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Childrens Book Reviews

Fantastic Fantasy for Summer

Here are some amazing fantasy page-turners for your kids, ages 8 and above, that you or them will want to read and read again and again!  All would be terrific bed-time reading, but warning: your children will not want you to stop!

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Alistair Grim’s Odditorium, by Gregory Funaro, is a magical adventure that takes place in 19th century London and reads with brilliant writing much like J. K. Rowling.  Grubb has been taken advantage of by his foster father who makes him sweep chimneys for no pay.  His life is miserable, especially when the local bullies tease him.  He escapes into a large trunk that ends up at Alistair Grim’s Odditorium.  He begins an exciting new life here full of secret magic which includes a talking pocket watch and multicolored fairies. However, trouble ensues when the location of this Odditorium is discovered by others.  This is the first book in the series.

 

Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures, by Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater, is a short novel that centers on Pip who can talk to magical creatures.  But she is sent to her aunt’s veterinarian clinic for magical animals for the summer because no one would believe that she could actually talk to unicorns and finds many more creatures to talk to.  The black and white illustrations, by Stiefvater, are sprinkled throughout featuring very unusual looking creatures.

 

Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins?, by Liz Kessler, begins with Jessica noticing part of her arm vanishing during school.  Later that night, she decides to see if she can completely vanish.  When she does, she begins searching for other kids who might have these super abilities.  When you discover the secret, and the problems that come with it, you won’t stop reading!

 

By the Grace of Todd and In Todd We Trust, by Louise Galveston, are the first and second books in this clever series.  In the first book, Todd has just discovered an entire tiny civilization amongst his socks in his messy room.  Now these very small people idolize Todd and trust him to protect them.  When he lets a bully in on his secret, his tiny companions are about to lose their kingdom.  Both books are fun, funny and engrossing in their unique premise.  They have a slight resemblance to the classic, “The Borrowers”.

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Pathfinder, (Todhunter Moon), by Angie Sage, begins with Alice TodHunter’s father disappearing while fishing.  Now Alice, who goes by Tod, has to live with her evil aunt.  When she discovers that her aunt is going to get rid of her, she escapes and that’s when she encounters secret passages, magical forests, message rats and more.  This is the first book in a planned series.

 

Mean Margaret, by Tor Siedler, is a reissue and was originally published back in 1997.  Margaret is a belligerent toddler who wails and wreaks havoc everywhere.  When two nice woodchucks decide to take her in, they have trouble keeping her quiet and nice.  With the help of some of their friends, the bats, a snake and a skunk, their love prevails.  There are also delightful ink drawings sprinkled throughout.

 

All the Answers, by Kate Messner, has a very clever premise: a magic pencil that tells answers.  Ava finds an old pencil and begins doodling with it.  But when she writes a question on the margin of a test, the pencil tells her the answer.  Soon she finds that this pencil only gives factual answers and she begins to worry she’s going to lose it as the pencil gets shorter every time she sharpens it.  Eventually, Ava learns that life doesn’t always have all the answers.

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Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel, by Megan Morrison, is the retelling of the classic fairytale.  In this smart and humorous version, Rapunzel is tricked into believing Jack and leaves her high tower and comes down to the ground.  Her life changes dramatically as she travels to foreign lands where magical fairies capture her.  The ingenious writing and adventures that wait for Rapunzel will keep you reading to the very end.

 

A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans, by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder, and illustrated with imaginative etchings throughout by Mary GrandPre, will enthrall you.  The story is told through the eyes of Miss Drake, a dragon.  When her lovely human pet dies, 10-year-old Winnie shows up and begins to warm Miss Drake’s heart.  The story accelerates with excitement when Winnie unknowingly draws creatures and they suddenly come to life.

 

Genuine Sweet, by Faith Harkey, is a sweet story rich in showcasing important life lessons.  Genuine has merited the gift of granting wishes.  Now she can lift herself and her family out of poverty.  However, she learns she can only give out wishes to others, but not to herself.  How she deals with this and what she learns is more valuable than any wish she could ever bestow upon herself.  The story takes place in rural Georgia and reads with a southern lilt making this a perfect read-out-loud.

 

Darkmouth, by Shane Hegarty, and illustrated with creative ink drawings sprinkled throughout by James de la Rue, is an inventive story that takes place in Darkmouth, Ireland where monsters are said to roam. Finn is being forced to follow his father’s footsteps and become a Legend Hunter even though he aspires to become a veterinarian.  But he soon changes his mind about his future when he finds these monsters are about to gain ground in his quiet village.  The second book has recently being published.

 

Anyone But Ivy Pocket, by Caleb Krisp, and illustrated with drawings found throughout by Barbara Cantini, is a story about Ivy who is an orphan and works as a maid.  She is tasked to take a valuable necklace from Paris to a London heiress.  But Ivy soon discovers that this necklace has magical powers and her adventures begin.  The story is told through her point of view.  Ivy’s personality is a bit like Amelia Bedelia and the writing is a bit satirical making this a somewhat humorous read.

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Nightbird, by Alice Hoffman, is a magical story richly told about Twig who isn’t allowed friends or to do much outside her house.  She has an older brother, James, who was born with an old family curse of wings by a witch long ago.  James isn’t supposed to leave the house as well, but he sneaks out late at night and flies over the village.  Now the town believes a monster is lurking.  When neighbors move in next to Twig, her world turns upside down!

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