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Of Fantasy and Daughters

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

I read my daughter’s first fantasy book to her when she was one week old. Every evening I swaddled her up and rocked her to sleep while reading aloud another chapter of Diana Wynne Jones’s Howl’s Moving Castle. What else was I supposed to do with a tiny speechless creature with big eyes who only wanted […]

Ghosts and witches and wizards, oh my!


What better time of year to curl up with a creepy book and a cup of cocoa to ward off the supernatural shivers? These middle-school novels provide just the right balance of adventure and eeriness — along with a few magical villains (or are they?) — for deliciously spooky fall reads. Set in late-nineteenth-century imperial […]

Review of The Girl Who Drank the Moon

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The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill Intermediate, Middle School    Algonquin    388 pp. 8/16    978-1-61620-567-6    $16.95 Every year, the people of the Protectorate steel themselves for the Day of Sacrifice, when the elders take the city’s youngest baby and leave it in the woods to appease the witch — a witch no one […]

Review of A Most Magical Girl

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A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee Intermediate    Knopf    297 pp. 8/16    978-0-553-51285-4    $16.99 Library ed    978-0-553-51286-1    $19.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-553-51287-8    $10.99 Annabel is outraged when her mother removes her from her conventional young ladies’ school, sets her up as an assistant in her great-aunts’ magic shop, and promptly disappears. But the tears and […]

British (and Aussie and Kiwi!) invasion

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Our fandom knows no borders! Some of our best-loved fantasy authors come to us from across the pond (or, in Garth Nix’s and Margaret Mahy’s cases, across the equator). We’ve highlighted a few essential articles by/about each author, as well some adoring blog posts; click on an author’s name to see all Horn Book content […]

Review of Grayling’s Song

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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

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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

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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

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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 […]