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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: fantasy, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 2,997
1. Jedi Academy: A New Class by Jarrett Krosockza, 176 pp, RL 4




Jeffrey Brown authored the first three books in the Jedi Academy series, two of which I enthusiastically reviewed here. This trilogy is HUGELY popular in my school library and a fantastic alternative to Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Before that, Brown wrote a trilogy of Darth Vader, a comics series that imagines Vader's life as father to Luke and Leia. Brown's new series debuted in August and features prehistoric siblings Lucy and Andy as they deal with typical kid stuff while also being filled with scientific information and facts about pre-history. 



Jedi Academy was too good to let go, and quite smartly, Scholastic has tapped Jarrett Krosoczka, author of the Lunch Lady series of graphic novels. Jedi Academy: A New Class finds young Victor Starspeeder making a midyear transfer from the Jedi Academy at Obroa-skai, where he has had a series of mishaps to the Jedi Academy at Coruscant. Victor decides that he is going to start keeping a journal of his time at Jedi Academy because that is what his father, who died when Victor was a baby, did.

The Jedi Academy has its own challenges, starting with Christina, Victor's big sister, who already goes there. She tells him in no uncertain terms that once they are at school, they are strangers. Navigating the new school on his own, Victor is swayed by Zach, and older student, who turns out to be a bully and a prankster with his own agenda. He also gets stuck with Artemis, an asthmatic kid in a black hooded cloak who just might be a Sith. Victor tries to make friends, impress a girl, and get his special project on the planet Endor completed while also trying to stay out of trouble and keep Zach from getting him kicked out.


Krosoczka hits all the right notes in Jedi Academy: A New Class, continuing and updating features that Brown introduced in the first three books like handwritten notes between characters, school schedules and pages from the school newspaper, including an advice column by Ms. Catara, the school guidance counselor who is also a Gungan. Krosoczka also creates a couple new twists, including the Galaxy Feed, which is a social media type feature that pops up on a tablet like device, and a page of comic strips that look at classics like Family Circus, Peanuts and Garfield through the lens of Star Wars. I especially liked, "Huttfield," in which Jaba the Hutt is the lazy, food loving star of the strip.

While I love that this series continues on (and I hope that, after another three books a new author/illustrator takes on this challenge) and am thrilled that I have more of these books to offer students, for me, Krosoczka's take on the academic world of the young Jedi lacks a bit of the depth, heart and humor that I found in Brown's books. But hey, I'm pretty sure I'm not the target audience for these books...

Source: Purchased

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2. New Voice: Hannah West on Kingdom of Ash and Briars

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Hannah West is the first-time author of Kingdom of Ash and Briars (Holiday House, 2016). From the promotional copy:

Building on homages to Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Jane Austen’s Emma and the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, Hannah West makes a spectacular and wholly original debut.

Bristal, a sixteen-year-old kitchen maid, lands in a fairy tale gone wrong when she discovers she has elicromancer magic in her blood. Elicromancers are an ancient breed of immortal people, but only two remain in Nissera after a bloody civil war. 

Bristal joins the ranks of Brack and Tamarice without knowing that one of them has a dark secret . . . Tamarice is plotting a quest to overthrow the realm’s nobility and take charge herself. 

Together, Bristal and Brack must guard the three kingdoms of Nissera against Tamarice’s black elicromancy. There are cursed princesses to protect, royal alliances to forge and fierce monsters to battle—all with the hope of preserving peace.

Could you describe both your pre-and-post contract revision process? What did you learn along the way? How did you feel at each stage? What advice do you have for other writers on the subject of revision?

Boy, am I the right person to ask about revisions. When I started querying, I was fresh out of college with no industry knowledge (I studied French) and had a manuscript so thick it could have knocked someone out, no hard cover needed.

Hannah West
After my not-yet agent, Sarah Burnes, initially showed interest, she gave me some revision advice and passed on the manuscript. I made the cuts that she suggested, and continued querying and receiving requests from other agents.

It didn't occur to me until a few months later that Sarah might actually be open to seeing the revision even though she didn't explicitly request an R&R.

I'm so glad I thought of that! We ended up signing with a plan to continue revising it pretty heavily (read: cut left and right). We did three rounds, I believe, and then I did a few more with my lovely editor after signing with Holiday House.

I think a huge amount of cutting can be a dangerous thing, as it can really throw off the pace - such a delicate thing to begin with. But I am so so pleased with the result of talented professionals putting me through the ringer. It's so worth it. The story itself is essentially the same, which goes to show you how many unnecessary words were lurking in that initial submission.

For debut authors, I would say never be too protective of the draft that you submit. It's actually really freeing to put yourself in the hands of professionals, and if you're a gifted writer, you can work in their suggestions while still retaining your voice and the aspects you love about the story.

Never react to a hard critique on the spot. Take time to think about it, and you'll usually find that you agree, or can at least envision a compromise that will improve your work.

Could you tell us about your writing community-your critique group or partner or other sources of emotional and/or professional support?

This brings me to the other Sarah in my life - the one who lives in rural Arkansas with nary a strong internet connection, eating 'coons for supper (okay, maybe the last one only applies to her church potlucks).

Having a critique partner is a wonderful thing, but having a CP-best-friend is even better. Querying and revising and waiting was a hard phase for me.

I was fresh out of college with only a part-time job, living with my parents, so I had a lot riding on getting an agent and pressing onward (who doesn't?).

In the hardest moments, Sarah was there, reading my revisions and offering encouragement even though we live in different states. (I hadn't met her yet when I submitted my abominably large manuscript, so she's off the hook).

Cynsational Notes

Hannah "lives in the Dallas area with her husband, Vince, and their rambunctious blue heeler, Robb. She proudly writes articles about sustainable living and home renovation for Modernize.com."

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3. Two Interesting Writing Things that Happened to Me this Week

I'm going to write about the second thing first, because it was more recent and I still feel geeked out by it.

I'll be honest - it was sort of a cool/sad moment. I work part-time at a flower shop, which opens at 9:00 a.m. When I got into work, I discovered we had a wire-in order from PUTNAM, CONGRATULATING ONE OF THEIR AUTHORS ON HER BOOK BIRTHDAY!!!! I kid you not, I stared at that sheet for a full minute, thinking how cool that there was an actual traditionally published author IN MY TOWN and that she got signed by a really big publishing house!!
 
The names have been censored to protect the innocent :)
 
I did feel a little sad that I was so far away from that being MY reality.

But, it was cool I got to deliver her flowers!

But, t was sad because she wasn't home so I didn't get to meet her or get a business card or be all like, "Yo, congrats, gurl!"

But, it was cool to see she posted a picture of the flowers on Twitter! :)

Neat, right? 

The other and FIRST cool thing was that I attended a one-day writing workshop. I LOVE going to those things. They are so inspiring. Gets me really pumped up and in the writing groove again.

I have to say, though, that writing conferences contain some of the most introverted attendees in the world! (It is possible other conferences, such as those for actors, singers, musicians, or anything dealing with the artistic side of the brain contain introverts as well, but I have never seen more people less willing to cause a scene in real life than I see at writing conferences.)
http://www.zazzle.com/introverts_unite_separately_in_your_own_homes_poster-228084884269623431


Let me give you one moment from the workshop:

The speaker is giving the opening speech, all crazy-confident and funny. (Obviously, he is experienced. The public speaker in me suffers some serious envy.)
Mid-sentence, the speaker pauses and asks, "Are you looking for a seat?"
All attendees shift in their chairs, and cast surreptitious glances back.
The person in question hunches up like she's trying to disappear into a sweater and waves a don't-worry-about-it-hand. "It's okay, I'm just going to stand in the back."
Speaker:  "There are seats available, if we could get people to point them out?" Questioning glance around the room.
Timorous hands come up, pointing to empty seats. Nearly inaudible voices say, "There's one here."
Person in question sort of drifts to a chair in the back and goes invisible as she settles.
Speaker goes on like nothing happened, while everyone else breathes relieved sighs that THAT awkwardness is over!

And this happened a couple times, not just once. In retrospect, it was super funny, but at the time there was this camaraderie of commiseration at BEING SEEN IN PUBLIC. It was especially bad when people had to leave to attend their 10-minute query pitch. Standing up in a room of people is hard, you guys! So many muttered regrets of "What was I thinking?" and "Should I go now, or wait another minute, since it's still five minutes before I have to pitch?" and "I wish I was sitting in the back! I'll know better next time."

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwjckvubg5LPAhUI6WMKHfGlCw0QjxwIAw&url=http%3A%2F%2Filirwen.booklikes.com%2Fpost%2F895125%2Fintroverts-unite&psig=AFQjCNERzTy7H99i0G2rxYkLXWrCU24QSg&ust=1474051307455576&cad=rjt


I had a 10-minute pitch of my own, wherein I verbally pitched my query to a really awesome agent. Like, awesome. She was incredibly nice, and actually seemed to like what I had to say. For a writer, that is just really nice, to get the affirmation that your writing isn't as bad as you sometimes feel it is. (Just so you know, a verbal pitch is WAY harder than a round-table critique. At least with a round-table critique, you have your MS in your hand and you can read the printed word aloud and not really make eye contact with anyone. With a verbal pitch, it's just you tooting the merits of your manuscript, and I think most writers are very precious about their ideas. They cradle them close and don't share. Ever. So, saying, "this is what my story is about" and ENGAGING... is hard.)
https://www.tumblr.com/search/may%20dragon


But one thing I realized during my pitch, and which I think came through most strongly, was my love of world-building.

Guys, I could literally world-build all day and not write a lick of story. I love to figure out why MY world is the way it is (such as someone in the far distant history of a particular world making such an enormous mistake that the hero in the present day now has an issue with adamant), and I love to study how other people sprinkle in backstory and implement that into my novels, so I don't have the ever-present problem of INFO-DUMPING (oh cursed words!) or people scratching their heads and saying, "I don't understand what's going on..."
http://giphy.com/gifs/confused-unimpressed-really-LcYag7ADVGsI8

Also, maps.
My first ever cityscape - be impressed. This was HARD

I love creating the history of my world. I also find it interesting that, for the most part, a lot of fantasies tend to have a sort of creation element. Like, this world exists, and while there may not be a One God figure (mine tend to have those, because that's the way I roll), there is often a strong draw from Roman or Greek myths, folktales, legends, and fairytales. I think it's because fantasy reveals a truth. Myths, legends, and fairytales contain that same kernel of truth.

"Fantasy remains a human right: we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker."

~ J. R. R. TOLKIEN, On Fairy-Stories 
 
To end:
 
What is your favourite fairytale?
What is your favourite fantasy book/series?
Do you prefer Greek or Roman myths? (If you answer other, what's the other myth you prefer?)
Favourite fantasy artist?
What's the coolest thing that's happened to you this year?

God bless!

Cat 
https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwiDgvTfjJLPAhUI1mMKHQxPA7QQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Frebloggy.com%2Fpost%2Fcat-funny-hilarious-cat-gif-lol-cat-funny-cat-best-gif-funny-cat-gif-crazy-cat-c%2F39604852440&bvm=bv.132479545,d.cGc&psig=AFQjCNEzlh8NK9dlMlP3g6XSafLMW_Pg6A&ust=1474053745222518&cad=rjt

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4. Two Fab Fantasy Fiction for YA: Novice by Taran Matharu and Mark of the Thief by Jennifer Nielsen

I have a teen in the library who is a full-on fantasy reader (and this number seems to grow larger every year!).  I have just about gone through EVERY BOOK in the fantasy section with him and thought I was at a loss until....I remembered I had two at home I read over the summer that were over the top!  He's going to be SO happy tomorrow!  And what are these titles?  Well, glad you asked!


The Novice by Taran Matharu
Fletcher never thought of himself as nothing more than the blacksmith's apprentice.  He knows little about his background and has no family.  But his life dramatically changes when a soldier who has survived the wars comes into town and gives Fletcher a scroll.  Knowing little about it and allowing his curiosity to get the better of him, he reads the scroll and unleashes a power he never thought he possessed - one in which he has control over demons.

Usually reserved for wealthy families, demons are handed down from generation to generation but Fletcher is the unknown component because he has never had nor owned a demon and doesn't have the right pedigree.  This makes him an anomaly which eventually leads him training to become a leader of an army for the Hominum Empire, fighting against the orcs.

 At the military academy he finds himself in, he is also in the company of many others who are competing for top leadership positions including an elf of royal heritage, a dwarf with an upstanding family name, and human brother and sister, who believe themselves to be above all of them.

But Fletcher soon realizes there is more happening than he thought.  Prejudice, long standing rivalry and dark political maneuvers take Fletcher further than he dared do by himself.  He now has to trust those he thinks he can or be betrayed by those who hide their loyalty, and with whom their loyalties truly lie with.

What was so refreshing for me was to see a strong male character in a fantasy novel.  Fletcher is real and brings a much needed masculinity to YA fantasy while not washing out the other secondary but critical characters, including some tough girls.  Readers will be able to see literary and character influences the author uses, from The Lord of the Rings and even Pokemon (demons isn't the right word for the creatures in the novel....you'll understand when you read it). Matharu  does such an excellent job at creating a novel based on elements of both low and high fantasy with characters, creatures and a setting that create personality, charm and deception.  This novel truly delivers.  First in a series I can't wait for!


Mark of the Thief by Jennifer Nielsen
Nic lives a hard life working in the mines as a slave for the Roman Empire.  He remembers little about his family, only that his mother deserted him and his sister to the existence they both lead now. But his life is about to change with a twist of fate.

A powerful general comes to the mines in search of a bulla, or medallion, that once belonged to Julius Ceasar.  Said to hold magic from the gods, this is something only heard of in legend.  The general, having searched for it quite a long time, has a hunch it is hidden in these particular mines and Nic is chosen to go into a cave no one has survived to bring the bulla out.

When Nic enters the cave, he is surrounded by wealth, and has to fight for his life against a griffin to find the bulla.  When he does, he mistakenly unleashes the power that begins to work within him. Without knowing it, Nic has turned himself into the most powerful Roman in the Empire.

But even with this power, his life becomes even more precarious.  Not knowing who to trust, Nic is thrust into the center of a power for struggle between praetors, generals, and emperors.  Now in the city of Rome, Nic has no one to help or turn to and finds himself in the arena, facing off against some of the most ruthless gladiators for the brutal pleasure of the city's citizens.

Nielsen's book is one that you may find yourself reading and finishing in one day.  Fast-paced and full of twists, the reader is left with some of the confusion the main character finds himself in. Her details of ancient Rome engulf the reader  through description and emotion and seamlessly connects reality with mythology.  Nielsen doesn't give anything away in this first book of a series, and leaves you feeling the rush this fantasy/mythological journey takes you on.





 

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5. Three Dark Crowns: Review

This is the dark, twisted tale of three sisters fair destined to destroy each other. Or rather, only two need die. One will emerge victorious. On the island of Fennbirn, when the queen gives birth it is always to triplet girls. Each new queen is either a poisoner, a naturalist, or an elementalist. The queen identifies which queen is which and then abdicates. The new queens are raised together until the age of 6, when they are claimed by their different factions and trained in their powers. In the year of their 16th birthday, the Ascension year, the queens will each put their powers on public display and then proceed to attempt to murder each other. They have one year to accomplish their tasks. The last queen standing wins. Of the three sisters, we spend the most time with Arsinoe, the naturalist. The naturalists live in a seaside town that evokes a humble,... Read more »

The post Three Dark Crowns: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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6. Book Review: “This Night Sucks” by Elizabeth J. M. Walker…


Not for the fate of heart…or young ears for that matter, Elizabeth J. M. Walker’s newest book made me shoot coffee out of my nostrils (painful) with this laugh-out-loud young adult vampire read. Too funny and too short, with a dash of ‘Did she just drop the F-Bomb again?’ Filled with diverse characters and a different take on those shiny and oh-so-sexy vampires, it was a refreshing read and a great escape from the real world, which lately has been filled with bad news, chaos, and tragedies.

So what’s my take on a story that’s all about the horrors of high school and surviving vampire attacks? This is what I posted on Amazon and Goodreads…

4 Star Fangs and Fun! Elizabeth J. M. Walker had me at the first bite!

“This Night Sucks” is a gut-splitting, laugh-out-loud YA vampire read, sans the shiny, sexy ones. And that’s so refreshing. Walker’s tough-in-cheek dialogue and cast of eclectic characters made for one hilarious story. From the dynamics of high school cliques to what you think you know about vampires (and what you don’t), the reader is led on a merry chase to hunt down, and hopefully kill any bloodsucker that dares enter Lana and her high school friends’ world.

If you’re ready for something completely different in the vampire literary circuit, then “This Night Sucks” is a too funny, too short book that will keep you reading till the wee hours of the morning. Just don’t forget to pack your wooden stake and garlic spray…
  
About the Book:

Lana is a high school senior enrolled in Vampire Education – a class to teach students about the very real presence of vampires in the world. Lana and her classmates don’t really expect to meet up with any undead bloodsuckers. Vampires are a lot like other scary things that supposedly exist but you hope you’ll never come across: nudist colonies, mad cow disease, and your parents’ sex life.

What is part of Lana’s everyday reality is navigating through one last year of high school while desperately trying to be less nerdy. She still loves spaceships, fantasy novels, and cat stickers, but she also recently got her braces removed, grew boobs, and is working on the makeup thing. She never expected her crush-of-a-lifetime Pete to even notice her – let alone ask her out on a date. 

The date is going great until Pete’s ex-girlfriend Katy shows up, all bloody and pissed off. Lana quickly realizes that Katy is not just her ordinary bitchy self – she has been turned into a vampire. After a near death experience, Lana learns that she is changing into a vampire too.

Lana needs answers, and the only way to get them is to find the vampire who started the chain of events – and to find him before sunrise... 

Purchase Links:

Mirror World Publishing Link:  

Amazon Link: 

Meet the Author:

Elizabeth J. M. Walker lives in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. She has always loved books and writing. As a teen she discovered zines, which inspired her to publish her own litzine of odd fairy tales for over a decade.

She Dreamed of Dragons is her first novel.

Connect with Elizabeth J.M. Walker:

Facebook: 

Amazon US: 

Goodreads Author Page:

Publisher Website: 

Author Website: 
www.elizabethjmwalker.com

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7. Gateway books: Introduction to your favorite genres (link)

What book introduced you to your favorite genre(s)? Here's a list from Tor.com: Five Gateway Books

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8. Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelley Barnhill -- deep magic (ages 10-14)

I can't wait to share The Girl Who Drank the Moon with my students and hear their thoughts; it's a story full of deep magic, wonderful characters, powerful themes and rich language. Magical stories have fascinated me since I was a young girl--starting with classic fairy tales, their all-powerful witches and the young people who outsmart them. This is sure to be a favorite this fall, especially with my fantasy-loving readers.

reading The Girl Who Drank the Moon while camping this summer
The Girl Who Drank the Moon
by Kelly Barnhill
Algonquin / Workman, 2016
Your local library
Amazon
ages 10-14
preview
*best new book*
A terrible crime happens once each year--the people of the Protectorate must sacrifice a baby, leaving it in the forest for the witch who threatens them. They believe that this child saves them all: "Sacrifice one or sacrifice all." But who is telling this story? Who makes the family sacrifice their child? And what happens when the child is left in the forest? Right away, questions start swirling in the readers' mind.

This complex story quickly unfolds, revealing that the Elders hold the power in the Protectorate, enforcing this tradition ruthlessly--and the submissive populace rarely questions them. This year, however, things go differently as the grieving mother protests vehemently when her baby is taken to be left in the forest. Barnhill quickly raises the questions of truth, power, authority and loyalty--themes that readers will reflect on throughout the story.

As soon as the Elders leave the baby in the forest, a kind witch named Xan rescues her. Xan accidentally feeds the infant moonlight, which gives her powerful magic. Aware that magic is both a power and a responsibility, Xan decides to raise the infant--whom she names Luna--as her granddaughter.

Barnhill skillfully weaves together three separate plot lines: Xan and Luna's relationship together as Luna grows into adolescence; the grief the madwoman--Luna's mother--endures after her baby is taken from her; and the questions that arise in a young apprentice to the Elders after he witnesses the madwoman's breakdown.

I cannot wait to hear what students in my Mock Newbery club say about this story. Will they react most to the characters? Or will they start thinking about the themes that Barnhill raises? How will they react to the uncertainty and complexity in the plot? It will be a terrific choice for book clubs to read and discuss.

I loved listening to Kelly Barnhill talk about the beginning of the story with my friend librarian Laura Given, in the summer reading podcast. Definitely listen to Kelly and then listen to Laura read aloud the opening chapter in her podcast PCS Reads (hopefully the podcast will embed below).

I love how Donalyn Miller and Stacey Riedmiller share their thoughts about this magical story in their NerdyBookClub review:
"It is impossible for mere mortals to adequately communicate the beauty of Barnhill’s language or the emotional resonance of Luna’s story, so we won’t even try. All we can share is our pale impressions of it like memories of a moonlit night in the woods...

The Girl Who Drank the Moon reminds us that all great stories offer readers rich explorations of what it means to be human–even when the “people” are dragons and witches. Whether our scales and warts show on the outside or not, we are all flawed, but our choices show the world who we really are."
The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a book that I want to savor, reread and talk about. It is definitely a complex story that juggles many themes and plot lines, asking readers to consider different characters' points of view and motives.

The review copies were kindly sent by the publisher, Algonquin Books for Young Readers / Workman Publishing. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2016 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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9. Ogres Awake! by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost, 40 pp, RL 1.5


Ogres Awake! is the third book in the Adventures in Cartooning Jr. series (the mini-me of the Adventures in Cartooning series)and, as with Sleepless Knight and Gryphons Aren't So Great, authors Sturm, Arnold and Frederick-Frost present yet another silly story as the manic Knight and his steed, Edward, rush headlong into a new adventure. As always, the endpapers provide readers with instructions on how to draw the characters from the story.
From high atop a parapet where the Knight is playing fetch with Edward, the duo discover that what they thought was thunder is the snoring of ogres, one of whom is using a sheep for a pillow. Ready for a battle, the Knight and Edward gallop off to the King, who is calmly reading a comic book, naturally. This day has been foreseen - a plan is in place!


What is the plan? You just have to read Ogres Awake! to find out! But, the illustrations - and garden gnomes - just might give you a clue or two...


Source: Review Copy







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10. A Promise of Fire: Review

This is such a frustrating review to write. The story doesn’t have bad bones. The writing and plot are fine, and might well have been very enjoyable. There’s considerable action and adventure. But there were two major obstacles that prevented me from enjoying this (and they’re big ones). I couldn’t stand the main character, and I I did not at all care for the romance. Not liking the romance is going to be an instant downer in a book that is explicitly a fantasy romance. Cat is a young circus performer on the run from her abusive past. Cat makes her way in the world as a soothsayer, but her real “gift” is the ability to tell truth from lies. Anytime someone tells a lie in her presence Cat feels a searing pain. Considering the prevalence of lies in daily human interactions she spends the book in much less pain... Read more »

The post A Promise of Fire: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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11. Favorite fantasy ships (link)

Here's a list of favorite fantasy ships--it should be ships and not boats, shouldn't it?--from Tor.com, and be sure to check out the ones in the Comments: Seafaring vessels

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12. Mini Reviews: Fantasy and Sci-Fi Round Up

Here we have three entries that show just how varied fantasy novels can be. There’s a historical, paranormal fantasy, a fantasy romantic comedy, and a graphic novel that is part steampunk, part epic fantasy. Let’s take a look!              Title: These Vicious Masks Author: Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars Release Date: February 9, 2016 Publisher: Swoon Reads Age Group: YA Source: Borrowed I’m so glad I read this absorbing paranormal historical story set in Victorian London. If you typically enjoy books placed in this setting, These Vicious Masks will not disappoint. There are all the usual trappings: young heroine who defies Society and its restrictive gender roles, a dashing gentleman (or two), and a paranormal mystery/quest driving its heart. Evelyn is our sassy, independent MC on a quest to save her gentle, kind-hearted sister from the hands of a devious mad scientist bent... Read more »

The post Mini Reviews: Fantasy and Sci-Fi Round Up appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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13. AND I DARKEN by Kiersten White \\ A Book That Will Blow You Away...

Review by Sara... AND I DARKEN  By Kiersten White Series: The Conquerors Saga #1 Hardcover: pages Publisher: Delacorte (June 28, 2016) Language: English Goodreads | Amazon No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be

0 Comments on AND I DARKEN by Kiersten White \\ A Book That Will Blow You Away... as of 8/10/2016 9:40:00 AM
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14. Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom GUEST POST by author David Neilsen!


Today, something special is happening here. I am participating in a blog tour, but not just any blog tour. Sometimes you read a book and really love it, then you get to the author's notes or the acknowledgements and find something that makes you love it even more. That's exactly what happened to me when I read Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom by David Neilsen. Neilsen's debut is a marvelous mix of silly, spooky and creepy with a haunting plot point worthy of an episode of The Twilight Zone. Finishing the book, I learned that Neilsen, a professional actor, story teller and voice actor, was inspired by a pen and ink drawing by Trina Schart Hyman, a legendary illustrator who brought many fairy tales to life, winning a Caldecott in 1985 for Saint George and the Dragon, retold by Margaret Hodges. The illustrations of Trina Scahrt Hyman, longtime art director for Cricket magazine, take me back instantly to my childhood. I am thrilled and honored to have the author of a novel inspired by Hyman's work share here, in his own words, how his curiosity was piqued and how his creativity was sparked by this one work of art.

I hope you’re enjoying the blog tour for David Neilsen’s Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom! In case you missed yesterday’s post, head over to The Book's the Thing to check it out. The tour continues tomorrow on The Book Monsters. For my review of Neilsen's book, check back here tomorrow!


A Picture is Worth 46,000 Words
By David Neilsen


Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom started life as a reaction to an illustration. The picture, done by Children’s Illustrator Trina Schart Hyman, had been hanging on the wall of my in-laws’ home for as long as I’d known them. It was part of a 10-piece collection of drawings done years ago by some of the top children’s illustrators of the time. They were each asked to create a single image based on their favorite fairy tale or fable. Most of the pieces in the collection were based on stories I knew such as Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater or St. George and the Dragon. The one that caught my eye was labeled simply, “Dr. Fell.” I’d never heard of Dr. Fell, had no idea who he was or what he was about, but the more I looked at the picture, the more intrigued I became.
The image shows a little girl looking up warily at an old man in a suit and top hat. He is smiling down at her in a very creepy way, and on his back, unseen by the girl, is a basket filled with the arms, legs, and heads of little children. This was awesome! How had I never heard of this story before?
I asked my mother-in-law if she knew who Dr. Fell was. She was as stumped as I. So we turned to Google, and discovered Tom Brown’s four-line poem from 1680.


I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,
The reason why -- I cannot tell,
But this I know and know full well,
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.


My first reaction after reading the poem?
That’s it?
I read the four lines again and again, finding them lovingly creepy but a far cry from arms and legs sticking out a wicker basket.
But then I read a bit more about the history of Doctor Fell. It turns out that those four lines had inspired a number of literary references throughout the ages. Robert Louis Stevenson mentions him in The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Author Thomas Harris had his most famous creation, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, use Dr. Fell as a pseudonym in the book, Hannibal. The original nursery rhyme has been quoted in multiple episodes of the cult-TV show Dark Shadows.
Something about these four lines has sparked a foreboding sense of unease for three and a half centuries. They’d sparked Ms. Hyman to draw a truly-creepy picture. Now they were sparking something in me.
Questions ran through my mind. Who was this guy? What did he want? What was he doing? How was he doing it? Doesn’t anyone notice? As each question popped up, the story began to take shape. What happens when Dr. Fell comes to town? I knew right away that this was a children’s story, so he couldn’t be chopping off the arms and legs of children. There had to be something else he was taking from them, something else he needed them for. When that plot point clicked into place, it was obvious. The playground came next, as the natural vehicle for his monstrosity.
In the drawing, Ms. Hyman has added a few other details; a raven atop a withered tree, the girl having stepped off the path to get out of Dr. Fell’s way, flies buzzing around the basket on his back. All of it combines to give the picture a very lively, magical feel. I took that quality and tried to get it into the story by using heightened language a touch above the normal and expected.
The hardest part for me was creating the heros. There had to be a little girl, because of that image, but one little girl didn’t feel right. One little girl, on her own, was simply not going to be able to defeat the Dr. Fell I was creating. I played with different combinations of boys and girls of different ages for a while, trying to fall upon the right combination. For a while I had only two heros, a brother and sister, but after a couple of false starts, I knew I needed a third, and the trio from the book was finally formed.
All of this came from that single picture. Looking at it now--my mother-in-law gave it to me for Christmas and it hangs on my wall--I still feel that slightly-queasy feeling it gave me when I first noticed it. I owe it, and the late Ms. Hyman, a great debt. Her single image planted a seed in my head that grew to become Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom.

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15. THE CROWN'S GAME by Evelyn Skye \\ Worth The Hype Or No?

Review by Sara... THE CROWN'S GAME By Evelyn Skye Series: The Crown's Game #1 Hardcover: 399 pages Publisher: Balzer + Bray  Language: English Goodreads | Amazon Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs

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16. Take Your Imagination On Vacation

imagination on vacation

Children don’t need planes, trains and automobiles to be transported to different countries, different worlds or even different points of view. All it takes is an engaged imagination and the right resources and they can explore the far-off corners of their active and growing minds.

First Book offers books and resources that will stimulate children’s creativity this summer and take their imaginations on vacations!

Imaginative Play

Children can fly to outer space, perform surgery, put out an inferno, explore uncharted territories and do it all before lunch with the help of fun role playing costumes. When children imagine what it would be like to be an astronaut or a doctor their world expands and they begin to dream bigger. In this section you’ll also find puppets, building blocks and even a toy taco!

imagination on vacation

Fairy and Folk Tales

This section is filled with old classics as well as exciting new titles that will keep young minds captivated. These stories, legends and myths from different cultures all over the globe will give children endless worlds full of princesses, monsters and giant beanstalks to explore.

imagination on vacation

Fantasy and Sci-Fi

Books and stories from different dimensions and galaxies! Free from the rules of space and time, the books and stories in this section will help children think beyond what seems possible and imagine freely. Children can go to the beach in another galaxy or visit an amusement park in the future…the imagination vacation possibilities go on and on with these engaging books.

imagination on vacation

Arts and Crafts

All of the beautiful paintings or paper planes children dream up can’t come to life without the tools and resources they need. This section features a wide variety of kits and activities that will help children turn their creative ideas into fantastic works of art or fun puppets.

imagination on vacation

The post Take Your Imagination On Vacation appeared first on First Book Blog.

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17. POISONED BLADE by Kate Elliott \\ Further Expands The Court of Fives Universe..

Review by Kaitlin... POISONED BLADE By Kate Elliott Series: Court of Fives #2 Hardcover: 418 pages Publisher: Little, Brown (August 16, 2016) Age Range: 12-17 years Grade Level: 7 up Language: English Goodreads | Amazon In this thrilling sequel to World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott's captivating young adult debut, a girl immersed in high-stakes competition holds the fate of

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18. SISTERS OF SALT AND IRON by Kady Cross \\ Looking For A Good Scare?

Review by Krista... SISTERS OF SALT AND IRON By Kady Cross Series: The Sisters of Blood and Spirit #2 Hardcover: 352 pages Publisher: Harlequin Teen Language: English Goodreads | Amazon Lark Noble is finally happy. She’s trying to move on and put the events of the past behind her: the people who avoided her because she talked to the ghost of her dead twin sister, the parents who

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19. Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

HarperTeen, 2016

Dinah has been called to the Great Hall to meet with her father.  It isn't something she relishes at all. She gets dressed in her silks with adorning red hearts everything, along with her crown of rubies and makes her way through the Cards to the King's throne...and what happens next begins her saga.

Vittiore is Dinah's step-sister.  Unlike Dinah, with dark hair and eyes, Vittiore is blonde with blue eyes, loved by all, especially the king.  There are favorites in the castle, and Vittiore rises to the top. Dinah is beyond frustrated with this new girl and doesn't give her the time of day.  Perhaps she should...

Charles, Dinah's older brother, cannot be the next in line to the crown because of his condition.  His entire apartment in the palace is filled with hats he makes, which are very coveted. People call him the Mad Hatter, Dinah knows he is more than that.

Wardley, a childhood friend of Dinah's and a Heart Card (soldiers bound to protect the royal family), sees the pain and humiliation Dinah has to face every time she faces her father, and he is there for for her.  His support and friendship will be tested by both Dinah and the court.  Where do his allegiances lie?

Harris never runs late.  He makes sure his student, Dinah, is kept on schedule. He has been with her since Dinah's mother died and is loyal and kind.  In fact, Harris is more of a father figure in Dinah's life than anyone else.  He is the bargaining chip between Dinah and the king...if she doesn't do what he asks, Harris won't be around much longer.

Cheshire is the king's right hand man.  He is always whispering in the king's ear, with a grin of evil on his face.  He is the only one the king trusts and the one Dinah trusts least.  Although not a royal, Cheshire wields a lot of power.

The Cards play an important role in Wonderland.  The Spades are mercenary soldiers even the Heart Cards fear.  They are wild and bent on destruction, which the king believes makes the best type of soldiers against his enemies.  The Clubs are Wonderland's judge and jury.  Most of them work in the Towers, where the criminals and insane are taken until Execution Day, where their heads are cut off.  The Diamonds are the men who work with the royal coffers.  Dinah learns how to handle these different characters, as only a future queen can.  But will they be loyal to her?

Then one evening, she finds a vial with a message hidden in it
within a tart that is served to her.  Is this a trap, or is this meant to help?  After she reads the message and undertakes the journey, even she is no longer sure.  But her life is at stake...

We all know the Queen of Hearts in Carroll's classic novel, and Colleen Oakes has done an excellent job in recreating Wonderland, the characters, and especially the future queen in this amazing fantasy re-telling.  Put the classic back on the shelf and don't read into the pages what will happen.  Allow the book to take you to this Wonderland in all of its wildness, hidden secrets, danger, and pomp.  And when the reader comes to the end of the book wanting to know more, fear not!  There is an excerpt from the next book in the saga!  Recommended for grades MS-HS.

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20. Book Tour and Guest Post: THIS NIGHT SUCKS by Elizabeth J.M. Walker...

Welcome to the Book Tour for Elizabeth J.M. Walker's new novella, This Night Sucks!

Follow the tour each day to read reviews, guest posts, and exclusive excerpts.


Book Details:

From the author of She Dreamed of Dragons

Title: This Night Sucks

Author Name: Elizabeth J.M. Walker

Genre(s): Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Vampires, Comedy

Release Date: June 17, 2016

Publisher:  Mirror World Publishing 

Mirror World Publishing Link:  

Amazon Link: 

Link to the Tour Schedule:



About the Book:

Lana is a high school senior enrolled in Vampire Education – a class to teach students about the very real presence of vampires in the world. Lana and her classmates don’t really expect to meet up with any undead bloodsuckers. Vampires are a lot like other scary things that supposedly exist but you hope you’ll never come across: nudist colonies, mad cow disease, and your parents’ sex life.

What is part of Lana’s everyday reality is navigating through one last year of high school while desperately trying to be less nerdy. She still loves spaceships, fantasy novels, and cat stickers, but she also recently got her braces removed, grew boobs, and is working on the makeup thing. She never expected her crush-of-a-lifetime Pete to even notice her – let alone ask her out on a date. 

The date is going great until Pete’s ex-girlfriend Katy shows up, all bloody and pissed off. Lana quickly realizes that Katy is not just her ordinary bitchy self – she has been turned into a vampire. After a near death experience, Lana learns that she is changing into a vampire too.

Lana needs answers, and the only way to get them is to find the vampire who started the chain of events – and to find him before sunrise...

Fun Vampire Facts – Book Edition!

1.      One of the first recorded accounts of a vampire dates back to an ancient Sumerian and Babylonian myth dating to 4,000 B.C.
2.      Over 1,000 vampire novels have been published, most within the past 25 years.
3.      The first full work of fiction about a vampire in English was John Polidori’s The Vampyre. The Vampyre was a short work of fiction published in 1819.
4.      Bram Stoker’s Dracula, published in 1897, remains an enduring influence on vampire mythology and has never gone out of print.
5.      A key inspiration for Dracula was said to have been Vlad the Impaler, the 15th-century Transylvanian-born prince.
6.      The character Dracula has been featured in over 200 films.
7.      Popular vampire writer Anne Rice has sold over 100 million books.
8.      Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries have been published in several countries, including: Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Spain, Greece, Germany, Czech Republic, Swden, Denmark, and many more.
9.      The children’s book Bunnicula, by James and Deborah Howe, has won more than ten Children’s Choice awards, including the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award and the Nene Award.
10.  The Twilightbooks are the only vampire related book series to have sold over 100 million copies. 

Meet the Author:


Elizabeth J. M. Walker lives in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. She has always loved books and writing. As a teen she discovered zines, which inspired her to publish her own litzine of odd fairy tales for over a decade.

She Dreamed of Dragons is her first novel.

Connect with Elizabeth J.M. Walker:

Facebook: 

Amazon US: 


Publisher Website: 

Author Website: 



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21. The Invisible Library: Review

Once again I find myself in the position with a book that is practically perfect in its premise, yet I ultimately fail to forge much of a connection with it. This is not a bad book, and I think it has its readers! I mean, it is a book about a great Library that has access to infinite alternate dimensions and universes. It also has werewolves, vampires, Fae, and dragons all romping around and creating magic, mystery, and mayhem in a sort of alternate steampunk “Victorian” London. Sign me way up for that. However, I get this sense of “fuzziness” for lack of better word to describe it with fantasies and other genre works where the world building is not at all clear to me. The Library is a very advanced institution that seems to exist out of time. It has its own Language that allows Librarians to alter their... Read more »

The post The Invisible Library: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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22. throwback to my favorite season....

silence of the snowdrops
8x10, acrylic on canvas
©the enchanted easel 2016
WINTER!!!

with almost triple digits temps going on here the last few days (ugh!) well, i thought we could all use a friendly reminder of a much colder time....you're welcome. :)

{ps and btw, this is my favorite painting. must be the winter theme...}

PRINTS HERE. OTHER GOODIES HERE. and for a little Eira (that's her name) in the making, visit my Facebook page HERE.

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23. Book Review: Black Lightning by K.S. Jones…

I absolutely love Arizona! I’ve been lucky enough to visit twice (Phoenix, Tempe, and Scottsdale areas), and would love to go back and see the Grand Canyon, since I never got a chance to go there. K.S. Jones paints a vibrant and beautiful picture with her words, that allows me to feel my skin sizzle under the Arizona heat, and make my mouth water for buttery cornbread. So what’s my take on a story set in a place that can conjure up Geronimo’s ghost and make you sweat with every page you turn? This is what I posted on Amazon and Goodreads…



Lightning does indeed strike twice with this 5 Star Winner!

K.S. Jones combines a mixture of Apache folklore, natural phenomenon, and science fiction in a dessert setting to create her middle grade sci-fy adventure about 10 year-old Samuel Baker and his incredible journey into another dimension. Fast-paced from beginning to end, Jones weaves a fantastic and emotional tale wrought with love, death, magic, and hope.

Jones’s imaginative story is a must for any bookshelf (or ereader), and though geared for tween boys, there’s plenty of action to get the girls cheering for Samuel and his friend Isabelle to get them back home to the families they love. High fives for K.S. Jones and her electrifying tale!

Tagline and Blurb:

Life moves on — no matter what...

Following his father’s puzzling disappearance and his mother’s death, ten-year-old Samuel Baker goes through the motions of living in a world turned upside down. He wears an Apache talisman, a long ago gift from his father, in hopes its promise of strength and guidance is true. But what he truly wants is the power to bring his parents back. 

Heartless Aunt Janis is elated at the prospect of becoming Samuel’s legal guardian. She is sure an orphan boy will elicit such an outpouring of public sympathy that her husband will win his Senate bid by a landslide. But when Grandpa Tate arrives, things don’t go as expected, especially when black lightning strikes!

Read an Excerpt:

Samuel stood beside his mother’s rain-speckled casket. He had cried his tears dry, so there was no point in trying to find more.

“Chin up, young man,” Aunt Janis said as her fingers nudged Samuel’s jaw upward. “Death is just part of life, and our photographer needs a good picture of you for the newspapers.”

A camera flashed, leaving Samuel’s red and swollen eyes burning as if stung by the sun instead of grief.

So many important days had come and gone without his father, but surely he would come home today, wouldn’t he? Samuel closed his eyes. He pretended his father was beside him holding his hand. They had a right to hold hands, he told himself. Not because he was ten, but because it was his mother’s funeral. Two years had passed since his father left, never to be seen again. Vanished, was the word his mother had used. Into thin air, she’d said.

“Take that silly thing off.” Aunt Janis flicked Samuel’s wood and bead necklace.

“No,” he said and shook his head. “My dad gave it to me.” It was a pinewood tile, the size of a domino shaved nickel-thin, which hung from a leather cord around his neck. Burned onto the front side of the wood was a lightning bolt. Its flipside bore the blackened imprint of a tribal dancer. It had a turquoise nugget and a shiny black hematite bead strung together on each side. His father had given the talisman to him with a promise: It will guide you and give you strength when you need it most.

Today, dressed in a black suit and starchy white shirt, Samuel wore it in hopes the promise was true.

As mourners gathered, Samuel’s friend Brian came to stand beside him. “Hey,” he said.

“Hey,” Samuel answered without taking his eyes off the casket.

“Is that the necklace your dad gave you? You don’t usually wear it.” Brian’s wire-rimmed glasses slid down his straight arrow nose. He pushed them back up the bridge with one finger until they encircled his eyes again. “Can I see it? I promise I’ll give it right back.”

“It’s not a necklace.” Samuel pulled the leather cord off over his head, mussing his overgrown blond hair. “It’s a talisman.” He handed it to Brian. “My dad said it would help me, but it hasn’t done anything yet. I think it was just one of his stories. It’s probably just an old piece of scrap wood with a couple rocks tied to it.”

Brian shrugged after examining the piece then he handed it back to Samuel. “I think it’s cool. You should keep wearing it anyway.”

Nodding, Samuel hung the talisman around his neck again, but this time he dropped it down beneath his shirt where it was no longer visible. It felt warm against his skin.

“Has anybody told you where you’re going to live now?” Brian asked.

“Probably with Aunt Janis and Uncle Jack.”

Brian frowned. He kicked the tip of his shoe into the muddy soil. “They live so far away. Why can’t you just stay here and live with Mrs. Abel? She doesn’t have any kids.”

Mrs. Abel was their fourth grade teacher. She had plainly stated to all who would listen that her job was to teach the proper use of the English language to children who behaved properly. A babysitter, she had said, she was not. Today, she stood in the rain with the other mourners, eyeing the ground where the hem of her long, gray dress lay caked in mud. Tufts of brown hair jutted out from under her pink plaid scarf. Even though she stood a few feet from him, she had not spoken to Samuel since his mother’s death. Few people had. Everyone had words for Aunt Janis and they talked to Uncle Jack, but no one but Brian and a few classmates had spoken to him. Maybe talking to an orphan was harder than talking to a normal kid.

Purchase Links:

Mirror World Publishing

Amazon 

Barnes & Noble

Meet the Author:

Karen (K.S.) Jones grew up in California, but now lives in the beautiful Texas Hill Country northwest of San Antonio with her husband, Richard, and their dogs Jack Black, Libby Loo, and Red Bleu. Black Lightning is her first middle-grade novel. She credits her love of fantasy to the early influences of authors J.R.R. Tolkien, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells. Her award-winning first novel, Shadow of the Hawk, a Young Adult Historical, released in 2015.

Connect with K.S. Jones:



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24. “Leonora”

We all know that clowns, ventriloquists’ dummies, and scarecrows are some of the creepiest things in creation. But there’s something far worse. According to tvtropes.org in “Creepy Doll“: Dolls are perceived as harmless, and they can be gorgeous and/or adorable, but there’s still something scary about dolls. It’s probably because many of them fit squarely […]

The post “Leonora” appeared first on Cathrin Hagey.

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25. Lowriders to the Center of the Earth - a review

Lowriders to the Center of the Earth
Written by Cathy Camper
Illustrated by Raúl the Third

They're back!

The impala - Lupe Impala, master mechanic
The mosquito - Elirio Malaria, the finest detail artist around
The octopus - El Chavo Flapjack Octopus, washcloth-wielding polisher of the Lowriders in Space Garage

If you think lowriders are impractical, think again.  When the three amigos from the Lowriders in Space Garage go in search of their missing cat, their rocket-powered lowrider is just what they need.  In this second book in the series, the three friends journey to the center of the earth and face off against a trickster coyote, an Aztec God, and other legendary Mexican and Aztec foes.   As in the first book, they do it with humor, brains, and style—lowrider style—bajito and suavecito (low and slow).

Lowriders to the Center of the Earth is so visually cool, that it looks more like an older brother's indie comic book than a middle grade graphic novel. Raúl the Third uses red, black, and blue ink on sepia pages, and creates expressive faces, wild action, and hidden humor. The illustrations have a distinctly Mexican flair and invite the reader into the culture.  His art is a perfect complement to Cathy Camper's hilarious wordplay. It's difficult to imagine that kids can learn Spanish, geology, ancient Aztec culture,  Mexican culture, and the virtue of teamwork by reading a book that screams divertido (fun) but they can!  Camper's dialogue is sharp and witty, and even features bilingual puns, as in this exchange between Lupe and the trickster coyote.

"Have you seen our cat?"
"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Señor."
"Señor who?"
"Señor cat?  I don't think so."
¡Ja, ja, ja!

This book may be even better than the first!



My copy of the book was provided by the publisher at my request when my LibraryThing copy went missing in the mail.

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