5 Books Featuring…Stuck Overnight Somewhere You’re Not Supposed to Be (or: the longest title ever)

Have you ever found yourself somewhere so amazing, so spectacular that you thought you might like to live there? Or how about ending up somewhere that you actually wouldn’t want to live…but you’re stuck there anyway? Maybe you decide to run away to a museum…or maybe you’re stranded in a school because of a sudden blizzard. Both are problems, but for very different reasons.

Whether they’re there by planned design, or stranded by accident, or just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, today’s 5 Books features kids ending up overnight in a place that’s not designed for overnight living!

Our 5 Books Featuring… is a booklist of five books (occasionally with a few extras) on a specific topic, with a short synopsis so you can decide if it sounds like something you would like to read. Five Books–one old, one new, one popular with kids, one well-reviewed, and one staff favorite. (But you’ll have to guess which is which)! And if there are more than five…well, sometimes it’s hard to narrow some topics down.

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Foreverland by Nicole Kear
Margaret is tired of everything always changing. Middle school has gone from bad to worse. Her best friend is becoming a stranger. And her family–well, it’s not even a family anymore.  So Margaret is running away to Foreverland, her favorite amusement park. Hiding out there is trickier than she expects–until she meets Jaime, a thrill-seeking, fast-thinking runaway who teaches Margaret how to stay one step ahead of the captain of security.  At first, this after-hours, all-access pass to the park is a dream come true: sleepovers in the Haunted House, nonstop junk food, and an unlimited ticket to ride. But as the runaways learn each other’s secrets, they must face the reasons they left their normal lives behind. With the Captain closing in and Jaime’s future on the line, can Margaret finally take control?

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
When Claudia decided to run away, she planned very carefully. She would be gone just long enough to teach her parents a lesson in Claudia appreciation. And she would go in comfort — she would live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She saved her money, and she invited her brother Jamie to go, mostly because he was a miser and would have money.  Claudia was a good organizer and Jamie had some ideas too; so the two took up residence at the museum right on schedule. But once the fun of settling in was over, Claudia had two unexpected problems: She felt just the same and she wanted to feel different; and she found a statue at the Museum so beautiful she could not go home until she discovered its maker, a question that baffled the experts, too.  The former owner of the statue was Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Without her — well, without her, Claudia might never have found a way to go home.

One Mixed-Up Night by Catherine Newman
Two best friends on the run… to IKEA.  Frankie and Walter aren’t really running away. Just like the kids in their favorite book, they are running to somewhere. Specifically, a massive furniture store. They’ve been obsessed with the Ikea catalog for years. So they make a plan, pack their backpacks, give their parents the sleepover switcheroo . . . and they’re in.  One night all on their own, with no grown-ups or little brothers.  One night of couch jumping, pillow forts, delicious meatballs and unlimited soda refills.  One night of surprises and twinkle lights and secrets they have been keeping–and waiting to share.  One unforgettable night in Ikea. Two best friends, from preschool snack time to middle school heartbreak, spending one night at their favorite place on Earth. What could go wrong?

Trapped by Michael Northrop
The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive. . . .
Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last kids at their high school waiting to get picked up the day of the worst nor’easter to hit New England in decades, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn’t seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when their crush Krista and her best friend Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But then they discover mean guy Les; weird Elijah; and one gruff teacher, also in the building. Their cell phones don’t work. Their rides don’t show up. The teacher goes for help and never returns. The power goes off. As hours, then days, pass, the water stops, the heat goes off, and they get increasingly hungry, cold, and scared. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision.

Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson
Strange things have been happening inside the Florida park: parts from one ride are found mysteriously moved to another; in the Fantasmic! show, the dragon inexplicably triumphs over Mickey; little blips in story lines and “offstage” antics by characters trouble managers. Finn Whitman, a middle-schooler, goes to sleep one night and has the dream of a lifetime: he “wakes up” inside Disney World as his DHI character, a glowing hologram. He meets an old man there, Wayne, who claims to be one of the original Imagineers and explains to Finn that he “and your friends” have a mission to save the park from forces that humans can neither see nor hear. Not believing his dream, but not totally discounting it, Finn, back in real life, sets out to find the four other kids who were chosen to be DHIs and in doing so he learns an eerie fact: he is not alone in this “dream.” The others have had similar experiences. What if this is for real? There’s only one way to find out…spend the night at Disney World….

Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Kathleen Rundell
Wilhelmina Silver’s world is golden. Living half-wild on an African farm with her horse, her monkey, and her best friend, every day is beautiful. But when her home is sold and Will is sent away to boarding school in England, the world becomes impossibly difficult. Lions and hyenas are nothing compared to packs of vicious schoolgirls. Where can a girl run to in London?  The only place she feels comfortable is at the zoo, with the animals that seem so familiar to her.  Will to escape into the streets of London, which she navigates with ingenuity and survival skills honed in Africa.Will she have the courage to survive?

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Two of my favorite books about spending the night somewhere that you aren’t supposed to be did not make this list. The first, Secrets of the Shopping Mall by Richard Peck, is no longer owned by any library in Minuteman. If you ever see it through, it would be a fun (if slightly dated!) book to try. It’s about two friends who hide from a gang trying to find them in a shopping mall…only to discover that there’s someone…or something…is already living there. This one is a little more horror than realistic, but it does fit. The other is Help! I’m a Prisoner in the Library! by Eth Clifford, where sisters Mary Rose and Jo-Beth accidentally get locked in a library in the middle of a blizzard. This one is still popular, and it’s definitely a fun read. It’s a little younger than the other books on this list, so it didn’t really fit. It does have the very BEST title though.

So where would you choose to spend the night if you were to be somewhere other than home? The Metropolitan Museum of Art? Ikea? Your school? The London Zoo? An amusement park? Or maybe Disney World? Or maybe you would also enjoy a creepy shopping mall or a cold dark library? What would be the creepiest? The most fun? The place you would never want to leave…

If you need help finding these or any other book in the library, or if you would like some suggestions on other titles to try, just ask one of our librarians. We love helping connect books and readers.

Happy Reading!

Audio and Book Review: The Book of Fatal Errors

So snow…I think our last entry of The Clockwork Crow doomed us to the same eternal snowstorm as those characters endured in that book! Our Talking Tuesday entries have been totally destroyed by that pesky white stuff.

So, to escape, this entry features summer! Not a snowflake in sight…just green grass and bright sunshine and flowery breezes. And, oh, maybe a slight problem with some crazy Fey, a few monsters and a bit of danger. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves…

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The Book of Fatal Errors
by Dashka Slater, Narrated by Kevin R. Free
7 CDs; 8.5 Hours

Rufus doesn’t make mistakes, he makes fatal errors. Fatal errors like the ones that made sixth grade the worst year of his life. And it looks like seventh grade isn’t going to be much better, if he doesn’t keep doing things that put him in the spotlight. But that’s a whole summer away, so he doesn’t have to think about it.

Instead, he’ll concentrate on the place he can always escape to, and the person who will always sympathize. His Grandpa Jack and his house Feylawn have become Rufus’s safe place from fatal errors. Feylawn is a large piece of land, with a house and barn and lots of places to explore, from fox dens to granite standing stones and a creek that winds across it all. For Rufus, it’s always been a little fun, a bit dangerous, and sometimes even inexplicably mysterious–like how it’s so hard to find, even with directions. And how sometimes technology, like cell phones, don’t work. But it’s their family land, and Grandpa Jack always understands what he’s going through. But to Rufus’ dismay, it turns out that refuge could be in jeopardy.

When Grandpa Jack has an accident and has to call Rufus’ father for a ride to the hospital (because the ambulance can’t find Feylawn) Rufus’s dad is furious at his own father. Grandpa Jack excuses his broken arm and burns as Feylawn feeling “cantankerous”. Apparently that means fires are starting in the kitchen and holes are opening under his feet in the barn, sending Grandpa Jack hurtling to the floor below. While his father works to get his grandfather ready to travel, Rufus is told to be quiet and NOT to go into the barn, even though Grandpa Jack was trying to get to a mysterious treasure when he fell.

There’s no way Rufus can resist the pull of treasure, so he just goes out to the barn for a little peek…and he finds the bag Grandpa Jack had mentioned. Unwrapping it, he finds an old time toy steam engine, that looks to be in perfect condition. It’s strange how real the locomotive looks–like it was once people size, and shrunken down to model train size. While Rufus is admiring it, a blue jay lands nearby and tries to grab the bag still partially wrapped around it to fly off with the whole package. Rufus gets it back from the bird, but in the struggle, the tiny train bell chimes, with an echoing, silvery tone. With the sound, Rufus knows something has changed. He is determined to go back and investigate the barn and find out more about the engine.

But the next day, his parents sit him down and explain that Feylawn is dangerous. That Grandpa Jack is too old to take care of everything, and the houses and barn are too neglected to be safe. That Rufus has to find something else to do with his summer…they’re not going to let him waste the whole time puttering around with Grandpa Jack at Feylawn. Rufus is told he needs to find a camp to attend, or something to keep him busy, and he is forbidden to go to Feylawn. But Rufus has to go back at least once, to talk to Granpa Jack and not leave him just wondering what happened. And that’s when Rufus finds out his most recent fatal error–he rang the bell.

Because now he can see that Feylawn is full of Feylings. Little creatures who are causing all the destruction on the property and around Grandpa Jack. Little creatures who are supposed to be immortal, but who are dying because they need to get back home. And Iris, their leader, tells him the way to do that is to restore the rest of the train that Rufus found. But that won’t be easy. Now his parents have decided that not only is Rufus to stay away from Feylawn, they’ve decided that Grandpa Jack isn’t safe there either. They want to sell the property and find him a nice place in town.

No one else can see the Feylings, and no one believes he can. It’s Rufus against his parents and the whole world, without an ally. But when his Aunt Chrissy and cousin Abigail arrive, ostensibly to visit, but really for Aunt Chrissy to help persuade Grandpa Jack to sell Feylawn and move….Rufus discovers that snooty Abigail can also see the Feylings. And she doesn’t believe that he’s only just had his eyes opened.

Soon Rufus and Abigail have formed a reluctant alliance to help Iris and find the rest of the train. It has to be secret, because everyone would think they were crazy if they admitted to seeing Feylings. It’s also dangerous, because it seems like someone…or something…is also looking. They have a time limit looming too, as their parents are determined to sell the land and get Grandpa Jack out. Will Rufus save the day, or make a fatal error? With mysterious giants, bird shape shifters and petulant trolls hindering their progress, the cousins are all the more determined to save the Feylings, Grandpa Jack AND Feylawn!

The audio for The Book of Fatal Errors was quite enjoyable. The narrator did a wonderful job supplying the voices of the characters–from youthful Rufus to scratchy Grandpa Jack to impatient and irritable Iris. (Also the bad guys, but I don’t want to give away who they are here.) The pacing was good, and Rufus seemed to mature not only in the story, but in how the narrator portrayed him by voice. I found myself sitting in the car once I had reached my destination, not willing to turn off the CD.

There are some dangling threads left in The Book of Fatal Errors, so I do hope there will be a sequel. There was a good amount of world-building that shouldn’t go to waste with just one story!

The Book of Fatal Errors would be appropriate for kids in fourth through seventh grade. For listening, it could go younger, although some of the characters might be a little frightening for younger listeners. The relationships between Rufus and his dad, Rufus and Grandpa Jack, and Rufus and his cousin could make for some interesting family discussions. Similarly, Rufus’ “fatal errors” could be a great source of discussion about school and what real friendship is.

Some read-alikes might be The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi, The Books of Elsewhere by Jacqueline West, 13 Treasures by Michelle Harrison and Fablehaven by Brandon Mull.

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So there you go. A summer adventure with lots of time outside and some good sleuthing. (Which wasn’t mentioned, but is a vital part of the story!) In addition, there’s a great-grandmother who wrote books for children, which is not something you see every day. Also, I would love to visit Feylawn. If you check out the map above, I think you would like to as well. Check The Book of Fatal Errors out…I think you’ll like it!

As always, if you need help finding this or any other book at the library, please ask one of our librarians. We’re always happy to help you find your next favorite book!

Happy Reading!

5 Books Featuring…Music (and History)

Whether it’s a musical mystery or a mysterious instrument or a situation that requires a little musical intervention…these five books have musical magic that will leave you wanting to sing (or at least download!) a song. All are full of music, most are set in a rich backdrop of history and some feature a family mystery. Each of these books is a great read, that will satisfy the readers musical cravings.

Our 5 Books Featuring… is a booklist of five books (occasionally with a few extras) on a specific topic, with a short synopsis so you can decide if it sounds like something you would like to read. Five Books–one old, one new, one popular with kids, one well-reviewed, and one staff favorite. (But you’ll have to guess which is which)! And if there are more than five…well, it’s hard to narrow some topics down. 🙂

So here we go…5 Books Featuring…Music!

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The Rising Star of Rusty Nail by Lesley M.M. Blume
Franny Hansen is a piano prodigy living in Rusty Nail, Minnesota. Once the Coot Capitol of the world, in 1953 it’s just a run-of-the-mill town with one traffic light and a bizarre cast of characters. She’s long exhausted the talents of the town’s only piano teacher and seems destined to perform at church events and school assemblies, until a mysterious Russian woman arrives in Rusty Nail. Franny’s neighbors are convinced the “Commie” is a threat to their American way of life, but Franny’s not so sure. Could this stranger be her ticket out of Rusty Nail?  Before she can bargain her way to lessons, Franny must solve the mystery of Olga Malenkof.

Vanished by Sheela Chari
Neela dreams of being a famous musician, performing for admiring crowds on her traditional Indian stringed instrument. Her particular instrument was a gift from her grandmother-intricately carved with a mysterious-looking dragon.  When this special family heirloom vanishes from a local church, strange clues surface: a tea kettle ornamented with a familiar pointy-faced dragon, a threatening note, a connection to a famous dead musician, and even a legendary curse. The clues point all the way to India, where it seems that Neela’s instrument has a long history of vanishing and reappearing. Even if Neela does track it down, will she be able to stop it from disappearing again?

The Sound of Freedom by Kathy Kacer
Anna and her family have only one hope left to escape certain doom.  It’s 1936 and life is becoming dangerous for the Jews of Krakow. As incidents of violence and persecution increase day by day, Anna begs her father to leave Poland, but he insists it’s impossible. How could he give up his position as an acclaimed clarinetist in the Krakow Philharmonic Orchestra?  When Anna and her father barely escape from a group of violent thugs, it becomes clear that the family must leave.  But how? There seems to be only one possibility. Bronislaw Huberman, a world-renowned violinist, is auditioning Jewish musicians for a new orchestra in Palestine. If accepted, they and their families will receive exit visas. Anna and her grandmother boldly write to Huberman asking him to give Anna’s father an audition, but will that be enough to save them?

Searching for Lottie by Susan Ross
A long-lost cousin, a mysterious locket, a visit to Nana Rose in Florida, a diary written in German, and a very special violin all lead twelve-year-old Charlie to the truth about her great-aunt Lottie in this intriguing, intergenerational mystery.  Charlie, a budding violinist, decides to research the life of her great-aunt and namesake for her middle school ancestry project. Everyone in Charlie’s family believes Great-Aunt Charlotte (called Lottie), a violin prodigy, died at the hands of the Nazis, but the more Charlie uncovers about her long-lost relative, the more muddied Great-Aunt Lottie’s story becomes. Could it be that Lottie somehow survived the war by hiding in Hungary? Could she even still be alive today?

Echo by Pamela Munoz Ryan
Lost and alone in a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica.  Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each, in turn, become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. And ultimately, pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their mysterious and suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo. 
Music, magic, mystery and a real-life miracle meld in this virtuosic, genre-defying tour de force from storytelling maestro Pam Munoz Ryan.

Broken Strings by Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer
It’s 2002. In the aftermath of the twin towers — and the death of her beloved grandmother — Shirli Berman is intent on moving forward. The best singer in her junior high, she auditions for the lead role in Fiddler on the Roof, but is crushed to learn that she’s been given the part of the old Jewish mother in the musical rather than the coveted part of the sister. But there is an upside: her “husband” is none other than Ben Morgan, the cutest and most popular boy in the school. 
Deciding to throw herself into the role, she rummages in her grandfather’s attic for some props. There, she discovers an old violin in the corner — strange, since her Zayde has never seemed to like music, never even going to any of her recitals. Showing it to her grandfather unleashes an anger in him she has never seen before, and while she is frightened of what it might mean, Shirli keeps trying to connect with her Zayde and discover the awful reason behind his anger. A long-kept family secret spills out, and Shirli learns the true power of music, both terrible and wonderful.

The Secret life of Ms Finkleman by Ben Winters
Ms. Finkleman is just our boring old music teacher. Or is she?  It all starts with a Special Project in Mr. Melville’s Social Studies class: Solve a mystery in your own life. For seventh grader Bethesda Fielding, one mystery is too tempting to ignore: Ms. Finkleman.  Bethesda is convinced that her mousy Music Fundamentals teacher is hiding a secret life, and she’s determined to find out what it is. But no one is prepared for what she learns. Ms. Finkleman used to be . . . a rock star? Soon the whole school goes rock crazy, and a giant concert is in the works with none other than timid Ms. Finkleman at the helm!  But the case isn’t quite closed, and the questions continue to swirl for Bethesda. Could there be even more to the secret life of Ms. Finkleman than she already revealed? With the help of her rock-obsessed classmate Tenny Boyer, Bethesda won’t stop until she solves the real mystery of Ms. Finkleman once and for all!

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So there you have it. Are your toes tapping? Are you ready to go look for mysterious musical instruments in your home? Do you want to go to a concert, or download a song? Or maybe just find another good book to read. Music, mystery, history…we can help!

If you would like help finding these or any other books, just ask one of our librarians for help. We love matching books with readers!

Happy Reading!

New Books This Week!

Looking for something new to read?

Here are some of the new books we put out on the shelves this week:

Mythology-based Fantasy!
Realistic Fiction set in School!
Animal Stories you’ll love!

All of these books are available on the shelf Right This Minute…but that may not last long! Visit us and pick one up. Or you can put any of these titles on hold, and pick them up later–either by visiting in person or by using our Curbside Pickup.

See you soon!

Audio and Book Review: Lions & Liars

Are you tired of the snow? Ready for some summer fun? Then you’ll love today’s audio book!

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Lions & Liars
by Kate Beasley, Illustrations by Dan Santat

Read by Robbie Daymond
5 CDs, 5 Hours, 41 Minutes

Frederick Frederickson has the kind of life you’d think someone named Frederick Frederickson would have. He’s usually picked in the last batch for sports, he’s not even on the radar of the cool kids, and if there’s a wrong place to be at the wrong time…that’s where you’ll find him. His friend Joel has a theory–some kids are lions, some kids are gazelles. And some kids are the fleas on a meerkat’s butt. Joel think’s Frederick is a flea. Frederick doesn’t agree.

The one thing Frederick feels he has going for him is his annual family vacation. Every year, they go on a 7-day cruise, and Frederick can drink fancy drinks with fruit impaled on little swords and sit by chocolate fountains and just enjoy life. In fact, he’s only a day away from the family cruise trip, so getting his nose flattened by a dodgeball isn’t going to bother him. Except he didn’t count on Hurricane Hernando. And his mother getting worried enough to cancel their trip. But that’s exactly what she does. Frederick has been bragging for weeks about the cruise to his friends! How will he be able to face them knowing that this will be a week of regular school–no drinks, no fountain, with a whole other year before he can go again?

His mother’s idea of a consolation is going to Joel’s birthday party. Well, consolation and dinner…since the family has already cleaned out their cabinets and refrigerator due to thinking they were going to go on a cruise. Frederick would rather sit at home than face Joel and Raj, his other best friend, after the way he has thrown the cruise in their faces, but his mother forces him and his sister Sarah Anne to attend.

Joel is not the type to let it go, and Raj is sticking to his side. They bring Frederick down to the dock, where Joel’s father’s new boat is tied up. Frederick feels like a loser, he doesn’t need Joel rubbing it in. But then Joel goes a step too far, and Frederick snaps. He’s going to PROVE to Joel that he, Frederick Frederickson, is a Lion. He’s not going to be a flea anymore. Frederick gets into the boat, intending to prove to Joel and Raj that he has a great sense of adventure, that he can be as enterprising as the next guy. That he can face life straight on, and operate a stupid little motorboat just fine!

Except the motor falls off the boat. And the anchor line isn’t tied to the anchor. And there are no oars. And before Frederick can jump off and swim to shore, and alligator swims up beside the boat. Frederick Frederickson, despite the best efforts of his friends and his sister, floats downstream.

After a cold and lonely night (with the alligator pacing his free-floating boat) Frederick lands on the beach of a disciplinary camp for troubled boys. Of course, he doesn’t really know this at the time. All he knows is that the counselor who finds him thinks he’s a boy called Dashiel Blackwood. And because he’s tired of being a Frederick, he decides to be Dashiel. A boy he imagines is a real lion. Someone who he can practice on, and see if he can apply some new techniques when he returns to being just Frederick.

Except after the first night, no one–well none of the counselors anyway–believes that Frederick is NOT Dashiel. Some campers are dubious, but Frederick has convinced them all with his lies! But a day of straight lying is harder than Frederick thought, even to be a lion. He wants to go home. Unfortunately, part of life at Camp Omigoshee is to sever connections to the outside world for the duration. There are no phones and no computers–and no way to alert his family that he’s okay. There’s also no way for the counselors to know that there’s a hurricane coming. With Hurricane Hernando headed straight for Camp Omigoshee, can Fred–er, Dash, help his bunk mates Ant Bite, the Professor, Specs and Nosebleed to survive a category five hurricane? Will the boys survive? Are they lions…or fleas?

Lions & Liars is a wonderful book. It’s humorous, but there’s a good deal of truth behind the humor. The characters are maybe slightly exaggerated, but that’s what makes them fun characters! I love all the backstories of the campers. Frederick too. I was a little hard on Joel and Raj, but even they come around in the end. The story covers quite a few topics–friendship, finding yourself, survival and adventure!

The audio of Lions & Liars is funny. Not slapstick funny, but situation-ally funny. The scrapes the boys get into are on point and the way things escalate without control just make it funnier. Even though Frederick is trying his best, his good intentions often cause more trouble than would ever be thought possible. The narrator does a wonderful job of bringing each character to life through their voices, as well as bringing to life their behaviors. Lions & Liars truly sounds like it’s recorded by a full cast, with all the differences between the voices. It’s not surprising that the reader is a professional, and does may other audio titles. I may have to look up more of his work!

Lions & Liars would be a great book for kids in fourth through seventh grades, boys especially. The audio is accessible to kids in third grade and up, and it would be a great discussion book for families. Some similar read-alikes are Holes by Louis Sachar, Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly, 24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling, and Restart by Gordon Korman. The audio is wonderful, but if you listen, make sure to check out the print book too–Dan Santat’s illustrations are hysterical, and add so much to the story.

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So there you have it! A funny book to read, and maybe to share with a family or friend. I’ll tell you a secret–this book wasn’t really on my radar. Last year, a fifth grader told me it was the BEST book he’d ever read, and then his mom told me it was the funniest book their family ever listened to. With a recommendation like that, well, of course I had to read it too! (And now you know–if you tell me about a book you loved, I will find it and read it too…and it might even end up here!)

As always, if you need help finding this or any other book in the library, just ask one of our librarians. We always love to match kids and books! We’re excellent at recommendations too…if you’re looking for something new.

Happy Reading!

Audio & Book Review: The Clockwork Crow

It’s Talking Tuesday! Time for an audio review!

Today’s tale fits the atmosphere outside our windows…cold, frosty and snowing. I’m not sure our snow is connected to magic though. But the snow in this story is…

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The Clockwork Crow
By Catherine Fisher
Narrated by Deryn Edwards
3 CDs, 3.75 hours

Seren Rhys is an orphan. She’s been an orphan all her life, so it’s really all she knows. Except for the past six months, when Great-aunt Grace had found her, and brought her to live in a great house in London. But it only lasted for a little bit, then Great-aunt Grace died, and Seren knew she’d be sent back to the dreary confines of the orphanage.

But it turns out that Great-aunt Grace’s solicitor has found another person who wants Seren. Her unknown godfather, Captain Arthur Jones, who lives in Wales with his wife, Lady Mair, and a son Tomos, who is just her age. Their house even has a name! Plas-y-Fran. It sounds grand. Seren can picture it all: Captain Jones would be mustached, tall and imposing, and Lady Mair is sure to be lovely and kind. And Tomos…well, a boy could be a companion for adventures, or perhaps more like an annoying little brother. Seren would have to wait and see.

The solicitor had handed her a third-class train ticket and left her at the station. Waiting for the train on the platform is cold and dark, and the train is running late. When the station master takes pity on Seren and speaks with her as she stomps around the platform, trying to stay warm, he inadvertently gives her another option. Seren tells the station master she has a first class ticket, and is let into the First Class Lounge, with a fireplace where she can warm up her poor frozen fingers and toes.

Seren is surprised by a tall thin man in the Lounge, and even more surprised at how afraid he seems of something outside…something she hadn’t seen in all her time outside waiting. The tall man begs her to watch his parcel, and not to let Them get it…because he has to go see if They are out there…even if he doesn’t come back. Seren agrees, thinking he will return as soon as he sees no one outside. But he doesn’t. And Seren remembers her promise when the train arrives and the man has still not returned. She grabs the package and takes it with her, to Plas-y-Fran.

But Plas-y-Fran isn’t what she expected. Instead of Captain Jones and Lady Mair, there’s only Mrs. Villiers, the imposing housekeeper and Denzil, the small man who meets her at the train station and who seems to do everything else in the huge, cold house. No one will tell Seren anything, only that the Captain and Lady Mair are in London, and that Tomos is not. The house is forbidding, and Seren can’t see to do anything right to please Mrs. Villiers or Denzil.

When she is confined to her room for impudence towards Mrs. Villiers, Seren opens the parcel and finds gears and levers and feathers. She puts the pieces of the strange puzzle together and discovers it is a crow…a tattered crow made of clockworks. She winds him up, not expecting much, but then he turns to her and demands that she bring him oil. The Clockwork Crow is alive..?

Seren finds that although the Crow is cranky, he is a good source of information. With his help, maybe she can solve the mysteries of Plas-y-Fran. Where is Tomos and what happened to him? Why won’t anyone talk about him? And who are The Family–who everyone seems to talk around while fearing their attention? Are they the same people that the thin man from the train station was afraid of? Do They want the Crow? Do they have anything to do with Tomos?

Seren is determined to solve the mystery and save Tomos.

The Clockwork Crow is a wonderful story, and an even better audio book! While Seren shivers in the cold manor house, you feel like you’re right there beside her. The descriptions are lovely–cold and bleak and silvery. The mystery is creepy, but there are clues all around Seren, she just needs to open her eyes and follow them. The Family becomes more sinister the more Seren finds discovers.

I loved the audio recording of The Clockwork Crow. Deryn Edwards has a voice that is perfectly suited to this British turn-of-the-century mystery. Her narration is sort of everyday Brit, but her accents for each of the characters is wonderful. Mr. Villiers sounds angry and choppy, like the housekeeper in The Sound of Music, while all the characters in Plas-y-Fran have varying Welsh accents. The Crow’s voice is scratchy and always on the brink of exasperation. The other characters are varied enough that even if you heard them out of context, you would know who each one is by voice alone.

The Clockwork Crow clocks in at a mere 179 pages, but each and every page is chock-full of mystery and adventure. The audio book is just under four hours, but the listener will get so sucked into Seren’s world that they will feel like they spent weeks with her and the other characters.

Even through The Clockwork Crow is a relatively short book, it’s still a book that would appeal to readers who enjoy long books. Catherine Fisher is the author of several really good young adult fantasy stories. And…The Clockwork Crow is now a projected trilogy, which I’m excited to see! The second book, The Velvet Fox, should be coming out sometime next year. I would recommend this book to third through seventh grade readers, and the audio would be enjoyed by the whole family…from kindergarten through adult. Some read-alikes are The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken, The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier, The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood, and (for older readers) The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope.

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So if you have a fireplace or a wood stove, grab The Clockwork Crow and a mug of hot chocolate (or tea!) and settle in for a good read. If you’re listening in your car, close your eyes (unless you’re the driver!) and imagine yourself stranded in a spooky old house, on the edge of a frozen lake, in the middle of nowhere, listening to this story unfold.

As always, if you need help finding this or any other book in the Library, just ask one of our librarians for assistance. We love to help match books and readers!

Happy Reading!

Audio Review: Nightbooks!

It’s another Tuesday, so it’s time for another audio review!

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By J. A. White

Narrated by Kirby Heyborne
6 CDs, 7 1/4 Hours

Alex was just sneaking out of his apartment to go down to the basement. It was the middle of the night, but he needed the privacy and quiet–and the boiler–to complete his errand. He didn’t expect the elevator to stop on the fourth floor. He never expected to get off on and follow the sound of his favorite movie in the whole wide world playing inside the apartment there. And he certainly never dreamed that he would knock on the door and go inside.

But he did, and suddenly, instead of burning the three notebooks full of creepy stories he’d written, Alex is stuck in the middle of his own creepy story. Captured by a witch straight out of a storybook. Alex expects to be chopped up and used in a spell, or eaten by the witch, but on his first night as a prisoner, someone outside his door whispers “She likes stories…” Alex is a storyteller, so he goes with his instincts and just before the witch screams at him to stand still and not close his eyes (because she is about to put a dangerous spell on him) he asks her if she wants to hear a story. Luckily, she does.

Alex opens one of his notebooks–his Nightbooks–and reads. It satisfies the cruel witch Natacha, and she decides he has better uses than what she had originally intended. Alex is thrust into her vast library and told to write. He’s a modern-day Scheherazade, and if he can’t come up with a new story to tell her each and every night, well…Natacha will have no use for him.

Yasmin, the girl who whispered to him that first night, is also a captive of the witch, and has been for months. She assures him there’s no way out. She’s tried everything. And it doesn’t matter anyway, because Lenore, Natacha’s enchanted cat, watches their every move. But Alex is determined to escape, and sure that he can find a way. He has some built in time to work, because he has his Nightbooks, full of older creepy stories he’s written over the years. He has a couple weeks to find a way out, and convince Yasmin to join him.

Or does he..?

Nightbooks is a creepy and exciting adventure book, containing several short stories within the story. (Alex’s Nightbook stories are told as each is read to Natacha.) It does get off to a bit of a slow start…I listened to the first disc, not sure if I actually wanted to continue. That might have been a bit because the first few stories Alex tells don’t integrate well into the audio…I kind of wish that they’d used another voice to read them. In the book, they’re visually different, so it’s not as jarring to realize that you’re listening to a character telling a story. Still, if you’re ready for that (and if you’re reading this review, you will be) you will be prepared for the difference in the storytelling.

The narrator is very good. I like Kirby Heyborne’s voice and pacing, and he does a really good job sounding like a couple children caught in a nightmarish situation. He’s also great at portraying Natacha, the easily irritated and casually cruel witch. He is especially scary as a surprise character at the end of the book. After the first disc, the flow caught up with my expectations, and things played out well. Several times I waited in the car after reaching the destination, wanting to know what was going to happen next.

Nightbooks is probably best for slightly older middle readers…fifth through eighth grades. It’s a quick read, and would be especially good for fans of Small Spaces by Katherine Arden, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz, A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz, Sweetly by Jackson Pearce, or any books by Dan Poblocki or R.L. Stine. Best not to listen to it with younger readers though, unless they’re fans of horror.

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If you’re a fan of horror, you’ll like this book. If you like dark witches, you’ll like this book. If you like books that take a fairy tale or two, twist it a bit, and set it in the modern world, you’ll like this book. Try it anyway, and see what you think! And then let me know…

Apparently, Nightbooks has now been optioned as a Netflix project! So if you’re a fan of reading the book first, either in print or by listening to the audio, come check it out at the library. The project sounds like it has a great cast, director and producers, so it’s likely to be a big hit. I know I’ll watch it!

As always, if you need help finding this or any other book in the library, please ask one of our librarians! We love to help you find the next book you’ll love. 😀

Happy Reading!

Booklist — History and Home

Have you ever wished you lived in some other place, or in some other time? Where things are different from what you’re living…where instead of cold yellow grass, waiting to be covered with snow, there’s green plants, sunshine and the smell of the sea. Instead of 2021, it’s 1944, or 1910, or even 1962. Where the atmosphere is rich, family is present, and history is happening.

This list started off as a 5 Books Featuring… segment, but it got out of control with all the additions! And there are so many that could be added. Enjoy the twentieth century in Cuba, Kenya and (mostly) the warmer parts of the United States.

At any rate, here is a short(ish) booklist of titles with a strong sense of place, of history and of family.


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I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosin
Celeste Marconi is a dreamer. She lives peacefully among friends and neighbors and family in the idyllic town of Valparaiso, Chile–until the time comes when even Celeste, with her head in the clouds, can’t deny the political unrest that is sweeping through the country. Warships are spotted in the harbor and schoolmates disappear from class without a word. Celeste doesn’t quite know what is happening, but one thing is clear: no one is safe, not anymore. The country has been taken over by a government that declares artists, protestors, and anyone who helps the needy to be considered “subversive” and dangerous to Chile’s future. So Celeste’s parents–her educated, generous, kind parents–must go into hiding before they, too, “disappear.” To protect their daughter, they send her to America. As Celeste adapts to her new life in Maine, she never stops dreaming of Chile. But even after democracy is restored to her home country, questions remain: Will her parents reemerge from hiding? Will she ever be truly safe again?

Precious Bones by Mika Ashley-Hollinger
Meet Bones, whose playground is the Florida swamps, brimming with black bears, alligators and bobcats. Bones’ father, Nolay, a Miccosukee Indian, is smart and mischievous. Her Mama, practical as corn bread, can see straight into Bones’ soul. It’s summer, and Bones is busy hunting and fishing with her best friend, Little Man. Now that the war is over, things look better for most swamp families. But then two Yankee real estate agents trespass on her family’s land, and Nolay scares them off with his gun. When a storm blows in and Bones and Little Man uncover something horrible at the edge of the Loo-chee swamp, the evidence of foul play points to Nolay. The only person that can help Nolay is Sheriff LeRoy, who’s as slow as pond water. Bones is determined to take matters into her own hands. If it takes a miracle, then a miracle is what she will deliver.

Orange for the Sunsets by Tina Athaid
Asha and her best friend, Yesofu, never cared about the differences between them: Indian. African. Girl. Boy. Short. Tall. But when Idi Amin announces that Indians have ninety days to leave the country, suddenly those differences are the only things that people in Entebbe can see–not the shared after-school samosas or Asha cheering for Yesofu at every cricket game. Determined for her life to stay the same, Asha clings to her world tighter than ever before. But Yesofu is torn, pulled between his friends, his family, and a promise of a better future. Now as neighbors leave and soldiers line the streets, the two friends find that nothing seems sure–not even their friendship. Tensions between Indians and Africans intensify and the deadline to leave is fast approaching. Could the bravest thing of all be to let each other go?

Letters from Cuba by Ruth Behar
Esther is in Cuba…a place where she relishes the sunshine, wearing sandals for the first time, and enjoys the beautiful language and music of the island. But the situation is getting dire for Jews in Poland on the eve of World War II. Esther’s father has fled to Cuba, and she is the first one to join him. It’s heartbreaking to be separated from her beloved sister, so Esther promises to write down everything that happens until they’re reunited. And she does, recording both the good–the kindness of the Cuban people and her discovery of a valuable hidden talent–and the bad: the fact that Nazism has found a foothold even in Cuba. Esther’s evocative letters are full of her appreciation for life and reveal a resourceful, determined girl with a rare ability to bring people together, all the while striving to get the rest of their family out of Poland before it’s too late.

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional,Dead End in Norveltis a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is “grounded for life” by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets. But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack’s way once his mom loans him out to help a feisty old neighbor with a most unusual chore–typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launched on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels . . . and possibly murder. Endlessly surprising, this sly, sharp-edged narrative is the author at his very best, making readers laugh out loud at the most unexpected things in a dead-funny depiction of growing up in a slightly off-kilter place where the past is present, the present is confusing, and the future is completely up in the air.

Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
World War II has come to Patty Bergen’s hometown of Jenkinsville, Arkansas, in the form of a German prisoner of war camp. Patty, a twelve-year-old Jewish girl, is curious about these Nazi soldiers, who must be monsters for the killing they have done. She is also lonely and awkward, and looking for a friend. Anton, a German soldier, is not the monster that Patty imagined, but a frightened young man with feelings not unlike her own. He sees Patty in a way no one else does, as “a person of value.” When she decides to help him escape from the camp, the consequences will change Patty’s life forever. This thought-provoking, emotional narrative tackles difficult issues with insight and courage.

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
It’s 1947, and India, newly independent of British rule, has been separated into two countries–Pakistan and India. The divide has created much tension between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders. Half-Muslim and half-Hindu, Nisha doesn’t know where she belongs, or what her country is anymore. When Papa decides it’s too dangerous to stay in what is now Pakistan, Nisha and her family become refugees and embark first by train but later on foot to reach her new home. The journey is long, difficult, and dangerous; after losing her mother as a baby, Nisha can’t imagine losing her homeland, too. But even if her country has been ripped apart, Nisha still believes in the possibility of putting herself back together. Told through Nisha’s letters to her mother, this is a heartfelt story of one girl’s search for home, for her own identity…and for a hopeful future.

Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm
Grown-ups lie. That’s one truth Beans knows for sure. He and his gang know how to spot a whopper a mile away, because they are the savviest bunch of barefoot conchs (that means “locals”) in all of Key West. Not that Beans really minds; it’s 1934, the middle of the Great Depression. With no jobs on the island, and no money anywhere, who can really blame the grown-ups for telling a few tales? Besides, Beans isn’t anyone’s fool. In fact, he has plans. Big plans. And the consequences might surprise even Beans himself. The companion book to Turtle in Paradise, this book will leave you wanting both a cousin like Beans and a visit to Key West. Try all of Jennifer Holm’s books! They’re set all over the US, and they all have a very strong sense of place and characters.

Turtle In Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm
Turtle is smart and tough and has seen enough of the world not to expect a Hollywood ending. After all, it’s 1935 and jobs and money and sometimes even dreams are scarce. So when Turtle’s mama gets a job housekeeping for a lady who doesn’t like kids, Turtle says goodbye without a tear and heads off to Key West, Florida to live with relatives she’s never met. Florida’s like nothing Turtle’s ever seen before though. It’s hot and strange, full of rag tag boy cousins, family secrets, scams, and even buried pirate treasure! Before she knows what’s happened, Turtle finds herself coming out of the shell she’s spent her life building, and as she does, her world opens up in the most unexpected ways. Full of a sense of Florida in the depression, this will make you long for heat and sunshine.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
Calpurnia Virginia Tate is eleven years old when she wonders why the yellow grasshoppers in her Texas backyard are so much bigger than the green ones.With a little help from her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist, she figures out that the green grasshoppers are easier to see against the yellow grass, so they are eaten before they can get any larger. As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the dangers of living with six brothers, and comes up against just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century. Dusty Texas comes to life in this story set in a small town inhabited by people full of character.

The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye
Aref Al-Amri does not want to leave Oman. He does not want to leave his elementary school, his friends, or his beloved grandfather, Siddi. He does not want to live in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where his parents will go to graduate school. His mother is desperate for him to pack his suitcase, but he refuses. Finally, she calls Siddi for help. But rather than pack, Aref and Siddi go on a series of adventures. They visit the camp of a thousand stars deep in the desert, they sleep on Siddi’s roof, they fish in the Gulf of Oman and dream about going to India, and they travel to the nature reserve to watch the sea turtles. At each stop, Siddi finds a small stone that he later slips into Aref’s suitcase–mementos of home.

Auma’s Long Run by Eucabeth Odhiambo
Auma loves to run. In her small Kenyan village, she’s a track star with big dreams. A track scholarship could allow her to attend high school and maybe even become a doctor. But a strange new sickness called AIDS is ravaging the village, and when her father becomes ill, Auma’s family needs her help at home. Soon more people are getting sick–even dying–and no one knows why. Now Auma faces a difficult choice. Should she stay to support her struggling family or leave to pursue her own future? Auma knows her family is depending on her, but leaving might be the only way to find the answers to questions about this new disease. Set in the 1990s in Kenya, this is a gripping story about a girl with a deep sense of purpose.

How High the Moon by Karyn Parsons
In the small town of Alcolu, South Carolina in 1944, Ella spends her days fishing and running around with her best friend Henry and cousin Myrna. But life is not always so sunny for Ella, who gets bullied for her light skin tone and whose mother is away pursuing a jazz singer dream in Boston. So Ella is ecstatic when her mother invites her to visit for Christmas. Little does she expect the truths she will discover about her mother, the father she never knew and her family’s most unlikely history. And after a life-changing month, she returns South and is shocked by the news that her schoolmate George has been arrested for the murder of two local white girls. Bittersweet and eye-opening, Ella is a girl finding herself in a world all but determined to hold her down.

A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck
What happens when Joey and his sister, Mary Alice–two city slickers from Chicago–make their annual summer visits to Grandma Dowdel’s seemingly sleepy Illinois town?
August 1929: They see their first corpse, and he isn’t resting easy.
August 1930: The Cowgill boys terrorize the town, and Grandma fights back.
August 1931: Joey and Mary Alice help Grandma trespass, poach, catch the sheriff in his underwear, and feed the hungry
all in one day.
Together, Joey and Mary Alice have nine summers they’ll never forget in a small town that really isn’t as sleepy as it first seems.

Night of the Howling Dogs by Graham Salisbury
Dylan’s scout troop goes camping in Halape, a remote spot below the volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. The only thing wrong with the weekend on a beautiful, peaceful beach is Louie, a tough older boy. Louie and Dylan just can’t get along. But an earthquake rocks the camp halfway through the trip, and then a wave rushes in, sweeping everyone and everything before it. Dylan and Louie must team up on a dangerous rescue mission. The next hours are an amazing story of survival and the true meaning of leadership and family. Hawaii beauty and danger come to life in this tale, complete with a volcanic eruption, and earthquake and a tidal wave.

Under the Blood-Red Sun by Graham Salisbury
Tomi was born in Hawaii. His grandfather and parents were born in Japan, and came to America to escape poverty. World War II seems far away from Tomi and his friends, who are too busy playing ball on their eighth-grade team, the Rats. But then Pearl Harbor is attacked by the Japanese, and the United States declares war on Japan. Japanese men are rounded up, and Tomi’s father and grandfather are arrested. As WWII intensifies and Pearl Harbor is bombed, Tomi’s family faces racism, violence and hardship at every turn. Tomi’s father and grandfather are taken away, leaving Tomi to worry if he can perform honorably as man of the house.It’s a terrifying time to be Japanese in America. But one thing doesn’t change: the loyalty of Tomi’s buddies, the Rats.

Terrible, Horrible Edie by E. C. Spykman
EVEN IF she has lived ten terrible years, terrible, horrible Edie really isn’t terrible and horrible at all, but rather charming and engaging and gutsy. It’s true of course that Edie does get into–and not always without it being at least a little bit her fault–some pretty terrible and horrible scrapes, and that sometimes she will sulk, but these are the kinds of things that happen to the kid sister of two snooty boys and one fancy-pants girl, not to mention having to deal with the distraction of two half sisters who are no better than babies. It’s 1910, and Edie’s father and stepmother have headed to Europe for the summer, and though the rest of the family can look forward to good times at a beloved summer house on the sea, Edie still has to fight to hold her own. Adventures on a sailboat and on an island, and the advent of a major hurricane and what Edie takes to be a military coup, all come to a climax when Edie solves the mystery of who stole the neighbor’s jewels and saves, at least for one day, the day.

Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan
Left an orphan after the influenza epidemic in British East Africa in 1918, Rachel is tricked into assuming a deceased neighbor’s identity to travel to England, where she’s forced into posing as the deceased daughter of a nefarious couple in an effort to gain them an enormous inheritance. Her irrepressible spirit and extraordinary wit turn her from victim to heroine in a surprising and empowering tale of a remarkable young woman. Even through she faces tragedy and deception, her only dream is to return to Africa and rebuild her parents’ mission hospital. Will she and triumph against everything she faces?

Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk
After losing almost everything in the Great Depression, Ellie’s family is forced to leave their home in town and start over in the untamed wilderness of nearby Echo Mountain. Ellie has found a welcome freedom, and a love of the natural world, in her new life on the mountain. But there is little joy after a terrible accident leaves her father in a coma. An accident unfairly blamed on Ellie. Ellie is a girl who takes matters into her own hands, and determined to help her father she will make her way to the top of the mountain in search of the healing secrets of a woman known only as “the hag.” But the hag, and the mountain, still have many untold stories left to reveal. Read all of Lauren Wolk’s books…they all fit this list!

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So there you have it…almost twenty books with a rich (and mostly warm) setting and a kid (or two) with history happening all around them. How many of these places would you like to visit? What kind of person would you be in these times? How many of these books will you read? If you can think of other books you would include, let us know in the comments below!

Immerse yourself in one of these books this winter and see what life is like in another (warm!) place and time. (Can you tell that I’m tired of the temperature in January?)

As always, if you would like help finding these or any other books, ask one of our librarians. We’re here to help! And if you would like other suggestions, we do that too!

Happy Reading!

Audio Book: Lintang and the Pirate Queen

This dreary time of year is a great time to listen to a great audio book! The descriptions can transport you to a place that’s warmer, sunnier and FAR more adventurous than New England in January. So grab your headphones and get ready to hear all about Lintang, her best friend Bayani, dangerous Mythies, stolen treasure and…pirates!

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Lintang and the Pirate Queen
by Tamara Moss, narrated by Catherine Ho
7 CDs, 7.75 Hours

She’s Lintang of Desa, village on the island of Tolus, daughter of Aanjay and Arif, child of Nyasamdra. It’s a mouthful of introduction for an island girl. But it’s an announcement that she’s practiced over and over. It’s one of the ways that will get her off the island and into a life of adventure!

Lintang longs for adventure. She doesn’t fit in with the other children of her island community, and even her best friend Bayani is more likely to try to prevent her from having a dangerous adventure than he is to join her. But Lintang is persistent, and sometimes she can get Bayani to practice sword fighting or help her get out of trouble. Because she gets into a lot of trouble. And not always on purpose.

It’s not like she meant to burn her mother’s pantry…it’s just that circumstances (and a pixie) made her good intentions turn into a disaster. And when her solution to helping restore the supplies for her mother causes her and Bayani to be stalked by a dangerous mythie called a malam rasha that eats human organs…well, it’s a good thing that she’s resourceful. Lintang and Bayani escape the malam rasha, with only a little unexpected assistance. Lintang is a known storyteller though, so no one believes her when she tries to warn the rest of the islanders about the dangerous mythie, or the mysterious stranger who helped her. Lintang just gets in more trouble when she tries to tell everyone what happened. No one even believes Bayani!

So Lintang isn’t in the best position with the villagers or her mother when Captain Shafira, the Pirate Queen, shows up on the island. She’s looking for a girl to take on board her ship to help her leave the islands. Lintang is surprised and delighted when the Captain believes their tale of the malam rasha, and admits to being the person who assisted them. Even more amazing, when the monster attacks the village, Captain Shafira asks Lintang to help come up with a plan to capture it. When the malam rasha is finally defeated, as a reward the Captain decides to take Lintang with her.

Lintang’s mother is not pleased, even though she had threatened to send Lintang to a mining camp after the pantry incident. In desperation, she begs the Captain to let her keep Lintang at home, on the island. The Captain gives up a wondrous treasure as a promise to bring Lintang back, unharmed.

So Lintang is off on an adventure as part of the pirate crew onboard the Winda with her hero, Captain Shafira. Only things don’t exactly go according to Lintang’s plan. First, Bayani stows away on board the ship, with a secret mission he won’t share with Lintang. Then Lintang’s inability to follow orders, even orders from her beloved Captain Shafira, get her into more trouble. She’s demoted to cabin girl, the position with the least respect on the ship.

Can Lintang overcome her own instincts and learn how to be part of a team? Can she do something, anything, that will impress the Captain and get her back into her good graces? Will Bayani be able to fulfill his secret mission? Once that mission comes to light, will Lintang be able to help him, or will she lose him? And then there’s the mythies. What is the mystery behind their existance?

Lintang is on the first step of an adventure that will change not only her life, but the lives of everyone she knows.

The audio book for Lintang and the Pirate Queen is extremely satisfying to listen to. The narration is clear and crisp. There is enough variation in pacing and diction to know who is speaking at any time. The tone of the narrator and the pacing of the storytelling is easy to follow, and in some spots, leaves the listener on the edge of their seat. And the story is great!

I loved all the supporting characters, but I have to say, I thought Lintang herself was a bit self-centered. There were clues all around her that Bayani was struggling with something serious, but she didn’t even notice, preferring to sulk or worry about her own, less difficult problems. But I guess that’s what happens when you have an adult’s point of view. Kids might not notice, or might just think that it’s normal. But still…it’s worth mentioning.

I loved Captain Shafira and Bayani and Xiang, and also some of the lesser used characters like Avalon, Farah the clamshell and her daughter Dee, Pelita, and even the disagreeable Yamini. I want to know all their what brought them to be pirates, their motivation, and their stories. One of my favorite things about fantasy worlds is when the reader wants to know more, or they want to know the backstory of every major and minor character. Lintang and the Pirate Queen gives you that.

Lintang and the Pirate Queen was left wide open for a sequel. I hope we get another look at the Twin Islands and the rest of Lintang’s world. (I looked it up online, and apparently two other books about Lintang have been published in Australia. Hopefully, we’ll get them here as well!)

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So there you have it…a new audio adventure, with pirates, and mythical creatures, and swords and action and intrigue.

This book is probably best for fourth through seventh grade readers. The audio book will appeal to readers of all ages, although some suspenseful scenes might make it difficult for first grade and under. The mythology and adventure will make it appealing to older fans of Percy Jackson.

Some read-alikes include Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson, Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi, The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes and The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell.

Will you read it? Or listen? Let me know!

As always, if you need help finding these books, or anything else in the library, please ask one of our librarians. We love helping to share good books!

Happy Reading!

5 Books Featuring…Winter Adventures!

Get ready for winter!

I don’t know when or if we’ll have snow in December, but it’s time to start thinking snow. So let’s start with a snow-filled adventure. The books on this list are winter adventures…but with a sprinkling of the fantastic! Maybe a dash of scifi, or a pinch of magic, or even the twist of a fairy tale. These adventures will chill you to the bone–and warm your heart.

Our Five Books feature is a booklist of five books (occasionally with a few extras) on a specific topic, with a short synopsis so you can decide if it sounds like something you would like to read. Five Books–One Old, one New, one Popular with Kids, one Well-Reviewed, and one Favorite. (But you’ll have to guess which is which)! And if there are more than five…it’s anyone’s guess why they’re all there! (mostly it’s because I keep thinking “but I can’t leave this one off!”…)

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The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
Wicked wolves and a grim governess threaten Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia when Bonnie’s parents leave Willoughby Chase for a sea voyage. Left in the care of the cruel Miss Slighcarp, the girls can hardly believe what is happening to their once happy home. The servants are dismissed, the furniture is sold, and Bonnie and Sylvia are sent to a prison-like orphan school. It seems as if the endless hours of drudgery will never cease. With the help of Simon the gooseboy and his flock, they escape. But how will they ever get Willoughby Chase free from the clutches of the evil Miss Slighcarp?

The Way Past Winter by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Mila lives with her sisters, Pipa and Sanna, her brother Oskar, and their sled dogs in a small cottage in a frozen forest. In their world, winter has held sway for five years, ever since their father disappeared. When a mysterious man and twelve boys show up on her doorstep, Mila and her family grant them shelter for the night. But in the morning, the man is gone–and he’s taken Oskar with them. Determined to save their brother, Mila and her sisters set out on a mission to rescue him. But challenges await them at every turn: wolves with the speed of demons, tempestuous gold, an untrustworthy mage–and always the relentless, stinging freeze of winter.

Winterfrost by Michelle Houts
Christmas has come, and with it a sparkling white winterfrost over the Danish countryside. But Bettina’s parents have been called away unexpectedly, leaving her in charge of the house, the farm, and baby Pia. In all the confusion, Bettina’s family neglects to set out the traditional bowl of Christmas rice pudding for the tiny nisse who are rumored to look after the family and their livestock. No one besides her grandfather ever believed the nisse were real, so what harm could there be in forgetting this silly custom? But when baby Pia disappears during a nap, the magic of the nisse makes itself known. To find her sister and set things right, Bettina must venture into the miniature world of these usually helpful, but sometimes mischievous folk.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
Four adventurous siblings–Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie–step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. Can these siblings band together with the good citizens of Narnia and defeat the Witch? But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.

Greenglass House by Kate Milford
It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and Milo, the innkeepers’ son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House–and themselves.

Tomorrow’s Magic by Pamela Service
It’s 500 years after the nuclear holocaust that devastated the earth’s population and left the few survivors dealing with unending winter. At their remote British boarding school, Wellington Jones and Heather McKenna have a lot in common. Both are misfits trying to avoid attention, and both are fascinated by Earl, a tall, calm, older boy with no recollection of his past, but a remarkable knack for showing up when he is needed most. When a blow to the head brings Earl’s memory back, he claims that he is actually Merlin . . . a 2000-year-old wizard. If this is true, does he have the secret to restoring the world? Can Welly and Heather help him?

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. But that was before he stopped talking to her, before he was snatched away by an evil woman in a sleigh and carried away into a strange magical world where snow and cold abound-a place where his new frozen emotions seem perfectly at home. Now it’s up to Hazel to go in after him and bring him home…if she can.

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And there you have it. Five (okay, seven) stories where endless winter must be defeated, and someone must be rescued. These would be a perfect read for a gloomy day near a warm fire, or a day when the sun is shining off a sparkling blanket of white outside your window. Or even an ordinary day like today! Try one, or two, or more…and find out. 😀

If you need any help finding these–or any other book in the library–just ask one of our librarians for assistance. We’re always happy to help you find the book you want!

Happy Reading!