Book One in The Wingsnatchers saga, Carmer and Grit by Sarah Jean Horwitz, will likely appeal to readers who enjoy fantasy adventure stories and steampunk settings.  Blending just the right proportions of science, action, and magic, Horwitz creates an engaging tale with lessons about self-discovery, the value of perseverance, the environmental impact of mankind’s industry and inventions, and the importance of achieving a balance for harmonious coexistence. The key characters in this tale are thirteen-year-old Felix Cassius Tiberius Carmer III, who is Antoine the Amazifier’s apprentice; and Grettifrida Lonewing, a fire faerie who cuts quite an intimidating figure for one only five inches tall andRead More →

April 15 will mark the 105th anniversary of the historic event of the Titanic’s sinking, an event which is memorialized in Dan Gutman’s latest installment of The Flashback Four: The Titanic Mission.  Gutman preserves the Titanic’s history, as well as that of 1912, in a retelling that features four twelve-year-olds: Luke, a large white boy with a touch of Attention Deficit Disorder and a compassionate heart; Julia, a prep school blonde with a penchant for money, clothes, and risk-taking; David, a tall African American boy who never learned to swim but loves to laugh; and Isabel, a studious girl from the Dominican Republic who prefers toRead More →

Set in 1724, The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts by Avi tells the story of the Cromwell family living in Melcombe Regis, a small community on the southern coast of England.  Because his mother died during childbirth, Oliver forms a strong bond with his sister, Charity, who comforts and cares for him.  Their father, overwhelmed by grief at the loss of his wife and generally intractable, repeatedly lets his children down so that Oliver and Charity are often disappointed by their father’s poor parenting and wish for an instruction book on how to deal with inept parents.  Besides his drinking, gambling, and bad moods,Read More →

As Jing turns eleven, she realizes that the age is “like an age of breakthroughs – tea-drying for the first time, my first offering to the guardian, visiting a new city, getting a new hanfu…new adventure, new experiences” (30). What seems like an exciting new period of her life quickly turns into her greatest fear, though. Jing’s widowed Aunt Mei has led the family since the death of Jing’s mother, and because of low resources, she convinces Jing’s father that it is time for Jing to get married. Jing is spirited enough to fight back against the plan to sell her to a big cityRead More →

Readers of both fantasy and adventure will likely label Garth Nix’s recent release, Frogkisser, an enjoyable read.  The book’s main character, thirteen-year-old Princess Anya, takes the spotlight with her plucky and occasionally petulant attitude.  Unaware of her privilege, Anya is content in the library with Gotfried, a librarian who has had some magical education and is a useful resource for Anya, who has a strong interest in magic.  However, when her evil stepstepfather, Duke Rikard starts transforming people, Anya’s conscience and her sister promise to Morven to find Prince Denholm, who is now a frog, alter the course of her life. Allied with other sorcerers,Read More →

For readers who appreciate topics like Arthurian Legend, museum artifacts, bravery, or World War II history, The Metropolitans by Carol Goodman will not disappoint.  Goodman blends these subjects in a time-bending mystery that features four thirteen-year-olds who themselves have endured persecution for their cultural heritage: Madge McGrory, an Irish Catholic; Walt Rosenberg, a Jewish boy; Kiku Akiyama, a Japanese American; and Sose Tehsakónhes, a Mohawk Indian, also known as Joe.  The four form the Brotherhood of the Lost, since they have all experienced the trauma of loss but have found one another, bonding in friendship and courage.  But with those positive traits come their opponents:Read More →