Audio & Book Review: The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

A great new family for readers of middle grade fiction!

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vanderbeekersThe Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
by Karina Yan Glaser, narrated by Robin Miles
5 CDs, 5.5 hours

The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st Street.  Twins Jessie and Isa are the oldest, and as different from each other as possible–Jessie is scientific and practical, Isa is musical and quiet.  Oliver is the only boy, something that can be a trial, coming in the middle of four sisters.  Hyacinth loves animals and making crafts.  And Laney, the youngest is imaginative and active.  She has to be, to keep up with the others!  They have a dog named Franz, a cat named George Washington, and a house rabbit named Paganini.  And they love their home…from the basement to the rooftop.  The only drawback is that the Beiderman, their landlord, lives on the top floor.  He’s grouchy and doesn’t like kids.  Or so they’ve heard…they’ve actually never seen him.  He just calls their parents to complain.  Luckily, the Vanderbeeker kids have learned how to get along with his demands…and it’s not like he’s right above them.  Their apartment and his are divided by the second floor apartment, where Miss Josie and Mr. Jeet live.

So it comes as a total shock when their parents tell them that Mr. Beiderman has decided not to renew their lease…and they have only eleven days to pack up and find a place to live.  What makes it worse is that it’s only four and a half days until Christmas; who can think of presents and holiday spirit when they may lose their home?

The Vanderbeeker children decide that there’s only one course of action–to make the Beiderman realize that they’re the perfect family for 141st Street.  If they can make him love them, then he won’t ask them to leave!  Thus begins the secret (because they don’t want their parents to get caught in the middle) plan to overwhelm the Beiderman with kindness and crafts and cooking and music and anything else they can think of that may make him change his mind. Will it work?  As each of their well-intentioned plans go wrong, the kids despair.  They only have eleven days and counting to make the Beiderman realize how wonderful they are…

vanderbeekers audioThe audio recording for The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street is perfect!  The narrator, Robin Miles, has a wonderful voice for both children and adults.  She does a great job creating the voices of people of many different ages from a variety of cultures with accents and cadence.  And each of the Vanderbeeker children sounds different as well, which isn’t always easy to do.

I would highly recommend The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, as both a book and an audio recording.  Fans of The Penderwicks, the Melendys, and The Moffats will love these siblings just as much.  The kids run from age 4 though age 13, so the book is probably best for third through fifth grade.  The audio could be enjoyed by all ages…parents will probably appreciate the Vanderbeeker children and their desperate quest to save their home just as much as their kids do.

Some similar stories (besides the ones listed above) to read or listen to if you liked The Vanderbeekers:
Magic by the Lake by Edward Eager
Savvy by Ingrid Law
The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry
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So if you’re looking for a family story with siblings you’d like to have, look no further than the Vanderbeekers!

If you would like help finding this book or getting any suggestions for other books to read, just ask one of our librarians.  We love to help people find books!

Happy Reading!
::Kelly::

 

 

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Five Books Featuring…Four Sisters!

Little Women, Louisa May Alcott’s classic story featuring sister Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March has been back in the news these days.  There’s a new PBS series retelling of the classic story, as well as a new web comic featuring a modernized version of the sisters.  But either way, this classic story taking place in nearby Concord Massachusetts, has remained in the public eye since it was first published in 1868 and 1869.  Did you know it was originally published as two volumes…not one book?

At any rate, there are other books featuring four sisters that have been published in the 150 years since the world met Jo and her sisters.  Coming from one of four sisters myself (and my grandmother was also one of four sisters too!) I’ve read all of them.  So here is a new Five Books Featuring Four Sisters!

In case you don’t remember, our 5 Books Featuring are five related Books–One Old, One New, One Popular with Kids, One Well-Reviewed, and One Favorite of library staff–but you’ll have to guess which is which! Each book has a short synopsis and link to the book in the catalog, so you can easily find and request it.

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The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall
This summer the Penderwick sisters-Rosalind, Skye,  Jane and Batty–have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate in western Massachusetts called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel’s sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in the whole state. But the best discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures.
The icy-hearted Mrs. Tifton is not as pleased with the Penderwicks as Jeffrey is, though, and warns the new friends to stay out of trouble. Which, of course, they will–won’t they? One thing’s for sure: it will be a summer the Penderwicks will never forget.
The Penderwick sisters’ adventures continue in The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, The Pederwicks at Point Mouette, and The Penderwicks in Spring, with the final volume–The Penderwicks at Last coming out in just a few days!

 

The Rules for Stealing Stars by Corey Ann Haydu
Silly is used to feeling left out. Her three older sisters–Eleanor, Astrid and Marla–think she’s too little for most things–especially when it comes to dealing with their mother’s unpredictable moods and outbursts. This summer, Silly feels more alone than ever when her sisters keep whispering and sneaking away to their rooms together, returning with signs that something mysterious is afoot: sporting sunburned cheeks smudged with glitter and gold hair that looks like tinsel.
When Silly is brought into her sisters’ world, the truth is more exciting than she ever imagined. The sisters have discovered a magical place that gives them what they truly need: an escape from the complications of their home life. But there are dark truths there, too. Silly hopes the magic will be the secret to saving their family, but she’s soon forced to wonder if it could tear them apart.
A sister story with a twist of magic, a swirl of darkness, and a whole lot of hope.

 

The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones
There’s been an accident!  The girl doesn’t know who she is, and doesn’t know why she’s invisibly floating through the buildings and grounds of a half-remembered boy’s boarding school.
With a little invisible detective work, she decides that she must be the ghost of one of four strange sisters–Cart, Imogen, Sally or Fenella–whose parents run the boarding house at the school.  Is she a ghost though, or is she a time traveler?  It all seems to have something to do with Monigan, the goddess Cart made up a year before. 
The unnamed, bodiless narrator follows the sisters around, trying to discover which one she is, and finds more questions than answers.  What does the Worship of Monigan–a funny game Cart, the oldest sister, made up that has sinister undertones–have to do with her present condition? How is she ever going to get back to her body? And how can she warn the girls about the terrible accident that’s coming?
It took far too long before everyone realized that Monigan was a real goddess, terrible and threatening, and that the ghost was somehow in her power. And it took a sacrifice from everyone before the ghost could discover who she was. But saving her from Monigan would be even more difficult.

Slightly creepier than most of Diana Wynne Jones’ lighthearted, magical books, this one is in the teen collection, but well worth the read!

 

exiles 2The Exiles by Hilary McKay
The four Conroy sisters–Ruth, Naomi, Rachel and Phoebe–knew that they were faced with another boring summer when school ended in a week.  They were quite unprepared for the horrid truth–they were being sent to spend the entire summer with the intimidating Big Grandma at the seaside.
Big Grandma, who is larger than life; she’s tall and eats a lot. She barks orders like a drill sergeant and has dog food in the kitchen (even though she has no dog). She believes the girls are lazy and in need of fresh air and hard work. Big Grandma, who tries to break them of their reading habit by forbidding books.  After the girls have read everything available, including the two books apiece they were allowed to bring and all of Big Grandma’s cookbooks, they set out in search of…alternative entertainment.  If Big Grandma thought she could reform her wayward granddaughters, she was sadly mistaken!  Read the other adventures of the Conroy sisters as well–The Exiles at Home and The Exiles in Love.

 

flutterFlutter: The Story of Four Sisters and an Incredible Journey by Erin Moulton
Maple lives high in the mountains at the end of a dirt road near Canton Creek.  Big things are about to happen at Maple’s house. Mama’s going to have a baby, which means now there will be four Rittle sisters instead of just Dawn, Maple and Beetle.  But when baby Lily is born too early and can’t come home from the hospital, Maple knows it’s up to her to save her sister. So she and Dawn, armed with a map and some leftover dinner, head off down a river and up a mountain to find the Wise Woman who can grant miracles. Now it’s not only Lily’s survival that they have to worry about, but also their own. From the hazards of a raging river to a encounters with a black bear, and poachers, the dangers that Maple and Dawn encounter on their journey makes them realize a thing or two about miracles-and about each other.  A survival story featuring family love, adventure and a touch of magic.


And one extra book featuring just one sister too many:
all of a kind familyAll-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
Meet the All-of-a-Kind Family — Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, and Gertie — who live with their parents in New York City.  It’s the turn of the century in New York’s Lower East Side and a sense of adventure and excitement abounds for five sisters. Follow along as they search for hidden buttons while dusting Mama’s front parlor, or explore the basement warehouse of Papa’s peddler’s shop on rainy days. The five girls enjoy doing everything together, especially when it involves holidays and surprises.  But no one could have prepared them for the biggest surprise of all!  Read more about these sisters in the other All-of-a-Kind titles: More All of a Kind Family, All of a Kind Family Uptown, All of a Kind Family Downtown, and Ella of All of a Kind Family.

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In case you’d like the links to the two versions of Little Women mentioned above, here they are:

The PBS version of Little Women, which will premier in May 2018.

The graphic novel, modernized version of Little Women, available online now.  This serialized version started in March of 2018.

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So if you’re as crazy about novels featuring four sisters as I am, check out these titles.  Even if you don’t have three sisters, you’ll love them!  And, as always, if you need help finding these or any other books at the Library, just ask one of our librarians.  We’re happy to help!

Happy Reading!
::Kelly::

four sisters.jpg

 

 

Audio and Book Review: The Magesterium

If you have the time, listening to series is fun!  It’s sort of like reading a really, really long book.  Sometimes it’s great to take a break between each book, and sometimes it’s good to keep reading each book in the series one after another until you get to the end.  On the Magisterium series, I’ve stopped listening to them in the middle, because I needed a change of pace.  I may end up reading the other books in print, just because that’s faster, and I want to know what happens!

How do you read series?  All in one gulp, or alternating with other books to prolong living in that particular book world?  Do you listen to audio series the same way?

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The Magisterium Series:
iron trial and copper gauntlet
The Iron Trial
by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Read by Paul Boehmer
9 CDs, 10.5 hours

The Copper Gauntlet
by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Read by Paul Boehmer
7 CDs, 8 1/2 hours

iron trialCallum Hunt knows that he’s one of the “weird kids” at school.  He doesn’t know why, but part of it might be that he’s angry all the time…and the other kids know it.  He’s angry that his father is different from other fathers, angry that he can’t play sports normally because one of his legs is shorter than the other, angry that he doesn’t have a mother.  But mostly, he’s angry because all kinds of things seem to go wrong around him.  Call’s  father has told him that it’s because of the magic he’s inherited. But even though magic sounds cool, and like something that would be fun, Call’s father has forbidden him to even think about it.  Because magic is evil, it’s twisted, and it killed his mother.

Magic?  At first Call thinks his father is crazy, but then one day he picks up Call in his antique Rolls Royce from school and drives the two of them to a run down old airplane hanger.  The large room is filled with kids and parents.  All the kids are excited and happy…ready to complete several tests to qualify to go to The Magisterium, an elite school for mages.  There are even several kids from his school in the group!

Even though the Masters of the school have an opening announcement that makes magic and attending the Magisterium sound like an exciting adventure, Call’s father has told him that he has to fail the tests.  If Call succeeds the Trials to get into The Magisterium, he will end up so deep underground in the school’s cave system that he’ll never see the sun again.  He says that the caverns are dark and sinister and full of danger.  According to Call’s father, any use of magic, whatever the intent, will kill him, if it doesn’t warp him first.

To please his father and save his life, Call works hard to do his worst at every Trial.  But even though he fails the trials quite spectacularly, he’s still chosen by Master Rufus to be an apprentice.  As he’s leaving for the caverns of the magic school, his father throws a knife to him…or is it at him?  Callum isn’t sure, but the warning his father shouts is unmistakable.  Then his father is dragged away by the other mages, and Call ends up at The Magisterium with Master Rufus and his fellow apprentices Aaron and Tamara.

Call finds that the Magisterium, the masters and the apprentices are nothing like what he had been warned about.  The school is dark and frightening, but magic is interesting and absorbing. As he takes lessons and learns more about magic and his past, he’s left wondering if his father was right…or was he hiding something from Call?  Once his education in magic begins, Call is finding out there’s a lot more to Mage Magic than he expected.

iron trial audioThe audio for The Iron Trial was very well done.  I loved Paul Boehmer’s vocals; he did a great job making all the characters sound different.  From the low and deep voice of Master Rufus to the sinister hissing of the lizard fire elemental to the voices of Call and his friends, everyone sounds very different. His pacing was excellent.  The language is fun, the cast is diverse, and the plot twists around and around through both volumes of the series that I listened to.

I quite enjoyed both The Iron Trial and the sequel, The Copper Gauntlet, about Call’s second year at the Magistirium. (The other books are The Bronze Key and The Silver Mask.)  I would highly recommend them to fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.  If you like books about learning magic or uncovering secrets, you will enjoy The Magisterium series.  The two authors–Holly Black and Cassandra Clare–are also authors of two other popular series for kids and teens–The Spiderwick Chronicles and The Mortal Instruments Series.  If you liked those books (or even the movies!) you’ll like The Magisterium series.

The Iron Trial and The Copper Gauntlet would be great audios for a family car trip with older elementary or middle school students.  There is quite a bit of darkness to some of Call’s past and present at the school, so it might not be good for younger elementary students.  If you managed to get through the fourth volume of Harry Potter, this is on par with darkness of The Magisterium.  But try it for yourself, and see what you think!

magisterium

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And that’s it…I have yet to read the last two volumes, so if you finish them first, come and tell me what you think!

As always, if you need help finding these or any other books in the library, ask one of our librarians.  We are always happy to help match you with your best book choices!  Until then…

Happy Reading!
::Kelly::

 

Five Books Featuring…Dog Sled Racing!

Did you know that the biggest sled race in North America is going on right now?  The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race runs from Willow to Nome, Alaska, and usually takes eight to fifteen days, depending on weather conditions.  Racers encounter everything from blizzards to gale force winds to sub-zero temperatures on their journey.  The race started in 1973, so this year is the 45th anniversary.

There are plenty of books that feature dogs, but not as many that feature sled dogs, and even fewer that feature the actual Iditarod.  For this Five Book Featuring…segment, we’re sticking to books with sled dogs.  Unless we took the picture books by Robert J. Blake or nonfiction titles on the Iditarod Trail, or biographies of Gary Paulsen into account, we wouldn’t have enough fictional titles on just the Iditarod Trail for this list.

In case you don’t remember, our 5 Books Featuring are five related Books–One Old, One New, One Popular with Kids, One Well-Reviewed, and One Favorite of library staff–but you’ll have to guess which is which! Each book has a short synopsis and link to the book in the catalog, so you can easily find and request it.

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stone foxGardiner, John.  Stone Fox
There’s just no stopping little Willy. Determined to keep their farm going — and to give his ailing grandfather a reason to live — the ten-year-old boy hitches his dog Searchlight to the plow and harvests the whole potato crop.  Now little Willy needs five hundred dollars to pay off ten years’ back taxes, or the farm will be taken away from them. Dauntless as ever, he stakes everything on one wild hope: that he and Searchlight can outrun the best dogsled racers in the country — including the legendary Indian, Stone Fox. But the huge mountain man is every bit as intent on winning the big prize money as little Willy is. And he and his five beautiful Samoyeds haven’t lost a race yet….

Johnson, Terry Lynn.  Sled Dog Schoolsled dog school
Matt is struggling in school and he has to set up his own business to save his failing math grade. But what is he even good at? The only thing he truly loves is his team of dogs, and so Matt’s Sled Dog School is born. Teaching dogsledding should be easy, right?
But people, just like dogs, can be unpredictable. And sometimes the bravest thing a person can do is admit they need help.  By progressing through his difficulties, Matt gains new perspective, confidence, and skills including their real-life applications as well as new friendships. From contending with school bullies to increasingly learning to value his family and their off-the-grid lifestyle, Matt and his friends learn about overcoming adversity, finding your strengths, and following your passions.

Mowat, Farley.  Lost in the Barrenslost in the barrens
Two boys lost in the wilderness of Northern Canada must fight for survival. Awasin and Jamie, brothers in courage, meet a challenge many mountain men could not endure. When their canoe is destroyed by the fury of the rapids, they must face the wilderness with no food and no hope of rescue. To survive, they build an igloo, battle a towering grizzly bear, track several wolves, slaughter caribou for food and clothing.  Just when they’re about to give up, two lost sled dogs show up. Both boys enjoy the companionship and have a brilliant idea. Can they tame the dogs enough to make a way home from their dangerous adventure?

Paulsen, Gary.  Dogsongdogsong
Russel Susskit is disillusioned by the changes to his Eskimo village: the smell of diesel oil in the morning, the sound of snowmobiles scaring the seals away. In need of guidance, he turns to the oldest member of his village. The elderly man understands Russel’s desire for the old ways and sets him on a powerful vision quest to learn the songs that celebrated them. Russel must venture north by dogsled, dressed only in deer skins and armed with a simple bow and lance. Alone, gliding along the icy landscape, miles away from civilization, Russel hopes to discover his own song.

Shahan, Sherry.  Ice Islandice island
What begins as a training run with sled dogs turns into a race against time for Tatum and her new friend, a Siberian Yupik boy named Cole. When a freak blizzard hits this remote island off the coast of Alaska, the duo seeks shelter overnight in a dilapidated hunting cabin. Their harrowing ordeal goes from bad to worse when wind-driven snow forces them to risk an alternate route. Stranded in the untamed wilderness, they must rely on each other–as well as their faithful huskies–to survive sub-zero temperatures and bone-numbing exhaustion. Worse still, their food supply is dangerously low. When Cole’s sled is damaged and half of their dogs can no longer pull, the teens make the tough choice to separate: Tatum and a team of dogs set off to seek help.  Will the two make it back home?

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And there you have it–five books that will make you want to run out into the snow tomorrow (because of course there’s snow coming tomorrow!) and start hitching up your dog to a sled to mush down the driveway!

No?

Oh well.  Still, if you’re interested in the Iditarod Trail, sled racing, sled dogs or survival in the wilderness (which all of these also seem to feature) then you’ll love all of these titles.  Read one or two and find out while you’re waiting to see which musher comes out on top in this year’s race.

Remember, if you need help finding one of these books, or any other book, ask one of our librarians.  We’re always happy to help you find the right book!

Happy Reading!
::Kelly::

Book & Audio Review: Flunked!

It’s time for another audio book review!  If you like fairy tales, a little bit of villainy, and a dose of magic…Flunked is a book you should like!

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Flunkedflunked
By Jen Calonita, Narrated by Kristin Condon
5 CDs, 5.25 Hours

Gilly isn’t a bad kid, but she is a thief.  It’s not like she has a real choice…she has five brothers and sisters and lives in a boot.  True, her father is a master cobbler, but there’s no longer a demand in the kingdom for shoes made by hand.  Magic slippers are all the rage.   So Gilly HAS to steal…her thievery provides extra food to keep her siblings fed and healthy.  And if she steals something special for a birthday gift here and there…well, it’s not like the stuck up royals will even notice that something is gone.  They’ll just replace it, right?

But when Gilly steals from the wrong royal, in the wrong shop, she’s found out.  And since it’s her third offense, she’s sentenced to Fairy Tale Reform School by Headmistress Flora, formerly the Evil Stepmother.  Princess Ella even signed the order.   There’s nothing Gilly or her siblings or even her parents can do about it.

But Fairy Tale Reform School — FTRS for short — isn’t anything like Gilly expected.  Sure, their mission is “To turn wicked delinquents and former villains into future heroes”, and Gilly expects to be stuck in a dungeon and fed bread and water while being lectured about being good.  But there is no dungeon (for the students anyway) and instead of being stuffed in the toe of a boot with all five siblings, Gilly has a spacious room with only one roommate, delicious and plentiful food, and classes on everything from magic to history to sports.

Of  course, Gilly doesn’t like following rules, even if they do kind of make sense.  And she wants to go home to take care of her siblings; even the promise that they can visit her doesn’t make things much better.  She does start making some friends though, and as they pool their information together about what they know about the school and how they might escape, they discover a mystery.  Who is trying to sabotage the school?   Are their lives in danger?  Gilly and her new friends Jax, Kayla and Maxine may be reluctant students of FTRS, but they will have to put their heads together and use all the somewhat illegal skills they have to get to the bottom of this mystery.

flunked trilogyThe audio recording of Flunked was  quite charming.  (heh!)   Flunked is a first-person story, so everything is relayed through Gilly.  The narrator has the perfect voice for Gilly…young, a little bit inquisitive, scrappy…and reluctantly impressed with her new surroundings.  Her voice for other characters, seen through Gilly’s eyes, are varied by accent, pacing and attitude.   Letters from Gilly to her family, notes from teachers and The Happily Ever After Scrolls–updates on the action at the school, as reported by a nosy reporter for FairyWeb- enhance the story and give an outside view of the action.

Flunked is the first of the Fairy Tale Reform School trilogy, followed by Charmed and Tricked.  I would recommend the series for kids who like an off-beat take on fairy tales, an anti-hero heroine, or just an entertaining read.  Fourth through seventh grade readers would enjoy the book, while the audio would probably work with second grade and through adults.

Some read alikes include Sarah Mlynowski’s Whatever After series, Shannon Hale’s Ever After High series, Soman Chainani’s School for Good and Evil series, and Suzanne Selfor’s Ever After High series (apparently a popular series title!)

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So pick up book, or the whole series, and enjoy!  If you like it, let us know!

As always, if you need help finding books or audio books to read, ask one of our librarians.  We’re always happy to help!

::Kelly::

5 Books Featuring…Illustrated Adventures!

Five Finely Illustrated Adventure Books!

In much of children’s literature from the early 1900s through the 1960s, chapter books had a few drawings sprinkled throughout the text; either to illustrate a chapter, to give an idea of what characters looked like, or to point out some action taking place.  Around the late 1960s, it seemed illustrations in fiction were phased out.  When illustrated chapter books for younger readers started becoming popular with the advent of The Magic Tree House books, some publishers started bringing back illustrations for older readers as well.  Then The Invention of Hugo Cabret happened, and suddenly, illustrations were really making a comeback!

This week’s 5 Books is about books that are wonderfully illustrated, where the illustrations tell as much of the story as the words do.  You won’t find any wimpy kids here though…these are detailed, lavish illustrations that will leave you wanting more.

In case you don’t remember, our 5 Books Featuring are five related Books–One Old, One New, One Popular with Kids, One Well-Reviewed, and One Favorite of library staff–but you’ll have to guess which is which! Each book has a short synopsis and link to the book in the catalog, so you can easily find and request it.

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Balthazar, Armand.  Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlanticdiego and vastlantic
You’ve never seen Earth like this before: continents reshaped, oceans re-formed, cities rebuilt, and mountains sculpted anew. Dinosaurs roam the plains alongside herds of buffalo, and giant robots navigate the same waters as steam-powered ships.
This is the world Diego Ribera was born into. The past, present, and future coexisting together. In New Chicago, Diego’s middle school hallways buzz with kids from all eras of history and from cultures all over the world. The pieces do not always fit together neatly, but this is the world he loves.
There are those, however, who do not share his affection. On his thirteenth birthday, Diego learns of a special gift he has within, a secret that is part of something much bigger–something he cannot understand. When his father, New Chicago’s top engineer, is taken by the Aeternum, Diego must rescue him and prevent this evil group from disrupting the fragile peace humanity has forged.  This beautifully  full-color illustrated book is the first volume in a new series!

De Lint, Charles.  The Cats of Tanglewood Forestcats of tanglewood forest
Lillian Kindred spends her days exploring the Tanglewood Forest, a magical, rolling wilderness that she imagines to be full of fairies. The trouble is, Lillian has never seen a wisp of magic in her hills–until the day the cats of the forest save her life by transforming her into a kitten. Now she must set out on a perilous adventure that will lead her through untamed lands of fabled creates–from Old Mother Possum to the fearsome Bear People–to find a way to make things right.
In this whimsical original folktale, written and illustrated throughout in vibrant full color by two celebrated masters of modern fantasy, a young girl’s journey becomes an enchanting coming-of-age story about magic, friendship, and the courage to shape one’s own destiny.
Also try Seven Wild Sisters, a companion tale.

Lin, Grace.  When the Sea Turned to Silverwhen the sea turned to silver
Pinmei’s gentle, loving grandmother always has the most exciting tales for her granddaughter and the other villagers. However, the peace is shattered one night when soldiers of the Emperor arrive and kidnap the storyteller.
Everyone knows that the Emperor wants something called the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night. Determined to have her grandmother returned, Pinmei embarks on a journey to find the Luminous Stone alongside her friend Yishan, a mysterious boy who seems to have his own secrets to hide. Together, the two must face obstacles usually found only in legends to find the Luminous Stone and save Pinmei’s grandmother–before it’s too late.
A fast-paced adventure that is extraordinarily written and beautifully illustrated, When the Sea Turned to Silver is a masterpiece companion novel to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky.

Selznick, Brian.  Wonderstruckwonderstruck
Set fifty years apart, two independent stories – Ben’s told in words and Rose’s in pictures – weave back and forth with mesmerizing symmetry. How they unfold and ultimately intertwine will surprise you, challenge you, and leave you breathless with wonder.
Ever since his mom died, Ben feels lost.
At home with her father, Rose feels alone.
He is searching for someone, but he is not sure who.
She is searching for something, but she is not sure what.
When Ben finds a mysterious clue hidden in his mom’s room…
When a tempting opportunity presents itself to Rose…
Both children risk everything to find what’s missing.
With over 460 pages of original drawings and playing with the form he invented in his trailblazing debut novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick once again sails into uncharted territory and takes readers on an awe-inspiring journey.  Also try his most recent novel, The Marvels.

Van Allsburgh, Chris.  The Chronicles of Harris Burdickchronicles of harris burdick
For more than twenty-five years, the illustrations in the extraordinary Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg have intrigued and entertained readers of all ages. Thousands of children have been inspired to weave their own stories to go with these enigmatic pictures. Now we’ve asked some of our very best storytellers to spin the tales. Enter The Chronicles of Harris Burdick to gather this incredible compendium of stories: mysterious, funny, creepy, poignant, these are tales you won’t soon forget.
This collection of short stories features many remarkable, best-selling authors in the worlds of both young adult and children’s literature: Sherman Alexie, M.T. Anderson, Kate DiCamillo, Cory Doctorow, Jules Feiffer, Stephen King, Tabitha King, Lois Lowry, Gregory Maguire, Walter Dean Myers, Linda Sue Park, Louis Sachar, Jon Scieszka, Lemony Snicket, and Chris Van Allsburg himself.
The illustrations have evoked such wonderment and imagination since Harris Burdick‘s original publication in 1984; many have speculated or have woven their own stories to go with his images. More than ever, the illustrations send off their eerie call for text and continue to compel and pick at the reader’s brain for a backstory–a threaded tale behind the image. In this book, we’ve collected some of the best storytellers to spin them, accompanied by the illustrations that inspired them.

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Do you have any books you’d like to add to this list?  (I was reaching a little with the Harris Burdick book…I’m not sure it exactly fits the pattern.)  If you do, let us know!  Until then, try one of these five wonderfully illustrated books and see what you think.

As always, if you need help finding these or any other books at the library, please ask one of our librarians.  We all love to help!

::Kelly::

5 Books Featuring…Magic Schools!

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’ve probably wondered about how you’d do if you went to school at Hogwarts.  But Hogwarts isn’t the only magical school in the children’s book world!  Try one of these five favorites featuring other magical schools!

In case you don’t remember, our 5 Books Featuring are five related Books–One Old, One New, One Popular with Kids, One Well-Reviewed, and One Favorite of library staff–but you’ll have to guess which is which! Each book has a short synopsis and link to the book in the catalog, so you can easily find and request it.

5 Books Featuring Magical Schools:

Black, Holly.  The Iron Trial iron trial
                               School: The Magisterium

Most people would do anything to get into the Magisterium and pass the Iron Trial. Not Callum Hunt. Call has been told his whole life that he should never trust a magician. And so he tries his best to do his worst – but fails at failing. Now he must enter the Magisterium. It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister. And Call realizes it has dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future. The Iron Trial is just the beginning. Call’s biggest test is still to come . . .
Find out how difficult The Magisterium is to graduate from in the sequels…The Copper Gauntlet, The Bronze Key, The Silver Mask, and (coming in 2018) The Golden Tower.

 

Blackwood, Sage.  Miss Ellicott’s School for the Magically Mindedmiss elicott's school
                                          School: Miss Ellicott’s School for Magical Maidens
Chantel would much rather focus on her magic than on curtsying, which is why she often finds herself in trouble at Miss Ellicott’s School for Magical Maidens. But when Miss Ellicott mysteriously disappears along with all the other sorceresses in the city, Chantel’s behavior becomes the least of her problems.
Without any magic protecting the city, it is up to Chantel and her friends to save the Kingdom. On a dangerous mission, Chantel will discover a crossbow-wielding boy, a dragon, and a new, fiery magic that burns inside her–but can she find the sorceresses and transform Lightning Pass into the city it was meant to be?
So far, this is a one-shot, but maybe if readers really like it, there will be a sequel..?

 

Mlynowski, Sarah.  Upside Down Magicupside down magic
School:  Dunwiddle Magic School

Nory Horace is nine years old. She’s resourceful, she’s brave, she likes peanut butter cookies. Nory’s father is the headmaster of an elite magic academy, but if Nory wants to enter fifth grade there in the fall, she’ll have to get her “wonky” magic under control. Unfortunately, Nory always turns herself into odd animal combos like a kitten and a beaver or a kitten and a dragon, and she has a hard time controlling herself in her animal form. When Nory fails Sage Academy’s Big Test, she’s sent to live with her aunt and attend  Dunwiddle Magic School, where she meets a group of kids whose magic is also…well…different.
This offbeat new series chronicles the misadventures of Nory and her oddball friends Elliot and Bax, who prove that upside-down magic definitely beats right side up.
The adventures continue for the friends in Sticks & Stones, Showing Off, and Dragon Overnight.

 

Neff, Henry.  The Hound of RowanHound_of_Rowan
School:  Rowan Academy

Max  McDaniels lives a quiet life in the suburbs of Chicago, until the day he stumbles upon a mysterious Celtic tapestry. Many strange people are interested in Max and his tapestry. His discovery leads him to Rowan Academy, a secret school where great things await him. At Rowan Academy,  young people with Potential are trained to fight an unnamed enemy.  Max and the other apprentices are housed in magically morphing rooms and assigned animal charges. Max is paired with the last lymrill in the world, a nocturnal creature with metallic quills. They train on the Course, where they experience different scenarios as they try to achieve a goal and move up levels as they progress.  But dark things are waiting, too.  When Max learns that priceless artworks and gifted children are disappearing, he finds himself in the crossfire of an ancient struggle between good and evil. To survive, he’ll have to rely on a network of agents and mystics, the genius of his roommate, and the frightening power awakening within him.
Max’s adventures continue in The Second Siege, The Fiend and the Forge, and The Maelstrom.

 

Smith, L. J.  Wren to the Rescuewren to the rescue
School:  The Magic School

All her life Wren has hoped for an adventure. Now she has one-with a kidnapped princess, a handsome prince, and a magician. What does it matter if the princess is only Tess, her best friend from the orphanage; if the prince is a youngest son with no chance of becoming king; and the magician is an apprentice? Finding herself a natural-born leader (or maybe just bossy!) Wren leads the other three over mountains and past killing spells, fighting battles along the way. But then she finds herself up against some shape-changing magic that may end her life as a human forever!
The four friends’ adventures continue in Wren’s Quest and Wren’s War.

 

Yep, Laurence.  A Dragon’s Guide to Making Your Human Smarterdragon's guide to making your human smarter
School: Spriggs Academy

Three-thousand-year-old Miss Drake has arranged to send her dear pet Winnie to The Spriggs Academy, an extraordinary school for humans and magicals alike. Winnie is particularly excited about magic class and having Sir Isaac Newton for science. She’s also making new friends–and frenemies. . . .
When a plot to snatch Winnie from her San Francisco home is uncovered, Miss Drake is ready to use all her cunning and magic to thwart it. Not that feisty Winnie needs the help. . . . As a team, the intrepid duo you first met in A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans is unstoppable!  Their third adventure is  A Dragon’s Guide to Making Perfect Wishes.

 

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Oops, that’s six!  But I don’t want to take out any of them…I guess you get a bonus book this time.  🙂  I already cut out the schools based on Grimms’ Fairy Tales.  That might be a later list…

So which of these magic schools sounds the most interesting to you?  Read them all and find out…

As always, if you would like any help finding these or any other books, ask one of our librarians for help.  We love helping you find books!

::Kelly::