JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans. Join now (it's free).
Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: fantasy, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 2,971
How to use this Page
You are viewing the most recent posts tagged with the words: fantasy in the JacketFlap blog reader. What is a tag? Think of a tag as a keyword or category label. Tags can both help you find posts on JacketFlap.com as well as provide an easy way for you to "remember" and classify posts for later recall. Try adding a tag yourself by clicking "Add a tag" below a post's header. Scroll down through the list of Recent Posts in the left column and click on a post title that sounds interesting. You can view all posts from a specific blog by clicking the Blog name in the right column, or you can click a 'More Posts from this Blog' link in any individual post.
Have You Seen My Dragon is Steve Light’s ode to city living. A boy solicits help from readers as he searches for his slithery, green dragon. The dragon hops around the city and takes readers on a counting journey. Adults and children alike will love the detailed artwork touched by bursts of color! Don’t be afraid to count along as Steve reads Have You Seen My Dragon on Read Out Loud.
KidLit TV’s Read Out Loud series is perfect for parents, teachers, and librarians. Use these readings for nap time, story time, bedtime … anytime!
Enter a fascinating, ornately drawn cityscape and help a boy find his dragon while counting objects from hot dogs to traffic lights. In the heart of the city, among the taxis and towers, a small boy travels uptown and down, searching for his friend. Readers will certainly spot the glorious beast, plus an array of big-city icons they can count. Is the dragon taking the crosstown bus, or breathing his fiery breath below a busy street? Maybe he took a taxi to the zoo or is playing with the dogs in the park. Steve Light’s masterful pen-and-ink illustrations, decorated with meticulous splashes of color, elevate this counting book (numbers 1 20) to new heights. Maybe the dragon is up there, too.
ABOUT STEVE LIGHT
Steve Light is the author and illustrator of several books for children. When he isn’t writing, he’s teaching pre-k students in New York City. Steve is a collector of fountain pens; he has more than 80. When Steve isn’t writing and illustrating he can be found creating models — some of which are inspired by his books –, or carving storybooks; wood dolls and props that fit in a box, which can be used to tell stories. Steve lives in New York City with his wife.
Rise of the Ragged Clover SERIES: The Luck Uglies, #3 Written by Paul Durham Illustrated by Pétur Antonsson Harper 3/01/2016 978-0-06-227156-3 400 pages Ages 8—12 “Once a Luck Ugly, always a Luck Ugly. Until the day you take your last breath.” “Against all odds, Rye managed to find her father, Harmless, in the …
In the world of Quill, creativity is bad. It counts as an infraction, and on the day of the Purge, every thirteen year-old is put into three categories: Wanted, Necessary, or Unwanted. Wanteds are honored, Necessaries become slaves, and Unwanteds are sent to their deaths.When Alex Stowe is sent to the Death Farm after the Purge, he discovers that being Unwanted doesn't bring death... it brings the discovery of a whole new world called Artime.
In Artime, creativity is allowed. Even encouraged. The wild-haired leader, Mr. Today, helps each artistic Unwanted learn that they can hold their title like a badge. Because in Artime, creativity is a magical gift... and a weapon.
It's the first book in the Unwanted Series, and I am so excited for the last one to come out in April! If you like dystopian novels and magic, then you should totally try this book out!
Some of my favorite books ever are the books of C.S. Lewis's Narnia series. The fantasy of leaving home and entering a land where a child can experience talking animals, mythological creatures, desperate (and deadly) battles - where a child can be perceived as making real, respected choices - where good deeds are rewarded by kindness and love and bad deeds are punished, but only by "just desserts" - I read these books (and still read them) over and over.
They articulated lessons without didacticism. Included in those lessons were reflections of the real world of the characters, World War II era England, and an interesting Arthurian tilt to the Pevensie children's experiences of Narnia.
So for me, the young reader, reading these books in America during the post-war years, they had the taste of something "historical" and of course foreign.
And then there were the myths and fairy tales I devoured. The Red Fairy Book, the Anderson and Grimms's tales, Greek and Roman myths and legends - I read these over and over, too. In my mind history became inextricably linked with the fantastic.
And why shouldn't it? The truth is that we are all shaped by perception, and even history is subject to personal interpretation. (If you don't believe me, check out the new hit musical "Hamilton".)
My first three novels are historical YA romances. When I wrote Faithful (Speak/Penguin, 2010), set in 1904 Yellowstone, I sought to capture the natural magic inherent in that environment of spouting geysers and colorful hot springs.
In my second YA, Forgiven (Speak/Penguin, 2011), I tried to capture the dark magic of the terrible 1906 San Francisco earthquake. By the time I wrote my third YA, Sirens (Speak/Penguin, 2012), set in 1925, I added full-on fantastical elements, including a ghost, an approach I felt was consistent with the 1920s obsession with spiritualism and magic.
I realized that as a writer I was drawing closer and closer to crafting books like the ones that so captivated me as a kid. It has become my goal, now, to try and evoke the same wonder in my readers as I felt when I was young.
It's set in World War II; the children are sent out of London during the Blitz; there are enigma machines and short-wave radios and even spies. But...there are also ghosts, and magicians, and a ghastly monster, and only magic can save the day (while itself being a double-edged sword.)
Whether writing historical fiction or fantasy, the objective of suspension of disbelief can only be accomplished if the world-building is sound. In historical fiction, that means lots of research to get interesting tidbits right. In fantasy, it means crafting an environment in which those interesting tidbits feel right.
I loved writing The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle. I loved being able to play with a world that is both real and fantastical, where terrible and beautiful things did happen, and could happen. I can't wait to try it again.
I know you've probably been hearing a lot about this series, and how amazing it is, and how the world-building is incredible and the characters are awesome and blah, blah, blah. But I'm here to tell you to think twice before starting these books. Here are 8 reasons you may want to steer clear.
1. You're going to want a magic coat that changes every time you flip it around and you can't
The latest issue of Luna Station Quarterly is ready to read, and it is a colossal collection of absolutely fabulous science fiction and fantasy by women authors. You can read for free, but why not buy a copy (print or digital) and support the authors and illustrator? The cover this issue, and for the rest […]
Why does the world need yet another book on how to write fantasy fiction? Because the public continues to show a nearly insatiable desire for more stories in this genre, and increasing numbers of aspiring authors gravitate toward writing it. As our real lives become more hectic, over-scheduled, insignificant, socially disconnected, and technologically laden, there seems to be a need among readers to reach for a place where the individual matters.
What do you want from a fairy tale? Magic? Romance? Derring-do? Despicable villainy? Academics and scholars have puzzled and puzzed until their puzzlers were sore over what it is about the European fairy tale genre that so enthralls us. Recently fairy tale lovers have seen the entertainment industry discover that fairy tales are still a primo source of capital. On the book side of things, I’ve seen a distinct uptick in retellings of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and more in the last five years. Classic fairy tales have it easy. It’s the newbies that have a hard time going. How do you get a foothold in a genre that’s been in existence for centuries? In The Magic Mirror by Susan Hill Long, the author decides to simplify. Merely take the elements that suit the story best (highway robbers, princesses, and just a smidgen of magic) and then weave in some surprisingly stellar writing. The result is fairy tale fare that reminds one of nothing so much as the best of Gail Carson Levine. Funny, friendly, witty and sly, this makes for perfect bedtime reading.
Margaret (or Maggot, depending on who’s talking about her) should technically be grateful for her life. Though she sports a lame foot (an “accident of birth” she’s been told) and is an orphan, she has a roof over her head, food in her belly, and aside from avoiding Thomas, the local bully, not too much trouble in life. But of course she’s desperately lonely, and that’s a problem that’s hard to cure. When she makes the acquaintance of a man with a wooden leg, she receives in a trade a mirror capable of showing anyone their heart’s desire. But what she sees when she peers into it is a strange wild-eyed man she’s never laid eyes on before. When Minka, the woman who cares for Margaret, decides to marry her off, our heroine decides that leg or no leg she is not going to have her life decided for her. And in the course of her adventures she’ll little suspect there are royal mix-ups, a king with little in the way of fatherly feelings, a boy with a bagpipe, and a light-fingered squirrel in her very near future.
Is anyone going to challenge me when I say that comparing a book, any book, to The Princess Bride is never a good idea? The Princess Bride inspires a loving fandom that jealously guards its unique storytelling. Still, there are many familiar tropes in that book/film. A princess, a pirate, giants, swordplay, you name it. When writing a new fairy tale you Harry Potter it. You take those familiar elements and weave them into something new. So when Ms. Long wrote The Magic Mirror she did exactly the same thing. Additionally, by splitting her narrative into an increasingly large cast of characters, she gives it a distinctly Princess Bride-like feel. It has humor and fights and baddies in all the same ways. When Kirkus reviewed this book they said that it was predictable and unbelievable (because of the coincidences in the plot). I’d counter that there’s nothing any more predictable or unbelievable here than you’d find in any modern fairy tale, be it Ella Enchanted or Frozen, and just as much joy.
In this particular case it’s Long’s descriptions and characters that stay with a reader long after the book has been put down. Even the foulest villain has an emotional weak spot, and characters that are set up to seem like baddies at the beginning (like Minka) turn out to be pretty soft in the end. Plus you really root for these characters. Some authors think it necessary to drown their villains in a thick sauce of sadism so that when the heroes triumph it’s an even keener victory. But when writing books for 9-12 year olds there’s no need to pile on the bloodshed. In the right writers’ hands, as long as the antagonist is preventing the heroes from their happy ending, that’s all you really need to do to keep the plot moving at a sharp clip. I liked the people I met in this book, but the descriptions were probably my favorite aspect of the novel. Lines like, “Her voice climbed up the sentence like a ladder, and quavered at the top,” make me happy. Ditto wisdoms like “It’s all in the angle of the squint.” Or a description of a cathedral’s shadows where a character “shuffled away from the creeping dark so that she might escape God’s notice.”
I did experience a palpable sense of relief that it was written today, though. Since Margaret has a physical disability (a foot and leg injured long ago that were never set correctly) there is a brief suggestion at one point that there might be a magical remedy to her problem. I was reminded of a similar middle grade novel Handbook for Dragon Slayers which also starred a girl with an injured limb. In that book a cure for her disability is bandied about and ultimately rejected in an excellent manner. Indeed, the book went on to win a Schneider Family Book Award given annually to books that embody, “an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.” Reading The Magic Mirror I had the very clear sense that if this book had been written in the past an easy cure for Margaret’s leg would have been part of the story’s happy ending and that would be that. These days such endings are mildly insulting answers to what, in truth, are very real problems. Happily The Magic Mirror does not fall into such a trap (though sadly the heroine does have some unfortunate thoughts about a successful man with a hunch on his back that did not gel well with the book’s otherwise positive embrace of disability).
As it happens, I did find one particular aspect of the book problematic. This is Ms. Long’s second novel so while the bones of this story are strong there are aspects to the writing that will need a bit of strengthening in the future. Specifically, the exposition. Now the art of exposition is learned, not born. Filling the reader in on a hitherto unknown back-story is no easy task. At best, back-story is woven into the dialogue so naturally the reader is hardly aware that they’re learning about what’s come before. Clunky back-story, in contrast, places huge chunks of it en masse in the same general vicinity of the novel. Alas, near the end of The Magic Mirror the author has set herself up to reveal not just the back-story of our heroine, but of at least three to four other people as well. The result is ultimately somewhat confusing, with new characters popping up (a midwife, a thief’s wife) to fill in the details out of the blue. Without a character guide (which would, admittedly, give away some of the plot) there is little to help kids distinguish between Petra vs. Minka vs. Margaret.
For all that there is a magic mirror in the story the book is pretty devoid of magical activities. You won’t find dragons or wizards or much of anything out of this world here, with the sole exception of the mirror itself. It’s almost a pity that it’s in the title since you could probably hand this title to kids that only like realism (and they do indeed exist) and they’d get just as much out of it as the most ravenous fantasy fan. While it’s not a perfect novel, it is a ripping good yarn that keeps you enthralled from page one onward. Will you see where it’s going? Maybe. But you’ll enjoy the sights along the way. Fine fantastical stuff.
This review is going to be frustrating to write. So far, all of my GoodReads friends have adored Rebel of the Sands, and it comes on the strong recommendation of Wendy. But I was never swept up by the story, or as wholly captivated by the world and the romance as I quite wanted to be. I’ll address some of the things that I think prevented from being fully invested at the start of this review. Amani is a gunslinger (awesome!) and a girl struggling to get by in Dustwalk, her unfriendly desert community. For as long as she’s known anything, Amani has been desperate to escape. This is historical fantasy that blends a Middle Eastern-based setting with the tone and feel of an American Western. And it just didn’t work for me. I found the language (It’s folksy and Western. Like, “I reckon” and a town named “Dustwalk” when... Read more »
Paige Brittis the first-time author of The Lost Track of Time, illustrated by Lee White (Scholastic, 2015). From the promotional copy: A magical fantasy, an allegorical cautionary tale, a feast of language, a celebration of creativity--this dazzling debut novel is poised to become a story for the ages. Penelope is running out of time. She dreams of being a writer, but how can she pursue her passion when her mother schedules every minute of her life? And how will she ever prove that writing is worthwhile if her mother keeps telling her to "get busy " and "be more productive"? Then one day, Penelope discovers a hole in her schedule--an entire day completely unplanned --and she mysteriously falls into it.
What follows is a mesmerizing journey through the Realm of Possibility where Penelope sets out to find and free the Great Moodler, the one person who may have the answers she seeks. Along the way, she must face an army of Clockworkers, battle the evil Chronos, take a daring Flight of Fancy, and save herself from the grip of time. Brimming with clever language and masterful wordplay, The Lost Track of Time is a high-stakes adventure that will take you to a place where nothing is impossible and every minute doesn't count--people do.
Was there one writing workshop or conference that led to an "ah-ha!" moment in your craft? What happened, and how did it help you?
I absolutely do have a most memorable workshop! It was actually one you gave in 2008 with Jill Santopolo, author and editor at Philomel Books. Even though it was over seven years ago, I’ve never forgotten it.
To register, you had to submit three pages of a work-in-progress. A few weeks before the event, everyone received a packet with copies of all the three-page submissions. Then during the workshop, you and Jill went through each submission and discussed it with the entire group.
You were both kind and encouraging, but also very honest. Jill told us that editors were looking for a reason to say “no” when they read a manuscript. Together you discussed each submission and pointed out the potential “no’s.” Meandering openings, overly long backstory, and hazy plot lines were the most common mistakes.
Even though what you had to say was tough, it was clear you were invested in everyone’s success. You wanted to turn those no’s into yes’s.
Here’s the funny thing. I didn’t even submit my three pages. I registered too late to be a part of the critique, but I went to the workshop anyway. And I’m so glad I did! After the workshop I went home, re-read my three pages, and guess what? They were meandering, “explain-y,” and vague. But because of your input, I could see it. And if I could see it, I could fix it.
Cynthia Leitich Smith & Debbie Gonzales
The Lost Track of Time opens with an alarm clock going off, “Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.” It’s 6 a.m. and even though it’s summer vacation, the main character, Penelope, has to get up and get busy. Right from the start, you know that the central conflict in the story is time.
I did that because of what I learned from you and Jill.
After I fixed my first chapter, I submitted it to two conferences and had sit-down conversations with agents at both. The first agent asked for thirty more pages and the second one, Marietta B. Zacker, signed me. There is absolutely no way that would have happened if I hadn’t gone to that workshop. I’ve always wanted to tell you and Jill how much you helped me!
As a fantasy writer, going in, did you have a sense of how events/themes in your novel might parallel or speak to events/issues in our real world? Or did this evolve over the course of many drafts?
From the beginning, I knew The Lost Track of Time was intimately connected to real-world issues. When I started writing it, I was working for an internet startup. I was constantly on the clock, from morning until night and over the weekends, trying to make the company a success. Everyone was fighting for more time—but no matter what we did, there was never enough. And what time we did have, had to be spent Constantly! Achieving! Results!
Not surprisingly, The Lost Track of Time is about a girl who likes to do nothing. Doing nothing seemed to me like a radical and counter-cultural act. I’m not talking about the nothing where you lie around flipping through TV channels because you’re too exhausted to engage in life.
“The imagination needs moodling–long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.”
I agree. When you moodle, you’re quiet, still, and (horrors!) unproductive. You let your mind wander until it becomes calm and curious and open. It’s a space of quiet contemplation and intense creativity.
During this busy time in my life, I had no time for quiet contemplation. But when I discovered Brenda Ueland’s words, I suddenly felt I had permission to sit, stare out the window, and moodle. Not only did I have permission, it was imperative that I do so if I wanted to let my own ideas and stories to “develop and gently shine.”
Ueland’s encouragement that everyone moodle touched me so deeply that she inspired a character in my book. She’s the Great Moodler and Penelope fights the tyranny of Chronos and his Clockworkers to save her from banishment in the Realm of Possibility.
As Penelope faces each trial with both imagination and courage, she moves from being an insecure, apologetic daydreamer to a great moodler in her own right.
Research shows a marked decline in U.S. children’s creativity, due to a lack of unstructured free time to play and, I would say, to moodle.
This is terrible news! Not just because creativity is wonderful and life-giving, but because it’s the best predictor we have of a child’s future success, not just in the realms of art and literature, but in the world of business, science, and technology, too.
I’m not sure if you can teach creativity, but I do think you can encourage it. And that’s what I wanted to do in The Lost Track of Time.
I wanted to hold up moodlers as heroes.
Not because they can wield a sword, but because they dare, like Penelope, to enter the Realm of Possibility—to live in the present, to be creative and contemplative, and to believe anything is possible.
Enter to win one of two signed copies of The Lost Track of Time by Paige Britt, illustrated by Lee White (Scholastic, 2015). Author sponsored. Eligible territory: U.S.
Ravenous by MarcyKate Connolly begins shortly after the devastation of her debut novel, Monstrous ends. Published in 2014, I somehow missed reading Monstrous and will be adding it to my TBR pile. However, the only way that not having read Monstrous first affected my understanding and enjoyment of Ravenous was that I wanted to run out and buy it so that I could read the two simultaneously!
What drew me to Ravenous in the first place was the mention of Baba Yaga, the witch from Russian fairy tales who lives in a hut that stands on enormous chicken legs and has an insatiable appetite that includes eating children. For more Baba Yaga books, click here. But Ravenous is about so much more. Greta, a character from Monstrous, becomes the narrator ofRavenous. Greta has returned to her hometown of Bryre from the broken village of Belladoma where a usurping king, driven mad by greed and magic, has finally been dethroned. King Ensel, among his other heinous crimes, stole a magical cornucopia from the Sonzeeki, a sea monster living off the shore of Belladoma. Without this constant source of food, the Sonzeeki is forced to emerge from his cave every full moon to hunt. Without the sacrifices of girls from the neighboring town of Bryre, the Sonzeeki causes mass flooding in Belladoma every month.
With King Ensel gone, Bryre's King Oliver feels an obligation to help feed the people of Belladoma and plans to send an army to help with this. The start of Ravenous finds narrator Greta making an impassioned plea to King Oliver not to aid the place where she was held prisoner with other girls from Bryre, girls she watched fed to the Sonzeeki, one by one. When she fails, she returns home, her parents long disappeared, to her younger brother Hans. But Hans is nowhere to be found. Greta heads off into the woods to find him and quickly finds herself face to face with a hungry Baba Yaga, who makes a deal with her. If Greta can deliver the long hidden, magical cornucopia to her before the next full moon, she will hand over Hans.
Greta heads off again, heartsick to think that she will have to return to Belladoma and the castle of King Ensel. Her search finds her locked up in a hidden village where mermaids, centaurs and other half-human creatures created by the evil wizard, King Ensel's lackey, in Monstrous, are hiding from persecution. Freed in a burst of flames, Greta continues her hunt with Dalen, an exiled centaur, at her side. The two face mercenaries, including their brutal Vincali, who has developed a taste for using magic. Once in Belladoma, Greta and Dalen must stay hidden as they search the ruins of the castle using a maze of tunnels. Secrets are revealed, hidden maps and magics are unearthed and Greta finds she must betray people she once considered friends, including King Oliver, who, she learns has plans to use the cornucopia, if it can be found, to feed the Belladomans. As the two decode the map and search out the possible hiding places of a madman, the full moon grows closer and their inability to stay hidden. And, as Greta uses the magical potions she finds herself wanting to use them more and more and also experiencing the backlash of the magic.
One aspect of Ravenous that I especially liked was knowing that, even after Greta finds the cornucopia, she still has to deal with King Oliver and Vincali, both of whom want it for different reasons. It seems almost insurmountable, but Connolly plots with skill and all the pieces come together for a fantastically explosive climax and a very satisfying ending. Connolly weaves familiar elements from classic fairy tales into her stories but makes them completely her own as well. In one turn that I especially liked, Greta takes a collection of fairy tales with her on her journey to read and, over the course of the story as she shares them with Dalen, she notes that the fairy tales never end well, turning the "happily ever after" we are all so familiar with on its head. Happily, Connolly ends Ravenous, well, happily.
I have been half-writing (mostly in my head) a review of the first book in Philip Pullman's masterful trilogy, (known collectively as His Dark Materials) The Golden Compass, originally published in the UK with the title Northern Lights, since I started this blog in 2008. Like the other books that have meant a tremendous amount to me as an adult and/or as a child (Harry Potter, The Phantom Tollbooth) I have not reviewed them here, either because I wasn't sure I could add anything new to the conversation or because the task was too overwhelming. A review of Pullman's almost 20 year old book falls into both categories. Contemplating writing a review of this philosophically provocative, theologically challenging brilliant work of fantasy (really - dæmons? The best fantastical creation ever!!) feels comparable to starting my thesis senior year of college. What follows is a review of the graphic novel with a brief synopsis of the plot of the graphic novel adaptation (but not the whole book) for readers who have not had the immense pleasure of reading this trilogy yet. For an encompassing review of all three books in one, read Brian Anderson's review of The Amber Spyglass for the New York Times.
But, as a fan of the graphic novel, I think I just might have something to say about this new adaptation of Pullman's work. First of all, I think that the only logical choice was to have this illustrated adaptation creation taken on by the French. I learned years ago that the French love, love, love and have deep respect for the art of the graphic novel. And, last summer over the course of a few days in Paris, I visited many bookstores and several spent hours in the graphic novel sections regretting the fact that I had forgotten all of my high school French but marveling over all the gorgeous, inventive visual storytelling. Another smart choice was made when this book was divided into three volumes, with books 2 and 3 coming out in September 2016 and 2017.
I also think that I am perfectly poised to review the graphic novel adaptation of The Golden Compass because I first read the trilogy about 16 years ago, just before the third and final book, The Amber Spyglass, was published. Since then, I have listened to the fantastic audio production of the trilogy (including a full cast with Pullman himself narrating) a couple of times. So I remember the book, but not enough to get really picky about the adaptation itself, which would detract from enjoyment of the graphic novel. Of course aspects of the plot have to be simplified and speeded up because this is a graphic novel - and because of the complexity of the themes. Melchior, who also wrote the graphic novel adaptation of The Great Gatsby (Gatsby le Magnifique) does a fine job explaining the fantasy elements of the novel, like dæmons, the alethiometer and panserbjorne, while Oubrerie's illustrations bring the familiar but strange world of an England and Northern Europe to life. For me, Pullman's novels are so richly magical and polished (they are often ranked alongside the works of C.S. Lewis and Tolkein) that I think I might have imagined a more lush illustration style, like that of Kazu Kibuishi. But, Oubrerie's scratchy, kinetic style captures the almost feral nature - and enthusiasm - of Lyra and the archaically civilized world of Jordan College that brushes - sometimes roughly - against the natural world around them and the various tribes that inhabit it.
Of course there are aspects of the novel that I found missing in this graphic adaptation, but this is also a three part adaptation of a single book. I am hopeful that things I noticed missing - like the compelling relationship between dæmons and their humans - will be explored in the next book as we move closer to Svalbard and the Northern Lights. However, as sometimes only a graphic novel can do, there are winks and nods as well. In one scene, Lyra and Pan are in the heart of the city at night and they pass a theater where John Milton's Paradise Lost is being performed, a nod to the title of the trilogy, taken from Book 2 of Milton's epic poem.
The Golden Compass: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1 begins with a zeppelin hovering over Oxford, preparing to dock at Jordan college where Lord Asriel, the great explorer, is due to give a talk about his travels in the North. Hiding in a cupboard with her dæmon Pantalaimon, is Lyra Belacqua. So much happens in this one scene - Lyra saves Lord Asriel, a man she believes is her uncle and benefactor, from being poisoned. She also overhears Asriel's discussion of Dust and the appearance of another world through the glimmering Northern Lights. From that night, the story takes off at a fast pace. The head of Jordan College sends Lyra off to live with Mrs. Coulter, an elegant explorer with connections to people in high places, such as the Magesterium and the General Oblation Board, also known as the Gobblers. Before Lyra leaves Jordan College, the Master gives her the alethiometer, a golden compass that Lord Asriel entrusted to him, telling her to keep it hidden. When Mrs. Coulter's dæmon finds it, Lyra and Pan make a quick escape. A dangerous night leads them to a gyptian boat and safety. Hidden amongst this community that has lost many of its children to the Gobblers, Lyra finds her place and a deeper understanding of the alethiometer as they sail towards the North to make a dangerous rescue.
Book 2 of The Golden Compass Graphic Novel, coming September 2016
(the French cover, which reflects the original British title, The Northern Lights)
I have had The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt with illustrations by Ross Collins on my To Be Read shelf for a year now. The impending publication of the second book in this series, Mabel Jones and the Forbidden City, combined with the possible chance to have author Will Mabbitt visit here lit a fire under me and got me reading. Once I started, I couldn't stop! The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones is every bit as absurd and adventurous as the title, illustrations, blurbs and reviews promise. As one reviewer touted, Mabbitt's book is a bit like Monty Python meets Jack Sparrow. While this is definitely accurate, for me Mabel Jones and her crew call to mind the brilliant, equally creative but darker work of two of my favorites, Chris Riddell and Paul Stewart and their series, The Edge Chronicles. Mabbitt's story and Collins's illustrations are perfectly paired and the design of the book is fantastic. There is a great mix of fonts and font sizes and one fantastic spread where, in the midst of a massive storm at sea, the text slips and slides off the page! Mabel Jones's richly illustrated, patently hilarious adventures are an absolute MUST READ for everyone. When an omniscient (and very talkative) third person narrator first introduces us to Mabel Jones, she is about to be bagged by the kidnapper Omynus Hussh. Hussh, a slow loris who was kidnapped by Captain Idryss Ebenezer Split at birth, is a "dastardly breed: quiet as a peanut and sneaky as a woodlouse in a jar of raisins." Even if you have no idea what a woodlouse in a jar full of raisins is, it SOUNDS funny! And the names of the all animal crew! Mabbitt is a master of names. Besides Hussh and Split, there is Split's boat, the Feroshus Maggot, a pipe smoking goat pirate named Pelf, a mole who is the "best shortsighted lookout ever to have mistaken a pirate ship for an optician's shop," McMasters, and Mr. Clunes, an orangutan who is the strong and silent type. Finally, there is Old Sawbones, a crocodile who has a certificate in Advanced Nautical Surgery from the Butcher's Guild. And how does Omynus Hussh know that Mabel is good for bagging? She was observed doing THE DEED - the deed that shows she is a pirate in the making. And what is this deed? Well, Mabel was observed picking her nose and eating her booger. And thus she was bagged. But not without some distress. Mabel got a good chomp on Hussh's paw, causing it to go septic, necessitating an amputation by Old Sawbones. Being fresh out of hooks, Sawbones attaches a doorknob to Hussh's stump in what has to be one of the funniest and saddest moments ever in a kid's book. And boy was Hussh sad - so sad he kept is paw with him, cradling it and talking to it like a friend (and a bit like Gollum with his Precious) while also harboring an increasing grudge against Mabel.
Of course the crew is outraged by the presence of a girl on board and they promptly prepare for her to walk the "greasy pole of certain death." But, this wouldn't be a story without Mabel and she manages to become part of the crew once they learn that she can read! Mabel becomes the key to helping the crew find a buried treasure by reuniting the pieces of the X that marks the spot which just happen to be in the hands of a handful of pirates who were once marooned with Captain Split's father.
The mystery of the missing X is actually pretty mysterious with an edge of creepy, reminding me of Stewart and Riddell's books all the more. There is a Haunted Sea, a sunken city and an army of the dead to contend with before the very dramatic and a tiny bit sad ending that also includes time travel. Happily, I get to dive right in to the next book in the series . . .
These books take place in fantastical worlds, but the protagonists’ pluck may feel familiar to many intermediate and middle-school readers.
Twelve-year-old Gracie Lockwood, the high-spirited heroine of Jodi Lynn Anderson‘s My Diary from the Edge of the World, lives in a world that’s like ours but with a few key differences (involving dragons and poltergeists, for example). When an ominous Dark Cloud seems to portend her brother’s death, Gracie, her family, and a classmate set off on a cross-country Winnebago trip in search of a guardian angel and a ship that will help them escape. Anderson lets the intricate details of Gracie’s world emerge gradually through her protagonist’s sharp, sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant diary entries. (Simon/Aladdin, 9–12 years)
In the village in Anne Nesbet’s The Wrinkled Crown, girls mustn’t touch the traditional stringed instrument, the lourka, before they’re twelve for fear of death. Linny, full of “music fire,” has secretly built a lourka and expects to die, but instead, it’s her friend Sayra who begins to fade into the unreachable realm called Away. Nesbet’s fable explores the relationship of science, logic, and imagination; a cozy, personable narrative voice punctuates the drama with light humor. (HarperCollins/Harper, 9–12 years)
In Catherine Jinks’s The Last Bogler, bogling is now respectable, and Ned Roach has signed on as Alfred Bunce’s apprentice. Ned must lure child-eating bogles with song so Alfred can dispatch them—and that’s only one of the dangers, for Alfred has drawn the attention of London’s criminal underworld. Fans of How to Catch a Bogle and A Plague of Bogles will appreciate Jinks’s accessible prose, colorful with Victorian slang; her inventive, briskly paced plot; and the gloom and charm of this trilogy-ender’s quasi-Victorian setting. (Houghton, 9–12 years)
Mirka, star of Barry Deutsch‘s humorous, fantastical, Orthodox-Jewish-themed Hereville graphic novel series is back in Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish. Her stepmother, Fruma, warns her to stay out of the woods while babysitting her half-sister Layele; so of course, curious Mirka drags Layele right in there with her. The girls encounter a wishing fish who once lost a battle of wits with a young Fruma and who now has a wicked plan to gain power through Layele. Expressive, often amusing comic-style illustrations do much to convey each scene’s tone and highlight important characters and objects. The eventual solution requires verbal gymnastics as much as heroics and compassion from Mirka. (Abrams/Amulet, 9–14 years)
Priness Magnolia, Frimplepants, the Princess in Black and Blacky are back! And all my favorite things are in one place again - princesses, unicorns, masked avengers, and sumptuous feasts! In book three, we find Princess Magnolia and Frimplepants headed to brunch in the village with Princess Sneezewort. In anticipation of the soft rolls, cheesy omelets and "heaping platters of sugar-dusted doughnuts," the two have skipped breakfast. Just when the village is in sight, Princess Magnolia's glitter-stone ring rang - the monster alarm!
The Princess and her pony zip into a secret cave to become their super selves, the Princess in Black and her steed, Blacky, ready to fight monsters. And what monsters have emerged from the monster hole this time? A horde of hungry bunnies! Pham does an excellent job making these little purple puffballs cute and potentially menacing at the same time. These bunnies have grown tired of Monster Land, having nibbled all the monster fur, toe-nail clippings and lizard scales in sight. They have discovered the fresh green grass of the goat pastures and are not looking back!
At first, the Princess in Black is charmed by the hungry horde of bunnies, but when they eat up all the grass, a nearby tree and then begin nibbling on Blacky's tail, she knows she must pull out her best Princess in Black moves to take them on.
It's touch and go for a while, but the Princess in Black always prevails! Sadly, she and Blacky arrive at the café just a hair too late for brunch - but not too late for brunch with Princess Sneezewort!
There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight is author Penny Parker Klostermann’s debut picture book. There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight is based on the children’s song “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.” Penny’s tale follows a dragon who knows nothing of moderation or patience. However, thanks to the handiwork of Penny and illustrator Ben Mantle, the old dragon seems to know comedic timing. He swallows a noble night, a steed who runs at too fast a speed, and many other objects in the land — living or not. Something tells us this dragon is going to learn a lesson, today.
We all know that there was an old lady who swallowed lots of things. Now meet the old dragon who swallows pretty much an entire kingdom Will he ever learn a little moderation? This rollicking rhyme is full to bursting with sight gags, silly characters, and plenty of burps Parents and kids alike will delight in Ben Mantle’s precisely funny illustrations and in Penny Parker Klostermann’s wacky rhymes.
Click here to download the There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight activity guide from Random House.
Click here to download additional activities from Penny Parker Klostermann’s site!
I had never heard of the British author and poet A. F. Harrold before I encountered The Imaginary at a bookstore just before Christmas but I was definitely familiar with illustrator Emily Gravett, a longtime favorite of mine (read my reviews of her picture books here.) Gravett's playful, detailed style is perfectly paired with Harrold's engrossing, creative, slightly creepy story of a girl, her imaginary friend and the fiend who is trying to eat him, making The Imaginary a truly stand out book.
Amanda Primrose Shuffleup has an incredible imagination. And, when she opens up her wardrobe door one rainy evening to hang up her wet coat and finds a boy named Rudger, her imaginary world gets even bigger. From landing a spaceship of alien planets (the thorn bushes in the backyard) to a hot air balloon that lands them in the "sticky, steamy South American jungle" to a "complex of caves, deep and dark, that stretched out for unknown miles underneath the stairs," Amanda and Rudger go everywhere and do everything together. And Amanda's mother, while she can't see Rudger, is perfectly accommodating, serving him bowls of cereal and making room for him in the backseat of the car. And, while Amanda can be careless with Rudger's feelings from time to time and very self-absorbed, Rudger wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
Rudger - and Amanda's - worlds are turned upside down when Mr. Bunting arrives at the front door, claiming to be conducting a survey about, "Britain today. And children." His strange behavior is disconcerting enough, but what's more disturbing is the fact that he has a miserable looking girl with him who can see Rudger. Mr. Bunting and his gloomy imaginary friend are after something, and they seem to turn up everywhere Amanda and Rudger go until their relentless pursuit puts Amanda in the hospital and Rudger Fading from existence and in a strange kind of imaginary friend limbo.
This limbo, which the imaginaries call the Agency, is housed in a library - the one place with enough imaginings housed inside of it to keep the imaginaries alive until they can find a new human. Rudger makes a few missteps before he figures out how to get to Amanda and save her and himself, but not before a very harrowing, sinister battle in Amanda's hospital room. It turns out that Mr. Bunting can only be fed by the, "slick, slippery slither of fresh imaginary." For Mr. Bunting, just as "imaginaries needed t be believed in to go on, so he needed to eat that belief to keep himself going." Not since I read Neil Gaiman's Coraline and the Other Mother, have I been so creeped out by a character in a book.
The Imaginary is an absolutely fantastic, unforgettable book. Harrold's writing is superb and the rules by which the imaginary friends exist and cease to exist make sense. He creates a world immediately and efficiently - there is no part of The Imaginary that I felt could have been edited down, which is not the case with most books I read. Harrold is also gifted at capturing the way children think and talk. There is an especially fascinating and funny turn in the book where Rudger, in his efforts to get to Amanda, takes on the job of being the imaginary friend to her classmate, Julia Radiche. However, since Julia is doing the imagining, Rudger is now Veronica, who needs to get used to wearing a dress and having long hair. Emily Gravett's illustrations, which are black and white, mostly, with perfect pops of color here and there, bring to life Harrold's writing in a way that makes this book all the more memorable.
And did I mention what a beautiful book The Imaginary is? From the slightly smaller trim size to the fantastic endpapers to the thick pages, this book calls out to be picked up and enjoyed!
Originally published in the UK in 2014, The Imaginary is newly out in paperback there with this intriguing new cover!
I’ve had students ask me, “How do I write this without freaking out the white folks?” And yet authors hold back at the peril of young readers. Those who share our perspectives go invalidated, and those who don’t are never exposed and enlightened.
I also noticed a Freudian slip in my comments, and I'm inclined to leave it be. I refer to some allied librarians, insistent on telling (rather than sharing) stories of Native people as stock characters uniformly suffering from alcoholism on reservation. But telling is what I really did mean. There aren't Native children's-YA writers crafting fiction along those lines.
Yet I'm told, time and again, that this stereotype is the single story that resonates. It's come up to stand alongside the "romantic, New-Age-y" stereotype and "historical savage" stereotype. Together and separately, these persistent tropes negate respect, nuance, complexity, humanity, and back to the focus of article, the potential for Native-inclusive children's-YA fantasy done right.
It's disheartening to refute, coming from allies. So, if you count yourself among them, please know that you are appreciated. But also be careful of assumptions, however benevolently intended.
winter, my favorite season. meet Eyra...."silence of the snowdrops".
this is my most favorite painting i have ever done. i am a winter lover through and through and nothing will ever change that. snow, icicles, cold air, snowdrops....i love all of it. tried a softer color palette for this piece to (hopefully) convey that frosty feel that winter brings and i also tried a bit of a new technique (which i am currently obsessing over)...
MULTIPLE coats of gesso on an already pre-primed canvas. i. am. smitten. i wanted something smoother, something that didn't *eat* the paint like the very lightly pre-primed canvas did. i tossed around painting on wood but then didn't want to have to go down the road of heavy shipping rates being that the wood is considerably heavier than canvas. plus, i love canvas....painted on it since i was a little girl when i got my hands on my first paintbrush so i kind of have a sentimental attachment to it (big surprise, what am i NOT sentimentally attached to?!). anyhoo...i have found that 6 coats (yes, 6) got me the texture (or lack of) that i was seeking. applied in alternate directions (one app-vertical, next app-horizontal...and so forth) with LIGHT sanding in between...paint applied like a dream. time to start buying gesso in buckets...:)
beautiful little Eyra is for sale as a PRINT here with other novelties featuring this lovely here.
see, winter can be beautiful...:)
*ORIGNAL PAINTING IS FOR SALE. EMAIL ME HERE IF INTERESTED.
REVENGE AND THE WILD
By Michelle Modesto
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (February 2, 2016)
Age Range: 14 up
Grade Level: 9 up
Goodreads | Amazon
The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter
All Izzy wants is for something interesting to happen in her sleepy little town. But her wish becomes all too real when an enchanting song floats through the woods and lures her little sister Hen into the forest…where she vanishes.
A frantic search leads to a strange hole in the ground that Izzy enters. But on the other side she discovers that the hole was not a hole, this place is not Earth, and Hen is not lost. She’s been stolen away to the land of Faerie, and it’s up to Izzy to bring her home. But inside Faerie, trouble is brewing-and Izzy is in way over her head. A ragtag group of outlaw Changelings offers to help, and she must decide whether a boulder that comes to life, a girl that’s not quite solid, and a boy who is also a stag can help her save Hen before it’s too late.
Tell us more about your cover. How did it feel to see it for the first time?
It was a total thrill! When I opened the box of galleys that my publisher sent me, it seemed like the books were absolutely glowing. The cover art makes me want to dive in and see what is behind that door. I hope kids will feel the same way.
The girl on the cover is the main character, Izzy, who journeys into Faerie to find her little sister and bring her home. The three animals are the Changeling children who help her.
The Changelings are shape shifters who can make themselves look like almost anything for a short while. But they can only truly “Change” into a handful of forms – like the stoat, butterfly, and badger on the cover.
The little flying fairies are Pollenings. They play a very tiny, but important, part in the story. (And they make honey that goes great with pancakes!)
What was it like to see your characters depicted on the cover?
I actually didn’t think the cover would feature the characters at all, so it was such a wonderful surprise to see them in the first draft! When I got my first look at Izzy, I thought the artist captured her perfectly. She looks curious and thoughtful, and is having a very human reaction to all the magic around her – a mix of awe and nervousness! I’m sure most of us would feel the same way if we stumbled into Faerie.
I think it was a very wise decision on Sourcebooks’ part to have Izzy be the only human face we see on the cover. The artist could have drawn all the Changelings in their child forms, but I think that would have taken some of the fun away from readers being able to imagine them for themselves.
Tell us more about the cover design process. Where you involved?
The artwork and design were done completely without me – thank goodness! But my editor and art director did ask me for input on the characters, and we went back and forth several times to make sure the details were right and the cover was being true to them.
I am really lucky to have been involved as much as I was. I know that’s not always the case for authors!
I learned so much about covers during this process and the heavy lifting they have to do. The cover has to draw a reader in, give them a feeling for the writing and the story, but without giving too much away. Everything, from the font to the color palette, to the way the art wraps around to the back, contributes to that sense of wonder you want readers to have – before they even start reading.
The cover for The Changelings doesn’t depict an exact scene in the book, but I think it does everything you want a cover to do!
Oh, and there is a secret hidden in the cover as well. But you will have to read the book to figure it out!
Christina Soontornvat spent her childhood in small Texas towns, eagerly waiting for the fairies to come and kidnap her. They never came, but she still believes magic things can happen to ordinary people. When not writing, Christina hangs out in science museums and takes care of her own little goblins-ahem- children. She lives in Austin, Texas. The Changelings is her first novel.
Add a Comment
It’s cold. In some places, it’s freezing. OF COURSE WE NEED TO READ RIGHT NOW! Bundle ourselves up in fleece and wool and whatever else will do it, and sit for hours totally immersed in story.
Speaking of bundles … do I have a treat for you!
My novel BOOK OF EARTH is currently part of a terrific WOMEN IN FANTASY story bundle, along with nine other books, all guaranteed to transport you away from the cold and wind and snow to places and times … where there might also be cold and wind and snow, but at least there’s also magic and mysticism and other delights that make losing ourselves in fantasy so much fun.
The whole bundle is available for a $15 minimum (although you’re free to pay more, and might want to, since a portion of the proceeds go to The Pearl Foundation, a charity created by singer Janis Ian to promote education by providing scholarships to returning students who have been away from school for a while — a worthy cause!).
But here’s the catch: this bundle will only be available for a limited time. You’ll never find all these wonderful novels grouped together like this for such a low price anywhere else. So the time is now! Winter isn’t just coming, it’s here! Let’s go read our way through it!