Targeting ‘tweens, How to Disappear Completely by Ali Standish is an interesting novel about difference, not only about how we treat others who are different but the ways our own differences can empower us and even transform us into more than we thought we could be. It is also a book about navigating junior high school and about coping with death. Set in Lanternwood, a town with the feel of stepping back in time, the plot revolves around twelve-year-old Emma Talbot who has just lost her grandmother, who is also her best friend. With Gram, Emma had lived in a world “made of old booksRead More →

Resembling a collection of short stories with the clever and mischievous sixteen-year-old witch, Kendra Hilferty as a unifying character, Beheld by Alex Flinn does some serious genre-blending and blurring.  Part fairy tale, part historical fiction, part romance, and part mystery, Beheld—with its heroes, struggles, and allegories—reveals insight into what it means to be human while conveying its layered theme and multiple morals. The main plot thread features Kendra’s search for James Brandon, her beloved soulmate.  Four other stories run parallel to Kendra’s in that the characters also seek transformation through human relationships.  Ann Putnam’s story, which brought back memories of reading The Crucible by ArthurRead More →

All Jack wants is to live up to his namesake: “maybe I was born to be great, but great at what?” (2)  And that’s really hard, considering that “we lived on a little farm in a small village, where nothing big or great has ever happened in all my twelve years.” (3).  Young Jack was named after a distant grandfather who purportedly conquered nine giants and married the daughter of a duke.  Ever since Jack can remember, his humble farmer father has told him stories of this grandfather, and Jack has longed for any chance at adventure to prove his right to such a greatRead More →

Creative narration, as it colors perspective, can add to a book’s appeal.  Just as Death narrates Markus Zuzak’s The Book Thief, which offers a perspective on the Jewish holocaust, and God narrates Alan Lightman’s Mr. g, a hypothesis about the universe’s creation, the ghost of Jacob Grimm narrates Tom McNeal’s new book, Far Far Away. Although the story doesn’t begin “once upon a time” or “in a land far, far away,” McNeal’s recent release is a fairy tale. Set in the parochial village, Never Better, Far Far Away features heroes and heroines, villains and ogres, horrors and cruelties, as well as lessons for and truthsRead More →