The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I mean Noel)
Middle Grade / Juvenile / February 3, 2017

Author: Ellin Raskin. Summary: Glub! Blub! Mrs. Caroline “Little Dumpling” Carillon isn’t quite sure what to expect when she sets off to meet her husband, Leon. After all, she hasn’t seen him since their wedding when she was five and he was seven. But their reunion is cut short when a storm knocks him off their boat, and he disappears completely, leaving only one very waterlogged clue (Glub! Blub!). Will Dumpling be able to find Leon (or is it Noel) again? And just what is a glub blub? (Goodreads summary) My Thoughts: A light-hearted, humorous affair full of ridiculous riddles and quirky characters. Content Review: Sexual Content: Kid says: “Mavis Bensonhust’s mother always wears lace underwear in case a truck hits her and her dress flies up in the air” … “That’s why I never wear any underwear,”. A little further on she explains that instead she always wears a purple bathing suit under her clothes. Language: None. Violence: Building blows up and bodies of people inside it are never found. Girl bites her governess, who dives down a laundry chute. Man trips, hits his head on a table, and needs stitches. Man falls off a boat and seems to…

Talons of Power
Middle Grade / Juvenile / January 29, 2017

Wings of Fire #9. Author: Tui T. Sutherland. Summary: The war is over. The false prophecy has been fulfilled. But the dragonets still have enemies. A dark evil, buried for centuries, is stirring. And a young NightWing may have had the first true prophecy in generations . . . Something is coming to shake the earth Something is coming to scorch the ground Jade Mountain will fall beneath thunder and ice Unless the lost city of night can be found. (Published summary) Content Review: Sexual Content: None. Language: None Violence: Two eggs found crushed, killed. One dragon enchants a mop to whack another dragon over the head. Dragon threatens to kill her sisters. One dragon slashes another with its claws. Some magical control of other dragons, changing their perceptions or directly forcing them to action; some mind-reading.

Manxmouse: The Mouse Who Knew No Fear
Middle Grade / Juvenile / January 22, 2017

Author: Paul Gallico. Summary: The brave little Manxmouse is on a special journey. But can he survive fearsome foxes, terrified elephants and cats big and small to reach his destination? The Manxmouse is one-of-a-kind. He’s the strangest little mouse you’ll ever see, with bright blue fur, huge rabbit ears and a distinct lack of tail. But Manxmouse doesn’t mind being different. He knows that destiny awaits him, and so Manxmouse sets out on an exciting adventure. He meets tigers and hawks and dastardly pet-shop owners, but there’s someone he dreads and desires to meet more than anyone else. The someone who has been waiting for him all along…the Manx Cat. (Published summary) My Thoughts: I remember really liking this when I read it as a younger kid, but on a second read through I found it less interesting. The plot is disjointed, moving from mini-adventure to mini-adventure as Manx wanders through the world. The writing style is clearly aimed at younger children, as are the characters. Overall I’d say a fun story with a nice moral for younger children. Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: None. Violence: Cat pounces on mouse, and hawk picks the mouse up, but both are…

The Morrigan’s Curse
Middle Grade / Juvenile / January 19, 2017

Eighth Day #3. Author: Dianne K. Salerni. Summary: Evangeline’s younger sister, Addie, is working with the dangerous Kin who originally kidnapped her. They value her power, and they’re willing to teach her more, an irresistible offer. She doesn’t understand the true consequences of the work – the devastation they mean to unleash on the world by undoing the eighth day spell. Jax, meanwhile, is frantic to help, to get her out of there, but entangled in his promises. As usual, he’s in trouble again, having somehow claimed a powerful artifact that won’t rest until it kills. As the battle between Kin and Transitioners comes to a head, both sides race to accomplish their opposing goals, manipulating meanwhile by the sinister figure of the Morrigan. My Thoughts: The Morrigan’s Curse picks up straight away where the previous book left off, providing no back information. (This is good or bad depending on how recently you read the last book.) Action-packed and definitely fast moving, the story felt almost too hasty – the characters had no time to think and neither did the reader. The narrative went back and forth, for the most part, between Jax and a new view point, Addie. Jax…

Fridays with the Wizards
Middle Grade / Juvenile / January 12, 2017

Castle Glower #4. Author: Jessica Day George. Summary: After the complex and convoluted castle history was worked out in the last book, Celie and her friends are back in the castle safe and sound. It’s not happily ever after quite yet, though – not when the Arkower wizard breaks out and is running around on the loose! Celie needs to stop him, save her friends, and prove to her parents that she’s level-headed and mature, all while dealing with the blow of her sister’s impending marriage. My Thoughts: This is clearly an effort to combine a magical adventure with a more mundane struggle of growing up. It might work better for children in the age range intended, as they may sympathize with the character more. For myself, I found Celie grating on my nerves through the book, as she complains about not getting enough credit, shouts at her sister about abandoning them for the Grathians, and demands to be more involved with things. In other words, she lost the pleasing maturity she showed over the last few books. On the good side, it was fun to see more griffins. Content Review: Sexual content: One hug. One character asks for another’s…

The Demigod Files
Middle Grade / Juvenile / January 11, 2017

A Percy Jackson and the Olympians Guide. Author: Rick Riordan. Summary: How do you handle an encounter with Medusa on the New Jersey interstate? What’s the best way to take down a minotaur? Become an expert on everything in Percy’s world with this must-have guide to the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Complete with interviews, puzzles, games, and original short stories by Rick Riordan. My Thoughts: Some interesting backstory for the Heroes of Olympus (My name is Bob!) but overall the stories seemed random and unnecessary, with the quality being of a lower age-level than the books. Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: None. Violence: Non-graphic. Ghosts/monsters are stabbed and disintegrated, one monster has his memory wiped clean, some buildings are blow up during a fight. Love Triangle: No.  

Wednesdays in the Tower
Middle Grade / Juvenile / January 6, 2017

Castle Glower #2. Author: Jessica Day George. Summary: Strange things are afoot in Castle Glower: new rooms, corridors, and even stables keep arriving, even when they aren’t needed. Celie’s brother Bran, the new Royal Wizard, has his hands full cataloguing an entire storeroom full of exotic and highly dangerous weapons, while Celie has her hands full . . . raising the creature that hatches from a giant egg she finds! Will they be able to find out what’s making the Castle behave this way in time? (Goodreads summary.) My Thoughts: Another light-hearted read for the younger kids – and now we get griffins! Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: None. Violence: Minor roughhousing with a griffin – he nips, but leaves no more than bruises.  

Tuesdays at the Castle
Middle Grade / Juvenile / December 22, 2016

Castle Glower #1. Author: Jessica Day George. Summary: Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie’s favorite days. That’s because on Tuesdays the castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one-other than Celie, that is-takes the time to map out the new additions. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and their fate is unknown, it’s up to Celie, with her secret knowledge of the castle’s never-ending twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom. (Goodreads summary.) My Thoughts: A fun, whimsical read for both younger and older kids. Content Review: Sexual content: Some very minor flirting. A girl asks to see the prince’s bedroom, and another character is scandalized, but the girl explains she needs to see how the castle favors him. Language: None Violence: Soldier reports that a carriage was attacked – most of his men were shot down by arrows and one horse had to be put down. Two men try to imprison a girl, who pushes them down a flight of stairs. Girl breaks man’s nose by flinging her head back while he’s trying to…

The Sun Trail
Middle Grade / Juvenile / November 27, 2016

Dawn of the Clans #1. Author: Erin Hunter. Summary: For many moons, a tribe of cats has lived peacefully near the top of a mountain. But prey is scarce and seasons are harsh–and their leader fears they will not survive. When a mysterious vision reveals a land filled with food and water, a group of brave young cats sets off in search of a better home. But great dangers await them. In this unfamiliar world, faced with loners and fierce rogues all vying for territory and power, the traveling cats must find a new way to live side by side–or risk tearing one another apart. My Thoughts: It was interesting to see the arrival of the first cats. Even before they got there, the foreshadowing of the clans was clear to those watching for it, as I was. However, the characters are not as relatable, and the love-trianglie-stuff with Storm/Grey Wing/Clear Sky and Turtle/Grey Wing was weird. Background enough that younger kids wouldn’t notice, but a little weird. Content Review: Sexual content: Over the course of the book, three cats are pregnant. Two give birth, one off-screen and the other very low detail. The cats do not marry or have…

Dragon’s Blood
Middle Grade / Juvenile , Young Adult / November 21, 2016

Pit Dragon Chronicles #1. Author: Jane Yolen. Summary: Jakkin is a bondboy, a situation similar to indentured servants of old – right now he’s basically a slave, but he’s paying off his debt piece by piece. But the quickest way to make enough gold to do that is by stealing a dragon egg from the nursery where he works and raising it to fight in the rings. If Jakkin wants his freedom he’s going to have to steal a dragon egg, hide and feed it, bond to it, and train it to fight – all without being discovered. My Thoughts: Well, the tone was strange. I believe it’s considered both ya and middle grade, but the constant references to prostitutes seem out-of-place for such an age range. I liked the concept of dragons bred and trained to fight in ring-fights: not one I’ve seen before, but quite logical. But I really hope Jakkin is going to get his come-uppance from Akki, because the attitude towards girls is quite strange – the final scene where Jakkin determines to ‘master Akki’ threw me off more than anything else in the book. Since Akki is determinedly independent, I can see this going different…