Book review: “Escape from Castle Cant”
Book Reviews / September 26, 2013

This book is a sequel to “The Secret of Castle Cant”, which I read many years ago. Like the sequels to many other books I enjoyed, I have had this one on my shelf for so long that I forgot what the original book was about and had to re-read my own review of it to refresh my memory. I understand there is a third book in the series, titled “The Black Arrow of Cant”, published in 2007.

Book review: “The Castle Corona” by Sharon Creech
Book Reviews / September 11, 2013

The first author to win both the Newbery Medal (for “Walk Two Moons”) and the Carnegie Medal (for “Ruby Holler”) here deviates from her general habit of depicting present-day kids in dramatic situations. Instead, she conjures a make-believe kingdom somewhere in medieval Italy, with a king and a queen, a princess and two princes, hermits, peasants, servants, and knights.

Book review: “The Wall and the Wing” by Laura Ruby
Book Reviews / September 9, 2013

The author of “Lily’s Ghosts” brings us a book so funny that it hurts, set in a magical world so weird that it can only be New York City. She doesn’t come right out and name it, though. She describes it as “a vast and sparkling city, a city at the center of the universe.” But it’s also a city that has grown upward because the natural moat around it prevents it from spreading outward; a city with skyscrapers, subways, a Little Italy, a Chinatown, a Radio City Music Hall, a Times Square, and a Brooklyn Bridge.

Book review: “Emma” by Jane Austen
Book Reviews / September 2, 2013

While “Emma” has these qualities, the reader must flap his wings a little more often to keep up the momentum. Perhaps it is only my impression, but the novel seems a bit longer, the dramatic tension a bit less taut, the main heroine a bit less admirable, and the incidents in her journey from bachelorettehood to wedded bliss a bit sparser and more pedestrian than their opposite numbers in S&S and P&P.

Book review: “The Wells Bequest” by Polly Shulman
Book Reviews / August 19, 2013

In a basement room made larger on the inside than it looks on the outside (thanks to a bit of sci-fi know-how), the Bequest is home to the real gadgets, weapons, and vessels of exploration that Wells wrote about. Stuff like the tripods that attacked the Earth in “War of the Worlds”, and the anti-gravity element Cavorite that propelled “The First Men in the Moon”; and not just stuff from Wells’ books, but from other writers such as Jules Verne. How did these amazing things make the jump from imagination to reality?

Book review: “Little People” by Tom Holt
Book Reviews / July 8, 2013

At age eight, Mike Higgins was playing Captain Kirk in his backyard when he spotted a tiny, green-skinned man with pointy ears, leaning against a head of lettuce and smoking a hand-rolled cigarette. “‘Mummy, mummy,’ I yelled out as I ran back into the house. Guess what! There are Vulcans at the bottom of our garden!'”

Book review: “Tales from the Hood” by Michael Buckley
Book Reviews / July 2, 2013

The sixth book in the “Sisters Grimm” series features another “fractured fairy-tale” to delight middle-grade readers. Sabrina and Daphne go through a lot in this installment. While Sabrina finds herself reaching the age where she can’t help worrying about how she looks, Daphne suddenly—and, to Sabrina, irritatingly—takes to imitating her older sister.

Book review: “The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group” by Catherine Jinks
Book Reviews / June 29, 2013

Thirteen-year-old Toby Vandevelde falls asleep in bed one full-moonlit night, and wakes up the next day in an MRI machine. Nobody, least of all Toby himself, can explain how or why he turned up naked in the dingo pen at a suburban Sydney zoo. His mother suspects epilepsy, until a pediatrician rules that out. The only explanation anybody has to offer is one that Toby’s mum considers crazy. Toby doesn’t quite believe it either… but he’s afraid it might be true.