The Lifters

The Lifters

By Dave Eggers

New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2018.

Genre: Fantasy

Grades: 5 and Up

Gran, his sister Maisie and his parents need to move because money has gotten tight and there is no longer work for his mechanic dad. Mom stopped working when she stopped walking and started using a wheelchair a few years ago.  So they move to the tiny town of Carousel, into an old, crooked family homestead. To make the move even worse they move in the middle of the school year.  But the town of LifterCarousel is a sad and odd town. No one really even notices Gran—but he notices Catalina and when he follows her one day to see where she lives, he sees her use a silver door handle to open a hillside and walk in!  He is amazed and he must find out why she keeps going underground. Against Catalina’s frequent protests they become friends and she lets him in on the secret of why she goes underground and who is trying to destroy the city of Carousel. 

I thought this was a delightful fantasy—loved that hope triumphs despair! 






By Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

New York: Feiwel and Friends, 2018.

Genre: Fantasy

Grades: 4-6

BobThis was a most delightful story by two of my favorite authors!  Olivia, Livy for short, has packed up her bags and is off to see her grandmother in Australia—it has been five years since her last visit and she is both excited and anxious.  She loves her grandmother but she is nervous because both her mom and her grandmother want her to remember the great times from her last visit—she doesn’t remember the farm, the animals or even the toys she played with—after all she was only five.  Livy heads upstairs to her room (the same room that her mom grew up in) and it feels comfortable but as she heads to the closest, she gets the feeling she left something important in that closest. She opens the closest and inspects the contents and what to her wondering eyes should appear but a zombie wearing a chicken suit. Not a very good chicken suit at that. Then the zombie talks—he wants to know what took Livy so long to come back.  She had no idea what he is talking about so he, Bob, proceeds to fill to her in.

Each chapter alternates between Livy trying to understand what was happening and Bob telling his sad tale of wanting to go home—telling Livy she had promised to help him find his way home and that was five years ago!

This story will make you laugh out loud and magically move you to a heartfelt place that every child (and adult) should visit!

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle

By Janet Fox

Viking Books, 2016.

Genre: Fantasy and Historical Fiction    Pages: 388     Grades: 5/6 and Up

My two favorite genres are historical fiction and fantasy. That’s why I loved this book it takes place during World War II in London. Bombs are beginning to fall and the people of London are sending their kids away to safer places. Katherine, called Kat, her brother Robbie and younger sister Amelie are sent away to an Academy that was set up in Rookskill Castle in Scotland. Their father said it would be a great place for them all during the war.41ijyi-d4ul-_sx329_bo1204203200_

As they are packing her Aunt gives Cat a chatelaine—which are charms that are strung and are worn around the waist. Each, Cat was told had some magical power. As her aunt tries to explain its powers, Cat dismisses her as a little crazy.

Upon arriving at the old castle they are met by Lady Lenore who is very odd. She lays out the rules and tells the children their lessons will begin the next day. That’s when the book takes a creepy turn. The children are locked in their rooms and when they sneak out they find there are rooms, halls and secret passages everywhere. There are real people who appear like ghosts and there are the weird and crazy noises that come from within the walls.

This story is filled with dark magic, spies and puzzles.  The final chapters will keep readers on their edge of their seats for sure!

I only wish the author would have given more history about the war—like what a blitz was, what countries were in the war, how spies were used and how disruptive the war was to families all over the world.




By K.A. Holtgnome

New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2017.

Genre: Fantasy   Pages: 285    Grades: 5 -7


This was a fun summer read! Buck and Lizzie are huge fans of the series, Triumphant Gnome Syndicate, and book three is getting ready for it release. This book makes several references/parallels to the Harry Potter phenomena, like the midnight release party that is swamped by fans.  At the release party in Buck’s home town a surprise visit occurs at his bookstore—it is Harold Macinaw, famed author of the Gnome Series. When he makes his appearance there is an explosion and the famous author goes missing.  That’s when things get really strange—kids are be summoned and walk off into a bottomless dumpster and replacement kids end up in their spot. Parents/adults seem to be frozen like zombies. It appears Buck and Lizzie are not effected but are now in pursuit of this missing author and Buck’s little sister who jumped into the mysterious dumpster. They find themselves in a most peculiar adventure—they have landed in the underground world of the Gnomes!  Not just any world—the world of Gnomes that was created by Harold Macinaw.  Good thing that Buck is one of the best at the Triumphant Gnome Syndicate trivia—he is going to need that knowledge to navigate in this strange world. Lizzie ends up going with him by mistake—but luckily she also knows a lot about the world of Gnomes and is the one who remains well-grounded throughout the entire adventure. Check out this strange, action packed fantasy to see if Buck has what it takes to solve the bizarre mystery, save his sister and the author.  Colin Jack does the art work for the cover and the pictures that periodically show up in the book—a fun addition indeed.

The Metropolitans

The Metropolitans

By Carol Goodman

New York:  Viking, 2017.

Genre:  Fantasy   355  Pages Grades 5 and Up

This was an interesting read. It is historical, a mystery and a fantasy book all rolled up into one.  The story is about four kids coming from very different backgrounds and meeting on December 7, 1941, the day Pearl Harbor was bombed. They become unified 61vi5ollcvl-_sx329_bo1204203200_in the quest to stop a Nazi plot that is to take place four days later in New York City! It is their diversity that unites them—one a Japanese American, one Jewish, who was sent to the U.S from Europe when his parents were taken to ghettos/concentration camps, one an orphan separated from siblings, and one who is of Indian descent.  They have each been selected to find the Kelmsbury Manuscript, which has been separated into, parts—all containing clues that will help them to figure out the plot against the U.S.A. The Kelmsbury is no ordinary book; it is about the legends of King Arthur. Each of the characters in the story unknowingly takes on a role in the book and has a special power to help them. See how they unite, overcome self-serving behavior to have good triumph over evil!

Going Wild

Going Wild

By Lisa McMann

New York: Harper, 2016.

Grades 5 and Up

Genre: Fantasy

I wasn’t sure I would like Going Wild based on the cover of three kids and Cheetah with the tag line of: The power of the animal kingdom is in her hands.  Sometimes I am just not into animal books. But I soon found that this book is not what I thought and I was totally engrossed and couldn’t put it down! 

I enjoyed Lisa McMann’s introduction of all the characters, I felt like I knew them all well before the action all started!  Charlotte, known to all as Charlie has to leave Chicago and travel across the U.S. to Arizona as her mom got a new job as the director of an emergency room. Charlie is not happy!  She hates leaving her school, her soccer team and her friends!  On the day they finish loading the moving truck a package arrives and Charlie throws into GoingWild_jkt_des5_cc14.inddthe back of the truck–not to think of it again until days after they have arrived at their new home.  The package contains what looks like a fit bit, athletic bracelet. So Charlie puts it on as she tries to figure out how it works—as no instructions were included. School is off to a rocky start, but Charlie is hopeful that making the soccer team might help her to find some new friends. Those tryouts were filled with friends and foes and some incredible moments. During the tryouts Charlie found unbelievable speed, like a cheetah and the ability to heal herself from a soccer ending injury, like a starfish or chameleon.  She is beginning to believe that the “athletic bracelet” has some power and she is scared because now she cannot remove it off her wrist.  Luckily, she has made a friend in fellow soccer player Maria and has someone to confide in and so the adventure of exploring the power of friendship and the power of the bracelet is off to a furious start. 

I am kind of thinking that this is going to appeal to girls because Mac, Maria’s best (boy) friend takes a back seat to some girl drama that ensues.  The book was predictable but that certainly does not take away from the exciting adventures that Charlie, Maria and Mac take on as they explore the bracelet and now have to keep it away from the group who wants to collect what was stolen from them. 

The Wild Robot

The Wild Robot

By Peter Brown

New  York:   Little, Brown  and Company, 2016.

Grades 3-6

Genre: Fantasy

This is a cute story about a robot, one of 500 being transported on a cargo ship when a hurricane came through and sunk the ship. Four hundred and ninety-five went down with the ship, five floated on the wild waves, four dashed against the rocks and one floated to shore with only damage to the outside crate. In fact, the crate was open and the robot activated when it hit the shore. Roz is a robot that can move, communicate and learn. wildrobot1Learn is exactly what she did!  Knowing that a robot does not have feelings the reader knows that Roz is lonely on this deserted island. Roz does not know how to fit in or what do with herself until she met the opossum.  Here she learned how to camouflage herself to help her to survive attacks from wild animals. Then disaster strikes when a mudslide occurs and Roz accidentally causes the death of a goose family—only one egg survives.  Roz uses her knowledge to hatch and raise the goose-ling—Roz has found purpose for her life.  Join Roz and all the animals of the island as they define what it is to be a friend and family. A lovely story that will soon not be forgotten!

A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls

By Patrick Ness

Okay so this book came out in 2011 and I missed it but it recently came out in paperback with a new cover because the movie is due out in October 2016. Since I am doing a books to movie theme at school—I said, why not give it a try.  What a great surprise!  It was a fabulous, well written story about a young boy who lives with his mother in Great Britain. His mom’s illness has taken a toll on Conor and he seems to have grown up over night–helping his mom out at home, being bullied at school and a terrifying reoccurring nightmare.            61vtxjtnosl-_sx371_bo1204203200_Conor wakes one evening to a great disturbance outside of his bedroom window—the Yew Tree that stands at the back of his property has broken free and has come to Conor. Although this might seem like a nightmare, this was not Conor’s nightmare!  So the nightmare continues and the monster still comes just after midnight and wants just one thing from Conor—the truth something Conor will not share with anyone. Join Conor on his journey to come to grips with what terrifies him most. 

I might add I have not cried so much in one book in my entire life! A must read before you see the movie!

A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans

A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans  

By Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder

New York: Crown Books, 2015.

152 Pages.   Grade 4-6.

Miss Drake’s pet, Fluffy has recently passed away.  And Miss Drake is not quite sure she is ready for her next–pet human.  That’s right Miss Drake is a dragon that has humans as pets!  Amelia, also known as Fluffy to Miss Drake, had been the greatest pet and companion!  Miss Drake has not yet finished grieving when just 2 days after the funeral a little, scrawny specimen, dressed all in black, with very curly light brown hair that went every-which-way burst into the dragon’s lair and announces herself as GreatCare of Humans Aunt Amelia’s niece, Winnie.  Miss Drake is quite surprised and asks how she had a key to the secret passage?  Well, Great Aunt Amelia thought Miss Drake might be lonely so she left a key, a map and the great secret about her friend the dragon.  Miss Drake tries to get rid of the pesky little girl but Winnie is bold and sure that the DRAGON would be HER new pet!

Go on a grand fantastical adventure as Miss Drake trains her new human and Winnie enthusiastically plays along and finds magic and mystery at every turn.  You will be delighted with the friendship that is created from loss.

A Snicker of Magic

A Snicker of Magic

By Natalie Lloyd

Grades 5 and Up


What a fabulous book!  It is whimsical, witty and well written!! 

Felicity Pickle is just getting ready to start 6th grade in yet another school. Her mom, her younger sister, Frannie Mae and Felicity have traveled all over the United States in the VW van known as the Pickled Jalapeño mobile. This constant moving around has become especially difficult for Felicity as she already has a hard time making friends—she often retreats to her special talent—collecting words.  She can see words pop up over a beautiful landscape or a when she meets someone for the first time—she captures the words and writes them down. But when she looks in the mirror she just sees loser, lonely and friendless.snicker

Then one day her mom pulls into Midnight Gulch, the town where she   up and everything starts to change when Felicity meets the “Beedle.” Jonah, a boy in her class that is in a wheel chair is the mysterious “Beedle” who spends his time doing good deeds for others, in secret.  Well what is Felicity in need of?  That’s right Jonah becomes her friend and that is when the magic starts to happen in Midnight Gulch. 

There’s a duel of sorts, curses and just a snicker of magic in this wonderful story of family, friends and love.

If doing a book talk on this book read the opening couple of pages about Felicity’s first day in school and then turn to the chapter and read a few pages about Jonah’s mom Jewell who runs a Lube and Dye.  That’s right she combines her two passions in life running a beauty salon and auto repair shop!  Everyone will fall in love with the quirky charters in, A Snicker of Magic!