Poor Goat. Ever since Unicorn moved into his neighborhood, he’s been ignored. After all, Unicorn can make it rain cupcakes! But even Unicorn can’t do some things that only Goats can do (like make cheese). And the two learn that their differences make them unique and that together they make quite an amazing pair. Great picture book with a message that doesn’t preach, but instead celebrates each individual.
Angie Sage’s Septimus Heap is easily one of my favorite fantasy series. And now that the seventh and last book is out, you can read all the books one right after another and not have to wait for the next adventure to come out.
I probably can’t do the series justice in a small post like this, but here are the basics: Septimus is the 7th son of a 7th son of a 7th son and, therefore, highly magical. In Magyk, he discovers who he his and who his family is, including the heir to the kingdom, Princess Jenna. In Flyte, he finds his wonderful dragon, Spit Fyre. In Physik, he travels back in time and learns the secrets of alchemy. In Queste, he undergoes one of the most difficult trials of any young magician. In Syren, he and his companions are stranded on a strange island and must find a way to rescue themselves and a mysterious young woman. In Darke, he must help save the wizard tower from destructive forces. And, finally, in Fyre, all the threads of these marvelous stories come together and Septimus realizes his fate.
I plan to read all seven books again soon. That’s how much I like them.
Do you know the story of Henry Knox? In 1775, he took on the nearly impossible task of bringing 59 cannons from Fort Ticonderoga in upstate New York all the way to Boston — traveling over 300 miles across lakes, forests, and mountains during a bitter winter! — to help General George Washington chase the British army out to Boston. In Don Brown’s thrilling Henry and the Cannons, you’ll see how difficult the trip was and all the obstacles Henry overcame. (Illustrated non-fiction, grades 1-4.)
Two young boys set out on a quest in this beautifully crafted book by Clare Vanderpool. Early Auden is a little strange, but he knows certain things: like, his brother didn’t die in the war, the numbers of Pi tell a story, and a trek through the Maine woods will prove both. Jack Baker, meanwhile, is alone and adrift, having recently been uprooted from his native Kansas to an all-boys school on the Maine coast. He is mourning the loss of his mother, missing his naval captain father, and trying to find his way. Early and Jack experience an adventure to last a lifetime, as they outwit pirates, get chased by a bear, and solve some mysteries on their own. Navigating Early is destined to be a classic. Clare Vanderpool is also the author of the Newbery Medal-winning book Moon Over Manifest. For kids 10 years old and up.
The author of twenty-one best-selling novels, Richard Paul Evans, has a new holiday offering sure to inspire. In this modern-day version of the the classic story of “Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors” a family of thirteen siblings all employed in their father’s successful advertising company in Colorado become disgruntled over Joseph, sibling number twelve, who just happens to be the favorite. When jealousy rears its ugly head somebody has to take the fall. Forced from his favored perch and losing all of his family relationships and a fiancee to-be, Joseph starts a new life. In his own rise up the career ladder in Chicago and with a new-found love, Joseph has an opportunity to face his own demons in order to really live the life of his dreams.
Another winner by the master of the holiday novel not to be missed! (available at the library in Large Type, Audio and Hard Cover)
Broken Harbor by Tana French
Fourth Dublin murder squad novel with Mick Kennedy, a rookie partner, an unstable sister, economic collapse and a past to reckon with. (Oh, did I mention that the critters in the walls of the crime scene may give you nightmares…? Did they ever figure out exactly what they were?)
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
In this literary novel, there will be some amusing moments but you may also be dismayed for the pain and injustice which is very real on the reservation. Bringing home the horror of rape to Native women by non-Native men, of which upwards of 86% are not brought to justice due to laws that protect them from prosecution, this story ultimately handles the issue within the framework of Native culture, that is ideal justice vs. “best-we-can-do justice.” The story involves a 13 year-old boy, Joe, his father, a reservation judge, and his mother, Geraldine, a caseworker who has been brutally raped and silenced. Finding the rapist and trying to bring him to justice is the main plot line but in the process we learn a great deal about the multi-generational home life of families on the rez. Well worth the read.
The Marseille Caper by Peter Mayle
Sam and Elena, a gorgeous L.A. couple, well-tanned but overworked, take a job in Marseille hoping to get in some sight-seeing and bouillabaisse. Not a lot of character development here but this near-spoof of serious crime fiction is a lot of fun. You can call it a winter “beach-read” for food-loving armchair travelers, offering plenty of sumptuous feast and vintage wine description mixed with ample picturesque Mediterranean panoramas. Throw in some laugh-out-loud moments and voila, a quick, unalarming piece of crime-fluff that goes well with the beverage of your choice!
Creole Belle by James Lee Burke
Sheriff Robicheaux and pal Clete Purcel deal with foes, one a possible Nazi war criminal in this nineteenth entry of this satisfying contemporary American crime fiction series.
Uncommon Appeal of Clouds by Alexander McCall Smith
Isabel has a tricky mystery to solve having to do with the theft of a Poussin painting owned by one of the “aristocrat” families. Lots of philosophizing to enjoy, as usual and Isabel’s meddling yet again finds just the right solution for everyone. The lightest of mysteries.
In an England similar to our own, but not really, magic exists in all of us, but only some can actually do anything with it.Others, like our heroine Jennifer Strange, help manage it. More specifically, Jennifer manages a group of magicians who in this time of diminishing magic now have to do odd jobs, like cleaning out drains or offering their flying carpets for delivery services. But Jennifer has another destiny–one involving the last dragon of her world. That’s the setting for The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde. I admit that I have a fondness for dragons. But that isn’t the only reason I recommend this book. This is a funny novel that pokes fun at all the same things you like to poke fun at. And, in Jennifer, you’ll find a heroine who’s strong and believable, wry and sarcastic. Did I mention the Quarkbeast? You’ll love him too. Ages 10 and up.
Three boys are taken from orphanages to be schooled in the way of princes. One will be selected to fool an entire kingdom and claim the throne. If the ruse works, civil war will be averted. That’s the premise of The False Prince, the first book in what promises to be an exciting trilogy from Jennifer A. Nielsen. Roden, Sage, and Tobias are picked by a nobleman because of their resemblances to the lost Prince Jaron. But the nobleman has plans of his own for the “prince” he puts on the throne. And one of the boys has a secret of his own he’s keeping. Will you figure out his secret before the others do? If you’re like me, you’ll will and you’ll be hoping the next book in the series comes out quickly.
Think zombies are just on television or in the movies? Think again. There are a host of creatures out there that love to turn other living things into zombies. In Zombie Makers: True Stories of Nature’s Undead, by Rebecca L. Johnson, you can find out about a fungus that turns a harmless housefly into its slave. And about worms that force crickets to do their bidding. And even about bugs that use other bugs to babysit their children. It’s gross and fascinating at the same time. Read it if you dare.