It’s been awhile since we’ve posted! There are quite a few new entries coming up though, so we hope you’ll be sticking around to check it out! First up…a fun series featuring a boy with a problem and a group of librarians who are…(shhh…don’t tell!)…evil.
* * *
Alcatraz Smedry has never known his parents. An orphan, he’s currently living with foster parents Joan and Roy Sheldon. Although Alcatraz likes the Sheldons, he’s not counting on being with them forever. They’re his 27th placement as a foster kid; not because he’s a bad kid, but because of his…problem. Alcatraz breaks things. He doesn’t intend to, it just seems to happen to things around him–from washing machines to plates to chickens. He doesn’t destroy things, because all the pieces are still there, things just end up broken beyond repair.
When a package arrives on his thirteenth birthday, Alcatraz is surprised to open it up and see a note from his parents. The package looks old…the stamps date back thirteen years, and the wrapping is old and faded, with frayed cords. Alcatraz isn’t sure what to think of it. Is it a cruel joke? Did his parents really send it? And how would they have been able to know the address where he would be in thirteen years? He’s only lived there for eight months. The “birthday gift” however, is a bag of sand. Sand? Alcatraz looks for more, but aside from a few mysterious scribbles on the packaging, that’s all it is. A bag of ordinary-looking beach sand.
Disgusted, Alcatraz goes downstairs to made dinner for his foster parents in gratitude for them being normal. But he manages to break the kitchen, setting it on fire. Alcatraz’s case supervisor comes to tell him to get ready to move to a new home. Once again, his ability to break things has come back to haunt him.
The next day, a very odd old man in a rattletrap old-fashioned car shows up, calling Alcatraz by name. The case worker, Alcatraz assumes. But the old man seems completely crazy! When he tells Alcatraz that he’s his grandfather. Grandpa Leavenworth Smedry has a preposterous tale of the Free Kingdoms and the Hushlands, evil librarians who control our world, and Oculators, who control technology with special lenses. Alcatraz tries to get away from the crazy old man, only to run into a second strange man who tries to kidnap him! What’s the better choice? A loony old guy who seems fond of him, or a man with a gun who shoots at him? Alcatraz leaves with Grandpa Smedry, but not before breaking the whole house.
Soon, Alcatraz is in a flying car, helping to form a team of freedom fighters and Oculators to battle the forces of Libraria and the evil librarians infiltrating our world. Will he and his team succeed? Or will they fall to the forces of order and librarianship?
The sound recording of Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians is excellent! I love the narrator–Ramon De Ocampo is the perfect choice for this series. His voices for all the characters (and there are quite a few!) are all varied. Old, young, male, female, good, bad…every character has a distinct voice and stands alone. His pacing is excellent, and his voice is always clear and easily understood. The quality of the recording is excellent.
There are five books in the Alcatraz series: Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians, The Scrivner’s Bones, The Knights of Crystallia, The Shattered Lens and The Dark Talent. There may be a sixth book on the way…author Brandon Sanderson has shared that he’s writing it from the view point of Bastille (you’ll be introduced to her very quickly in the first book). There’s currently no publishing date, but it looks like he’s said the manuscript should be finished in 2017…so maybe soon we’ll have some news about it!
If you’re looking for a series to read or listen to with a lot of action, a great cast of characters, a touch of humor, some elements of fantasy and a likeable hero (even though he says he isn’t one) you’ll love the Alcatraz series. As an audio book, we have had families with kids as young as six tell us they loved listening to the first book, as well as the entire series. For reading, it’s probably at a 4th – 7th grade level–on par with the Unwanteds series by McMann or the Alex Rider series by Horowitz.
* * *
Sound good? You should check it out! If you like Alcatraz, besides the two series mentioned above, you could also try The Lives of Christopher Chant, by Diana Wynne Jones, The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke, or The Beyonders by Brandon Mull.
As always, if you would like help finding an audio book to listen to, or a book to read, ask one of our Youth Services librarians. We’re always happy to help you find the perfect book for you.