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Childrens Book Reviews

My Picks for My Favorite Books from the Past School Year

School is now either over or almost completed.  What better time than to lean against a tall willow and read a great book?  These are books geared for ages nine and older.

Sophia’s War, by Avi, is an astounding story written by one of the best historical fiction writers for kids. It’s 1776 and young Sophia has just witnessed the execution of Nathan Hale and she decides at that moment to help the American effort.  When she becomes a spy in the home of the main British commander, she soon discovers information so important that it could change the course of the war.  History is interwoven in the story making this an important and riveting book that kids will not only thoroughly enjoy, but learn much from.  Be sure to check out the Glossary and Author’s Note found in the appendage.

Of Giants and Ice: The Ever Afters, by Shelby Bach, is an exciting new fantasy series that will keep you on the edge of your seat in order to find out what happens next. Rory soon discovers that the new after-school program is different from anything she has ever seen.  She soon discovers that fairy tales are real and she is part of “characters-in-training” where she soon fights a fire-eating dragon and will be caught up in climbing a bean-stalk to get the giant’s gold. What she finds at the top of the stalk is much more difficult and adventurous than just getting the gold! This fantasy is rich with excitement and is written with absorbing detail that engages the reader in a magical minute!

Freakling, by Lana Krumwiede, has twelve-year-old Taemon living in a city where everyone has a power called psi. This power enables everyone who lives there to move objects with their minds. But Taemon recently lost his power in an accident and now has to live in a “dud farm” where others have no psi.  But what he discovers there will have you turning pages faster than imaginable!  Once you read the first three chapters, you’ll be completely hooked and immersed in the story!

One Year in Coal Harbor, by Polly Horvath, is a blend of many experiences as young Primrose narrates this year in her town in British Columbia. One of the most tender parts is when she befriends a foster boy who recently came to live in a family nearby. There is much to laugh at, but also some tender moments, as Primrose deals with her day-by-day life.  Also, there are some unique recipes that reflect the area that are included at the end of each chapter.

Joshua Dread, by Lee Bacon, is a funny, fast-paced book about young Joshua who has parents who are super-villains.  So, consequently he tries not to be noticed at school. Not even his best friend knows about his parents. But suddenly weird things begin to happen, like pencils exploding in his hand or he suddenly sends bullies into lockers.  What is happening to him?  You’d better give yourself plenty of reading time since you won’t stop reading this book once you begin!  There are great drawings of heroes and villains sprinkled throughout.

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. This large book (with over 500 pages) has wondrous and brilliant writing. Book 2, “Under Wildwood”, continues the adventure.

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 he 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?

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 over 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!

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