Tag Archives: action

Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue by Jeff Seymour

Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue by Jeff Seymour. May 15, 2018. G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 320 p. ISBN: 9781524738655.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.9; Lexile: 760.

From debut author Jeff Seymour and bestselling illustrator Brett Helquist (Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events) comes this breathtaking fantasy adventure, starring an extraordinary new heroine and set in an unforgettable world where ships can fly.

It takes a very special crew to keep the cloudship Orion running, and no one knows that better than Nadya Skylung, who tends the cloud garden that keeps the ship afloat. When the unthinkable happens and pirates attack, Nadya and the other children aboard–all orphans taken in by the kindhearted Captain Nic–narrowly escape, but the rest of the crew is captured. Alone and far from help, only Nadya and her four brave and loyal friends can take back the Orion and rescue the crew. And she’ll risk life and limb to save the only family she’s ever known. But . . . this attack was no accident. What exactly are the pirates looking for? Could it be Nadya they’ve been after all along?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Alcohol

 

Reviews

Booklist (April 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 15))
Grades 6-8. Nadya and the others aboard the cloudship Orion are orphans taken in by Captain Nic until the day they can run their own ships. Nadya dreams of one day leaving the security of the cloud garden and becoming first mate, until the ship is attacked by pirates. When the crew is taken hostage, Nadya and her friends must risk their lives to save them. This brilliantly characterized debut features heroes who are well-rounded and layered; each come from tragic circumstances, but their connection is genuine and emotional as they deal with realistic conflicts and daily life aboard the ship. Opinionated Nadya often fails to see others’ perspectives, but as she learns to put aside their differences in order to honestly understand her teammates, it’s easy to form a real connection with her. An impressive read that explores ideas of what bravery means though rich writing, vivid descriptions, and a strong voice. Readers will be eager to explore this breathtaking and dangerous steampunk world set in the sky.

Kirkus Reviews (March 15, 2018)
Nadya Skylung, an orphan, was rescued by the cloudship Orion’s captain, Nic, as were the other orphans who are in the crew: Tam, Tian Li, Pepper, and Salyeh. In the cloudship’s garden, Nadya helps fellow skylung Mrs. Trachia take care of the special plants and animals that help keep the vessel aloft. As the book opens, Nadya hopes to be named first mate. Then the worst happens: Pirates attack the Orion. They are looking for skylungs, and Nadya fears they are looking for her. The action’s both nonstop and circular: The adults sacrifice themselves so that the children can escape, and then the children execute a daring rescue to save them. Nadya gets some but not all of her questions answered, leaving room for a sequel. The built world is complicated, with elaborate biological mechanisms that power the cloudship and humans with special properties to run it. With geography and naming conventions vaguely analogous to our own, Seymour constructs a racially diverse cast around Nadya, who presents white. The language he uses to describe his characters of color is sometimes poorly chosen: Tian Li is rather opaquely described as having “sandstone-colored skin,” and, worse, Salyeh is described as having skin “the dark brown of burning paper.” While the worldbuilding can be heavy-handed and confusing at times, readers who love action-adventure stories will enjoy reading about Nadya and her friends. (Fantasy. 8-12)

About the Author

Jeff Seymour writes hopeful, heartfelt fantasy that blends modern characters with timeless plots and offers something new and fantastic on every page. His debut middle-grade novel, Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue, will be published by Putnam Young Readers in 2018, and his epic fantasy Soulwoven got over a million reads while being featured on Wattpad. In his day job as a freelance editor, Jeff helps shape and clean up stories for a talented roster of bestselling sci-fi and fantasy authors as well as newcomers to the business. In his free time, he plays more video games than he should, serves as support team to a wife with an incredible career of her own, pretends he knows anything about raising children, and gathers ideas for stories everywhere he goes

His website is jeff-seymour.com

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Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue on Amazon

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Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue Publisher Page

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Snared: Escape to the Above by Adam Jay Epstein

Snared: Escape to the Above by Adam Jay Epstein. June 5, 2018. Imprint, 320 p. ISBN: 9781250146922.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 7.0; Lexile: 820.

Chopping blades, scorpion nests, giant spiderwebs—no one makes traps better than Wily Snare.

He has never seen the sun, or blue sky, or even his parents. Wily Snare lives underground, creating traps to keep treasure-seekers away from the gold in an ancient wizard’s dungeon. He spends his days mopping up giant slug slime, avoiding poison darts, and herding undead skeletons. It’s all he knows.

Until an unusual band of adventurers—an acrobatic elf, a warrior with a magic arm, and a giant made of moss—successfully defeat Wily’s traps. And they want the ultimate treasure: Wily himself. His skills can help them invade every other dungeon in the kingdom. He might even aid their fight against the Infernal King, whose gearfolk and prisonauts terrorize the land.

But for a boy who has never been outside, dungeons aren’t nearly as scary as the world above. Or an evil king who builds the trickiest traps of all . . .

Snared: Escape to the Above is the first book in a new fantasy adventure series from bestselling author Adam Jay Epstein.

Part of series: Willy Snare (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist (May 15, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 18))
Grades 3-6. An acrobatic elf, a warrior with a magic arm, and a moss giant walk into a dungeon. They walk out with its buried treasure, a hobgoblet, and Wily Snare, who has lived his entire life underground. Together, they embark on a journey requiring Wily’s skills as a trapsmith (think security expert) to steal treasure from other dungeons, with the goal of leaving the kingdom and escaping the evil Infernal King. But all the people Wily meets in the Above are not who they seem, and he must decide how he really wants to use his trapsmith talents. Epstein’s series starter is a fun and creative story with surprisingly deep plot twists. Readers get to experience the world for the first time with Wily, and they’ll enjoy discovering the land through his eyes. The villain is reminiscent of Valentine from Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, though for a decidedly younger audience; and the ending wraps up the story nicely, so it will be interesting to see where these characters are headed next.

Kirkus Reviews (May 15, 2018)
Intruders in the dungeon! Five unlikely heroes unite for a treasure hunt but find themselves on a quest to save the kingdom instead. Wily Snare has spent his whole life cleaning up slime and maintaining the deadly traps in Carrion Tomb to protect the treasure hoard from foolhardy adventurers. No invaders have ever escaped capture until Odette (a cunning, blue-haired elf), Pryvyd (a one-armed ex-knight with olive skin), and Moshul (a moss golem who communicates through sign language) cheat their way past the tomb’s defenses and change Wily’s future forever. The ragtag gang of thieves whisk Wily (a white human boy) and his adopted hobgoblet sister off into the Above, a land ruled by the tyrannical Infernal King. With Wily’s expertise with traps, the group plans to plunder their way to riches and sail far away from the evil infesting their home. Wily’s naively unreliable perspective adds refreshing humor as he discovers the world doesn’t function with the predictability of a tomb full of traps. The notion of chosen family plays a significant role in the story and ultimately directs the characters on a new quest. While the group of adventurers includes two disabled characters, Pryvyd’s severed arm is enchanted (it fights independently of him), and Moshul is an object of pity. For the first book of a new series, the plot arrives at a curiously neat and abrupt resolution. A lighthearted fantasy with a strong start and a hasty conclusion. (Fantasy. 8-12)

About the Author

Adam Jay Epstein spent his childhood in Great Neck, New York, when he wasn’t aboard his father’s sailboat. He spent many days sitting in the neighborhood park, traveling to fantasy lands in his head (occasionally when he was supposed to be doing his homework). In college, he circled the world on a ship and studied film at Wesleyan University. He is the co-author of the internationally bestselling middle grade fantasy series The Familiars, the middle-grade sci-fi series Starbounders, and the middle grade fantasy series Snared. He has written film and television projects for Disney, Sony, Fox, MGM, Paramount, MTV, HULU, SYFY, and Disney Channel. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife, two daughters, and dog, Pixel.

Her website is www.thefamiliars.com

Around the Web

Snared: Escape to the Above on Amazon

Snared: Escape to the Above on Goodreads

Snared: Escape to the Above Publisher Page

Deep Water: A Story of Survival by Watt Key

Deep Water: A Story of Survival  by Watt Key. April 17, 2018. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 272 p. ISBN: 9780374306540.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.5; Lexile: 720.

A middle grade survival story about a scuba dive gone wrong and two enemies who must unite to survive.

It’s the most important rule of scuba diving: If you don’t feel right, don’t go down.

So after her father falls ill, twelve-year-old Julie Sims must take over and lead two of his clients on a dive miles off the coast of Alabama while her father stays behind in the boat. When the clients, a reckless boy Julie’s age and his equally foolhardy father, disregard Julie’s instructions during the dive, she quickly realizes she’s in over her head.

And once she surfaces, things only get worse: One of the clients is in serious condition, and their dive boat has vanished–along with Julie’s father, the only person who knows their whereabouts. It’s only a matter of time before they die of hypothermia, unless they become shark bait first. Though Julie may not like her clients, it’s up to her to save them all.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language

 

Reviews

Booklist (March 15, 2018 (Online))
Grades 5-7. When 12-year-old Julie is descending more than 100 feet below the ocean’s surface, all she can think about is how to complete the dive safely—not how miserable her father, owner of a small diving business, has been since her mother left him to move to Atlanta. But when Julie must lead a dive with two reckless clients whose expensive equipment is as untested as they are, she encounters a nightmare more harrowing than any of her problems on land. This scenario closely matches the events of Key’s Terror at Bottle Creek (2016), this time starring a female protagonist. Julie is a tough, smart, and resilient lead, although her narration does not come across as believably 12. Classmate and client Shane is Julie’s forgettable companion for an oceanic ordeal that Key treats with his signature compelling detail and suspense. Readers hungry for an epic tale of grueling odds will also find lessons in bravery, resourcefulness, and practical survival advice. Just try to stop yourself from committing Julie’s shark-repelling strategies to memory.

Kirkus Reviews (March 1, 2018)
Twelve-year-old Julie supervises an important dive for her father’s scuba-diving business, but she soon learns that when you play against Mother Nature it is for keeps.During the school year, Julie lives with her mother in Atlanta, but her summers are spent with her father in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Unfortunately, although her mother’s law career is taking off, her father’s dive business is struggling. When a wealthy businessman and his arrogant son, Shane, demand to see the artificial reef her father owns, the money is just too important to turn down. Her father, a diabetic, decides Julie should run the dive, so when the anchor pulls, leaving the three of them lost at sea, it is up to Julie to do what she can to save them all. But sharks, hypothermia, dehydration, and exposure might prove more than she can handle. Inspired by a diving accident the author himself experienced, this is a gritty look at what can happen when everything goes wrong. Julie is arrogant and fearful, but she’s also strong and quick-thinking. Shane likewise evolves during the ordeal, but it is the beautiful, terrible, and dangerous Mother Nature who steals the show. Julie is depicted as white on the cover, and the book seems to adhere to the white default. A nail-biting survival tale. (Adventure. 10-14)

About the Author

Watt Key received his BA from Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama. He subsequently earned an MBA from Springhill College in Mobile, AL. While working as a computer programmer, he began submitting novels to major publishers in New York City. When he was 34 years he sold his debut novel, Alabama Moon, to publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Watt currently lives with his wife and three children in Mobile, Alabama.

Her website is www.wattkey.com.

Teacher Resources

Watt Key Common Core Guide

Around the Web

Deep Water on Amazon

Deep Water on Goodreads

Deep Water Publisher Page

Gone to Drift by Diana McCaulay

Gone to Drift by Diana McCaulay. April 3, 2018. Harper Collins, 272 p. ISBN: 9780062672964.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.3.

From award-winning Jamaican author Diana McCaulay, Gone to Drift is a powerful voice-driven middle grade novel about family set in Jamaica.

Lloyd comes from a long line of fishermen. Growing up in Kingston, Jamaica, Lloyd feels most at home with the sea and his grandfather, Maas Conrad, at his side.

When his grandfather doesn’t return from a fishing trip, Lloyd fears he has gone to drift. The sea may be in Lloyd’s blood, but as he searches for his grandfather, he discovers a side of the ocean—and the people who use it—that he’s never known before.

Told in the alternating voices of Lloyd and Maas Conrad, Gone to Drift is a moving story of family, courage, and the wonders of the oceans we call home.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Violence, Mentions of drugs

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (February 15, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 12))
Grades 4-7. Twelve-year-old Lloyd Saunders, who lives with his mother near Kingston, Jamaica, worries that his grandfather has “gone to drift” when he doesn’t return from a fishing trip. No one seems interested in searching, so Lloyd investigates on his own, stowing away on a coast guard ship and interviewing some of Gramps’ friends. As he zeroes in on where Gramps may have gone, Lloyd also learns about the fishing industry’s secrets: consistently poor catches sometimes drive desperate, hungry men to capture dolphins, a lucrative but illegal trade. Told in parallel narratives by Lloyd and Gramps, this tale draws readers in as McCaulay gradually reveals what drove Gramps to the dangerous Pedro Bank on that fateful day. While the Jamaican patois might initally take some getting used to, it quickly becomes routine and adds to the book’s authenticity. This makes a good choice for adventure fans, the eco-conscious, and those hoping to understand the economic hardships faced by those who make their living from the sea.

Kirkus Reviews starred (February 1, 2018)
A Jamaican boy and his family are caught on the cusp of change.Lloyd Saunders, a young brown-skinned Jamaican boy, keeps counting the days until his fisherman grandfather, Maas Conrad, returns from Pedro Bank. His father occasionally comes around with a few dollar bills, fists, and the smell of rum. His mother sells Conrad’s catch to the well-to-do by the nearby Liguanea supermarket and has no time to worry about the old man. Only Conrad talks to Lloyd and teaches him about the sea, life, and times gone by. As each day passes he wonders what has happened to the old fisherman. Determined to find his grandfather, Lloyd sets out asking around Kingston, enlisting his buddy Dwight to help solve the mystery. Although Lloyd has faith, each day erodes the belief of everyone around him. When he learns that his grandfather may have been involved in dolphin hunting, Lloyd realizes sinister forces threaten Conrad and his family. The characters’ lilting patois guides readers into a changing Jamaica rich with lessons bobbing just below the surface. The quiet, deliberate third-person narration is interspersed with the thoughts of Conrad, whose personal history of Jamaica gently anticipates Lloyd’s journey. The relationships between boy and elder, man and sea, crime and poverty all lift McCaulay’s first children’s novel into a different league. A boy’s home is a place in the heart of one whose heart makes a place for him. Beautiful. (Fiction. 8-12)

About the Author

Diana McCaulay is an award-winning Jamaican novelist. Gone to Drift is her first book for children; it placed second in the 2015 Burt Award for Caribbean Literature. Diana was born and raised in Jamaica and has spent a lifetime pondering questions of race, class, color, and privilege in Jamaican society.

Her website is www.dianamccaulay.com.

Around the Web

Gone to Drift on Amazon

Gone to Drift on Goodreads

Gone to Drift Publisher Page

Rescue by Jessie Haas

Rescue by Jessie Haas. April 10, 2018. Boyds Mill Press, 200 p. ISBN: 9781629798806.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 4.7; Lexile: 610.

Shy farm girl Joni’s new friendship with animal rights activist Chess unravels when Chess’s views push Joni too far in this layered coming-of-age story about two girls and their love for horses.

Joni’s world revolves around her beloved horse, Archie, and her family’s Vermont sheep farm. When outspoken, sophisticated Chess moves nearby, Joni is drawn to her, even though Chess questions everything Joni loves—working horses, eating cheese, having pets, and even the farm itself. Torn between desperately wanting a friendship and resenting Chess’s assumptions about horses and farms, Joni mostly keeps her opinions to herself. But when Chess steals their neighbor’s miniature horses to “rescue” them, Joni finds the courage to stand up for her beliefs. With quiet intensity, this timely novel tackles the complex issue of bridging the political divide and building friendships while staying true to yourself.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mentions of inhumane treatment of animals

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (February 1, 2018)
A Vermont farm girl’s new friend fights for animal rights. Joni, a 12-year-old white girl, loves the quiet and calm of her family’s sheep farm; she loves riding her pony, Archie, after school. But her best school friends don’t live nearby, so when a new girl, Chess (also white), moves into a house Joni passes on her rides, she’s intrigued by the possibility of a new friend. Chess loves Joni’s horse, kittens, and sheep, but she asks uncomfortable questions: don’t the sheep mind being shorn? Milked? Eaten? Joni doesn’t know how to answer, but she does challenge Chess’ interpretation of her neighbor’s treatment of her miniature horses—Chess is certain their muzzles, which restrict them from overgrazing, are cruel, while Joni knows they keep the animals safe on lush pasture. When Chess steals the minis and sets them free to eat, the near disaster challenges their budding friendship. Chess’ back story is muddled, so readers are not entirely sure how she came to her positions, and some of the characterizations are unclear, but Joni’s first-person voice is fresh and true. As always, Haas knows her horses, and she explores the issue of animal rights with sensitivity to both sides. A satisfying read. (Fiction. 8-12)

School Library Journal (March 1, 2018)
Gr 4-6-Twelve-year-old Joni lives on a sheep farm with her family and her spirited horse, Archie. Joni’s family lives a simple life, shearing sheep, making cheese, and taking care of their farm. Joni often feels left out, even at horse camp. When Chess moves in next door, it seems like Joni will have a built-in friend. Chess, however, is different from anyone Joni has ever known: Chess is a vegan and an animal rights activist. When she questions Joni about eating cheese, whether the sheep are happy, or if Archie wants to be ridden, Joni must think about things in an entirely new way. When Chess releases a neighbor’s miniature horses, one of the horses becomes injured. Joni has to decide how to stand up to her new friend and still maintain the friendship. Haas is an expert on all things horse and farm, bringing authenticity and informative details to her novels. Joni is a relatable character, and the themes around animal rights and sustainable farming are timely. –Terry Ann Lawler, Burton Barr Library, Phoenix

About the Author

Jessie Haas has written over 35 books for children and adults, many about horses–a lifelong passion. She currently owns a Morgan mare, Robin, who is being clicker-trained to be a trail and pasture-dressage horse. She lives in a small, off-grid house in the woods with husband Michael J. Daley, two cats and a dog. When not writing or riding or reading she likes to knit, cook, and write, or ride, or read.

Her website is www.jessiehaas.com

Around the Web

Rescue on Amazon

Rescue on Goodreads

Rescue Publisher Page

Legends of the Lost Causes by Brad McLelland

Legends of the Lost Causes by Brad McLelland. February 20, 2018. Henry Holt & Co. BYR, 336 p. ISBN: 9781250124326.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.8; Lexile: 760.

The first book in a new middle-grade fantasy action-adventure series set in the Old West.

A band of orphan avengers. A cursed stone. A horde of zombie outlaws. This is Keech Blackwood’s new life after Bad Whiskey Nelson descends upon the Home for Lost Causes and burns it to the ground.

With his home destroyed and his family lost, Keech will have to use the lessons he learned from Pa Abner to hunt down the powerful Char Stone. Luckily, he has the help of a ragtag team of orphans. Together, they’ll travel through treacherous forests, fight off the risen dead, and discover that they share mysterious bonds as they try to track down the legendary stone. Now, it’s a race against the clock, because if Bad Whiskey finds the stone first. . . . all is lost.

Part of Series: Legends of Lost Causes (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Smoking, Some gruesome imagery, Death of a parent

 

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 9))
Grades 4-7. “I may be a greenhorn,” Keech Blackwood tells a “lawdog” sheriff, “but I’m far from a child.” And it’s true that, at 13, Keech has seen far more than most—he’s just recently watched his orphanage home burned with all his foster siblings inside and his caretakers killed by a man called Bad Whiskey Nelson. Now Keech is after vengeance, but when he meets a fellow group of orphans out for the same, the quest changes. The group sets out to track down a powerful object called the Char Stone, but Bad Whiskey is after it, too, and he’s got an army of outlaws he’s raised from the dead. Keech and his new crew battle zombie cowboys and the treacherous Wild West as they search for the stone, and discover things in their pasts that tie them to the quest. Cowriters McLelland and Sylvester incorporate aspects of Osage culture and legend into this action-packed series starter. Part western, part zombie flick, this pits scrappy, resourceful kids against some menacing villains—always a recipe for success.

School Library Journal (February 1, 2018)
Gr 4-7-McLelland and Sylvester’s debut novel and series opener is a classic Western full of cowboys, adventure, and a sprinkling of the supernatural. In 1850s Missouri, orphans Keech and Sam’s peaceful life at the Home for Lost Causes is interrupted when a stranger named Bad Whiskey comes looking for the orphanage’s patriarch, Pa Abner. As it turns out, Pa-whose real name is Isaiah Raines-used to be part of a group known as the Enforcers. When Pa doesn’t reveal the location of the mysterious Char Stone, Bad Whiskey shoots Pa dead and burns the orphanage to the ground. Only Keech escapes and, on the road, joins a band of other orphans to follow Pa’s secret telegram to find the Char Stone before Bad Whiskey and his army of undead thralls do. The characters are all larger-than-life, including a few that stand out against the White majority: Keech is part Osage and Cutter is Latinx. The Old West lingo-laden dialogue is pitch-perfect-not to mention contagious. It’s rare to see a Western in middle grade fiction-especially one that, like this one, eliminates some of the genre’s more harmful stereotypes of Native populations. -Alec Chunn, Eugene Public Library, OR

About the Author

Born and raised in Arkansas, Brad McLelland spent several years working as a crime journalist in the South before earning his MFA in creative writing from Oklahoma State University. A part-time drummer and singer, Brad lives in Oklahoma with his wife, stepdaughter, a mini-Aussie who gives hugs, and a chubby cat who begs for ham.

His website is www.bradmcbooks.com.

Around the Web

Legends of the Lost Causes on Amazon

Legends of the Lost Causes on Goodreads

Legends of the Lost Causes Publisher Page

The Stone Girl’s Story by Sarah Beth Durst

The Stone Girl’s Story by Sarah Beth Durst. April 3, 2018. Clarion Books, 336 p. ISBN: 9781328729453.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 3.8; Lexile: 660.

Exploring the power of stories and storytelling, Sarah Beth Durst presents the mesmerizing adventure of a girl made of living stone who braves unforeseen dangers and magical consequences on a crucial quest to save her family. 

Mayka and her stone family were brought to life by the stories etched into their bodies. Now time is eroding these vital marks, and Mayka must find a stonemason to recarve them. But the search is more complex than she had imagined, and Mayka uncovers a scheme endangering all stone creatures. Only someone who casts stories into stone can help—but whom can Mayka trust? Where is the stonemason who will save them?

Action and insight combine in this magical coming-of-age novel as the young heroine realizes the savior she’s been searching for is herself.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (March 1, 2018 (Online))
Grades 5-8. Mayka’s father, the stonemason, carved her and the creatures she lives with, but now that he is dead, their intricate carvings are fading, and with them, the power that keeps them alive. To save them, Mayka must go to the world below her mountain and look for a new stonemason to recarve the stories etched into their bodies. But the human world is a dangerous one, and Mayka must learn new skills to keep from falling into a dangerous trap. In this celebration of stories, art, and the love of family—both birth and chosen—readers will meet a host of characters who are very human, regardless of their actual physical makeup. Using the familiar rhythms of traditional tales and bolstered by Mayka’s love of telling stories, this is a strong addition to middle-grade fantasy adventures, one which begs to be read aloud. With a deft balance between the thrilling journey and the artfully built world of magic, this is as beautiful and adventurous as the graceful stone birds accompanying Mayka on her journey.

Kirkus Reviews starred (February 1, 2018)
A living stone girl leaves the isolated mountain where she lives to seek a stonemason who can keep her family alive.Father, a stonemason, was human. He carved their family: animals, two birds, and Mayka, a 12-year-old girl made from gray mountain granite. Stone beings don’t cry, taste, sleep, or tire—but because Father carved marks on each one giving them life and their own unique stories, they move, talk, think, and feel. Since Father died, wind, water, and time have been wearing down the family’s markings; recently, Turtle’s markings so eroded that he stopped living. So Mayka gathers her courage and hikes down from their idyllic mountain into the city, accompanied by the flying stone birds. Her quest for a stonemason to recarve their markings leads to many revelations, each serious yet presented gently. As Mayka learns that Father was famous, that most stone beings serve flesh-and-blood “keepers,” and that a city stonemason has invented a carving that enslaves, she begins to understand that she and her fellow carved creatures can interpret and stretch their own stories—even when those stories are literally carved in stone. Mayka’s kindness and steady loyalty, her friends’ animated and varied personalities, and some downright brilliant problem-solving will carve themselves into readers’ memories. Thoughtful, colorful, strengthening, and understatedly tender. (Fantasy. 9-12)

About the Author

Sarah Beth Durst is the award-winning author of fifteen fantasy books for kids, teens, and adults, including The Stone Girl’s Story, Drink Slay Love, and The Queens of Renthia series. She won an ALA Alex Award and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and has been a finalist for SFWA’s Andre Norton Award three times. She is a graduate of Princeton University, where she spent four years studying English, writing about dragons, and wondering what the campus gargoyles would say if they could talk.

Sarah lives in Stony Brook, New York, with her husband, her children, and her ill-mannered cat. Her website is www.sarahbethdurst.com

Around the Web

The Stone Girl’s Story on Amazon

The Stone Girl’s Story on Goodreads

The Stone Girl’s Story Publisher Page

The Beloved Wild by Melissa Ostrom

The Beloved Wild by Melissa Ostrom. March 27, 2018. Fiewel and Friends, 320 p. ISBN: 9781250132796.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 840.

She’s not the girl everyone expects her to be.

Harriet Winter is the eldest daughter in a farming family in New Hampshire, 1807. She is expected to help with her younger sisters. To pitch in with the cooking and cleaning. And to marry her neighbor, the farmer Daniel Long. Harriet’s mother sees Daniel as a good match, but Harriet doesn’t want someone else to choose her path―in love or in life.

When Harriet’s brother decides to strike out for the Genesee Valley in Western New York, Harriet decides to go with him―disguised as a boy. Their journey includes sickness, uninvited strangers, and difficult emotional terrain as Harriet sees more of the world, realizes what she wants, and accepts who she’s loved all along.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Mild sexual themes, Alcohol, Discussion of rape and physical abuse

 

Reviews

Booklist (April 15, 2018 (Online))
Grades 9-12. In early nineteenth-century New England, oldest daughter Harriet chafes against the expectations placed on her, particularly when it comes to the handsome, eligible, land-owning neighbor, Daniel, whom her mother wants her to marry. Despite a slow-burning affection between Daniel and Harriet, the headstrong girl decides to join her brother Gideon when he leaves home to settle a parcel in the Genesee Valley. Determined not to let her gender get in the way, Harriet disguises herself as a boy and ultimately finds more challenges in the frontier than just hard labor. Ostrom infuses her lyrically written novel with plenty of period details about homesteading in western New York and cultivates a dynamic sense of atmosphere: the dense trees, mucky roads, and back-breaking labor under the sweltering summer sun are all vividly rendered. Harriet’s fiercely independent spirit is accepted by just about everyone, which doesn’t seem true to the time period, but despite the overly rosy depiction of the time, the warm romance and witty banter between the well-wrought characters should please plenty of teen readers nonetheless.

Publishers Weekly Annex (March 12, 2018)
Harriet Submit Winter has no intention of living up to her name and marrying her boring neighbor Daniel Long to meet expectations of gender norms set up in pioneer times. Instead, she disguises herself as Freddy, a boy, and leaves the family farm in New Hampshire with her brother Gideon to forge a new life in the wilderness of western New York. Ostrom effectively contextualizes the discussion of societal limitations imposed upon women within the story’s well-drawn historical setting. For Harriet, her male alter ego provides her with a protective armor and a sense of limitless potential, while it also starkly highlights gender inequity. A complicated courtship in the wilderness plays out like Pride and Prejudice with a western backdrop, but the ending bucks tradition to set up a refreshingly level-headed ever-after that is steeped in reality and feels true to the journey. Ages 13-up

About the Author

Melissa Ostrom teaches English literature at Genesee Community College in Batavia, New York. Her short fiction has been published in literary magazines, and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. The Beloved Wild is her YA debut.

She lives in Batavia, New York, with her family. Her website is www.melissaostrom.com

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The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson. March 27, 2018. Arthur A. Levine Books, 352 p. ISBN: 9780545946179.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.9.

The letter waits in a book, in a box, in an attic, in an old house in Lambert, South Carolina. It’s waiting for Candice Miller.

When Candice finds the letter, she isn’t sure she should read it. It’s addressed to her grandmother, after all, who left Lambert in a cloud of shame. But the letter describes a young woman named Siobhan Washington. An injustice that happened decades ago. A mystery enfolding the letter-writer. And the fortune that awaits the person who solves the puzzle. Grandma tried and failed. But now Candice has another chance.

So with the help of Brandon Jones, the quiet boy across the street, she begins to decipher the clues in the letter. The challenge will lead them deep into Lambert’s history, full of ugly deeds, forgotten heroes, and one great love; and deeper into their own families, with their own unspoken secrets. Can they find the fortune and fulfill the letter’s promise before the summer ends?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Discrimination, Violence, Alcohol, Vandalism, Name-calling

 

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist (February 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 11))
Grades 5-7. From the author of The Great Greene Heist (2014) comes the exciting adventure of two kids searching for a hidden treasure. Candice’s summer has been the worst, until she finds a letter in her grandma’s attic that led to her grandma being driven out of their town of Lambert, South Carolina. The letter offers clues about the untold history of a young African American woman named Siobhan Washington and about a secret game of tennis. Candice teams up with Brandon, the boy next door, and dives into the hidden history of Lambert to finish what her grandma started. Following each new discovery, Johnson reveals a key moment in the past that uncovers a secret love and a great injustice. While Candice works through her parents’ divorce and moving, Brandon deals with being bullied by a boy from school. The mystery offers them a way to seek justice for Candice’s grandma, but it also helps them deal with their own struggles. A dazzling and emotional read that deals with serious topics such as bullying, racism, and divorce.

Kirkus Reviews starred (January 1, 2018)
Summer is off to a terrible start for 12-year old African-American Candice Miller. Six months after her parents’ divorce, Candice and her mother leave Atlanta to spend the summer in Lambert, South Carolina, at her grandmother’s old house. When her grandmother Abigail passed two years ago, in 2015, Candice and her mother struggled to move on. Now, without any friends, a computer, cellphone, or her grandmother, Candice suffers immense loneliness and boredom. When she starts rummaging through the attic and stumbles upon a box of her grandmother’s belongings, she discovers an old letter that details a mysterious fortune buried in Lambert and that asks Abigail to find the treasure. After Candice befriends the shy, bookish African-American kid next door, 11-year-old Brandon Jones, the pair set off investigating the clues. Each new revelation uncovers a long history of racism and tension in the small town and how one family threatened the black/white status quo. Johnson’s latest novel holds racism firmly in the light. Candice and Brandon discover the joys and terrors of the reality of being African-American in the 1950s. Without sugarcoating facts or dousing it in post-racial varnish, the narrative lets the children absorb and reflect on their shared history. The town of Lambert brims with intrigue, keeping readers entranced until the very last page. A candid and powerful reckoning of history. (Historical mystery. 8-12)

About the Author

Varian Johnson is the author of several novels for children and young adults, including The Great Greene Heist, which was an ALA Notable Children’s Book, a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2014, and a Texas Library Association Lone Star List selection, and To Catch a Cheat, another Jackson Greene adventure and a Kids’ Indie Next List pick.

He lives with his family near Austin, Texas. His website is www.varianjohnson.com.

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The Wheel of Life and Death by Julian Sedgwick

The Wheel of Life and Death by Julian Sedgwick. February 1, 2018. Carolrhoda Books, 344 p. ISBN: 9781467775694.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.9; Lexile: 810.

After a close call with an assassin in Barcelona, Danny is more convinced than ever that his parents–star performers in the Mysterium circus–died under suspicious circumstances. He’s also sure that there’s a traitor within the Mysterium. As the troupe heads to Berlin for a circus festival, Danny scrambles to unravel the clues his father left behind. He’ll need his decoding skills–plus some extremely risky circus tricks–to find out what really happened to his parents and who’s still trying to sabotage the Mysterium. Can he expose his parents’ killer before disaster strikes again?

Sequel to: The Palace of Memory

Part of series: Mysterium (Book 2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Criminal culture, Murder

 

 

About the Author

Born in rural East Kent in 1966 Julian Sedgwick resolved to become a writer at an early age. He and his brother (writer Marcus Sedgwick) relied on their imaginations, and each other, to entertain themselves – inspired by their father’s love of cinema, theatre and storytelling.

Julian took a long detour whilst working out what and how to write – via a degree and a half at Cambridge University reading Oriental Studies and Philosophy, dying his hair various ill-advised colours, working as a bookseller, painter, therapist and researcher for film and TV – before moving into screenplay development and writing.

A lifelong interest in the arts and culture of China and Japan has influenced much of his work, as has his fascination with performance, street art and circus.

Julian lives near Ely, Cambridgeshire, with his wife and two sons, waiting impatiently for it to get cold enough to go Fen skating.

Her website is http://www.juliansedgwick.co.uk.

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The Wheel of Life and Death on Amazon

The Wheel of Life and Death on Goodreads

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