Tupelo Landing Books by Sheila Turnage

ThreeTimesAnother series — just two books so far — I heartily recommend Sheila Turnage’s Tupelo Landing series (grades 4-6). In Three Times Lucky, a murder comes to tiny Tupelo Landing, N.C., and prompts our protagonist Moses LoBeau (aka Mo) to set up the Desperado Detective Agency with her best friend Dale Earnhardt Johnson III. The crime hits very close to home for our young detectives, but not so close that one of the main characters is the villain.

GhostsTupeloIn The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, the newest book, the murder took places years ago, so our town of quirky characters is somewhat safe, though each person is not without his or her secrets. You’ll love all of people in Tupelo Landing and the adventures Mo and Dale have in their tiny town.

–Marie Drucker, Children’s Librarian

“Jinx” and “Jinx’s Magic” by Sage Blackwood

Kids who like fantasy series will love reading these books by Sage Blackwood — and will certainly look forward to the next book in the series.jinx

In the first book, we meet Jinx — an orphan who is about to be left in the Urwald (a large primeval forest) to die but instead is rescued by the wizard Simon. He gradually becomes the Simon’s apprentice and learns that the power he draws on to work his magic is different than that Simon – and other wizards — use. In the course of the story, Jinx meets two young people (Reven, a would-be king, and Elfwyn, a would-be witch) who are making their way (separately at first) through the Urwald to rid themselves of curses. They end up at the house of an evil wizard who attempts to use them to capture Simon. Simon saves Jinx while Jinx in his way saves Simon.jinxmagic

Jinx’s Magic picks up where we left off – with the Jinx, Reven, Elfwyn, and Simon traveling again. The group separates midway and we follow Jinx on his quest to find out more about knowledge and power. Jinx is so very brave and determined. And he’s often a bit confused and overwhelmed too. I think that’s why I like him so much. By the end of Jinx’s Magic, all of the players are in place for what promises to be a climactic battle between fire and ice, life and death, in the next book.

“Fortunately, the Milk” by Neil Gaiman

TheMilkKids, be prepared. You will have to read Neil Gaiman’s Fortunately, the Milk a few times — just for the sheer fun of it and to figure out all the time travel. Fortunately, the Milk tells the story of a dad who goes out for a carton of milk and returns “ages and ages” later with quite a story regarding his delay. I am now an immense fan of time-traveling stegosauri and hope to encounter one some day. Yes, the dad’s the story is ridiculous; that’s why it’s so much fun. Best yet, there are vampires, but no “handsome, misunderstood” ones. And that’s probably how it should be. (Grades 3-6 and adults who like to smile.)

“Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great,” by Bob Shea

Unicorn 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.

Septimus Heap Series by Angie Sage


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.


“Henry and the Cannons” by Don Brown

HenryCannonsDo 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.)

“Navigating Early” by Clare Vanderpool

NavigatingTwo 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.

Stephanie’s Christmas Pick

A Winter Dream  by Richard Paul Evans 

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)



End the Year with a Bang!: 2012 Crime Fiction

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.

“The Last Dragonslayer,” by Jasper Fforde

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.