Newtons Book News

Childrens Book Reviews

The Best Time to Curl Up with a Good Book

Long dark cold nights are a great time to get comfortable by a fire and read a great fiction book. Most of these newly published page-turners are best suited for ages nine and up and many of these would be perfect to read aloud to family members.  The last three books are geared for ages seven to ten.

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Wildwood, by Colin Meloy, and sprinkled with wonderfully drawn pictures throughout by Carson Ellis, is a highly imaginative story and is written with articulate and visceral language that hails back to J. R. R. Tolkien’s style of writing as well as imbuing his embodiment of fantasy. Prue is out on a walk through the park with her little brother when the most unbelievable event happens. He is lifted into the air by a swarm of crows and taken away. She can see that they have headed off toward an unknown wilderness.  She must save him and her quest begins. But not before another boy, Curtis, from her school class sees her heading towards the “Impassible Wilderness” and follows her.  Soon Prue discovers his presence and together they go deeper into woods never before explored.  What awaits them will have you turning pages and not wanting to stop.  What I love about this large book (with over 500 pages) is the wondrous and brilliant writing. The language is eloquent, yet not wordy. The words seem to drip off the page with vibrancy and intelligence. There are evil forces involved and some death occurs, but not with detailed descriptions. Book 2, “Under Wildwood”, was recently published and is as exciting and well written as the first book!

Will Sparrow’s Road, by Karen Cushman, takes place back in 1599 when Elizabethan England is filled with beggars and thieves. Thirteen-year-old Will has just been sold to an innkeeper by his drunken father.  Will soon finds that the innkeeper is just as horrible as his father was, so he runs away. After several calamities with con men and the like, Will eventually ends up in a traveling sideshow of oddities.  Here he encounters people others call freaks.  But Grace, who’s known as the cat-face girl, befriends him and here at last he discovers what’s truly important in life. Ms. Cushman is highly sought after by teachers for her indelible and intense historical research on every historical fiction she writes.

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Goblin Secrets, by William Alexander, recently won the National Book Award.  This mysterious fantasy draws you in on the first page and never lets go until the very end. Young  Rownie escapes a household of mix-and-match hooligans and is attempting to locate his missing brother. Rownie joins a troupe of goblins who put on plays, which is against the law. Every time he puts on a mask to hide his identity, or perform for a goblin play, he begins to realize there’s much more underlying these masks.  The world where he lives is not recognizable as there are many facets of this city that are filled with magic and unusual devices.  This book reads like poetic adventure that is filled with a magnetic wonder on every page.

Anyway *A Story About Me with 138 Footnotes, 27 Exaggerations, and 1 Plate of Spaghetti, by Arthur Salm, tells how shy Max goes to summer camp where he reinvents himself as “Mad Max” and where he becomes daring and even cool. But when he comes back home, he finds that he can’t become someone else with people who already know him. This hilarious and interesting book is enlightening (especially in the many handwritten footnotes) as Max discovers important lesson of life.

Super, by Matthew Cody, is actually the second book in this series, but it’s not necessary to read the first to enjoy this story.  Daniel is surrounded by super-powered friends.  And, as an evil force comes to town, Daniel finds that he can borrow some of his friends’ abilities to help save the day. But does he really need these powers?

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Brixton Brothers: Danger Goes Berserk, by Mac Barnett, along with illustrations sprinkled throughout by Matthew Myers, is another interesting and humorous story in this exciting mystery series. Twelve-year-old Steve Brixton must go deep into the ocean to recover a stolen surfboard. But he soon discovers that there’s much more going on out in this water besides surfboards.

Zac and the Dream Stealers, by Ross Mackenzie, has Zac, and the rest of the world, not sleeping well. He soon discovers that bad dreams are taking up the nice ones by a bad band of dream stealers and Zac will not rest until he finds some way to stop them in their tracks!  The adventure, and the land, Zac finds himself in will have you turning clear to the end!

Just a Dog, by Michael Gerard Bauer, is told through ten-year-old Corey’s eyes as the family dog has many experiences with Corey’s family.  Some of these experiences are funny and some are heartbreaking, each as exhilarating or sad, depending on the small story related within the book. The book is an easy read and rewarding as kids learn that life is full of ups and downs.

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Lulu Walks the Dogs, by Judith Viorst, and wonderfully illustrated by Lane Smith, is a must-read-aloud for all ages to enjoy. Lulu is in need of money as she is saving for something that will take some time to save up for. She decides to walk 3 very difficult dogs and needs help from her annoying neighbor (a boy she doesn’t like much). But as she begins to work with him and the dogs, friendship ensues.  But the way this story is written is so fun and funny!  And you’ll have to read the last page to find out what Lulu is earning money for!

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