which has been made into countless movies (like Ever After), books (like Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister) and even operas (La Cenerentola by Rossini). But this version has some fascinating twists ... Read More »

Book Review: The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley


Though this book won the 1985 Newbery Medal for excellence in children’s literature, it is a rather grown-up book. I suppose that proves that a book doesn’t have to be about children, or even necessarily written for children, to be enjoyed by young readers. This is a classic example of the “sword and sorcery” type of novel, set in a long-ago legendary land called Damar. There the king’s daughter, flame-haired Aerin, grows up isolated and ... Read More »

Book Review: The Cockatrice Boys by Joan Aiken


The Cockatrice Boys by Joan Aiken From the Wolves series, featuring Dido Twite, I had already come to regard Joan Aiken as a wonderful writer with a flair for colloquial British speech, humor, adventure, and the clash of titanic forces of good and evil. From Diana Wynne Jones’ Deep Secret I had come to regard the Starscape series (penned by a variety of authors) as being possibly the best-kept secret in young-adult fiction. Both of these impressions are confirmed by The Cockatrice Boys, ... Read More »

Book Review: Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson


The author of Ben and Me and illustrator of Mr. Popper’s Penguins won a Newbery Medal in 1945 for both writing and illustrating this story. And in my opinion, it should be a children’s classic. Little Georgie is the youngest child of Mother and Father Rabbit, the last one still living in the hutch. And all in the spring and summer in which he proves to be a nearly-full-grown rabbit, he is the most excited of all the little ... Read More »

Book Review: The Holy Bible by miscellaneous authors


There are several good reasons not to include a review of “the Good Book” on the Book Trolley. First, MuggleNet does not sponsor any particular religion, and my views about the Bible are not necessarily the views of MuggleNet, its webmaster, its editors, or its devoted readers. I’m sure they have no intention of letting this site be used for religious propaganda. Second, it might seem beneath the dignity of the Bible, to those of ... Read More »

Book Review: Sour Land by William H. Armstrong


Sour Land by William H. Armstrong This is a companion book to Sounder, and in my opinion, an even more moving book. Perhaps its power lies in its personal, intimate nature. Unlike Sounder, this book is full of characters with lifelike names. It does not come across as a universal parable—though it may be that—but as a portrait of a handful of very specific, individual people. People who are bound together by loss and by love, by ... Read More »

Book Review: Sounder by William H. Armstrong


Sounder by William H. Armstrong This is a still, gentle story about loss, waiting, and searching, set in the Southern U. S. around the turn of the 20th century. It mostly concerns a family circle–particularly the mother, father, and oldest boy–and their coon dog, Sounder. Touched by tragedy and racial injustice, it puts a high value on hope, on the love of nature, and on the love of words. The story is extremely simple, and ... Read More »

Book Review: Peter Pan and Wendy by J. M. Barrie


Peter Pan and Wendy by J. M. Barrie Written in 1906 to benefit a London children’s hospital, this classic has gone through such a wringer of stage, film, and animated adaptations, not to mention picture-book retellings, that reading or hearing the original text is now somewhat unusual; but not nearly as unusual as the story itself, which is by turns witty and bizarre and melancholy and gruesome, and always narrated in a uniquely teasing way. ... Read More »