I was excited to read this new book from author Linda Yiannakis. As a fan of middle grade reads as well as magical realism, I was intrigued by the synopsis. Nine year old Ellie, short for Eleanor, has it tough. Well, at least she thinks she does. She has to spend her summer vacation in summer school, with her least favorite teacher, Mr. Pinchpenny, as well as the class bully, and to top it all off, her little brother is driving her crazy at home! Things just couldn’t get worse for poor Ellie. But what if she found a way, a mysterious, magical sort of way, to make things better?
I was introduced to Andrea Kaczmarek’s writing for young people last year with Puddle’s Wondrous Worry Dolls, and if you missed that review, you can read it here. There’s a Stinky Goblin in the Shed is another great story from Kaczmarek with a magical element to it.
In this story, Ms. Kaczmarek introduces the reader to Jerry and Jacob, fraternal twins who make a fort out of their Gran’s old shed. As little boys will do, the twins begin to feel adventurous and brave while camping out in the shed and decide to take a walk through the woods at night. It was certainly creepy and of all the things they imagined they might encounter, they never imagined a goblin!
Keep on Reading!
I would like to start this post by thanking Gita V. Reddy for providing me with a copy of her book, Hunt for the Horseman. She thought I might enjoy it because of past reviews I’ve written of books such as Serafina and the Black Cloak. She was right! Hunt for the Horseman is an adventure story for young readers in which Sandy, who has lived her whole life in the United States, travels with her parents to her mother’s home country of India. There she meets her very large extended family, complete with several cousins, who are descendants of royalty and still own the family palace. The children embark on a hunt throughout the palace, which was built with several secret passageways and hiding places, searching for the legendary horseman toy that was supposedly hidden by an ancestor long ago.
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This story is intended for early middle grade readers and is relatable with a little bit of magic thrown in. Jemima, or Puddle as she is known, helps out in her Mother’s shop and one day discovers Worry Dolls, little dolls made of paper in bright colors. When you go to bed, Puddle’s mom explains, you should put the Worry Dolls under your pillow and tell them your worries. Puddle is skeptical of this idea until she discovers that some Worry Dolls have made their way into her pocket and come home to her room with her. Deciding she has nothing to lose, she gives the Worry Dolls a try and confides her worries to them. Puddle and her best friend, Ally, quickly discover that the Worry Dolls seem to be listening. Keep on Reading!
The Secret Labyrinth is a mystery/ adventure story for a middle grade audience. It is about a young American girl named Halley living in Scotland with her family. Halley is a little unusual, as one would expect the protagonist to be in such a book. She’s not very social and when she is, she prefers the librarian, who is her mother’s age, and an older gentleman named Jonathan, who is doing research in the area, to kids her own age. One day, Halley observes what she is convinced is a mermaid out in the sea. From there, the story begins to unfold.
While this story was creative, I do feel that it left something to be desired. One of the best parts about middle grade adventure stories is the “good guy” learning to overcome whatever obstacles he or she has to in order to defeat the “bad guy”. They usually learn about themselves in the process. In The Secret Labyrinth, however, there really was no bad guy. There was a real estate development that wanted to build a resort by the water, tearing up a lot of ancient land, but there was no single defining character who seemed to be “behind it all,” which is something most readers have come to expect from this genre. Keep on Reading!
As I, along with the rest of the world, count down the hours to the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I find myself reflecting on just why I love the Harry Potter series so much. Harry and I met when I was twenty years old as I was sitting in a Greyhound bus station. My mom, sisters, and I were homeless. Months of bouncing around ultimately landed us at the bus station one cool, fall day. I remember well the feeling of the crisp air on my tanned face as we carried suitcases and black garbage bags filled with our belongings into the bus terminal.
As we sat there with no money and nowhere to go, my mom took a creased paperback copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone out of her purse. I’m not sure why she had it in her purse, but she handed it to me saying, “Here, read a book. It will help pass the time.” Keep on Reading!
As a grown-up Disney kid, it is my duty to keep a current list of my favorite rides and attractions at Disney Parks. The Haunted Mansion has long been a favorite of mine, and I was thrilled to receive an ARC of this new book from Disney Press!
As a book addict, my favorite room in the Haunted Mansion attraction is of course the library with the spooky, empty rocking chair and the assurance that the library is full of works by “ghost writers.” Well, in this book, I got to stop into the library and have the head librarian, Amicus Arcane, share some spooky tales with me. The Haunted Mansion is famous for welcoming “foolish mortals” through its doors and in the opening of this book, Amicus Arcane extends that invitation to “foolish readers.” Keep on Reading!
Let me start this post by saying a HUGE thank you to Disney Hyperion for an Advanced Reader Copy of this book through NetGalley. I absolutely loved Serafina and the Black Cloak, and if you missed that review, you can read it here. I was so excited to get a sneak peek of the next adventure, and it did not disappoint!
*Please note: if you have not read the first book, spoilers lie ahead! Please come back to this post after reading Serafina and the Black Cloak!*
Serafina and the Twisted Staff picks up where the first book left off, three weeks after Serafina has defeated the Man in the Black Cloak. I enjoyed this timeline because I felt there was a lot of mystery still lingering at the end of the first book. For example, we now know the truth about Serafina’s mother – that she is a catamount! – but what exactly does that mean for Serafina? Will she continue to remain with her Pa at the Biltmore Estate or will she embrace a new life with her mother? Like the first book, the action and adventure start right away and kept me guessing and anxious to keep reading. Keep on Reading!
I am so excited that I have FINALLY had a chance to read this book! Let me start by saying that it surpassed my expectations and is one of the most original stories I have read in a long time. I was drawn to this book by two things. First, the cover. It is eye-catchingly beautiful with a silhouette of the young heroine against the night sky over the Biltmore Estate. Second, the Biltmore Estate itself. Having been born and raised in the southeastern United States, I recall a trip to the Biltmore Estate in my younger days and simply being in awe of this “castle.” No child has ever visited Biltmore Estate and not wondered what it would be like to live there, even in the basement, and be able to sneak around and have your run of the place at night. This story sounded like a wonderful adventure and childhood dream come true! Keep on Reading!
Now that it is officially summer, I thought it was time to dive into a mermaid book, and I decided to finally read The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler. My impressions going into the book were: it sounds cute but it will probably be predictable. I was wrong. It wasn’t predictable. This book is recommended for ages 8-12. Well, I’m 34 and found myself surprised as the story unfolded! Keep on Reading!