Saturday, May 09, 2009

YA Weekend

Okay, they're really books rated for the 9-12 crowd, but there's no day of the week that starts with the letter 'J' (unless I do Juvenile Jeudi or something), so here are my recent children's reads:

Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary by Brandon Mull: I really enjoy the Fablehaven series, and this entry was only disappointing because I have to wait a year for the next entry, and Mull likes to torture readers with cliffhangers. This one begins with a doozy of a plot twist that will bring us to Kendra's funeral, and ends with a shocking betrayal. In the middle, Kendra and Seth will have to fight their way through a dragon sanctuary to reach one of the artifacts before the Evening Star. Seth has grown considerably in wisdom and patience...but not so much that he's predictable and boring! Do you really think he'd be left out of the dragon sanctuary adventure? Kendra has really blossomed with her gifts and is still cautious, but very brave. The supporting cast are delightful, as usual, and there's a "trust no one" undercurrent since the Fablehaven team know there is a traitor among them. Nevertheless, there's a job that must be done. The tension is perfectly balanced and this is an excellent entry. Start with the first and have the rest on hand...it's hard to stop with just one!

My review of Fablehaven
My review of Fablehaven Book 2
My review of Fablehaven Book 3

The Sisters Grimm Book 7: The Everafter War by Michael Buckley: The first thing I did when I received this book was to flip to the end to look for the "to be continued" because I wasn't sure if it was the last book. It's not, and I'm delighted, though also a little angry at Buckley for his mastery of the cliffhanger. This entry in the clever fractured fairy tale series raises the stakes with a prologue that promises a shocking betrayal, which ends up being subsumed by a more obvious betrayal, making it all the more shocking in the end. The Grimm parents are awake, which is all Sabrina and Daphne have wanted for the past two years. But Mr. Grimm is ready to move the family out of Ferryport Landing just when they're needed the most, and the Grimms are trapped in their house without supplies. Fortunately, there are other ways out of the family home. The Puck/Sabrina relationship continues to develop, with one hilariously over-the-top prank standing out most in my mind. The family assists in the Everafter War, which has escalated, with Charming ordering his "troops" into battle. This was an excellent entry, and I can't wait for #8.

My past reviews of Sisters Grimm books

The Red Blazer Girls: The Ring of Rocamadour by Michael D. Beil: Holly's review here! I really don't have much to add. Holly really covered it with "delightful," but I found this book so thoroughly enjoyable that I'll go on a bit anyway. Sophie and her friends were fun, Sophie's non-relationship with Raf was really funny and reminded me of "going out" in junior high. I really liked that the girls were portrayed as being good at math. In fact, Raf has to have the geometry problem explained to him. Given that many girls lose interest/confidence in math around this age, I thought it was a great touch. The girls are very capable but know when to turn to adults for help. This is an updated Nancy Drew-type series for children today, and it's fantastic!

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick: It's taken me forever to read this very large book, but I finished it in just a couple of hours. More than half the pages are gorgeous, plot-advancing illustrations. Selznick tells a sweet, sad story about Hugo, a young boy who tends the clocks in the train station, living on stolen croissants and milk after his uncle disappears. He feels certain that if he can repair the automaton that had obsessed his father in life, everything will be all right. Encounters with a toy maker (who unwittingly provides Hugo with parts for the automaton) and his young ward lead him to an amazing story involving the history of French cinema. This book is gorgeous, the illustrations amazing, the format innovative, and the story simple but well-told. This is a keeper for when my daughter is older!

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