The Door at the End of the World–Brand New Book by Caroline Carlson!

Everyone has their favorite authors…whether it’s an author you trust to always give you a good story, or an author who creates wonderful characters that you’d like to meet, or an author who keeps you guessing a mystery right up until the end.  There’s so many elements that go into the status of “favorite”, and often no easily explicable reason for that choice; that author’s writing just strikes a chord within you.

When you know the author of a book, it makes reading that book extra-special.  And when that author becomes one of your favorites not only because you know her, but because her books feature unforgettable characters like Gargoyle and Hilary from The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates series, or Toby and Ivy from The World’s Greatest Detective…because her stories pull you right into the world of those characters,  because you don’t know what’s going to happen but you really, really want to figure it out….  Well, it’s magical.

And The Door at the End of the World IS magical. It’s also written by one of my favorite authors, one who I watched grow up from a preschooler coming to Storytimes to an elementary student who I saved the newest Diana Wynne Jones book for, to an professional and eager young woman who worked at the library during high school,  to an accomplished and talented writer, who has enriched the lives of many other readers.

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The Door at the End of the World
door at the end of the worldBy Caroline Carlson

Lucy lives at the end of the world, with the Gatekeeper, who holds the key to the worldgate, the only way to travel between the eight worlds.  As you might imagine, travel is highly regulated…the Gatekeeper is the one who unlocks and opens the door, but Lucy is the person who stamps your passport, files all the paperwork, and does a hundred other routine jobs that protect the worldgate.  As the person in charge, the Gatekeeper is only one who holds the keys, and in addition to her daily duties, once a year she does the regular maintenance that keeps the worldgate running.

So on one random Thursday, which happens to be Maintenance Day the Gatekeeper goes through to the East to meet Bernard, the Gatekeeper for that side to do some repairs and cleaning and polishing.  Lucy goes about her normal routine, keeping one eye out for Emergencies and the other on the worldgate for the return of the Gatekeeper. But when she wakes up the next morning and the Gatekeeper is still gone, Lucy is in panic mode.  If the Gatekeeper is missing, shouldn’t Lucy DO something?  The spelling bees who guard the worldgate agree that it’s an emergency, and encourage Lucy to find the spare key.

But when Lucy does find the key, and with great trepidation opens the worldgate, there’s no Gatekeeper or Bernard on the other side.  There’s simply a boy.  A clumsy boy named Arthur who falls through the door, practically on top of her and somehow manages to break the spare key off in the lock.  With the key jammed in the lock, the door won’t budge.  Lucy decides the best way to handle a broken gate and a missing Gatekeeper is to go to the other end of the world to find Florence, the gatekeeper of door leading to the South.

So Lucy sets off, with Arthur and the spelling bees it tow, to journey to the gate at the other end of the world.  She puts a sign on the gatehouse, and hopes for the best.  But the best isn’t fated to be.  Soon Lucy and her friends are surrounded by danger, and it’s obvious there is someone out there with sinister plans in mind for all of the eight worlds.  If Lucy can’t find a way to rescue not only her world, but all of the eight worlds, the fabric of space and time might be damaged beyond repair.  What’s an assistant gatekeeper to do?  Save the world, of course!

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I loved this book!   It’s reminiscent of Diana Wynne Jones–with a big helping of magic, a touch of humor, and a lot of interesting situations all mixed together in a tightly plotted mystery adventure, with lots of twists and turns you don’t see coming.  Lucy and Arthur are great characters, as is sneaky Rosemary, who has her own mission.  And I absolutely adore the spelling bees!

Readers who like books with magic and dangerous adventures, with a bit of humor, or who are fans of Diana, Jessica Day George, Natalie Lloyd, Kathryn Littlewood, and Caroline’s other books, you’ll enjoy The Door at the End of the World just as much.  I hope they turn it into an audio book as well, because it would be a great read-aloud.

Full disclosure–I received the advance reader copy of this back in December from Caroline…so I’ve been sitting on this wonderful story for a few months.  I’ve also been treasuring something else about the book–the dedication. dedication

I got teary when I first saw it, and every time I look at it, even now.  Thank you Caroline, for your words.  I hope that somewhere out there, some librarian is saving this book for a reader who loved Hilary and Gargoyle, so that he or she can be the first person to read it.  Then maybe that young reader will go out into the world and write a story that will continue a tradition.  You make me very proud to have been a part of your life.

Now that I received my “real” copy, I’m going to go read The Door at the End of the World again.  I think it will be even better on the second (and third, and fourth…) time around!


Happy Reading!




Book & Audio Review: Who Let the Gods Out?

Making up for lost time…two in one week!

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Who Let the Gods Out?
by Maz Evans, narrated by the author
6 CDs, 7.5 Hours

who let the gods out hcElliot Hooper is an ordinary kid with some extraordinary problems.  It all started when he wished upon a star to change his life.  Well, no…it all started during a horrible day at school when he fell asleep at his desk and his odious teacher Boil tried to force the headmaster, Call-Me Graham, to expel him.  Elliot does have several reasons for losing sleep–his Mom is ill, and he’s trying to hold both of them together while trying to save the farm that’s been in his family for generations, there’s a Scary Letter with a deadline hanging above his head–but it would do no good to tell the school that.  It’s enough that their suspicious neighbor, Mrs. Porshley-Plum has been prowling about.  If any of them figured out that Elliot is taking care of everything, they would just send him away and he’d lose the farm and Mom.  So Elliot wishes.

Elsewhere, Virgo is trying to show the other constellations that even though she’s the youngest by several thousand years, she can still be responsible.  And she sets off to prove it by bolting during a confrontational meeting and taking over a mission that none of the other constellations want.  So she didn’t get the details.  So she doesn’t know anything about the mortal realm.  So she doesn’t know how to maneuver her constellation form well.  So what–she can still do it!

Elliot and Virgo come together when Virgo crash-lands through Elliot’s cowshed and into a pile of manure.  After Virgo realizes that Bessie is not a Bovinor but a cow, and Elliot is actually the person representative of Earths main life-form, the two form a reluctant partnership.  It takes a bit of time for Virgo to accept Elliot’s help, but once Elliot is convinced that Virgo isn’t just a strange girl, but instead an immortal with a mission, he thinks they can help each other.  And if Elliot can help with her mission, then Virgo will help save the farm.

But things don’t work out quite the way they’re planned when Virgo and Elliot botch the mission and release Thanatos, the evil Daemon of Death.  Suddenly Elliot’s farm is full of Virgo’s family–Gods like chubby Zeus and his noble high horse Pegasus, Hermes, who is obsessed with social media, and Hestia, who starts immediately renovating and redecorating .  But it’s good that the gods have come to help, because Thanatos has discovered that Elliot is the one person who might be able to cause his downfall…and he’s on the hunt.

who let the gods out audioThe audio for Who Let the Gods Out? is narrated by the author.  It’s always an enjoyable experience to listen to an author read their own work; obviously, they already know the characters inside and out.  This book is no exception; it’s a great narration.  I love all the various accents for the characters. I couldn’t tell you which type of English accent they’re supposed to be, but I can tell that they’re all different!  And the humor of the situation and the characters definitely comes out in the reading.  What’s not to love?

Who Let the Gods Out? is both heartwarming and hysterical.  I love the silly names for the characters in the mortal realm, as well as Elliot’s nicknames for some of the more outrageous individuals.  (It’s definitely reminiscent of Roald Dahl.)  The gods are over-the-top funny.  Each god and goddess (as well as the non-god immortals) take their mythological background into account, but give it a modern and unexpected twist.  And they are funny!  Elliot’s care of his mother and his desire to save her and the farm make him a admirable character, even when he lets his impatience get in the way.  Virgo is clueless and a bit rude, but her heart is in the right place.

I would recommend Who Let the Gods Out? to readers who enjoy a little humor (well, a lot of humor) with their adventure and mythology.  If you like the Goddess Girls, Beasts of Olympus or the Myth-o-Mania series, you’ll definitely like this book as well.  Some listen-alikes are Thor’s Wedding Day, Hatched, and Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures.  While the audio is enjoyable for all ages, the book is probably best for fourth through seventh grade readers.

Who Let the Gods Out? is the first book in a trilogy, so I’m hoping the others will be just as much fun to read.  They’ve been published in the UK, but the next book–Simply the Quest is coming out in the US in 2019.

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So there you have it!  Another great audio book to listen to.  Percy Jackson fans–you should try this one.  It’s an adventure, and an interesting take on characters you already know.  Not Percy, of course, but the gods and goddesses in his family tree.

As always, if you need help finding this or any other book or audio in our library, just ask one of our librarians.  We love to help you find your best book!



Book & Audio Review: A Possiblity of Whales

It’s been awhile since our last audio review.  There’s been many audios listened to, just not the time to review them.  But I have a New Years resolution–at least one 5 Books and one Audio review each month…we’ll see how that goes, since it seems I’m starting in February.

So now…time to go on a whale watch!  (Literally.  Or, not literally…but in a literal and auditory kind of sense.)

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A Possibility of Whales
by Karen Rivers, narrated by Stina Nielsen
7 CDs, 8.25 hours

possibility of whalesNat has always been her own person.  Living with her father, the famous actor XAN GALLAGHER, has taught her to be self-reliant.  Moving with him every year or so to various movie locations has taught her the importance of people and places, not things.  And growing up without a mother…well, that’s just left her wondering about the woman who named her and left.  Natalia Rose Baleine Gallagher knows her mother must have loved whales, because her middle name is French for whale, and it’s the heart of her name.  But what kind of mother would love those things, but not a newborn?  What kind of mother would  just up and leave her kid?  Nat is suddenly questioning everything about her mother, and her life.

Starting over with her dad, living in a tiny trailer in Sooke, a small town in British Colombia, Canada is a big difference from the gigantic house they left behind in San Francisco.  It’s a good move for Nat though, getting her and XAN GALLAGHER away from the paparazzi, even if it means leaving her best friend Solly behind.  Her best friend who didn’t act much like a best friend in the end.  But postcard updates might mend their fractured friendship, and now she may have a new friend–Harry.  But Harry has troubles of his own, and just because Nat wants to be his friend, it doesn’t mean he wants to be hers.  Solly is growing up, and Harry is growing away.  Nat wants things to stay…not the same, but she doesn’t want them all leaving her behind.

Talking to Birdy (Mom), a sort of substitute-mom-figure-adopted-by-way-of-a-prank-call on her found (stolen?) cellphone phone helps.  Having Orcas come right up to her on French Beach is life changing, and helps–a lot. Getting a break from the paparazzi gives her breathing space.  Even her hobby of collecting words from other languages to explain things that can’t be explained in English makes explaining things that happen easier.  But growing up happens, even when you might not want it to happen; and Nat’s questions and experiences lead her on a journey of self-discovery that will change her life forever.

possibilty of whales audioThe audio for A Possibility of Whales is wonderful…I loved the narrator’s voice.  She did a great job with all the voices, from Nat and Harry to Solly (who I pictured throwing her hair over her shoulder every time she spoke) to Birdy and Nat’s famous dad, XAN GALLAGHER.  (I have to mention, I knew from the audio book reading that XAN GALLAGHER had to have been capitalized throughout the book every time it appeared–and I was right!)  With all the flashbacks, the narration could have been confusing, but it wasn’t.  It was perfect.

I loved this story so much!  It’s a bit Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret, mixed with Counting by Sevens with a bit of Beyond the Bright Sea thrown in.  Told in two parts–Canada and Mexico–with many flashbacks to San Francisco interspersed, this story goes back and forth in time.  Some chapters are also told from Harry’s perspective, and Harry has just as interesting a story as Nat.  And I haven’t even mentioned anything that happens in the second half of the book!  There’s a vacation in Mexico, more whales, a birthday, and lots more.

This is a great story about friendship, families and growing up.  Nat is turning thirteen and is in seventh grade; Harry knows he’s a boy, even if he was born a girl.  Both of them are looking for answers about who they are.  There are funny moments, heartfelt moments, and lots of family love for both characters.   I would recommend this to upper elementary and middle school readers.  Some read-alikes are Gertie’s Leap to Greatness, The Higher Power of Lucky, My Sister Sif, George, and books by Cynthia Lord.

Karen Rivers is the author of Love, Ish, The Girl in the Well is Me and The Encyclopedia of Me, along with multiple teen and adult books.  Stina Nielsen also narrated The Lemonade War series and the Princess Posey series.

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So if you like whales as much as Nat, you’ll love this book.  If you like a little adventure, mixed with a new friendship, a famous father and a little mystery about what happened between Nat and Solly, you’ll love this book.  Just try it!  Let me know what you think.

As always, if you need help locating any of the books mentioned here, or if you just want some book suggestions, ask one of our librarians.  We’re here to match you with a book you’ll love!

Happy Reading!

Five Books Featuring…Storytellers in Danger!

Tell a Story, Save Your Life!
Storytelling is very important to librarians.  In these five books, telling a story is a central theme.  Like Sherazade from One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, who had to tell 1,001 stories to save her life, the main characters in these books have to tell a story to save their life…or the life of someone important to them.  How would someone even be put into that situation?  Well these books mostly involve being put into that situation with magic, which also makes these titles fantasy.  But they’re a very specific kind of dangerous fantasy!

Our Five Books Featuring are five books related by topic–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.

Read on, and find out what life is like when you have to talk fast, think fast, and create stories even faster!

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The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxiernight gardener

Irish orphans Molly and Kip travel to England to work as servants in a crumbling manor house where nothing is quite what it seems to be.  Despite her young age and the warnings of a local storyteller, Molly uses the power of her own words to secure work, but soon realizes that something is not right;  soon the siblings are confronted by a mysterious stranger and secrets of the cursed house.  Each member of the Windsor family struggles with personal demons, and a strange footprints appear at night.  They discover that the Night Gardener  haunts the estate, dooming its inhabitants with foul dreams while a magical tree grants wishes to entrap the recipients. Molly’s stories help drive the darkness away for a bit, but soon both Molly and Kip must face their own dark secrets to release the Gardener’s hold and end his evil enchantments.


Shadow Spinner  Susan Fletchershadow spinner

When Marjan joins the Sultan’s harem in ancient Persia, she doesn’t know she will be called on to save her queen’s life.  Every night, Queen Shahrazad begins a story. And every morning, the Sultan lets her live another day — providing the story is interesting enough to capture his attention. After almost one thousand nights, Shahrazad is running out of tales. And that is how Marjan’s story begins.  She is tasked to  help Shahrazad find new stories — ones the Sultan has never heard before. To do that, the girl is forced to undertake a dangerous and forbidden mission: sneak from the harem and travel the city, pulling tales from strangers and bringing them back to Shahrazad. But as she searches the city, a wonderful thing happens. From a quiet spinner of tales, Marjan suddenly becomes the center of a more surprising story than she ever could have imagined.


Inkheart  by Cornelia Funkeinkheart

Meggie lives a quiet life alone with her father Mo, a bookbinder.   But her father has a deep secret: he can “read” characters to life.  One day a mysterious stranger arrives who seems linked to her father’s past. Who is this sinister character and what does he want? Suddenly, Meggie is smack in the middle of the kind of adventure she has only read about in books. Somehow, Meggie and Mo must learn to harness the magic that conjured this nightmare. Somehow they must change the course of the story that has changed their lives forever.  Suddenly Meggie is involved in a breathless game of escape and intrigue as her father’s life is put in danger. Will she be able to save him in time?


The Book of Story Beginnings by  Kristin Kladstrupbook of story beginnings

Oscar Martin was fourteen when he mysteriously disappeared from his Iowa farmhouse home in June 1914. His sister claimed Oscar had rowed out to sea – but how was that possible? There is no ocean in Iowa. When, nearly a century later, Lucy Martin and her parents move from their city apartment to that same farmhouse in Iowa, it is not long before Lucy discovers the strange and dangerous BOOK OF STORY BEGININGS. When the stories start coming to life, Oscar reappears.  Realizing that by beginning a new story in the enchanted book she has placed her father in deadly peril, Lucy enlists Oscar’s help to take her into that otherworld where their stories have come to life not in dreams but as cold, hard reality. Can these two distant relatives use the stories to save Lucy’s father?

Tiger Moon  by Antonia Michaelistiger moon

Farhad doesn’t want to be a hero, but he doesn’t want to be a worm either. When the young thief is caught stealing an amulet that belongs to a god, he is given the seemingly impossible task of rescuing a princess from a demon king. He reluctantly begins a journey across India to the demon’s desert stronghold, and is joined on his quest by a sacred—and often sarcastic—white tiger named Nitish. The companions battle floods and fire, soldiers and scoundrels, yet it is their unlikely friendship that is the true key to rescuing the princess, if they can reach her in time.

Meanwhile, in the far-off desert, a reluctant young bride spins a tale of rescue to a kindly servant boy as she awaits certain death at the hands of her new husband. She dreams of a hero who will arrive just at the right time.   Will these tales come together?  And who is the real storyteller?


Nightbooks by J. A. Whitenightbooks

Alex has loved scary stories his whole life, but he never imagined he’d be trapped in one!  But when he sneaks out in the middle of the night, he is trapped by the witch Natacha in her magical apartment.  Only Natacha holds the keys that will get Alex and his fellow prisoner, Yasmin, out  of the apartment and back to their world.  Natacha will never give up the keys, but her one weakness is stories.  Now Alex’s original hair-raising tales are the only thing keeping Natacha happy, but soon he’ll run out of pages to read from and be trapped forever. He’s loved scary stories his whole life, and he knows most don’t have a happily ever after. Now that Alex is trapped in a true terrifying tale, he’s desperate for a different ending–and a way out of this twisted place.

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So there you have it.  Are you inspired to go out and write or tell a story now?  Or at the very least, to rush to the library and check out one of these featured titles?  🙂

Here are a few other books featuring Storytelling…but not danger.  At least, not danger  in exactly the same way…

Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters by Lesley M.M. Blume

The Stone Girl’s Story by Sarah Beth Durst

Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar

Catching a Storyfish  by Janice N. Harrington

When the Sea Turned to Silver  by Grace Lin

cornelia and the audiaciousstone girls storyhour of the beescatching a storyfishwhen the sea turned to silver

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If you would like help finding these or any other book in the library, please ask for help at the Youth Services Desk.  We love to help you find the perfect book!

Happy Reading!

Five Books Featuring…What Time is It?

Five books … What Time is It?

This is a bit of an interesting list.  In these particular books, people are “living” in two times at once—either voluntarily or involuntarily—but there’s no time travel.  How would you like to recreate living on the American Frontier?  In Colonial times?  During the Civil War?  Some things may be easier, but if you’re used to those modern conveniences.  Would you give us your cell phone, internet and comfortable life to live in 1840?  What if it wasn’t exactly your choice..?

Our Five Books Featuring are five books related by topic–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.

Read on, and find out what life is like when you’re living in two different times at once!

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Little Blog on the Prairie by Cathleen Davitt Belllittle blog w

Gen’s family is more comfortable spending time apart than together. They all have their own “things”.  But when Gen’s mom thinks they’re growing too far apart as a family, she  signs them up for Camp Frontier–a vacation that promises the “thrill” of living like 1890s pioneers. Forced to give up all of her modern possessions, Gen smuggles her cell phone in (don’t ask!) and manages to email her friends back home about life at “Little Hell on the Prairie,” as she’s renamed the camp. It turns out frontier life isn’t completely without good points–like the cute boy who lives in the next clearing.  When her friends turn her smuggled emails into a blog, Gen is happily surprised by the fanbase that springs up. But just when it seems Gen and family might pull through the summer by working together, disaster strikes! A TV crew descends on the camp, intent on discovering the girl behind the newest nationwide blogging sensation.  Will they ruin what is turning out to be the best vacation Gen has ever had?


Cartboy Goes to Camp by L. A. Campbellcartboy goes to camp

Hopelessly hapless Hal Rifkind, (a.k.a. Cartboy) is happy to be done with sixth grade.  He is SOOO ready to spend the summer vegging out and honing his video-game skills.  But with only a day’s notice, Hal is informed that he is being shipped off to a rustic summer camp.  And not just any old camp, but a completely crazy history camp! At Camp Jamestown, campers have to learn how to churn butter, plant maize, and carry water from the stream.  If they don’t do those chores, they get punished…in the stocks!  As if that isn’t bad enough, someone he was happy to leave behind at school shows up as a fellow camper.  What else could possibly go wrong for Cartboy? At least he has his journal.  Filled with photos, drawings, and timelines, Hal’s journal chronicles his hilarious adventures at Camp Jamestown–where absolutley nothing has changed in 400 years!


Running Out of Time by Margaret Haddixrunning out of time 3

Jessie lives with her family in the frontier village of Clifton, Indiana, in 1840 — or so she believes. When diphtheria strikes the village and the children of Clifton start dying, Jessie’s mother reveals a shocking secret to her daughter: it’s actually 1996, and she and her family are living in a reconstructed village that serves as a tourist site. In the world outside, medicine exists that can cure the dread disease, but the people running the site are reluctant to sacrifice the “validity” of their historical community.  In order to save the other children, Jessie’s mother has gathered some resources and is sending her on a dangerous mission to bring back help.
But beyond the walls of Clifton, Jessie discovers a world even more alien and threatening than she could have imagined, and soon she finds her own life in jeopardy. Can she get help before the children of Clifton, and Jessie herself, run out of time?


Past Perfect  by Leila Salespast perfect

All Chelsea wants to do this summer is hang out with her best friend, hone her talents as an ice cream connoisseur, and finally get over Ezra, the boy who broke her heart. But when Chelsea shows up for her summer job at Essex Historical Colonial Village (yes, really), it turns out Ezra’s working there too.
Maybe Chelsea should have known better than to think that a historical reenactment village could help her escape her past. But with Ezra all too present, and her new crush seeming all too off limits, all Chelsea knows is that she’s got a lot to figure out about love. Because those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it….  (in the Teen Collection)


Colonial Madness by Jo Whittemorecolonial madness

Tori Porter is best friends with her mom, and most of the time it’s awesome. Not many girls have a mom who’d take them to a graveyard for hide-and-seek or fill the bathtub with ice cream for the world’s biggest sundae!  But as much as Tori loves having fun, she sometimes wishes her mom would act a little more her age…thanks to her mom’s poor financial planning, they are in danger of losing their business and their home. But an unusual opportunity arises in the form of a bizarre contest put on by an eccentric relative.  Whoever can survive two weeks in the Archibald Family’s colonial manor will inherit the property. The catch? Contestants have to live as in colonial times: no modern conveniences, no outside help, and there will be daily tests of their abilities to survive challenges of the time period.
Tori thinks it’s the perfect answer to their debt problems!  Unfortunately, she and her mom aren’t the only ones interested. The other family members seem to be much more prepared for the two weeks on the manor–and it doesn’t help that Mom doesn’t seem to be taking the contest seriously. Can living in the past save their future?

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This one doesn’t really fit living in two times, but it does having a family living two lives in two different “worlds” in common, so…one last addition!

Greetings from Witness Protection! By Jake Burtgreetings from witness protection

Nicki Demere is an orphan and a pickpocket. She also happens to be the U.S. Marshals’ best bet to keep a family alive.  The marshals are looking for the perfect girl to join a mother, father, and son on the run from the nation’s most notorious criminals.  If the bad guys are searching for a family with one kid, not two, then adding a streetwise girl who knows a little something about hiding things may be just what the marshals need.
Nicki swears she can keep the Trevor family safe, but to do so she’ll have to dodge hitmen, cyberbullies, and the specter of standardized testing, all while maintaining her marshal-mandated B-minus average. As she barely balances the responsibilities of her new identity, Nicki learns that the biggest threats to her family’s security might not lurk on the road from New York to North Carolina, but rather in her own past…

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All of these books are exciting reads….go ahead and try one!  And see if you would give up your modern life for the adventure of recreating the past.

If you liked these books, ask one of our librarians for help finding others on a similar—or on a completely different!—topic.  We love to help match books and readers!

Hapy Reading!

Five Books Featuring…Magicians!

Did you know that we just celebrated International Magic Week?  At the library we had a display of our books on famous magicians (Harry Houdini, Adelaide Herrmann, Harry Keller, Sid Fleischman),  books on how to perform magic tricks (J 793.8), and middle grade fiction featuring magicians and kids learning how to be magicians (the rabbit-producing kind of magic, not Harry Potter magic).

Because there were several fun and exciting titles, it seemed like a perfect opportunity for a Five Books Featuring… book post!  So, here you go:  Five Books Featuring…Magicians!  Just know they’re the performing kind, not the fantasy wizard-y magic-making type of magic.

Our Five Books Featuring are five books related by topic–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.

Read on!

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AbrakaPOW   by Isaiah Campbellabrakapow
Try as she might, cheeky middle schooler Maxine Larousse (aka The Amazing Max) has yet to learn the one magic trick she needs the most: how to reappear in New York City. That is where she used to live with her parents before her father, Major Larousse, was put in charge of a Nazi POW camp in Abilene, Texas. At least in this desolate wasteland she’ll have plenty of time to practice her illusions, even if the only audience member is her ferret Houdini.
When she’s tasked with entertaining the Nazi prisoners with a magic show, the pressure may be too much. But with the help of some classmates and an unexpected magic expert, the performance is a hit–until twelve Nazi prisoners escape during her final act. Will Max be able to track them down before her reputation as a magician is destroyed forever?
Based on a true story of a prisoner escape during WWII.

The Magic Trap by Jacqueline Daviesmagic trap
A magic show, card tricks, and a disappearing rabbit named Professor Hoffman—Jess and Evan Treski are at it again as they try to put on a professional magic show in their own backyard. They practice, they study, and they practice some more.  But will they be able to put on the show? Maybe not! With the show date coming up, so is an approaching hurricane. But nothing prepares them for what blows into town next… Their father, who has done a good job of disappearing over the past few years.
Jessie and Evan have waged a lemonade war, sought justice in a class trial,  unmasked a bell thief, and stood at opposite ends over the right to keep secrets.  Now they take on the challenges of magic and illusion all while discovering some hidden truths about their own family.  The fourth book the the Lemonade War series, this can be read as a stand-alone…but read the whole series!

The Vanishing Coin by Kate Eganvanishing coin
Want to see something cool?  I can make that quarter vanish.  All it takes is a little magic…
Fourth grade was supposed to be a fresh start, but Mike’s already back in the principal’s office. He’s not a bad kid. He just can’t sit still. And now, his parents won’t let him play soccer anymore; instead he has to hang out with his new neighbor Nora, who is good at everything!
Then Mike and Nora discover the White Rabbit. It’s an odd shop–with a special secret inside. Its owner, Mr. Zerlin, is a magician, and, amazingly, he believes Mike could be a magician, too. Has Mike finally found something he’s good at?  The first in a fun series…with an afterword that lets you learn some of the same tricks Mike performs!

Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms by Lissa Evanshortens miraculous
Enter a wonderful world filled with magic, mystery, and danger.
As if being small and having S. Horten as his name isn’t bad enough, now 10-year-old Stuart is forced to move far away from all his friends. But on his very first day in his new home, Stuart’s swept up in an extraordinary adventure: the quest to find his great-uncle Tony–a famous magician who literally disappeared off the face of the earth–and Tony’s marvelous, long-lost workshop.  Along the way, Stuart reluctantly accepts help from the annoying triplets next door… and encounters trouble from another magician who’s also desperate to get hold of Tony’s treasures.  Who will find the workshop–and the valuable secrets within–first?

Mr Mysterious and Company  by Sid Fleischmanmr mysterious
A magic show is in town! See Jane float through the air. Watch the head in the box move its lips and talk (that’s Paul behind the whiskers). See tall, light-hearted Mr. Mysterious–Pa himself–make a cow lay an egg and a chicken give milk. Follow the adventures and high comedy of this family of magicians traveling in a show wagon through the Old West. The wonder workers are heading for California, where Pa intends to retire the show so that the kids can go to school. But the frontier has tricks of its own up its sleeve, and the magicians find themselves in hairbreadth escapes and nose-to-nose encounters with villains galore.  Mr. Mysterious & Company (otherwise known as the Hackett family)  is a traveling magic show making its way across the country toward California. When this family passes through town in their brightly painted wagon, anything can happen–even the capture of a notorious bandit, the Badlands Kid!

The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harrismagic misfits
When street magician Carter runs away from his uncle, he never expects to find friends and magic in a sleepy New England town. But like any good trick, things change instantly as greedy B.B. Bosso and his crew of crooked carnies arrive to steal anything and everything they can get their sticky fingers on.
After a fateful encounter with the local purveyor of illusion, Dante Vernon, Carter teams up with five other like-minded illusionists. Together, using both teamwork and magic, they’ll set out to save the town of Mineral Wells from Bosso’s villainous clutches. These six Magic Misfits will soon discover adventure, friendship, and their own self-worth through some tricky situations.  Magic Misfits: The Second Story has just been released, and there are four titles projected for this series.
(Psst. Hey, you! Yes, you! Congratulations on reading this far. As a reward, I’ll let you in on a little secret… This book isn’t just a book. It’s a treasure trove of secrets and ciphers and codes and even tricks. Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll discover more than just a story–you’ll learn how to make your own magic!)

Nothing Up My Sleeve by Diana Lopeznothing up my sleeve
When sixth-grade best friends Loop, Dominic, and Z stumble on a new magic store in town, they quickly decide to become amateur magicians and participate in a competition held by the Texas Association of Magicians.  They can’t wait to spend their summer mastering cool tricks to gain access to the Vault, a key holders-only back room bound to hold all kinds of secrets.  They work on their card tricks, sleights, and vanishing acts, trying to come up with the most awesome routines possible….Problem is, the trip is expensive, and it’s money that each guy’s family just doesn’t have. To make things worse, the shop-owners’ daughter, Ariel (who just so happens to be last year’s competition winner), will do anything to make sure the boys don’t come out on top. Even pit them against one another. Will these friends make it to the competition? And if so, at what cost?

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Oh dear.  My list of five has magically expanded.  Well, all the better for reading! 🙂

If you would like any other books about magicians, magic or anything else, ask one of our librarians for help.  We always like matching books and readers!  Until then…

Happy Reading!

Five Books Featuring…Elephants on Adventures!

Elephants!  What’s not to love?  One of my favorite books growing up was Little Burma, by Robert McClung.  It was about a boy in Revolutionary America, who rescued a baby elephant and tried to help him, after they both escaped from a traveling side show.  It’s not available in Minuteman, but my old, beat up copy is still somewhere in my mom’s attic.  Elephant adventures have always been appealing since then, the more adventurous, the better!

So this week, when two brand new adventures featuring elephants and kids came in for the kids collection, it seemed like a great time to feature an animal everyone loves.  And so, for our first entry back after way too long, we present…Five Books Featuring…Elephant Adventures!

Our Five Books Featuring are five books related by topic–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.

Read on!

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elephant in the darkCarrick, Carol.  The Elephant in the Dark
With a sick mother and nowhere else to go, Will Sleeper is taken in by the Sandersons, the village storekeeper and his wife.  His duties will be to help feed and care for Toong, an elephant they are boarding for the winter. Even though at first Will is afraid of Toong, after he loses his mother some of Will’s grief and loneliness are eased by the friendship that develops between the boy and the elephant.
As they spend more time together, Toong learns to accept Will’s directions and even lets him rides on her back. But just when Will becomes comfortable with the Sandersons and with Toong, the elephant is sold. This time, Will isn’t willing to be left behind, and he determinedly follows Toong and her new owners on foot, sure that his destiny and Toong’s are intertwined and that they belong together.
Although Will is fictional, this story is based on a real elephant, Old Bet, who toured Massachusetts and New England in the early 1800s.

Harris, R.P.  Tua and the Elephanttua and the elephant
Tua–Thai for “peanut”–has everything she needs at home in Chiang Mai, Thailand, except for one thing she’s always wanted: a sister. In the market one day, Tua makes an accidental acquaintance–one with wise, loving eyes, remarkable strength, and a very curious trunk. And when Tua meets Pohn-Pohn, it’s clear this elephant needs her help. Together, the unusual team sets off on a remarkable journey to escape from Pohn-Pohn’s vile captors. From the bustling night market to the hallowed halls of a Buddhist temple and finally, to the sanctuary of an elephant refuge, this clever girl and her beloved companion find that right under their noses is exactly what each has been searching for: a friend.

High, Linda Oatman.  One Amazing Elephant one amazing elephant
Lily Pruitt loves her grandparents, but she doesn’t love the circus–and the circus is their life. If your mother were a trapeze artist and your grandparents traveled with a circus, you might imagine that you’d get such perks as free cotton candy, the chance to befriend sideshow performers, and behind-the-scenes tours. While this lifestyle might excite most tweens, Lily Pruitt views the circus as dangerous. She’s perfectly happy to stay with her father, away from her neglectful mother and her grandfather’s beloved elephant, Queenie Grace.
Then Grandpa Bill dies, and both Lily and Queenie Grace are devastated. When Lily travels to Florida for the funeral, she keeps her distance from the elephant. But the two are mourning the same man–and form a bond born of loss. And when Queenie Grace faces danger, Lily must come up with a plan to help save her friend.

Kehret, Peg.  Saving Lillysaving lilly
Erin Wrenn and her friend David are in big trouble when they refuse to go on a field trip to the Glitter Tent Circus. They wrote a report on the sad lives of circus animals and discovered that the Glitter Tent Circus is one of the worst animal abusers of all. However, their teacher Mrs. Dawson is determined to give her students the happy circus experience she remembers from her childhood; she won’t let Erin and David share their report or pass around a petition asking for a different field trip. Erin is determined to force Mrs. Dawson to change her plans…or she’ll stage a sit-in at school.
Then Erin sees an even bigger problem: Lilly, a mistreated elephant, is about to be sold to a hunting park. How can she save Lilly before it’s too late? It seems impossible.
Can one girl — and an entire class of sixth graders – really make a difference?

Kelly, Lynne.  Chainedchained
After Hastin’s family borrows money to pay for his sister’s hospital bill, he leaves his village in northern India to take a job as an elephant keeper and work off the debt. He thinks it will be an adventure, but he isn’t prepared for the cruel circus owner. The crowds that come to the circus see a lively animal who plays soccer and balances on milk bottles, but Hastin sees Nandita, a sweet elephant and his best friend, who is chained when she’s not performing and hurt with a hook until she learns tricks perfectly. Hastin protects Nandita as best as he can, but he knows that the only way they will both survive is if he can find a way for them to escape.

Kerr, Jane.  The Elephant Thiefelephant thief
When young pickpocket Danny accidentally buys an elephant at an auction, he finds himself swept up on an unforgettable adventure. Offered a job by a zookeeper, all he has to do is ride Maharajah from Edinburgh to Manchester in one week.  Everyone in the country is watching, even the Queen, but the journey soon proves to be filled with drama and danger. A rival zookeeper will stop at nothing to make sure they fail, and soon Danny’s shady connections from his past threaten to overturn the mission.  Can Danny win the trust and friendship of the elephant and guide him home? Can the two of them stick together through the odds and win the day?

Morpurgo, Michael.  An Elephant in the Gardenelephant in the garden
Frail and in a nursing home, Lizzie recalls when she was a teen and her family, including an elephant named Marlene, escaped the devastating 1945 bombing of Dresden, Germany…
Lizzie and Karl’s mother is a zoo keeper; the family has become attached to an orphaned elephant named Marlene.  Because of the war, Marlene is supposed to be destroyed as a precautionary measure so she and the other animals don’t run wild should the zoo be hit by bombs. The family persuades the zoo director to let Marlene stay in their garden instead.
Marlene takes to her new family, particularly to Lizzie’s little brother, Karli, and when the bombers actually do arrive, Marlene accompanies them on their flight across Germany, away from the invading Russians and toward the advancing American army. Along the way, they meet a wounded Canadian soldier, who himself becomes an integral part of this makeshift family.
Inspired by a true story about an elephant rescued from a Belfast zoo during WWII.

Walters, Eric.  Elephant Secretelephant secret
Samantha Gray is known as the “elephant girl.” She lives with her Dad and helps care for all the elephants in her family’s sanctuary. Raised close with the herd, Sam’s ability to connect with the elephants transcends human understanding. In fact, she bonds and interacts with the elephants much better than she does with people; especially with her dad’s new girlfriend, Joyce.
When a beloved elephant dies giving birth, Sam develops a connection with baby Woolly–who isn’t actually an elephant but was cloned from woolly mammoth DNA. The family is horrified to discover that the billionaire genius behind the cloning experiment will stop at nothing to protect his investment.
Smart, determined, and loving, Sam stands up to this powerful adversary to protect the sanctuary and her family…her herd.

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(Shhh…we’ll just pretend there were just five books, not eight.  I couldn’t decide which book to pick for the “new” choice!)   So many elephants, so many good reading choices!  Some of them we even have as audio books, so they would be good family choices as well.

Most of these books are middle grade, which means they would be good for third through sixth grade readers.  If you’re an elephant fan, you can’t go wrong with one of these choices.  So try one and see what you think.  And because I found so MANY elephant adventures, this would be a good place to put the rest of the elephant books.  No blurbs to entice you as a reader, but every single one of these is a great book to read.

Applegate, Katherine.  The One and Only Ivan
Burchett, J.  Safari Survival
DiCamillo, Kate.  The Magician’s Elephant
Dinerstein, Eric. What Elephants Know
Jacobson, Jennifer.  Small as an Elephant
Kadohata, Cynthia.  A Million Shades of Gray
McCall Smith, Alexander.  Akimbo and the Elephants
St. John, Lauren.  The Elephant’s Tale
Smith, Roland.  Thunder Cave


Happy Reading!