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!
::Kelly::

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Book and Audio Review: The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop

What could be better than a lot of chocolate, a little magic, and some secret agents?

Not much…

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The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop
By Kate Saunders, Read by Jayne Entwistle
6 CDs, 6 hours, 52 minutes

whizz pop chocolate shopOz and Lily Spoffard grew up in a tiny house in Washford Common in London.  Even though the family was cramped, they loved it.  But with a new baby on the way, the twins know that they will have even less space.  But that’s when an unexpected letter from a solicitor in London comes… Their father has apparently inherited a mysterious large house on Skittle Street from his great-uncle on the other side of London.  The solution to all their problems?  Maybe…

They go to visit the house and discover that not only is it a house, but it’s a house with a chocolate shop and chocolate-making laboratory on the first floor!  Although it’s been deserted for more than fifty years, everything is just a little dusty, and the water and electricity are in perfect order.   It even still smells like chocolate!

Oz is reluctant to leave his violin tutor, but Lily can’t wait to get away from her tutor; neither of them will really miss their school.  So arrangements are made for new lessons, and the Spoffards move in.

The first person they meet in their new house is a very grumpy cat named Demerara who tells them that their uncles didn’t only make chocolate, they made magic chocolate.  And now, there’s someone after the recipes.  Luckily, Demerara is an agent for SMU–The Secret Ministry for the Unexplained.  She has the contacts to get Oz, Lily and their new friend Caydon some training to deal with the spies who are now lurking around their house and trying to find some magical chocolate molds.

But even with training, will three kids, a talking cat, a ghostly elephant and a cheeky rat be able to topple the forces of evil trying to take over the world?

whizz pop chocolate shop audioThe audio for The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop is great fun.  I love the British narrator, who manages to make everyone sound different.  (She also does a great American accent!)  The pacing is excellent.  The characters really come to life while you’re listening.

This is a great book to listen to as a family, maybe on a long car trip this summer?  The book is written for third through sixth grades, but the story can be enjoyed by all ages.  There are a couple scary spots in the story–but not too scary–so you can reassure younger listeners that everything will turn out okay.

Some read-alikes include The Dragon with the Chocolate Heart, Bliss, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Candy Shop War.

dragon with the chocolate heart bliss charlie and the chocolate factory candy shop war

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So if you like magical chocolate, talking cats, and a mystery that spans four generations, try this book.  You’ll like it!

As always, if you need help finding this or any other book, ask one of our librarians.  We love to help!

Happy Reading!
::Kelly::

 

Book & Audio Review: The Great Treehouse War

Have you ever wanted to have your own treehouse?  In this book, Winnie had never really thought about it.  But once she had the absolutely most perfect treehouse, in the biggest tree in the state, it was hers, and hers alone.  Or was it..?

Be careful what you wish for…

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great treehouse warThe Great Treehouse War
By Lisa Graff, Read by Ariana Delawari with a Full Cast
4 CDs; 4 hours, 11 minutes

Winnie life was pretty normal right up until the last day of fourth grade.  Sure, her parents were fighting a lot, and didn’t really listen to each other, but other kids had problems too, right?  Then, on the last day of school, her parents sat her down on the x marked in the exact center of the sofa and sat on either side of her to tell her they were getting a divorce.  But both her parents assured her that they still loved her, and that splitting Winnie’s time equally between them was important.

So they sold the house Winnie had grown up in (through fourth grade), and each bought the only two houses on Circle Road, where the two backyards met, not far from Uncle Huck…her mother’s brother and her father’s best friend.  Between the backyards was a giant linden tree, not on either parents’ property.  It was perfect for them–Winnie (and her cat Buttons) could spend Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays with her mom;  Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays with her dad, and every Wednesday, she and Buttons would live by themselves in the treehouse designed and built by Uncle Huck.  Her parents thought it was perfect.  Winnie wasn’t so sure.

But at first it didn’t seem too bad.  Winnie loved her round treehouse, with its own kitchen and living room, bathroom and loft.  And she really enjoyed having a day to herself, with just Buttons for company.  Her parents were even being pretty cool with the equal time thing.

But then Winnie’s mom realized that Winnie would be celebrating Thanksgiving with her father.  So she decided to create another celebration to make up for no Thanksgiving; Flag Day.  Winnie was more confused than happy about the over-the-top celebration, but told her mother it was fun.  And then her dad saw them out in their yard from his back window; so he got into the act with World UFO Day.  Suddenly, both her parents started trying to outdo each other with daily parties, events and field trips when they had Winnie, to make up for each celebration she got to spend with the other.   From International Tongue Twister Day to Ice Cream Sandwich Day to Flossing Day to Cow Appreciation Day to Peach Day, the celebrations started growing and growing and growing…and getting totally out of hand.

Winnie’s frustration also started growing.  As both parents spend the whole afternoon and evening celebrating weird holidays with her on “their” days, Winnie finds less and less time to do her homework, until she was spending Wednesday doing all her homework as well as catching up with her sleep.   It didn’t work as well as she thought, since by February she was falling asleep at her desk during school.  But the last straw was when Mr. B, her teacher, told her she was in danger of flunking fifth grade.

Or no, the real last straw was when her father decided that she was going to spend the summer with him collecting animal feces for examination in the desert, and her mother said that she would then take over all the Wednesdays until summer, to equal out Winnie’s time.  No. Way.  Winnie was not going to lose her only peaceful day.  It was time to declare war!

Winnie got all the supplies she needed and went up to the treehouse, with no intention of coming down until her parents talked to each other.  Her friends were supportive and helpful, keeping up her morale and providing her with supplies.  And as Winnie’s parents decided to wait her out,  one by one each of her friends decided that they also had issues with their parents.  Winnie needed the support, and they needed to raise issues as well.  Before she knew it, Winnie was joined by Squizzy and Lyle and Tabitha and Greta and Joey and Brogan and Aayush  and Logan.  Things get complicated pretty quickly and teachers and television reporters and kids around the world get involved.  It’s kids vs. parents in The Great Treehouse War!  Who will win?  Read and find out.

great treehouse war audioThe audio for The Great Treehouse War is produced as a full cast recording.  As the story begins, Winnie narrates the action,  each of the characters–kids and adults– have a different actor narrating their part of the story.  This works very well for this book because much of the print story is told through letters, books, Declarations, comic strips, clippings, calendars, homework, school reports and notes.  I actually love full cast audio recordings–narrations from a single, great reader are absolutely wonderful,  but occasionally having voice acting from a cast of several people is just amazing.  Since there were different voices, the story felt like it went faster, and listeners know exactly who speaking at any time.  The voices are wonderful, as is the acting.

With that said, if you haven’t read the book and are only listening to the audio version of The Great Treehouse War, make sure that you pick up a copy of the book to look through.  All the documents and notes and school assignments are funny, and the quirky hand-drawn artwork adds so much to the personalities to each of the characters.

The Great Treehouse War is written for ages 8 – 12, but it could be listened to by kids (and adults) of all ages. Lisa Graff is a very popular author; some of her other books are A Clatter of Jars, A Tangle of Knots and Absolutely, Almost.  The Great Treehouse War is one of her funnier ones.  So what are you waiting for?  Try it!  You’ll like it!

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So there you are!  If you enjoy humorous fiction and stories about friends, you’ll enjoy this book.  Kids who liked books by Kate Klise like Regarding the Fountain and Letters from Camp will also enjoy this book.  Fans of ongoing conflicts between friends or families, like Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s The Boy/Girl Battle or Jacqueline Davies’ Lemonade War series will enjoy this book. Fans of Peggy Giffords’ Moxy Maxwell series will like this book.

Some other humorous full-cast recordings at the library:
The Moffats by Eleanor Estes
The Great Christmas Kidnapping Caper by Jean Van Leeuwen
House of Robots by Chris Grabbenstein and James Patterson

If you would like help finding these or any other books in the library, just ask us!  All our librarians are happy to match you with the perfect book or audio–any time, any day!  And until then…

Happy Reading!
::Kelly::

 

great treehouse war detail

Book & Audio Review: Beyond the Bright Sea

Are you a summer visitor to the Cape?  Does the idea of living on an island fill you with delight?  How about adding a bit of treasure hunting, and an unsolved mystery?  If all of those things sound enticing, you’ll love this book!

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beyond the bright seaBeyond the Bright Sea
By Lauren Wolk, Read by Jorjeana Marie
6 CDs, 7 hours, 16 minutes

Crow lives on a nameless, tiny island; part of the Elizabeth Islands, off the cost of Massachusetts.  As long as she remembers, she’s been there with Osh.  But she wasn’t born there.  No, Osh found her as a tiny wailing baby, only hours old, in a small boat, washed up on the shore.  He took her in, cleaned her up, and fed her.  Now they live together in the tiny island home Osh created for them, surrounded by the sea and Osh’s art.

If she’d been a normal baby, someone would probably have taken her away from Osh, thinking he wasn’t fit to raise a small girl.  But Crow wasn’t what most of the islanders would call normal–too sickly, her eyes and skin too dark, her arrival on the small skiff too mysterious.  But most of all, people were afraid that she came from Penekese,   Penikese, the island next closest to their tiny island after Cuttyhunk.  Penikese, home of the leper colony.  Not knowing where Crow came from makes everyone on Cuttyhunk and the other small islands worried that Crow is dangerous.

But it doesn’t bother Crow, not really.  She has her island, she has Osh, and she has Miss Maggie, who she visits almost every day on her farm across the sandbar and who worries over her just as much as Osh does.  Crow also has her imagination and her curiosity.

But Crow’s life changes when she spots a fire over on Penikese, and she starts questioning everything she knows.  Once her curiosity is roused, she starts to look for answers to some of her questions:  Where did she come from?  Who are her “real” parents and why did they send her away?  What is her “real” name?  Why are there lights on Penikese and who is over there?

As Crow searches for answers, she finds herself on a dangerous path, involving menacing strangers and missing treasures.  Will she get her answers, or will she endanger the life she already has?

beyond the bright sea audioThe audio recording for Beyond the Bright Sea is absolutely marvelous.  Jorjeana Marie is suburb; her narration of Lauren Wolk’s gorgeous prose perfectly suits the story and the characters.  You’ll feel like you’re right there beside Crow as she explores the world around her.  I can’t say enough about how beautiful both the story and the narration of that story are.  It’s a perfect package.

Beyond the Bright Sea is perfect for anyone who likes stories of growing up, of discovering who you are, and of carefully plotted mysteries.  The writing is gorgeous.  It’s written for fourth through sixth grades, but the audio recording would be good for kids ages 8 through adults.  If you have ever visited Cape Cod, or are planning to visit, you should read this book: the portrait of the Elizabeth Islands and life on the Cape in the early part of the century is amazing.  You’ll be left wanting to know more about Crow and her world.

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If you can’t tell, I loved this book!  You can practically smell the salt air and hear the seagulls as you listen to Crow’s story unfold.  The pacing of the mystery leaves you on the edge of your seat; and Crows relationship with Osh and Miss Maggie is so, so good.  Really, everyone who lives in Massachusetts needs to read or listen to this book!

Some books and audios that have similar themes or feelings:
Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holt
The War That Saved My Life by Jennifer Brubaker Bradley
Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

As always, if you need help finding this or any other book or audio in the library, or you’re looking for suggestions on what to read next, ask me or any of our other librarians.  We’re happy to help!

Happy Reading!
::Kelly::

 

 

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::

 

 

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::

 

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::