Finally, after a long winter of dissatisfying-to-outright-bad novels, a DELIGHTFUL new fantasy has appeared!
Tom is used to living his ordinary (but happy) life with his parents, running their deli and hanging out with his friend Charlie. One day, though he awakens to a shocking discovery: his father is a fairy. A real, live, MAGICAL fairy. Which means that, he, Tom is a demisprite: demisprites are illegal, and the fairy authorities are trying to find Tom and his family to arrest and even execute them!
Tom’s father goes on the run, Tom’s mother is hidden somewhere (hilariously) magical, and Tom himself is spirited away by his surprisingly non-fairy-like godmother, Lorna Mustard, the owner of a scrapyard in Scotland. In the course of just a few days, Tom is introduced to his other (even more non-fairy-like) godmothers, his unexpected cousin Pindar, a number of revolutionary genies, and the hottest new fairy rock star (singer of the smash hit: Old Fairies Suck).
That might be enough to overwhelm an ordinary person, but Tom’s not ordinary (and neither are his friends) and he plans to rescue his family if it’s the last thing he does–even if it means that he has to completely change fairy society.
This book is a delightful romp full of truly original moments and laugh-out-loud characters, and it’s impossible to read it without a huge smile on one’s face. I enjoyed Kate Saunders’ last book, Beswitched, but I LOVED this one, and I hope all of you will, too.
Posted by: Sarah
Lorelei’s life use to be pretty good, until her mom died. Now her father is remarried to the wicked Molly, her brother has grown cold and distant, and her best friend seems to have abandoned her just when she needs her the most. If that isn’t enough, now Lorelei has to start at a strange new school called Splendid Academy that seemed to appear out of nowhere mere days before the old school suspiciously burned down.
Initially, Lorelei thinks Splendid Academy might actually be a good place for her. The principal is extremely welcoming and seems to have a soft spot for Lorelei, the students have a great deal of freedom, the playground is amazing, and the food is to die for. However, Lorelei can’t help but wonder if the school might not be as splendid as it seems. Is it just her imagination, or do all the candy bowls keep replenishing themselves? Why are there candy bowls on the students’ desks, for that matter? Why do the teachers seem so concerned with how much the students are eating? And is that a giant copper kettle hidden in the teachers’ lounge? Only Lorelei and her new friend Andrew seem to think Splendid Academy might be too good to be true and by the time they figure out what really is going on, they may not have a chance to save the other students or themselves.
In The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy, author Nikki Loftin puts a contemporary spin on the story of Hansel and Gretel by having the witch run a charter school in suburban America. Loftin does a great job of bringing the classic fairytale elements into the modern world. Similarly to fairytales of old, the story is tense enough to inspire some nail biting, but not so dark as to terrify young readers. The characters are engaging and relatable and the action develops quickly making this a great choice for a read-aloud for 4th through 6th grade. Like children drawn to a candy cottage, it is easy for readers to be pulled into this modern fairytale.
Posted by: Staci
What is not to love about a book that features high seas adventures AND delicious meals? Climb aboard the Traveling Restaurant! The Traveling Restaurant takes place in a fantastical land that has lost the use of magic after a “great accident.” In fact, the main character, twelve year old Jasper and his baby sister Sabilla have never even seen magic. Ever since the “great accident”, Fontania has been ruled by the Provisional Monarch, Lady Gall, a vain woman that does not take criticism well. Lady Gaill is obsessed with her own beauty and popularity and keeps everyone in the kingdom on pins and needles with her extreme measures to keep order in the kingdom. Jasper finally has his fill of Lady Gall when he discovers that she tried to poison his baby sister Sabilla at an event. When he tells his parents, they decide it is time to tell Jasper the secrets of his family’s past, including why Lady Gall would be threatened by the one-year-old Sabilla. Jasper’s parents also decide it is time to flee the kingdom.
Unfortunately, before Jasper learns very much, the family is separated and Jasper finds himself alone on the boat docks of Fontania. He finds his way to the Traveling Restaurant, a boat manned by the mostly silent Dr. Rocket and his gruff assistant Polly. As the restaurant sets off to reunite Jasper with his family, Jasper starts to notice some strange things about himself as well as Dr. Rocket, Polly and even the ship itself. He does not have very much time to dwell on it as they find themselves confronted by pirates, Lady Gall’s army and several natural (or maybe not so natural) disasters. Filled with action and adventure as well as a lot of heart, this rousing adventure would work really well as a family read aloud for kids in first, second and third grades.
Posted by: Kelly
It’s the season for spooky books, and for kids who want a scare, ONLY a spooky book will do. Some children, though, want their creepy books to be creepy with a difference–not just cheap scares and cliffhangers, but something atmospheric that draws a reader fully into the world of the book. Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz is perfect for those readers. Schlitz takes us into the Gothic, foggy 150-years-ago world of Lizzie Rose and Parsifal, two children who work for Grisini, a not-at-all-nice puppeteer. When Grisini is hired to perform for the birthday party of rich Clara, a girl who seems to have everything (except siblings, all of whom have died), Lizzie Rose and Parsifal think their fortunes are looking up. Unfortunately, first Clara, and then Grisini disappear, and their lives take a turn for the desperate.
This book is beautifully, spookily written, with compelling characters and perfectly described settings. It won’t be for children who hate historical fiction, or anyone who wants a quick read, but for kids who want a long spooky night where they can enter another world, this is an excellent choice.
Posted by: Sarah
Blanche is a young witch who belongs to a special scurry of witches known for its beautiful flight formation. Some witches might think she isn’t fit for such a distinguished scurry – Blanche is young and scatterbrained, and despite her best efforts she always manages to be late. But she also has a very special bright blue nose which she can flash on and off at will, and that counts for a lot. Even so, Blanche realizes she cannot be late for the most important flight of the year on Halloween night. Her efforts to be early work a little too well, though, and Blanche finds herself awake hours before midnight, fallen in with a group of human children out for trick-or-treating. The children are charmed by Blanche’s fantastic blue nose, her flying broom, and her little black cat named Brockett, so they invite her to join them – and that is how Blanche the little witch has a Halloween adventure unlike any her fellow scurry-members have ever had.
Originally published in 1956, The Blue-Nosed Witch is charming and old-fashioned. It is a very short and quick-moving chapter book with black and white illustrations scattered throughout – perfect for new chapter book readers. If you’re like I was, and looking for a light-hearted Halloween story without the spook factor, then this might make an excellent choice.
Posted by: Parry
Joy Wells loves Spooking. It is a dark and spooky town built on a hill and her parents bought a house there because they could get a great big house for the price of a little boxy house in the neighboring bright and modern Darlington. Joy inherited a book when the oldest resident of Spooking died and became fascinated with the author, E. A. Peugeot, and his frightening tales about the Bog Fiend. Joy believes that the bog fiend lives in the bog next to Spooking and is horrified that the good citizens of Darlington want to drain the bog and build a water park. While investigating the bog, Joy meets Madame Portia, the only bog resident.
For Halloween, Joy and her brother Byron go trick-or-treating at one of the most over-the-top houses in Darlington. The evening turns frightening when the smoke machine breaks, the rotting skeleton gets out of the coffin , and the school children panic! After rescuing her brother from the chaos, Joy takes him into the bog to visit Madame Portia in her submarine house on stilts. While there, the Bog Fiend attacks the house with hideous squealing howls and terrible destruction to the house.
This is a good book for a spooky read in October! Recommended for 4th through 6th grades. If you like it there are 2 more books in the series which is called “The Joy of Spooking.”
Posted by: Fran
Tara’s family has always moved constantly and Tara has never developed any friends. In attempting to connect with some girls at school, Tara gets caught in a school caper and her mom sends her off to live with her Aunt, Uncle and cousin who live in her parents’ hometown of Willow Falls. At the same time her parents will be out of the country on a research project and they have left her behind.
Tara slowly realizes that Willow Falls is a very unique place. Tara in a way repeats the mistake which got her into this situation: she steals something. In the process, she meets a strange woman named Angelina D’Angelo who demands retribution. She sends Tara off on a scavenger hunt to repay her debt and requires that all of the items must be collected before her thirteenth birthday.
But in Willow Falls there are people her age who are interested in Tara and like her and are willing to help her with this very strange assignment. In fact, they know Angelina and accept the importance of Tara’s quest even if they don’t know why she is being asked to collect these items.
Tara finds relationships and friendships that she never imagined possible and also manages to help some people and herself and amazingly her parents. It is a fun read with good characters and surprising events.
Posted by: Fran
Chocolate! Sweets! Candy! Many of us have a sweet tooth or even an entire mouth full of sweet teeth. I know I do. So did John Midas. John is known for his love of all candy, but most especially chocolate. He eats it anytime of the day, all day long much to his parent’s dismay. His love of candy prevents him from eating a variety of good foods that would help him grow big and strong. John doesn’t really care because he simply has a passion for candy. He is also known for his greedy ways because he never, ever shares his sweets. One day something wonderful happens when John finds a curious gold coin on the street that he is able to trade it in for a fancy box of chocolates the he finds in a brand new candy store. Imagine his delight to have an entire box of chocolates all for himself. That night he eagerly opens the chocolate box, only to be disappointed to discover just one piece of chocolate which he promptly pops into his mouth. Oh, it was good! It was the most chocolaty chocolate that John had ever tasted. As many of us know, It is possible to have too much of a good thing. It seems that the one delicious chocolate was more than a just a tasty sweet – it was also a magical sweet. John’s world suddenly takes a sweet turn – or is it really such a sweet turn?? After reading this tasty book you may find yourself craving a nice crunchy apple which you are willing to cut in half and share with someone! Posted by: Wendy
What if your favorite cereal company had more in mind than just making sure you got a tasty breakfast?
Scott (short for, well, you don’t want to know what), who gets migraines and sometimes sees things, sees a rabbit-headed man on the way to school, and finds a leprechaun in a public bathroom. Emily and Enzo (twins who look so little alike that it’s suspicious), who have an incredibly tall, big-footed housekeeper, think that their foster father is acting weird. What do the kids have in common? Their parents work for the Goodco Cereal Factory, a company with ties to nearly everything in town. Is there maybe something a little funny about Goodco? Is there REALLY “a little bit of magic in every box”?
Rex’s new fantasy is hilarious (a delight in a genre that is too often filled with portentious prophecies, grim weather and unsmiling heroes) and engaging. In spite of its (appropriately) epic length, the story moves quickly, and no reader will be tempted to put the book down. The characters, both the realistic and fantastical, are wonderfully drawn, and the back-story incorporates traditional myths and legends in a refreshingly original way.
While Scott, Emily and Enzo’s adventures are not over at the end of the book–a sequel! Hooray!–the volume is wrapped up in a very satisfying manner. In spite of that, I still can’t wait for the next book.
Posted by: Sarah
If you are looking for a scary ghost story with blood thirsty, terrifying ghosts this story is not for you, though you will get a little peek into the after life. This is a rather sweet ghost story. There are some very evil, dangerous, and unlikeable characters in this story, however. One of them is the ugly stepmother who has locked her stepdaughter, Liesl, up in the attic. Another is the wicked alchemist who has taken a lot of the life, beauty and sunshine from the world in order to make a magic potion for the Lady Premiere, also a nasty character. The alchemist has an apprentice whom he uses to run his errands. He is an orphan and his name is Will.
It is actually Will’s mistake which starts the story in motion, he delivers the box of magic to the wrong person. When Liesl runs away, Will follows her and her ghost friends, Po and Bundle, come too. They are also helped by a friendly watchman, Mo, who carries his pet cat in a sling. This is a fun story with lots of action, creepy characters and a satisfying ending.
Posted by: Fran