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.


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

By J.K. Rowling

Arthur A. Levine Books, 2016.

Genre: Fantasy   304 pages

Grade Level: Grades 4 and Up.

Okay, so I saw the movie first and on the way home stopped and bought a copy of the book and finished reading it that evening! I loved the movie and wish the book was more than a script.

This is a Harry Potter, prequel of sorts which takes place in New York City in 1926, when Newt Scamander a Brit gets off an ocean liner carrying a worn leather suitcase that has more than a change of clothes contained within.  His goal is to release a creature that had been captured from Arizona some time ago. But a dark force is at work and when Newt’s 91igigbj0vlarrival is timed with the havoc, he becomes suspect number one by the MCUSA—the Magical Congress of the United States which keeps the magical wizards safe.

Readers will be mesmerized, in only the way that J.K. Rowling can do it, when Newt and muggle Jacob Kowalski step down into that worn piece of luggage. Readers will be introduced to new creatures some that cute and loveable and others that look quite fierce. Tie-ins to Harry Potter? Newt went to Hogwarts where he had Professor Dumbledore and he had a relationship with a Leta Lestrange.

Hang on to your hats and keep your wands at the ready—this book is filled with adventure, mystery and the magic of J.K. Rowling. 

13 Gifts

13 Gifts

By Wendy Mass

New York:  Scholastic, 2011.

341 pages Grades 5-8


Tara is just tired of “being the new girl” and trying to fit in to another new school.  At the age of twelve, in a desperate act of trying to fit in with the “popular crowd” Tara agrees to steal the stuffed goat mascot from the principal’s office, in order to get to sit with them at lunch.  The night time stealing event goes horribly wrong and she finds herself suspended from school (because she also peppered sprayed the principal when he surprised her) and in big trouble at home!  Her parents are off to study mating habits of some exotic animal in Madagascar and Tara is sent off to spend the summer in Willow Falls with her younger, geeky, uncool cousin Emily.

Willow Falls is her parents’ old hometown but they have not been back there since Tara was born–not even to visit Tara’s Aunt’s family–nor does anyone talk, about Willow Falls.  Upon arriving, the author Wendy Mass does a great job of introducing her character Tara, to all the kids of Willow Falls—the reader feels like they could be friends with these great quirky kids.  Tara once again has a “stealing incident” only this one she might have to “sell her soul to the devil” to keep from being exposed by Angelina—the woman who catches her.  Tara agrees to collect a list of 13 unique items before her 13th birthday for Angelina a “collector.”  Although the task seems impossible her new friends are happy to help her with her list and the dark mystery that surrounds  Angelina. The reader will love the mystery and friendships formed as Tara continues on her journey of self- discovery. I loved this story and all other books by author Wendy Mass—great coming of age stories!

Author Website:  Wendy Mass