Todhunter Moon, Book One
Illustrations by Mark Zug
Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2014
From the dust jacket: “When Alice Todhunter Moon was five years old, she saw a beautiful golden Dragon Boat fly over her Pathfinder village. She knew at once that the boat was Magykal. That was years ago, before her mother died, her father disappeared at sea, and the Garmin took her best friend Ferdie.
“Now it’s up to Tod and Ferdie’s brother Oskar to rescue Ferdie from the Garmins’ keeper, the malevolent Lady. Their journey takes them to the Castle, where they receive help from the ExtraOrdinary Wizard Septimus Heap and ex-ExtraOrdinary Wizard Marcia Overstrand. But the Lady’s brother, Darke sorcerer Oraton-Marr, has a plan that will put everyone Tod holds dear in danger. To save her people, Tod must embrace her identity as a Pathfinder and navigate the Ancient Ways, mysterious Magykal paths leading to unfamiliar—and sometimes dangerous—lands.
“Taking place seven years after the story arc of the original bestselling Septimus Heap series, Pathfinder celebrates the joy of discovering one’s own personal Magyk and of choosing the path that lets that Magyk flourish and grow.”
It’s been several years since I read the Septimus Heap series so it was nice to be reunited with some familiar characters in Pathfinder. It’s like being reunited with old friends and the author kindly catches the reader up on what has happened in their lives since the last book ended. But this book is about new characters in the wide orbit of Septimus Heap. We go on an exciting journey with Tod, from her almost idyllic home life, to the mysteries of being a Pathfinder, to the terrible danger of Darke Magyk. The story is immensely readable, full of adventure and magical events. Even if you’ve never read the Septimus Heap books, you’ll find this book entertaining because while it ties in with those previous books, it is also able to stand alone – well, with the other two books in the series! I’m starting the next one tonight and I can wait to find out what happens with Tod, Oskar and Ferdie as they do battle with Oraton-Marr!
Rating 4 out of 5 paws because Angie Sage does not disappoint!
The Legend of the Golden Snail
Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS, 2010
From the dust jacket, “In Wilbur’s favorite book, legend tells of a magnificent Golden Snail that has been banished to the Ends of the Earth by a Grand Enchanter. Inspired by this amazing story, Wilbur sets out on a daring voyage to claim the Golden Snail as his own. Along the way he encounters strange creatures and a series of challenges – rough seas, pirates, the Maze of Madness and the Dreadful Doldrums. Finally, Wilbur reaches the Ends of the Earth, but what he finds there is not quite as he imagined …”
If you are familiar with Graeme Base’s picture books, then you will know his illustrations are jam-packed with detail, fanciful creatures, and a hidden image on every page the reader is challenged to find. This book is no exception. The copy I read was oversized, beautifully illustrated (as all Base’s works are) and fun. Wilbur goes on a grand adventure and learns a lesson in kindness along the way. He learns that the good things you do out of kindness – things that no one else will see – have a good way of coming back to you. The book will be easy to read for middle – late readers, although early readers will love it being read to them! The print is a large medium size that is black on white background which also makes it easy to read.
Rating: 4 out of 5 paws because in addition to everything mentioned above, Wilbur’s traveling companion is an orange tabby like Toby!!!
story by Lisa Wheeler and art by Ponder Goembel
A Richard Jackson Book, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2006
I have an adorable picture book for you! This is how it starts out – “On an island/in the ocean,/ near the land of Singapore,/midst a storm of great proportion,/ fifteen cats were washed ashore.” There were 7 kittens and 8 adults – a calico tom named Mittens (who has muscles and an anchor tattoo), a Persian Blue, an angora, a bobtail, a beat-up tabby, a pair of Siamese cats, and an orange marmalade. They all must band together if they are to survive on a tiny island in the ocean. At first they look for help to rescue them and then decide they’re on their own. Will they be able to survive? Will they even be able to get along with each other?
The illustrations are absolutely adorable and the story is told via rhyming poetry. The print is large enough for early readers to enjoy; there are so larger words that may be difficult at first but every reader needs their vocabulary expanded!
I loved this book – it’s got everything you could want – cats, cats and more cats – plus kittens!; an adventure at sea; a lesson on how to get along with the ones around you and that family doesn’t always mean the folks you were born to!
I pulled these images off the internet – they aren’t very good quality – but let that encourage you to check the book out at your library!!
The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag
A Flavia de Luce Mystery
Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House, 2010
From the inside front dust jacket: “Flavia de Luce, a dangerously brilliant eleven-year-old with a passion for chemistry and a genius for solving murders….finds herself untangling two deaths—separated by time but linked by the unlikeliest of threads. … Astride Gladys, her trusty bicycle, Flavia sets out from the de Luces’ crumbling family mansion in search of Bishop’s Lacey’s deadliest secrets. Does the madwoman who lives in Gibbet Wood know more than she’s letting on? What of the vicar’s odd ministrations of the catatonic woman in the dovecote? Then there’s a German pilot obsessed with the Bronte’ sisters, a reproachful spinster aunt and even a box of poisoned chocolates. Most troubling of all is … the charming but erratic Nialla. All clues point toward a suspicious death years earlier and a case the local constables can’t solve—without Flavia’s help.”
After reading the first book in this series (The Sweetness as the Bottom of the Pie) I wasn’t too sure I’d read the rest – there was a lot of chemistry in the book and I’m not big on chemistry. But I decided to give it a go and I’m glad I did. Set in 1950s rural England, this book is full of charm and wit – and a good mystery that had me guessing until the end. This is the 2nd book but could easily stand alone. There are a brief mentions of the incidents in the previous book but thankfully, this book doesn’t stand on those shoulders. I love how Flavia talks to herself, offering encouragement along the way (“Bravo, old girl! You can do it!”). At home she has to contend with her older – and meaner – sisters, Feely (Ophelia) and Daffy (Daphne), a mostly absent father, and the emotional-ghost of her long dead mother.
There are two murders, one in the past, one happens within the current timeline, but the details are neither gory or gruesome. There is some talk of illicit affairs, an unwed pregnancy, and the cultivation and partaking of “Indian hemp” (cannabis) – which I found very surprising but not offensive – at least to my sensibilities. This book is targeted toward middle grade readers but anyone can read it and enjoy trying to figure out the mystery.
If your middle-grader is looking for a good mystery with a brilliant female protagonist, this is the perfect book! Chemistry lessons included for free!!
The Golden Yarn
A Mirror World Novel
Breathing Books, 2015
This is the third book in the Jacob Reckless, Mirror World Series. Reckless is basically a treasure hunter from our world who passes through a mirror into an alternate world where the humans coexist with otherworldly/magical creatures such Goyl (a race of people with stone skin), fairies, thumblings (teeny people), shape shifters and all sorts of other magical stuff. Through the series of three books the reader follows Jacob as he goes back and forth between worlds.
I read the first two books several years ago (Reckless and Fearless) and from what I can remember enjoyed them a lot. But this third book I have struggled through – if I had read the first two books again and then read The Golden Yarn, my opinion on the book might be different, but that’s not what I did, so I can only review what I did read. This book cannot stand alone – it is intricately tied in with the second of the three books – the main characters of both Jacob and Fox (a shape shifting human woman who changes into a fox) have deep issues with the events of the 2nd book and this book doesn’t explain what happened to them. Nor does it explain what happened to Will, Jacob’s brother, in that book, only that he has issues recovering from those events as well.
This is another one of those books that I really hoped it would be a wonderful fantasy, one to lose myself in and get swept up in the magic. But considering I put the book down for 5 days and didn’t even think about reading it – well, that tells me a lot doesn’t it? As I was reading it today (I’m 3/4s of the way through) – I asked myself “why am I reading this?” I was lost, having forgotten what had happened. Anyway, you don’t need to know all of that.
Suffice it to say, I didn’t finish it. I’m not saying it’s good or bad – just uninteresting. Which means its a no paw rating.
PS: I have hardback copies of Reckless and Fearless for anyone that wants them – just let me know and they’re yours. Seriously – I’m not kidding! Email my secretary! First come, first serve!! firstname.lastname@example.org