Tag Archives: New Author

What makes a Monster?

It’s out!  Check it out today.

Serafina and the Black Cloak
Serafina and the Black Cloak

Serafina and the Black Cloak
By Robert Beatty
Hardcover: 304 pages
Release date: July 14, 2015 | Age Range: 8 – 12 years | Grade Level: 3 – 7
Disney Hyperion
What an absolute treat. I am so glad I was able to read this as an early eGalley from Disney and Netgalley. I sat down and read it all in under two hours. I rarely devour books like that, but This deservedly has the title of best new work. It is set on the Biltmore Estate during the height of the Vanderbilt’ power and influence. And yet, that scene largely takes a back seat to the goings on of the Biltmore’ quietest and least seen residents: Pa, the estate engineer, an his thirteen year old daughter Serafina. Serafina lives in the basement of the house and knows every nook and cranny. But when she witnesses a terrifying event in the sub basement, she is forced to come out of the shadows to stop a creeping evil from taking anyone else.

This is the best sort of children’ mystery novel. This is a wonderful spooky novel that blends enchanting characters, dark specters, and children running around at night long after the adults have gone to sleep. The Biltmore is a grand backdrop for a classic whodunnit that is sure to please any child with a bent for mystery and mayhem. This will be on our purchase list for the school, and I will be buying a hardback copy for my home library.

Parental note: This is a spooky fairy tale, and the black cloak is classic horror. There are some imagery that might upset younger kids. In fact one scene in particular was enough that it gave me pause thinking “would this be something that gives my ten year old nightmares?” I think the ending resolves that problem, but you have to get that far.

What Makes You Ugly?

Ugly Princess by Henderson Smith
Ugly Princess by Henderson Smith


The Ugly Princess the Legend of the Winnowwood,

by Henderson Smith, CreateSpace Independent Publishing, (February 20, 2014)

For ages 10+, 234 pages (paperback)

I was given a electronic copy of this book to review and based on the little blurb Ms. Smith sent me I jumped at the chance to read this new fantasy for middle graders.

The dedication says it all to me:

“For all the girls who stand on the sidelines wishing they too could be beautiful.  I hope you will let Olive show you how beautiful you truly are and the power that you already wield.  Open your eyes to your own magic!” -H. Smith

I love this sentiment, and this book delivers.  Olive is not pretty, in fact Princess Olive might be considered to be ugly by everyone except her animal friends who think she is the bravest and most beautiful person they know.  Every time Olive uses her magic she becomes a little more physically ugly.  But she can become beautiful if she gives up her magic.  How much does becoming beautiful matter?  How much is she willing to give up?

This is a beautiful fairytale story with enough hard action and adventure to appeal to both boys and girls.  In a time of never ending self promotion, what a fantastic message that the beauty inside matters more.  If you are a fan of Ella Enchanted or Princess Academy I think you will love this story.  I will not spoil the ending, but if you are looking for a great tale for your kids this Summer, I could not recommend this book more highly.