Five Books Featuring…Robin Hood!

What’s better on a grey rainy day than something green?  Put yourself in the mindset of merry old England, with these books featuring  the legendary outlaw Robin Hood!  Okay, so one of our books is a dystopia, one is set in space, and there are just as many female as male Robin Hoods in this list…it’s not exactly the same Sherwood Forest you might have heard about.  But if you try one of these adventurous tales, you’ll be sure to be thinking about the myths and the legends (and the re-imaginings) of Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Little John, Will Scarlet and the rest of the Merry Men!

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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Five Books based on the Legend of Robin Hood…

Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody
will in scarletWill Shackley is the son of a lord, and though just thirteen, he’s led a charmed, protected life as heir to Shackley House.   While his father is away on the Third Crusade with King Richard the Lionheart, the winds of treason sweep across England.  Shackley House becomes caught up in a dangerous power struggle when King Richard’s brother John tries to take the throne and sends his representative to take Will into custody. After wounding Sir Guy’s manservant with a sword, Will becomes an outlaw and flees to Sherwood Forest, taking the name Will Scarlet. He joins a ragtag band of thieves and, bent on revenge, throws himself into adventures that force him to face hard truths and figure out where his path lies.

League of Archers by Eva Howard
league of archersSent to live in a nunnery after her mother’s death, Ellie spends her days as a novice nun and her evenings hunting in the woods with her friends. She and her friends call themselves The League of Archers, and try to be like their hero Robin Hood by sneaking out to hunt on the lands belonging to the village Baron and stealing from him to feed their poor neighbors. One night, Ellie encounters a mysterious man in the woods, wounded by a poisonous arrow. She brings him back to the nunnery only to discover that he is Robin Hood and the kind abbess of the nunnery is Maid Marion.
With the abbess’s secret revealed, the Baron immediately arrests Marian. But he needs a scapegoat for the murder of Robin Hood, and who better than a young novice nun? Ellie is proclaimed a hero–the person who killed the famous outlaw Robin Hood–but the villagers don’t agree.  Now Ellie is on the run, and Marian set to hang unless the League of Archers can find a way to contact the disbanded Merry Men and mount a rescue.
Will Ellie and her League of Archers be able to find the real killer, free Maid Marian, and keep Robin Hood’s legacy alive?

The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley
outlaws of sherwoodRobin is an apprentice forester in the woods of Nottingham. The arrows he makes and sells earn barely enough extra coin to retain the title to his father’s small lands. The sheriff of Nottingham’s jealousy toward Robin’s father is just as fierce towards his son, and the sheriff’s men take every opportunity to harass the young woodsman. When Robin defends himself and accidentally kills one of the sheriff’s men, he flees to Sherwood Forest, knowing that he has not only lost his father’s land and good name forever, but that he will live the rest of his days as a hunted man.
Joined by his friends Much and Lady Marian, who both believe the disaster that has befallen Robin is also an opportunity for others cast out or outlawed in ways equally unjust, to gather together. As more and more people join them, Robin builds a community of Saxon outlaws deep in Sherwood who risk the gallows and the sword for the sake of justice and freedom.

Shadows of Sherwood by Scott Magoon
shadows of sherwoodOne night when after returning from a midnight adventure scavenging for the poor of Nott City, Robyn Loxley finds her parents missing and her home in disarray. Grabbing the secret items her father has trained her to take in case of emergency, Robyn flees. Following the advice of her parents to head for the woods, she ventures into rough-and-tumble neighboring Sherwood City.  Robyn has no choice but to join a band of strangers-misfit kids, each with their own special talent for mischief. Setting out to right the wrongs of Crown’s merciless government, they take their outlaw status in stride. But Robyn can’t rest until she finds her parents. As she pieces together clues from the night they disappeared, Robyn learns that her destiny is tied to the future of Nott City in ways she never expected.
If you liked Shadows of Sherwood, you should read Rebellion of Thieves and Reign of Outlaws, the next two books in the Robyn Hoodlum Adventures .

Robin Hood: The One Who Looked Good in Green by Wendy Mass
robin hood looked good in greenRobin has a bad habit of getting into trouble–and a better habit of getting out of it (barely). He lives on an isolated outpost in the middle of nowhere and has no idea why his parents disappeared years ago. Then a strange delivery arrives at his doorstep.
Marian was raised to be a powerless girl in a very powerful family. But that hasn’t stopped her from making her own adventures – and trespassing in some places her parents definitely don’t want her to see. She has no idea what life should be like outside of her home–until a mysterious invitation forces her to leave everything behind.
Robin and Marian have lived very different lives in very different places. Their paths should never, ever cross–but before they know it, they are thrown together on a quest that requires legendary bravery, quick-witted escapes, and the ability to get along. With each other!  The sky’s no longer the limit on what Robin and Marian can do, as long as they manage do it together!

 

 

 

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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::

5 Books Featuring…Treehouses!

Not really the right time of the year for this topic…but maybe as you’re huddled by the fireplace or your radiator, you might enjoy reading about these adventures in the (warmer!) outdoors.  And once you thaw out from this winter blast, maybe you could stop by the library and check out a book about building a tree house in the spring!

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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Graff, Lisa.  The Great Treehouse WarThe Great Treehouse Wargreat treehouse war
Winnie’s last day of fourth grade ended with a pretty life-changing surprise. That was the day Winnie’s parents got divorced and decided that Winnie would live three days a week with each of them and spend Wednesdays by herself in a treehouse between their houses, to divide her time perfectly evenly. Too bad no one consulted Winnie.
By the end of fifth grade, Winnie decides that the only way to change things is to barricade herself in her treehouse until her parents come to their senses–and her friends decide to join. It’s kids vs. grown-ups, and no one wants to back down first. But with ten kids in one treehouse, all with their own demands, things get pretty complicated! Even if they are having the most epic slumber party ever.

Griffiths, Andy.  The 13-Story Treehouse13 story treehouse
Andy and Terry live in the most amazing treehouse in the world!   It has thirteen stories, a bowling alley, a see-through swimming pool, a secret underground laboratory, and a marshmallow machine that follows you around and automatically shoots marshmallows into your mouth whenever you are hungry.  Life would be perfect for Andy and Terry if it wasn’t for the fact that they have to write their next book, which is almost impossible because there are just so many distractions, including thirteen flying cats, giant bananas, mermaids, a sea monsters pretending to be mermaids, enormous gorillas, and dangerous burp gas-bubblegum bubbles!  (If you read the whole series, you’ll find out that the boys will get up to 91 stories…)

Kimmel, Haven.  Kaline Klattermaster’s Tree Housekaline klattermasters
Kaline Klattermaster loves his mom. Adores his mom. But she can be, well…a bit forgetful sometimes. A bit lax. A bit…crazy? For instance, when she gives him a chicken leg for breakfast…or forgets that he needs to go to school. And he’s not completely sure his mother understands how time works.
His mom has been  a bit more crazy since his dad left. So it’s a very good thing that the folks in Kaline’s tree house are not so crazy.  The two brothers and one hundred dogs that live in his tree house–and his strange neighbor Mr. Osiris Putnaminski–help him cope. They understand him.  His mom hints that the tree house is imaginary, but Kaline is unconvinced. Kaline Klattermaster is a boy who understands the importance of a few good friends!

Roberts, Willo Davis.  The View From the Cherry Treeview from the cherry tree 2
Rob is the youngest in his family, and is used to being ignored.  But with his older sister getting married, and everyone wrapped up in wedding preparations, Rob is left to his own devices even more than usual.  He doesn’t mind though, he kind of enjoys sitting up in his perch way up in the cherry tree, looking down on everyone while he remains unseen.
But when Rob looks over at Mrs. Calloway’s house, he sees something he never expected; the murder of his elderly neighbor.  Rob tries to tell his family, but no one believes him.  No one, but the murderer.  Rob didn’t see his face, but now he has to figure out who it is, before he’s the next victim.

Wyss, Johann David.  The Swiss Family Robinsonswiss family robinson
A terrible shipwreck; a deserted island. One family will emerge alive from this terrible storm: the Robinsons–a Swiss pastor, his wife, and their four sons, plus two dogs and a shipload of livestock.  As they struggle to create a new life on a strange and fantastic tropical island home, each boy must learn to utilize his own unique nature.   Their adventures lead to difficult challenges and amazing discoveries, including a puzzling message tied to an albatross’s leg. Featuring amazingly resourceful characters and a wondrous landscape bursting with exotic wildlife and plants, (as well as a treehouse home!) this is an irresistible tale of ingenuity.  A wonderful adventure, where each moment brings a new thrill.
If the original is too old-fashioned in language and style, try the Classic Starts version by Chris Tait.  It retains the flavor of the original for modern readers.

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Stay warm in this cold as you enjoy these tropical (and not-so-tropical) adventures!

::Kelly::

Old Favorites: Wren to the Rescue

Quests are always a fun topic for an adventure book. The more dangerous the adventure, the more exciting the read.  What’s not to like?  Daring heroes, impossible tasks, magical mischief, mistaken identities and more await every lucky reader.

Wren to the Rescue, by Sherwood Smith, is full of all of these elements…and more!

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Wren was left at a mountain orphanage when she was just a baby.  At nine, she was transferred to Three Groves Orphanage because of overcrowding.  At Three Groves, she learns how to clean, cook, mend and do farm tasks.  Wren would rather learn how to read and write, act or go on adventures!  But Wren is stuck in life as an orphan; when she’s twelve, she’ll be hired out.  Until then though, she makes a name for herself creating stories and sticking up for other kids.  She meets another orphan, Tess, when she rescues her from some of the bigger orphanage bullies.  Three years later, Wren and Tess are still best friends, doing everything together.

So when Tess announces that she isn’t really an orphan at all, but a princess in disguise, Wren is amazed.  Tess has been under a curse and in hiding from an evil sorcerer the entire time she’s known her!  Wren is completely envious that Tess–quiet, shy Tess–is about to go to the palace to live in luxury and have grand adventures.  Tess though, would rather stay an anonymous orphan with her best friend. When she asks Wren if knowing she’s a princess changes Wren’s opinion of her, Wren tells her of course not. But she does think that their personalities are better suited to each others positions.  Fortunately, Tess isn’t angry–she knows it’s true.

Tess asks Wren to join her–not as a maid servant, but as her friend. Wren promptly agrees, and both girls are magically whisked away by Mistress Leila, one of the orphanage teachers who is actually Tess’ aunt, to the Magic School.  There, Tess meets with her parents and learns that she’s not completely out of danger.  But, reassured by the precautions the King and Queen have taken, the royal family and Wren return to the Palace.  But the curse seems to come true when, during the preparation for her 13th birthday, Tess vanishes. Kidnapped!

Wren saw the person who took Tess, and she saw the magic that was used.  But no one listens to her; they think she’s just a poor girl.  So Wren repeats the phrase she heard Mistress Leila use, waves her hand the same way, and is transported to the Magic School, where she meets a young wizard.  This wizard can’t seem to perform magic reliably, and is stunned to learn that Wren can do a difficult spell just from hearing it one time.  He also has a best friend, another boy training to be a warrior.  They’re willing to listen, so Wren tells them all she knows of Tess’s disappearance.  All three bond over their worry about Tess, and soon Wren, Tyron and Connor are defying the King and setting out on a quest to find and rescue her.

But Wren doesn’t know that both her traveling companions have secrets.  She also isn’t quite sure what to do with the magical abilities she seems to be developing; will they help or hinder in the search for Tess?

Facing evil magicians, enchanted beasts, and magical warriors led by an enchantress, Wren leads the boys over the mountains on a continuing mission to find Tess.  But when her magic backfires, will Wren be able to continue on her quest?  Only by finding Tess and confronting her evil captors will Wren find the answers to her questions.

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Wren to the Rescue was written in 1990, and was followed by two other titles, Wren’s Quest and Wren’s War. The trilogy stopped with some unanswered questions, so I was happy to see that there is now a fourth book, Wren, Journeymage available online through the author’s website.

Although there are princesses and evil sorcerers, dragons (well, sort of) and potential romance aplenty, it’s refreshing to meet a heroine who starts out with no special status or powers.  She’s not a princess or a magician herself, but an ordinary girl with determination, stubbornness and  principles.  Wren is the power behind the quest, the one who organizes the other rescuers, the one who is motivated by to find her friend.  She consults with the boys, but is usually the one they turn to to make important decisions.

If you like quest stories, spunky heroines and magic, you’ll love Wren to the Rescue.  So what are you waiting for?  Read it and find out!

::Kelly::

Old Favorite: Mindy’s Mysterious Miniature

From The Borrowers to The Littles to The Indian in the Cupboard, little people have been populating children’s books since the days of Gulliver’s Lilliputians. In books, miniature people have a variety of reasons for being so tiny: some were born tiny (or even with tails!) and some of the books take place in a far-away land where tiny is normal. But some of these unfortunate miniature people  were transformed under mysterious circumstances…just like Mindy and her friends in Mindy’s Mysterious Miniature by Jane Louise Curry.

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Mindy is spending a boring Saturday trailing after her parents at a dusty old estate auction.  They have a small antiques store, and their daughter soon grows tired of the same old auction items. After listening to one too many bad jokes from the auctioneer, she slips off to explore the old barn, now empty of all its possessions. In the dusty overlooked eaves of the hayloft, behind a broken sign, Mindy stumbles upon  a forgotten dollhouse. A beautiful dollhouse, if the dusty room she can see through a hole in a tiny window is anything to go by.   She runs to explain her find to the auctioneer and convinces him to put it up for auction. She bids 68 cents and 12 lemon soda bottles (at five cents each) and with no opponents, ends up the proud owner of a grimy dollhouse.

Once Mindy and her parents get the dollhouse home, they start to examine it. Something isn’t right about this house…it’s more like a model of a home rather than a toy to play with. Everything is exactly to scale, with nothing being too big or too little…something almost impossible to find, even in the most carefully constructed reproductions.  There are tiny silver pots that look authentically colonial, minuscule eyeglasses and a beautiful chandelier.  It’s all perfect. Maybe too perfect?

While Mindy and her mother start taking furniture outside to wash in the yard, Mindy’s father, Mr. Hallam, takes the tiny kitchen table to work with him to examine more closely. Mindy suddenly gets nervous about the dollhouse when she finds an oily-looking man snooping around her parent’s store, looking inside drawers where he has no business. She runs to warn her mother, only to find that her mother has already covered up the house after an odd encounter with a persistent TV repairman.

Mindy’s father comes home with the news that the table, when viewed under magnification, seems to be composed of miniature wood molecules, and the whole family isn’t sure what to think. Do they have a dollhouse made out of some previously unknown type of wood, or is their dollhouse a shrunken real-sized house? Mindy’s parent’s scoff, but Mindy isn’t so sure.

When Mrs. Bright from next-door comes over to tell the Halams about her own encounter with the creepy TV repairman,  who turns out to also be the snoopy antiques collector, Mr. and Mrs. Halam decide to go to the police and report him. Mrs. Bright volunteers to stay with Mindy…which may be something that all four regret. Because the strange man…Mr. L. Putt….comes back. He knows the secret of the mysterious dollhouse, and he doesn’t want to share.

Soon, Mindy and Mrs. Bright are actually inside the miniature home. Mr. Putt is not  a TV repairman or an antiques collector. He’s a dangerous man, and he’s stolen the dollhouse AND Mindy and Mrs. Bright. If these two friends are going to survive, they have to keep  their wits about them and figure out a way to outwit the dastardly professor who’s now keeping them prisoner!

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Originally published in 1970, and released in paperback as The Mysterious Shrinking House, this was a Scholastic book staple in the early 70s.  There’s a companion book entitle The Lost Farm., where a boy named Pete and his grandmother have to deal with Professor Putt’s schemes and their shrunken farm.

Mindy’s Mysterious Miniature was an extremely popular book when I was in fifth grade–I think my whole class read it.  Jane Louise Curry was one of my favorite authors when I was  in fourth,  fifth and sixth grade, with her combination of adventure, danger and humor. We still have a few of her titles, and I would highly recommend her to any middle-grade readers. Some are mysteries, some are time-travel adventures, and some are fantasy. Two of my favorites still at the Weston Library include The Bassumtyte Treasure and The Ice Ghosts Mystery. For the books we don’t own, I adore Parsley Sage, Rosemary and Time, and still read it every couple years for fun.  And I see Poor Tom’s Ghost is back in print! Hmm…

So if you’re looking for a satisfying, page-turning summer read, try Mindy’s Mysterious Miniature. You’ll like it, I promise!

::Kelly::