When a young troll named Hawthorn is stolen from Fairyland by the Golden Wind, he becomes a changeling – a human boy -- in the strange city of Chicago, a place no less bizarre and magical than Fairyland when seen through trollish eyes. Left with a human family, Hawthorn struggles with his troll nature and his changeling fate. But when he turns twelve, he stumbles upon a way back home, to a Fairyland much changed from the one he remembers. Hawthorn finds himself at the center of a changeling revolution--until he comes face to face with a beautiful young Scientiste with very big, very red assistant.
Time magazine has praised Catherynne M. Valente's Fairyland books as "one of the most extraordinary works of fantasy, for adults or children, published so far this century." In this fourth installment of her saga, Valente 's wisdom and wit will charm readers of all ages.
About Catherynne M. Valente
Catherynne M. Valente was born on Cinco de Mayo, 1979 in Seattle, WA, but grew up in in the wheatgrass paradise of Northern California. She graduated from high school at age 15, going on to UC San Diego and Edinburgh University, receiving her B.A. in Classics with an emphasis in Ancient Greek Linguistics. She then drifted away from her M.A. program and into a long residence in the concrete and camphor wilds of Japan.
She currently lives in Maine with her partner, two dogs, and three cats, having drifted back to America and the mythic frontier of the Midwest.
The summary is intriguing but sounds almost like a spin-off. Wonder if September will be making an appearance?
What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!
It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.
"Wild nights are my glory," the unearthly stranger told them. "I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I'll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract."
A tesseract (in case the reader doesn't know) is a wrinkle in time. To tell more would rob the reader of the enjoyment of Miss L'Engle's unusual book. A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O'Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg's father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem.
A Wrinkle in Time is the winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal.
‘Challenged at the Polk City, Fla. Elementary School (1985) by a parent who believed that the story promotes witchcraft, crystal balls, and demons. Challenged in the Anniston Ala. schools (1990). The complainant objected to the book’s listing the name of Jesus Christ together with the names of great artists, philosophers, scientists, and religious leaders when referring to those who defend earth against evil.’ -Source
‘We look not at the things which are what you would call seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal. But the things which are not seen are eternal.’
A Wrinkle in Time is a story of three children and their travels through the universe to find a young girl’s lost father. Meg Murry is a self-conscious child who is constantly critical of herself. Charles Wallace is Meg’s younger brother and is a genius but does whatever he can to keep a low profile. Calvin O’Keefe is the complete opposite of the siblings but crosses paths and quickly becomes a vital link to their exploits.
The setting of A Wrinkle in Time is a strange mixture of genres and isn’t easily categorized. It’s about fantasy and adventure but religion and the battle between good and evil play a major part which is what has led to this book being challenged throughout the years. In A Wrinkle in Time Charles Wallace requests that Calvin read him a bedtime story from The Book of Genesis, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which are all three described as being guardian angels and messengers of God, and several bible quotes are strewn throughout. Yet fundamentalist Christians have an issue with the New Age elements, the blending of religion and science and how the book never comes out truly as a religious text but is left open to interpretation as to how literal the Biblical aspects truly are.
While a Wrinkle in Time is listed as a children’s book, it’s heavy with literary allusions that children won’t likely understand completely. Heck, I’m still contemplating it. Not only are there philosophical references and historical figures mentioned aplenty but the interpretation of how time works, the explanation of a tesseract, The Black Thing and IT and Camazotz is not simple to understand. But that lack of understanding and a slight obliviousness may be what makes this ultimately enjoyable for children. This is the first time I have read this having missed out on this as a child, and while I did enjoy this and will likely pick up the remaining installments this definitely left me contemplating how there are some things that simply can’t be rationalized or made complete sense of.
Jess Aarons' greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in his grade. He's been practicing all summer and can't wait to see his classmates' faces when he beats them all. But on the first day of school, a new girl boldly crosses over to the boys' side and outruns everyone.
That's not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become inseparable. Together, they create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign as king and queen, and their imaginations set the only limits. Then one morning a terrible tragedy occurs. Only when Jess is able to come to grips with this tragedy does he finally understand the strength and courage Leslie has given him.
Performed by Robert Sean Leonard
“At issue with censors are death being part of the plot, Jess’ use of the word ‘lord’ outside of prayer, offensive language, and claims that the book promotes secular humanism, new age religions, the occult, and Satanism. Some critics also proclaim that Leslie is not a good role model simply because she doesn’t attend church.”
[Warning: This review contains spoilers. Sorry! It’s incredibly difficult to discuss this story without including them.]
‘He thought later how peculiar it was that here was probably the biggest thing in his life, and he had shrugged it off as nothing.’
Jess Aarons lives in the small town of Lark Creek. He’s spent his summer leading up to the fifth grade practicing on being the fastest runner in the school. With shock and amazement he’s beaten in the first race by the new girl, Leslie Burke. Their friendship happens suddenly and becomes as comforting to each other as if they had been friends for years. In order to escape the normality of the world, they create an imaginary place in the woods called Terabithia.
‘For the first time in his life he got up every morning with something to look forward to. Leslie was more than his friend. She was his other, more exciting self – his way to Terabithia and all the worlds beyond.’
Jess was a quiet introspective child and Leslie’s introduction into his life not only gave him the courage to do what he loves (drawing, despite his fathers disapproval) but she opened his eyes to the world and changed his outlook on life completely. His world is turned upside down when he comes home after an outing only to be told that Leslie is gone. Jess refused to believe this and he simply couldn’t comprehend with what he was being told. He withdrew from reality and remained convinced that all he had to do was go to Leslie’s house and knock on her door and she would be there, as she always is. This was a moment of pure heartbreak. His bravery in the subsequent days and how he chooses to honor Leslie’s memory was truly admirable.
As you can see, this is another read specifically done for Banned Books Week and yet another one that I fail to agree with. Bridge to Terabithia touches on grief and death and the loss of vital people in your life. Unfortunately it is to be expected that we will all have to deal with this at one point in time, some earlier than others. Considering this is a middle grade novel and is a beautifully written depiction of grief, I see no reason why a child could not read this for better understanding on eventual sadness. Katherine Paterson actually wrote this story after her son lost a childhood friend and she struggled to come up with the proper way of explaining it to him. It teaches them that it’s normal to be sad when you lose someone, that it’s okay to wallow in grief and mostly of the importance of honoring that persons memory.
Seven kids, Thor's hammer, and a whole lot of Valkyries are the only things standing against the end of the world.
When thirteen-year-old Matt Thorsen, a modern day descendant of the Norse god Thor, was chosen to represent Thor in an epic battle to prevent the apocalypse he thought he knew how things would play out. Gather the descendants standing in for gods like Loki and Odin, defeat a giant serpent, and save the world. No problem, right?
But the descendants' journey grinds to a halt when their friend and descendant Baldwin is poisoned and killed and Matt, Fen, and Laurie must travel to the Underworld in the hopes of saving him. But that's only their first stop on their journey to reunite the challengers, find Thor's hammer, and stop the apocalypse--a journey filled with enough tooth-and-nail battles and larger-than-life monsters to make Matt a legend in his own right.
Authors K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr return to Blackwell in the epic sequel to Loki's Wolves with more explosive action, adventure and larger-than-life Norse legends.
I’m a big fan of Middle Grade and Loki’s Wolves was a whole lot of fun. Been waiting anxiously for this installment!
Pirates! Magic! Treasure! A gargoyle? Caroline Carlson's hilarious tween novel The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1: Magic Marks the Spot is perfect for fans of Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events and Trenton Lee Stewart's Mysterious Benedict Society.
Hilary Westfield has always dreamed of being a pirate. She can tread water for thirty-seven minutes. She can tie a knot faster than a fleet of sailors, and she already owns a rather pointy sword.
There's only one problem: The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates refuses to let any girl join their ranks of scourges and scallywags.
But Hilary is not the kind of girl to take no for answer. To escape a life of petticoats and politeness at her stuffy finishing school, Hilary sets out in search of her own seaworthy adventure, where she gets swept up in a madcap quest involving a map without an X, a magical treasure that likely doesn't exist, a talking gargoyle, a crew of misfit scallywags, and the most treacherous—and unexpected—villain on the High Seas.
Written with uproarious wit and an inviting storyteller tone, the first book in Caroline Carlson's quirky seafaring series is a piratical tale like no other.
After recently being denied admittance to The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates simply because she’s a girl, Hilary is now being forced into attending Miss Pimm’s Finishing School for Delicate Ladies. Not that she has any desire to become a Delicate Lady. She can tread water for 37 minutes, can tie a knot that cannot be undone and hates dresses because dresses make climbing ship’s rigging next to impossible.
While Hilary is quite the vibrant character on her own, her gargoyle side-kick provided the comic relief when the story veered too far into weighty territory. The weighty territory mostly involved the odd choice in bad guy, which was a bit of a shock and surprise, however it was handled well. While the story was only occasionally serious, the remaining characters were still just as lighthearted making this a perfect read for young kids. In addition to the story there are between chapter snippets of letters, newspaper articles and other assorted information that was a charming addition.
Magic Marks the Spot is an extremely cute Middle Grade novel that comes equipped with a super spunky heroine, entertaining pirates, magical gargoyles and treasure hunting adventures. While this works as a stand-alone novel with its solid wrap-up ending, it’s actually a brand new start to a planned trilogy. Definitely looking forward to future mischief from Ms. Hilary!
This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.
But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?
The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.
‘[…]whether you are Good or Evil, an Ever or a Never, you must learn to respect one another, for no matter how different you may seem, you cannot exist without the other. The line between princess and witch is a thin one indeed…’
The residents of the small town of Gavaldon are all raised on fairy tales, and they all believe them to be real. Every four years, The School Master takes two children over the age of 12 and one child is placed in The School of Good and the other Evil. It’s been four years.
Sophie, lover of pink and a self-proclaimed princess, dreams of going to The School of Good and meeting her Prince and living happily ever after. Agatha, lover of black and silence and solitude with her cat, isn’t quite sure if she believes in the schools but she knows if she was destined to go there would be no better place for her than The School of Evil. Sophie and Agatha are best friends and when both are chosen for The School’s, it comes as quite a shock when their placements are switched. Agatha is definitely not Good and Sophie can’t possibly be Evil…
What worked for me: The writing is vibrant and extremely visual with alternating POV’s between Sophie and Agatha which provided the reader with a glimpse of both schools through their eyes. Sophie was quite an unbearable character but I do believe that was the purpose (and only solidified her position with The School of Evil). Agatha managed to become the real heart of the story and a truly good person. Both girls struggle throughout the story to retain their friendship due to the constant stereotype that Good can’t possibly be friends with Evil.
What didn’t work for me: The story was excessively long and would have benefited from some additional editing. Also, once I got the gist of the backwards type fairy tale going on it did become a tad predictable. I understand that it was a Grimm-type fairy tale and was dark and malevolent, but I really hated the way Sophie treated Agatha considering they were supposed to be best friends and considering Sophie was Agatha’s only friend. The biggest flaw in my opinion was the ending though. It was so strange and seemed a bit out of left field. There’s ‘didn’t see that coming! wow what a shocker!’ and ‘didn’t see that coming because that doesn’t even make any sense.’ I requested this book solely because of that fabulous book trailer so my expectations were high from the start. This wasn’t a disappointment but it didn’t live up to my high expectations.
Truer to a Grimm Fairy Tale rather than Disney, The School for Good and Evil was intense and distressingly amoral yet still contained what all fairy tales possess: a valuable lesson. One surety about this book, there is truly nothing like it. The School for Good and Evil is a fairy tale that’s been shaken up; it’s all backwards and mismatched but still manages to retain at least the structure of the classic fairy tale that we all know and love. If you’re a fan of fairy tales (especially of the Grimm nature) then this is a story for you.
In Viking times, Norse myths predicted the end of the world, an event called Ragnarok, that only the gods can stop. When this apocalypse happens, the gods must battle the monsters--wolves the size of the sun, serpents that span the seabeds, all bent on destroying the world.
The gods died a long time ago.
Matt Thorsen knows every Norse myth, saga, and god as if it was family history--because it is family history. Most people in the modern-day town of Blackwell, South Dakota, in fact, are direct descendants of either Thor or Loki, including Matt's classmates Fen and Laurie Brekke.
However, knowing the legends and completely believing them are two different things. When the rune readers reveal that Ragnarok is coming and kids--led by Matt--will stand in for the gods in the final battle, he can hardly believe it. Matt, Laurie, and Fen's lives will never be the same as they race to put together an unstoppable team to prevent the end of the world.
Matt Thorsen has always had big shoes to fill considering his family are the descendants of the Norse god, Thor. When he has a dream of Ragnarok, the battle leading up to the end of the world, he doesn’t consider it being anything but a dream. Soon after, a town meeting is called and everyone is told that signs point to Ragnarok happening, and soon. When Matt is named champion he realizes he must seek out other descendant’s of the Gods if he has any hope of saving the world from destruction.
Regardless of the fact that this story closely resembles a Percy Jackson storyline and even Harry Potter at times, there are sufficient enough differences to make Loki’s Wolves stand apart.
First of all, I loved that the story wasn’t told solely through the POV of the ‘main character’, Matt the descendant of Thor. The POV was shared between the three main members of their team including Fen and Laurie, descendant’s of Loki. Each character was distinctive and well-written and it was enjoyable seeing the story from a set of different eyes.
Then there was also, of course, the difference that this book deals with Norse mythology. This was an exceptionally fun aspect for me considering I haven’t read too much relating to Norse mythology before so it was a bit of an educational experience for me.
This was an extremely fun and exciting thrill-ride of a novel; I enjoyed every minute of it. The ending was slightly abrupt, however, this is a trilogy and I do realize it had to end somewhere. There was a bit of a cliffhanger and no real resolution as their adventure is far from over. Highly recommended for adventurous Middle-Graders and Adults alike!
This highly anticipated sequel to Rodkey's much-praised debut is funny, heartfelt, and action-packed. Don't miss it!
After a narrow escape from Deadweather Island, Egg and his slightly deranged partner Guts head for the remote New Lands. They’re in search of the lost Okalu tribe, who hold the key to the mysterious treasure map that Egg can't decipher. But the ruthless Roger Pembroke is hard on Egg's trail, and the New Lands are full of new enemies—against which our heroes' only weapons are their brains, their courage...and the two dozen swear words Guts just memorized in the local tongue.
They're going to need help. But who can they trust? Is Kira, the beautiful and heavily armed Okalu refugee, their ally…or their enemy? Is Pembroke's daughter Millicent on Egg's side…or her father's? Why on earth is the notorious pirate Burn Healy being so nice to them? And the biggest question of all: what shocking secret is Egg about to discover in the shadow of an ancient Okalu temple?
After being completely charmed by ‘Deadweather and Sunrise’ picking up ‘New Lands’ was a given. Comparatively, New Lands is less funny and more serious but still so full of heart. Egg and Guts set out on a journey to discover the Fire King’s lost treasure before it can fall into the hands of the wrong man. Their journey is a bleak one and considering what they seek, it’s difficult for them to judge just who is honest and worth trusting.
Guts was once again my favorite character and definitely managed to always make light of a serious situation.
“Ain’t nobody calls me cow-ears without a fight.” – Guts
You can’t help but love Guts and his crazy antics.
I found New Lands to be a solemn installment and had a slight shortage of the swashbuckling action seen in the previous installment. Regardless, I think this section of Egg’s story is most vital to his development as a character. His maturity had already begun to show towards the end of New Lands, but considering the trying times he had been through it was completely understandable.
New Lands is a story of perseverance and about digging deep to find that strength necessary to continue. This series has made me a lover of Middle Grade and is one series I will continue to seek out.
The magic is all around you, if only you open your eyes....
Lillian Kindred spends her days exploring the Tanglewood Forest, a magical, rolling wilderness that she imagines to be full of fairies. The trouble is, Lillian has never seen a wisp of magic in her hills--until the day the cats of the forest save her life by transforming her into a kitten. Now Lillian must set out on a perilous adventure that will lead her through untamed lands of fabled creatures--from Old Mother Possum to the fearsome Bear People--to find a way to make things right.
In this whimsical, original folktale written and illustrated throughout in vibrant full color by two celebrated masters of modern fantasy, a young girl's journey becomes an enchanting coming-of-age story about magic, friendship, and the courage to shape one's own destiny
“Everything is a lesson if you’re willing to learn something from it.”
Twelve year old Lillian is an adventurous little girl who traverses the Tanglewood forest searching for fairies that she’s convinced exist. After she’s tragically bitten by a snake and dies, she hovers above her body long enough to witness the ring of cats that has surrounded her. Next thing she knows, she’s awake again and is now furry with paws. Seeking to find a way to rectify the situation, she seeks to change the past but in turn ends up living an even worse existence after her Aunt dies after being bitten by the snake instead.
“Maybe there’s a reason why the snake bit you, the cats changed you, and you’re no longer a girl. Maybe there’s something you can learn from being a cat instead of a girl.”
Tanglewood’s main lesson centers around how small choices can lead to surprisingly large consequences that you may not realize until it’s too late. Despite it’s fantasy elements, it still manages to be a lesson that can be understood and appreciated. Charles de Lint has crafted a perfectly charming folktale story and in addition to the enchanting art of Charles Vess this is one that children and adults both are sure to enjoy.
Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.
With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.
“Stories have a way of changing faces. They are unruly things, undisciplined, given to delinquency and the throwing of erasers. This is why we must close them up into thick, solid books, so they cannot get out and cause trouble.”
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making tells the story of a girl named September, who was actually born in May, who was fortunately born on a Tuesday, who is 12 years old, who’s mother builds planes and who’s father is off fighting in the war, and who is from Nebraska. She leaves her home one night with the Green Wind on the back of his flying leopard and doesn’t say goodbye and never looks back.
“… but as has been said, September read often, and liked it best when words did not pretend to be simple, but put on their full armor and rode out with colors flying.”
September was a charming child who was full of heart. She escaped to Fairyland in hopes of a little fun but what she got was not what she anticipated. Fairyland was full of violent and evil beings which was in all actuality no different than the world she left behind, yet, along the way she made some dear friends like Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday that made it all worthwhile.
“I wouldn’t even consider it if I were you. But then if I were you, I would not be me, and if I were not me, I would not be able to advise you, and if I were unable to advise you, you’d do as you like, so you might as well do as you like and have done with it.”
I’m quite glad that I took this adventure to ‘Fairyland’ via audio because I think the flowery words and huge sentences would have been too much for me to bear on print. As it was it still took some getting used to but I ended up enjoying this. ‘Fairyland’ (because it’s simply too long of a title to say repeatedly) is one of those Middle Grade novels that will be well loved by children because it’s adventurous and imaginative yet in retrospect will only be able to be truly understood and appreciated by an Adult reader. I do wish I had the second book on audio, but I think now that I know what to expect from the writing style I won’t have such difficulty.
Recommended for those that enjoy children fantasy stories with a dash of seriousness.