Tag Archives: New Release

Tell someone, and don’t wait!

The Summer of Owen Todd by Tony Abbott

What do you do when the only way to help a friend may also hurt him?

“Children should always speak up, no matter how it might hurt to do so… Better to lose a friend than lose a life.” Abbott

  217 pages

I read this in one shot, and it was both gut-wrenching and heart-breaking. That is the author’s intent. I can’t get my head around recommending this to its stated audience, namely eight year old kids and up,  but the truth is that child abuse is an appalling reality for some very young people.  Abbott directs his strong message to those who know something bad is happening to a friend. The message is to speak up and tell a trusted adult.  Secrets, he shows, are often destructive, because the perpetrators threaten and menace the victim, and threats add layers of terror and guilt to the act of child-abuse itself.

The message unfolds in a strong story with believable characters and, ironically,  a lot of normal life going on around.  One doesn’t let up and relax to enjoy.  The menace is prevalent throughout. This book will make you sad and angry, but it is a necessary message for all.

Tony Abbott is a skillful and prolific writer of fantasy, adventure and other genres, and you’ll do yourself a favor by visiting his website to see what else he writes.  http://www.tonyabbottbooks.com/books/

The Deavys


The Deavys
By Allen Dean Foster
Age Range: 9 – 15 years
Paperback: 354 pages
Publisher: Open Road Media Teen & Tween (February 16, 2016)

It came to my attention recently that my post about this fantastic new upper middle grade-young adult fantasy fiction book had not been received. To which I apologize! Both the head librarian and I agree that more books using great vocabulary, enchanting stories, and frankly a lack of romance need to be written. This marvelously imaginative tale written by a perennial favorite science fiction / fantasy author of mine showed up about two months ago on Netgalley. I was excited to read it, and I sat in our school chortling at clever turns of phrase, and fun action that managed to capture a fantastical quest but maintain a youthful exuberance I find lacking in a lot of this genre. I mean the kissing frog scene, or the snack cart where you tell the owner what you Wish to eat… Fantastic 🙂

Our heroes are a group of siblings three 12 year old young ladies, N/ice, Rose, and Amber, who are mostly here, and one 16 year old brother Simwan who mostly wishes he wasn’t. They have to use their Magic to recover the Truth that a malevolent Rat stole and took to New York. With them is their guardian/advisor, and overall funny mascot Pithfwid the cat, and assorted other non Ordinary creatures who help or hinder along the way. This is not a terribly deep or epic adventure, but it is a fun romp with a magical family with a backdrop of Ordinary people and Magic (non Ords) set in New England and New York.

I thought this was a wonderful short filled with funny characters with baffling to pronounce names. It isn’t a hard read, but it is one that most of the target age is going to enjoy. The best part is it is not a gender specific tale. The three sisters do tend to run together in my mind (apart from the sometimes here N/Ice) but I loved Simwan’ love hate relationship and fierce protective instinct for his sisters. In short I think our students would love this.

A Kingfisher fished for food…

Kingfisher By Patricia McKillip, Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Ace


I have to admit, this wasn’t my favorite book by one of my favorite authors by a long shot. More like a series of vignettes with a loose thread that is frayed and often lost in what I guess was supposed to be a grand tapestry story interweaving several main characters together.
First let me back up a moment. I detest multiple perspective stories. I like to grab onto a character and experience their journey without the hither and yon that happens when you split a book into parts to follow vastly different characters with different paths, even if they all end up at the same location. I dislike following multiple characters even more if it is a first book and the author cloaks most of the story in weird foggy descriptions and perplexing “just answer one question for me please” kind of word games. I’m also not a fan of food journeys. So why am I bothering to review this at all? Because this is a fascinating if sometimes overwhelmingly frustrating book to read.
This is set in a sometime alternate future where cars are common on the coast of a blend between England and New England, but people live in a mystical faded glory of King Arthur. Where knights still take on quests, though they are just as likely to be riding motorbikes and inside limos as horses. Where armor and silk jackets, werewolves, and foggy enchantments lay heavy. And ancient Gods and the fey still wander across the land.

We follow three, sometimes more people on a Kingfisher quest. To find a cauldron, or holy grail, or fountain of knowledge that has been lost in time and just might be found in a small coastal town filled with silences and questions. Follow a sorceress’ son, a bastard prince, a daughter of a wolf, and many others as they follow their hearts (and stomachs) on this modern retelling of King Arthur and his quest for the holy grail.

The Light Bender


Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

Age Range: 9 – 12 years

Grade Level: 4 – 7

Hardcover: 304 pages

Publisher: Dial Books (June 2, 2015)

I got to see the first few chapters in a Netgalley sneak peek and after tearing through the preview I ordered this book.  It arrived and the cover is just as fun as what is inside the book.  Peek through the cutout cover and see a world of wonder.  Our main character is Micah.  His grandfather Ephram once got an invitation to attend the Circus Mirandus for a week.  While there he witnessed magic and it transported him for a little while away from the turmoil of living during WWII.  Ephram’s favorite attraction was the Light Bender.  A man who could pull anything from your imagination and make it real, even if only for a moment.  Ephram did something then that earned him a miracle, and now it is time for him to collect that miracle.  Because Ephram is dying and he has one last wish, all he needs is the Light Bender to come and grant it.

Micah is the type of hero I love.  In a wonderful Cinderella story, if Cinderella was a Prince instead of a princess, Micah has just a few days to convince the Light Bender and the members of this magical circus to help his grandfather.  Because Grandpa Ephram only has a few days left and Micah needs that miracle to come true.  Micah will fight with his new best friend for that miracle and discover what Grandpa Ephram’s last wish is.  Because sometimes what we really want isn’t what we really need.

This is a story that takes place in a kind of any-town USA, and features a great cast of characters.  There are bad guys, good guys, magic, school, a brilliant elephant, and a wise cracking parrot.  I read this in one short sitting, and the end left me with a smile.  While there is room for a sequel, the end of the story does not leave you hanging.  If you read The Vampire’s Assistant and loved the beginning of the series but found the ending unsettling and unsatisfying, this story is for you. This is classic escapism fantasy and if your child likes that kind of story, I recommend this story for you. A great story for boys and girls, dreamers and adventurers.

The next part contains spoilers so Don’t read if you don’t want to know:

Parental Note:  For the age range, not a whole lot.  There is a death in the story and it is handled well for the target age range.  The Aunt is borderline abusive, and while her reason for being so mean is explained about two thirds of the way through, it still does not excuse her horrible behavior.