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.
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. Holt
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.
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 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!
The Wild Robot
By Peter Brown
New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2016.
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. Learn 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 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 Great 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.