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.



Ginger Snap

By Patricia Reilly Giff

Lamb Books, 2013.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Reading new books, listening to older ones—then I went to book warehouse and bought a used copy to add to our library!  I love Patricia Reilly Giff books—they are good wholesome stories perfect for 5th and 6th graders (and me too)!

Set during the height of World War II, in 1945 in Upstate New York Rob is preparing to join the war effort in the Pacific. Rob has mixed emotions about heading off to war as he will be leaving his only family member, a younger sister, Jayna. Jayna will have to leave their home and stay with the crabby and mostly disagreeable landlady. As Rob is getting ready to leave he shares with Jayna that perhaps they have a grandmother alive in 7ba88124e6-f531-41e0-a336-5f52fd0252d67dimg400Brooklyn as he found a recipe book with a woman’s name and the bakery she owns. He says when he comes back they will go and investigate.  However, Rob goes missing in action when his ship comes under attack.  Jayna is distraught and she sees a spirit that encourages her to head to Brooklyn to see where she fits in.  Jayna packs up the recipe book, her turtle Theresa and heads off in quest of family.  Join Jayna as she deals with heartbreak and hope in this compelling story of family and friendship.

Bomb: The Race to Build-and Steal-The World’s Most Dangerous Weapon

Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal-the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon

By Steve Sheinkin

New York: Roaring Book Press, 2012.

266 Pages

Grades 6 and Up

This award winning book lived up to all the accolades it has received. It is a Newbery Honor Book, National Book Award Finalist, and Sibert Medal Winner to name a few! I found this book interesting, engaging and totally enjoyable non-fiction novel!  It reads like fiction but Steve Sheinkin, the author, does a masterful job of making this book come alive.  This is a story of how the atom bomb was made in the U.S., who all the players were, how badly other countries wanted this same technology, the roles that spies and sympathizers played, and the greater meaning of what the bomb meant once it was unleashed against Japan.Bomb


I spent time reading through the source notes and the quotation notes to see how Sheinkin constructed such a gripping piece of non-fiction. It is rich in content and gives excellent facts but the most important piece for me was how thought provoking it was.  The means of how far a country might go to steal, destroy or deceive in order to have the “upper hand” or the remorse that some had in creating a device that can wipe out humankind.  It is a story that is so very relevant to today—perhaps it should be a required read for schools.