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Review of Grayling’s Song

cushman_grayling's song

Grayling’s Song by Karen Cushman Intermediate    Clarion    210 pp. 6/16    978-0-544-30180-1    $16.99    g Cushman’s previous works (The Midwife’s Apprentice, rev. 7/95; Will Sparrow’s Road, rev. 11/12; etc.) fall into the realm of historical fiction; this novel is historically based but a fantasy, set in a culture inspired by, but not wedded to, medieval Europe. It’s […]

Review of A Clatter of Jars

graff_clatter of jars

A Clatter of Jars by Lisa Graff Intermediate    Philomel    218 pp. 5/16    978-0-399-17499-5    $16.99    g Graff returns to the magical world introduced in A Tangle of Knots (rev. 7/13), where citizens are either Talented (possessing gifts that range from asparagus cooking to memory manipulation) or Fair, with no extraordinary abilities. Here, children with Singular Talents […]

A little light fantasy

cushman_grayling's song

With historical, contemporary, and folkloric set-ups, this selection of new light fantasies has something for every middle-grade fantasy fan. Grayling’s Song is a moral tale with a simple lesson: it’s not magic but rather “courage, cleverness, imagination, good judgment, and good sense” that make for a hero who can overcome evil. When her wise-woman mother […]

Review of A Tangle of Gold

moriarty_tangle of gold

A Tangle of Gold [Colors of Madeleine] by Jaclyn Moriarty Middle School, High School    Levine/Scholastic    470 pp. 4/16    978-0-545-39740-7    $17.99    g e-book ed. 978-0-545-77735-3    $17.99 Going into this final book in the trilogy set in two worlds (A Corner of White, rev. 5/13; The Cracks in the Kingdom, rev. 3/14), Moriarty left herself with an […]

Brave new worlds

bruchac_trail of the dead

Along with questions about technological and scientific advances, these recent YA novels — three sci-fi adventures and one science-centric historical fantasy — implicitly explore issues of social justice, inviting readers to think critically about our own world. Having escaped from prisonlike Haven in Killer of Enemies, a battle-hardened Lozen now leads her band of refugees […]

Review of The Lie Tree

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The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge Middle School, High School    Amulet/Abrams    378 pp. 4/16    978-1-4197-1895-3    $17.95 Everything in this audacious novel is on the cusp or in limbo, setting up delicious tensions and thematic riches. The time is nineteenth-century England just after Darwin’s theory of evolution has thrown the scientific world into turmoil; the setting […]

Review of A Dragon’s Guide to Making 
Your Human Smarter

yep_dragon's guide to making your human smarter

A Dragon’s Guide to Making 
Your Human Smarter by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder; 
illus. by Mary GrandPré Intermediate    Crown    296 pp. 3/16    978-0-385-39232-7    $16.99 Library ed.  978-0-385-39233-4    $19.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-385-39234-1    $10.99 Newly admitted to Spriggs Academy, Winnie Burton has more to contend with than the usual new-girl jitters. Winnie’s dragon-caretaker, Miss Drake, […]

Fantasy and science fiction | Class #4, 2016

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This week’s topic is “Beyond the World We Know” — a category that encompasses an extensive range of books, from magical realism to science fiction to the far away places of imaginary worlds. Jane Langton’s classic piece on fantasy from the 1973 Horn Book, “The Weak Place in the Cloth” provides an apt and lovely […]

Far Far Away | Class #4, 2016

far far away

Folk and fairy tales have long been fodder for writers, who re-tell, borrow, fracture, and invert the original stories in their own. I would suggest that Tom McNeal bends the relationship between fairy tale and novel in a new way in his suspenseful tale Far Far Away. What do others think about blending of new […]

Of magic and moxie

anderson_my diary from the edge of the world

These books take place in fantastical worlds, but the protagonists’ pluck may feel familiar to many intermediate and middle-school readers. Twelve-year-old Gracie Lockwood, the high-spirited heroine of Jodi Lynn Anderson‘s My Diary from the Edge of the World, lives in a world that’s like ours but with a few key differences (involving dragons and poltergeists, […]