Tag Archives: adventure

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

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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

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Deep Water on Amazon

Deep Water on Goodreads

Deep Water Publisher Page

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston. February 27, 2018. Balzer + Bray, 480 p. ISBN: 9780062652850.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 740.

Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. But D09—one of the last remaining illegal Metals—has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him.

Ana’s desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn’t care what he’ll sacrifice to keep them.

When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them—and the coordinates—and not everyone wants them captured alive.

What they find in a lost corner of the universe will change all their lives—and unearth dangerous secrets. But when a darkness from Ana’s past returns, she must face an impossible choice: does she protect a kingdom that wants her dead or save the Metal boy she loves?

Part of series: Heart of Iron (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, War, Violence, Mild sexual themes, Alcohol, Criminal culture, Gore; Murder

 

Author Video

Reviews

Booklist (December 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 7))
Grades 9-12. Deep in the stars, Ana was found by the starship Dossier as a child, alone except for sentient android D09, and she was raised by the ship’s captain and her crew of space pirates. As a teenager, Ana searches for a way to save D09, who has begun to break down—a challenge, as Di is one of the only remaining Metals who isn’t part of the HIVE, the system that strips androids of their free will. Ana refuses to lose the android boy she can’t help but love, despite his own inability to feel emotions. On a quest to save Di, Ana encounters Robb, an elite Ironborn whose despotic brother is about to ascend the throne, which has stood empty since the princess who should have inherited it disappeared after a Metal rebellion. The legends surrounding Anastasia Romanov get an sf makeover in this occasionally overcrowded but always exciting Firefly-style space opera. A wide cast of supporting characters and several same-sex romances add depth, and a violent, volatile ending leaves room for more.

Kirkus Reviews (November 1, 2017)
The story of Anastasia, lost princess of Imperial Russia, retold as space opera.In 1918, the 17-year-old daughter of Russia’s last czar was murdered with her family, but rumors persisted for decades that she might have survived in secret. In this version, the family of the Emperor of the Iron Kingdom, including his daughter Ananke Armorov, is known to have been murdered seven years ago in the android rebellion. Meanwhile, a ragtag crew of space pirates is community to brown-skinned and burn-scarred Ana. Ana’s best friend—about whom she has secret, more-than-friend feelings—is Di, a Metal: an android. Metals aren’t popular since the rebellion; most have been infected with the mind-controlling HIVE program that removes their free will. Complicating matters are Robb, a blue-eyed, olive-skinned noble on his own quest, and Jax, a violet-eyed, silver-haired Solani boy who pilots the pirate ship. Jax and Robb keep making eyes at each other, which is troublesome, since Robb’s mother wants Ana’s whole crew dead. Melodramatic back stories abound: there’s a prophesied savior, a prince in hiding with a secret power, and a noble young man with no memory. Malapropisms abound in the florid, awkward narrative (“Her voice warbled with the weight of those words”). There’s the kernel of a dramatic space yarn here, but it never comes to fruition. A surplus of angst-ridden back stories told in deeply regrettable prose. (Science fiction. 12-15)

About the Author

Ashley Poston’s is a part-time author and full-time fangirl. She was born in rural South Carolina, where you can see the stars impossibly well…

She loves dread pirates, moving castles, and starry night skies. When not lost in a book, she’s lost in real life, searching for her next great adventure. She is the author of Heart of Iron and Geekerella .

Her website is www.ashposton.com

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Heart of Iron on Amazon

Heart of Iron on Goodreads

Heart of Iron Publisher Page

Ascent by Roland Smith

Ascent: A Peak Marcello Novel by Roland Smith. May 8, 2018. HMH Books for Young Readers, 240 p. ISBN: 0765383756.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile:.

A few months after returning from Afghanistan, Peak Marcello is in Myanmar visiting Alessia. Myanmar has been in the grips of a brutal military regime for more than fifty years, but recently the government has allowed more tourists to enter.   While there, Peak is invited to climb Hkakabo Razi, one of the most isolated mountains in the world, to discover the exact elevation of the mountain. But getting to the mountain will involve a four-week trek through tropical rain forests rife with hazards—from venomous reptiles and leeches to corrupt police and military. In the end, summiting Hkakabo Razi may be the easiest thing Peak does.

Sequel to: The Edge

Part of Series: Peak (Book 3)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (February 15, 2018 (Online))
Grades 7-10. Climbing-prodigy Peak Marcello has scaled skyscrapers and summited mountains before the age of 16, but crossing the tropical rain forest is deadlier than he bargained for. Fellow young climber Alessia and her bodyguard, Ethan, invite Peak on a mission to measure the height of a remote mountain in Myanmar, but first they must brave the surrounding jungle. Out of their alpine element, Peak and his friends confront vicious wildlife, unforgiving terrain, and foes who will stop at nothing to keep the team from reaching the mountain. Surprising allies new and old join Peak for the trek and the treacherous climb to come. The third book of Peak’s adventures includes the same engaging narration, exotic settings, and plentiful perils that won the series’ debut high praise, but the sequels have fallen short of the first’s originality and sharp storytelling. A rambling plot and flat secondary characters do little to draw in new readers, but fans of Peak’s wilderness exploits and his refreshingly old-school, antitechnology attitude will settle for a series installment shy of the heights of Everest.

Kirkus Reviews (March 1, 2018)
Peak Marcello and his friends Alessia and Ethan are eager to put their ill-fated climbing expedition in the Pamir Mountains behind them as they plan to summit Burma’s highest mountain, Hkakabo Razi.Before they get there, however, Peak and his friends endure a trek through harsh tropical rainforests, encounter the military police, and even help repair a broken rope bridge. As they weather complex and dangerous situations, the young climbers learn that their previous guide, the mahout Lwin, has murdered a girl and is on the run. The narrative is fast-paced and filled with extreme outdoor adventure, and the details about mountain climbing are both thorough and interesting. Although some characters are diverse (Alessia is French, and the climbers’ botanist friend and guide, Nick, is biracial Burmese and British), the narrative employs a primarily Western and androcentric worldview. For instance, Peak refuses to wear a lungi, the traditional male saronglike garment, despite how well-adapted it is for the sweltering heat of the rainforest, instead making a derogatory comment about skirts. The one-dimensionality of the characters and the assumption that readers will be familiar with situations and characters from the preceding books in the series render the novel discordant at times. An absorbing wilderness story that falls flat in characterization. (Adventure. 12-18)

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Roland Smith is the author of 28 young adult novels including PeakThe EdgeBeneathAboveSasquatchElephant RunZach’s Lie, Shatterproof (39 Clues), the Cryptid Hunters series, the I,Q series, and the Storm Runner series. His novels have garnered dozens of State and national book awards. He speaks to over 50,000 children and adults every year at schools and conferences all over the world.

He lives in Portland, Oregon. His website is www.rolandsmith.com

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Ascent on Amazon

Ascent  on Goodreads

Ascent  Publisher Page

A World Below by Wesley King

A World Below by Wesley King. March 6, 2018. Simon Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 272 p. ISBN: 9781481478229.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.9; Lexile: 670.

A class field trips turns into an underground quest for survival.

Mr. Baker’s eighth grade class thought they were in for a normal field trip to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. But when an earthquake hits, their field trip takes a terrifying turn. The students are plunged into an underground lake…and their teacher goes missing.

They have no choice but to try and make their way back above ground, even though no one can agree on the best course of action. The darkness brings out everyone’s true self. Supplies dwindle and tensions mount. Pretty and popular Silvia does everything she can to hide her panic attacks, even as she tries to step up and be a leader. But the longer she’s underground, the more frequent and debilitating they become. Meanwhile, Eric has always been a social no one, preferring to sit at the back of the class and spend evenings alone. Now, he finds himself separated from his class, totally by himself underground. That is, until he meets an unexpected stranger.

Told from three different points of view, this fast-paced adventure novel explores how group dynamics change under dire circumstances. Do the students of Mr. Baker’s class really know each other at all? Or do they just think they do? It turns out, it’s hard to hide in the dark.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (February 15, 2018 (Online))
Grades 5-8. A field trip to Carlsbad Caverns takes a turn for the worse when an earthquake plunges Mr. Baker’s eighth-grade class into an icy underground river. Eric manages to crawl ashore quickly, but he’s separated from the group. Silvia finds herself uncomfortably in the lead of the rest of the class, and she urges them on to find Eric, who’s using the tips he learned from his favorite survival books to struggle through the caverns alone. Unbeknownst to the class, however, they’ve tumbled into a section of the caverns occupied by a community of people who took refuge in the caves generations ago and are so wary of surface dwellers, they’ll kill the intruders on sight. King’s at his best when describing the kids’ survival efforts and the unusual fictional flora and fauna they discover while they’re stranded. The plotline about the underground community is less successful, particularly the explanation of the origin of the kingdom, which is fairly clumsy. Still, readers who love survival thrillers might appreciate the kids’ high-stakes adventure in a fascinating location.

Kirkus Reviews (January 15, 2018)
King’s latest sends readers tumbling belowground in a quest for survival.Brown-skinned, biracial Eric and Latina classmate Silvia each bring their own metaphorical baggage into the limestone caverns below the New Mexico desert, beyond their daypacks filled with water bottles and snacks. When an earthquake sends them and their classmates tumbling into the unexplored abyss below the famous Carlsbad Caverns, they not only face a challenge to survive, but must also do battle with their inner demons. Meanwhile, King Carlos, of the mysterious underworld Midnight Realm, fears he is facing literal demons as the student intruders encroach upon his kingdom. After four generations underground, he and his people have thoroughly internalized his Hispanic great-grandfather’s warnings against the cruel race that lives above. Though oversized flora and fauna threaten at every turn, the true challenge for each of the three principal characters is to overcome their faulty beliefs about themselves and others. The narrative shifts focus among each as readers follow them through the subterranean landscape and on their own psychological journeys as well. For those both above- and belowground, healing from generations of exclusion and feelings of otherness is a consistent theme, which is, alas, quickly wrapped up and tied with a too-simple bow of forgiveness and inclusion. Careful readers will also wonder at both the paucity of Spanish surnames in this New Mexico school and the plot-driven choice of Carlos’ ancestors to speak English rather than Spanish when they took up residence below. Nevertheless, the quick-paced adventure and positive message of setting aside past hurts are sure to appeal. A multifaceted journey from darkness to light. (Adventure. 8-12)

About the Author

Wesley King lives in Ostrea Lake, Nova Scotia, in an old century home on the ocean, where he spends most of his time with his laptop and a cup of tea and relies on his far more capable wife to keep him alive.

His website is www.wesleykingauthor.com.

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The City on the Other Side by Mairghread Scott

The City on the Other Side by Mairghread Scott. April 24, 2018. First Second, 224 p. ISBN: 9781250152558.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 2.9; Lexile: 300.

When a wealthy and sheltered young girl stumbles into a pitched war between two fairy kingdoms, the fate of San Francisco itself hangs in the balance!

The first decade of the twentieth century is coming to a close, and San Francisco is still recovering from the great earthquake of 1906. Isabel watched the destruction safely from her window, sheltered within her high-society world.

Isabel isn’t the kind of girl who goes on adventures. But that all changes when she stumbles through the invisible barrier that separates the human world from the fairy world. She quickly finds herself caught up in an age-old war and fighting on the side of the Seelie—the good fairies.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Allusion to cannibalism, Depiction of severed heads

 

Reviews

Booklist (March 15, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 14))
Grades 4-7. Isabel loves San Francisco, even just a few years after the terrible earthquake. When she slips into an alternate fairy city, Isabel is caught up in a war that may tear apart both the fairy land and the world of humans. On the surface, Scott’s tale is a fairly standard story about a human caught in fairy business, but she and illustrator Robinson work hard to give their story its own personality. In addition to reflecting the realistic diversity of San Francisco—Latina Isabel makes friends with Filipino Benjie, for instance—Scott and Robinson include fairykind from different world cultures, as well as some they made up to reflect both the ancient and modern worlds. Robinson’s art is equally up to the task of drawing realistic humans or fantastical fairies, and the soft color palette is comforting, even when the action is tense. The result is a story where there aren’t many good or bad creatures but, instead, good or bad choices, making this adventure a fun story with a warm heart.

School Library Journal (March 1, 2018)
Gr 4-7-Isabel, a young Latinx girl in early 20th-century San Francisco, becomes embroiled in a war between the Seelie and Unseelie fairy courts in this historical fiction/fantasy graphic novel. After the disappearance of his daughter and heir, the Seelie king is losing the war, and he sends a messenger with a powerful and mysterious necklace that was stolen from Coscar, the Unseelie king. Meanwhile, in the human world, Isabel has been sent to the country to stay with her easily distracted artist father while her high-society mother travels in Europe. When Isabel stumbles into the fairy realm and finds the fatally injured messenger, she takes up the quest to find a Seelie general on the fairy side of San Francisco and deliver the necklace. Aiding Isabel in her mission are Button, a small, mushroom-headed Seelie fairy, and Benjie, a Filipino boy of uncertain loyalties who has moved between the fairy and human worlds since he was orphaned during the 1906 earthquake. The characters are nuanced for a mostly plot-driven adventure story, especially the Unseelie fairies, who develop beyond flat antagonists. The illustrations are dynamic, with panels varying in size and scale to keep up with the fast-paced plot. The detailed backgrounds are helpful in clarifying the switches between the more realistic human world and the whimsical fairy realm. –Kacy Helwick, New Orleans Public Library

About the Author

Mairghread Scott is an animation and comicbook writer specializing in action-comedy. Her animation work spans such titles as Guardians of the GalaxyUltimate Spider-ManTransformers: Robots in Disguise, and more. You can also read her work in comic book series such as: Marvel Universe Guardians of the Galaxy, Transformers: Till All Are One, Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special, and her creator-owned work Toil and Trouble. She is the author of the graphic novel Science Comics: Robots & Drones, also from First Second.

Her website is www.mscottwriter.com

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The City on the Other Side on Goodreads

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The Inventors at No. 8 by A.M. Morgen

The Inventors at No. 8 by A.M. Morgen. May 8, 2018. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 352 p. ISBN: 9780316471497.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.3.

Brimming with mystery and treasure, this action-packed tale sends a boy in need of luck and girl in need of a friend on an adventure that will change their lives forever.

Meet George, the third Lord of Devonshire and the unluckiest boy in London. Why is George so unlucky? First, he’s an orphan. Second, unless he sells everything, he’s about to lose his house. So when his family’s last heirloom, a priceless map to the Star of Victory (a unique gem said to bring its owner success in any battle) is stolen by a nefarious group of criminals, George knows that there is no one less lucky–or more alone–than he is.

That is until Ada Byron, the future Countess of Lovelace, bursts into his life. She promises to help George recover his family legacy, and is determined to find her own father along the way–all in a flying machine she built herself. Joined by a mischievous orangutan and the long-lost son of an infamous pirate, Ada and George take off on a cross-continent journey through the skies that will change their lives, and perhaps the world, forever.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (April 15, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 16))
Grades 3-6. After a string of misfortunes, humorless young George is utterly convinced he’s cursed with bad luck, and to stave off his inevitable demise, he’s stayed inside his quickly crumbling home for several years, with only his manservant, Frobisher, for company. That all changes when Frobisher gets kidnapped, and George enlists the help of the brilliant, irascible young inventor across the street, young Ada Byron. Armed with George’s heirloom treasure map, Ada’s homemade bird-shaped plane, and the assistance of their friends Oscar (a painter) and Ruthie (an orangutan), the ragtag group of kids hunts down a valuable jewel. But Ada’s secretive behavior rankles worrywart George, and soon fractures grow among their team. Morgen pulls off some handy misdirection in her fast-paced debut, and the combination of comical antics, miraculous machines, and a historical setting adds to the appeal. While she certainly takes liberties with Ada’s character, Morgen’s emphasis on such a savvy, capable girl engineer will please many readers. A closing note about the real Ada Byron makes this even better for STEM tie-ins, too.

School Library Journal (February 1, 2018)
Gr 3-6-Due to a series of extraordinarily unfortunate events (his mother died giving birth to him and his father died roller skating out an upstairs window), 12-year-old George, the third Lord Devonshire, is alone in the world, save for his trusty manservant Frobisher. The pair is scraping by, selling everything left in the family home. Young George has resigned himself to selling his prized possession: his grandfather’s map to the Star of Victory, when it is stolen by a mechanical bird. Leaving his house for the first time in two years to pursue the bird, he meets young Ada Byron, intrepid scientist, inventor, and explorer. Ada informs George of a mysterious group, called the Organization, seeking to locate the Star of Victory. She convinces timid George that they need to decipher the map and locate the Star, and the pair, accompanied by Oscar, the son of a pirate, and Ruthie the orangutan, take off in Ada’s flying machine. The disparate team moves from London to France, Geneva, and Venice (where they drop in on Charles Darwin) on the trail of the nefarious Organization. But George begins to suspect that Ada may have her own agenda. This raucous adventure keeps a frenetic pace as young George, whose father called him spineless, attempts to justify Ada’s faith in him, while Ada secretively battles her own demons. Eventually, both Ada and George find strength through their friendship. -Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor School District, Lancaster, PA

About the Author

A.M. Morgen comes from a long line of engineers and researchers but chose to pursue literature over the laboratory. To her family’s surprise, she has managed to make a decent living as an editor with her English degree. In her spare time, A.M. enjoys taking long walks in the forest, trying out new hobbies (then abandoning them), and complaining about her mean cat. Despite what you may think, A.M. is not a morning person.

Her website is ammorgen.com

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The Inventors at No. 8 on Amazon

The Inventors at No. 8 on Goodreads

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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

The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan

The Burning Maze: The Trials of Apollo, Book Threeby Rick Riordan. May 1, 2018. Disney-Hyperion, 448 p. ISBN: 9781484746431.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 4.9.

Zeus has punished his son Apollo—god of the sun, music, archery, poetry, and more—by casting him down to earth in the form of a gawky, acne-covered sixteen-year-old mortal named Lester. The only way Apollo can reclaim his rightful place on Mount Olympus is by restoring several Oracles that have gone dark. What is affecting the Oracles, and how can Apollo do anything about them without his powers?

After experiencing a series of dangerous—and frankly, humiliating—trials at Camp Half-Blood, Apollo must now leave the relative safety of the demigod training ground and embark on a hair-raising journey across North America. Fortunately, what he lacks in godly graces he’s gaining in new friendships—with heroes who will be very familiar to fans of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series. Come along for what promises to be a harrowing, hilarious, and haiku-filled ride. . . .

Sequel to: The Dark Prophecy

Part of Series: The Trials of Apollo (Book 3)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns; Violence; Animal cruelty; Murder

Book Trailer

About the Author

Rick Riordan is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the Kane Chronicles, and the Heroes of Olympus. He is also the author of the multi-award-winning Tres Navarre mystery series for adults.

For fifteen years, Rick taught English and history at public and private middle schools in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Texas. In 2002, Saint Mary’s Hall honored him with the school’s first Master Teacher Award.

While teaching full time, Riordan began writing mystery novels for grownups. His Tres Navarre series went on to win the top three national awards in the mystery genre – the Edgar, the Anthony and the Shamus. Riordan turned to children’s fiction when he started The Lightning Thief as a bedtime story for his oldest son.

Rick Riordan now writes full-time. He lives in Boston with his wife and two sons.

His website is www.rickriordan.com.

Teacher Resources

Trials of Apollo  Teaching Resources

Around the Web

The Burning Maze on Amazon

The Burning Maze on Goodreads

The Burning Maze 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