Suddenly Supernatural: Unhappy Medium by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel

August 20, 2010

With the current popularity of all things supernatural, the Suddenly Supernatural series about a girl who can see ghosts is sure to be a hit with pre-teen girls.  Book 3 in the series is Unhappy Medium, where the main character Kat accompanies her best friend Jac and Jac’s mother to a young musician’s convention taking place at a mountain retreat.  Once at the large, old, haunted Whispering Pines Mountain House, Kat begins communicating with a long-dead medium who hasn’t yet realized she has passed on.  There is also an evil presence at the retreat who seems to want to harm Kat.  As if this isn’t enough for her to deal with, Kat’s stay is also marred by fights with her best friend.  With just the right amount of mystery, paranormal scariness, relationship drama and even a little comedy, this book is sure to delight its readers.  The story is full of adventure for Kat but the pacing is just right, not too slow or too quick.  The readers are sure to look forward to Kat’s next ghostly encounter.


The Nancy Drew Graphic Novel Series

August 20, 2010

#1 The Demon of River Heights

#2 Writ in Stone

The Nancy Drew Mystery Stories that I grew up with are still around on library shelves (and I still have all of mine in a plastic bin in my basement).  But what else I discovered on my local library’s shelves were a series of graphic novels based on my old childhood favorites.  While these are entirely new mysteries, all of the characters from the originals are there – Nancy, Bess, George, Ned, Nancy’s father Carson Drew, and even Chief McGinnis.  But the stories have definitely moved into the 21st century with cell phones, computers, digital cameras, and Nancy even drives a hybrid (which she keeps forgetting to fill with gas!)  While the stories seem a little too easy to solve compared with the mysteries I remember (of course I was much younger then), they were interesting and would be a great introduction to the original books for girls of today.  If you are/were a big Nancy Drew fan, take a look at this graphic novel series and see if their version of Nancy Drew matches up with the images in your mind.

I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic 1912 by Lauren Tarshis

July 27, 2010

Book #! in the I Survived series deals with the sinking of the Titanic (Book #2 is about the shark attacks of 1916).  The story is written as historical fiction with fictional characters set within the  historically accurate setting of the Titanic and its sinking after running into an iceberg on April 15, 1912.  The main character is a ten-year-old boy named George Calder who is aboard the ship with his sister Phoebe and his aunt Daisy.  George is an explorer and tends to get in trouble with his antics on the ship.  When the ship strikes the iceberg, George’s knowledge of the ship and his brave behavior save the day for a few of the passengers.  The whole book, which is only 96 pages long, takes place on the day of April 15th, and the story moves along at a quick pace.  The afterword by the author gives more information on the Titanic.

The Wide-Awake Princess by E. D. Baker

July 27, 2010

E. D. Baker, author of The Frog Princess, brings us the tale of the princess who stayed awake when her sister pricked her finger on a spinning wheel and caused the whole castle to fall asleep.  Princess Annie stayed awake because she is immune to magic as a result of a christening gift from a fairy.  She feels isolated from others as her “gift” also makes magic stop working and the many members of the royal household (who owe their beauty and talents to magic) don’t want her anywhere near them.  Once everyone is asleep, Annie sets out to find the fairy who cast the sleeping spell to see if it can be reversed.  She is joined on her quest by one of the guards who was outside the castle when the spell took place.  On their journey, Annie and Liam run into many famous fairy tale folk and gather a number of princes to come back with them to attempt to wake her sister.  Annie’s tale is also one of self-discovery as she begins to recognize what she can accomplish and to see that not everyone wants her to stay away.  This charming tale does an excellent job of weaving together many well-known fairy tales into a cohesive story.  Fans of fairy tales and/or princess stories will thoroughly enjoy The Wide-Awake Princess.

Bink & Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee

July 16, 2010

(This is a review of the Advance Reading Copy.  Publication date for this book is September 2010.) 

Bink & Gollie is a charming book for readers aged 6 to 8.  It is the story of two friends who like many of the same things, but don’t always see eye-to-eye on everything.  The book is composed of three short stories and in each the two friends learn the art of compromise.  The book is illustrated by Tony Fucile with Bink, Gollie and important details in full color, and the backgrounds in shades of grey.  A delightful book with the potential to become a popular series for this age group.

Alchemy and Meggy Swann by Karen Cushman

July 5, 2010

Newbery Medalist Karen Cushman (The Midwife’s Apprentice) has written another excellent piece of children’s historical fiction with the story of Meggy Swann, set in Elizabethan England.  Meggy comes to live with her father, an alchemist, who has sent for her to be his apprentice but mistakenly believes her to be a son.  Her father is consumed with his work and barely acknowledges Meggy’s presence.  Meggy is a quick-witted girl who has a deformity of her hips and must use walking sticks to get around.  Many of the people she has met over the course of her life taunt her and/or believe her to be a witch or in league with the devil.  She believes that she will be forever friendless until some of the colorful cast of neighborhood characters begin to identify themselves as her friends.  During the course of the story Meggy finds that she has value and can accomplish just about anything she sets her mind to, including preventing a crime from taking place.  The story is filled with detailed descriptions that show just how well Ms. Cushman does her research.  And in Meggy Swann she has created a strong, self-reliant character who fits with the setting, time and place of the story.  My one concern with the book is the reading level and challenging language and terms used in the story.  While the book was published in April of this year, I read an advanced reading copy for this review that states the reading level to be “10 to 14”.  Some of the old-fashioned language and alchemy terms used would make this a very difficult read for a ten-year-old.