This is a very slim non-fiction volume, but it’s an excellent place to start for the young fairy fanatic. It’s sparkly in places and is filled with faThis is a very slim non-fiction volume, but it’s an excellent place to start for the young fairy fanatic. It’s sparkly in places and is filled with fanciful illustrations. In addition to providing some very important information fairies, it also can serve as a guide for those looking for fairy-inspired fun. There’s a job list, which of course consists of fun tasks like organizing a midnight ball and making magic fairy bars for a snack. There are some recipes (for the aforementioned fairy bars of course, but also for fairy dust, and for spell casting). A fairy vocabulary page encourages word games and could be used to inspire young authors who are working on their own fairy stories. Best of all, there are fairies of color and even a male fairy shown, so the book at least contains a bit of diversity. Highly recommended for little fairy lovers in Grades 1-3. ...more
I am terribly relieved to be finished with reading this series. Valente writes the most amazing descriptions but the books are wordy and dense and theI am terribly relieved to be finished with reading this series. Valente writes the most amazing descriptions but the books are wordy and dense and the reading is terribly slow for those who are not interested in that particular style of world building. The vocabulary is practically abusive it is so hard. I am an educated adult and there were words that I even needed to check and reference but for children there will be so much left unanswered and uncomprehended. It's just not a book for most readers. It's a book for a highly specific audience of readers that is intensely good at reading, dedicated and interested in this type of thing.
I had hoped some of the goodwill I had at the end of The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There would sustain me through this one and quite sadly, that was not the case. I can understand why this series is so lauded. Valente is an exceptional writer with a vast and impressive vocabulary, an ability to create breathtakingly beautiful worlds and weave all manner of societal commentary throughout. But the ability to do that does not necessarily mean the book itself is particularly readable, especially for young audiences. You have to be the type of person who likes this sort of thing, and then beyond that, you have to have, hopefully, both an excellent vocabulary and an incredible ability to make sense of text when you don’t even know the meaning of many of the words you encounter. As much as I have recommended this for strong readers in Grades 5 and up, as teacher, I would strongly advocate doing a very thorough comprehension check with a student before allowing it to be a book that is read in class. In terms of recreational reading or for family read alouds, the stakes are different.
September had become accustomed to being summoned to Fairyland, so she was quite put out when the summer came and she found herself still very much in Nebraska. But opportunity soon struck as she found a way in. Soon she is where she’d longed to be, driving a neighbor’s Model A Ford that somehow came along for the journey. This particular journey takes us to the Moon, on a mission to deliver a package and stop the shaking which is causing great harm. The trip featured less action and many more lengthy speeches and wonderings which made it all the less exciting for me as a reader. But if the question is about whether September, at 14, is suddenly having more mature adventures, the answer would have to be, no. Nothing occurs that is not hinted heavily at already in the prior books, certainly nothing racy or lascivious in any way. If a reader has gone through the first two in the series, to my mind, there’s nothing marking this third as out of reach. Aside from all that philosophy. And all those vocabulary words.
The vocabulary that particularly caught my eye included: incandescent, dastardly, persnickety, phlegmy, ululating, gasbagging (NB: googling this term will turn up an urban dictionary entry which is not suitable for children), stoicism, regimes, dissolution, deposed, hypocrites, chagrin, concatenating, traipsing, consternation, viridian, Numismatists, pecuniary, haughty, phrenologist, sedition, surreptitiously, cozen, chicaneries, diaphanous, dialectics, philippics, diatribe, harangue, edified, gnomon. This books strange creatures include: psychopomps, klabautermann, dimetrodons (well, those are real at least), cyclops, basilisk, Naiads, strega, Marid and of course, yeti.
Age Recommendation: I’m tempted to go for Grades 6 and up on this one just because of the degree of difficulty but not really due to the content. It’s far less violent than its predecessors frankly....more
This is the sequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.
September returns to Fairyland and finds that things are notThis is the sequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.
September returns to Fairyland and finds that things are not at all how she left them and her dear, dear friends whom she has missed so much are not in fact, waiting desperately for her to appear. There’s trouble in Fairyland because of Halloween, the Hallow Queen who rules Fairyland below has been liberating people’s shadows, thus stripping them of magic. September can’t help but feel responsible since Halloween was once her own shadow and so she embarks on a quest to wake a sleeping prince, restore order and ensure that Fairyland remains magical.
I found this far more likable than its predecessor. Despite it being about Fairyland Below (with all the sinister connotations of below) I honestly felt it was less scary and creepy. September’s journey is by no means easy, but I preferred the people she ran into, even those that betray her. Maybe I’m just getting used to Valente’s style.
I would say this is possibly slightly easier than the first book in the series, but the vocabulary remains impressive. I marked down hereditary monarchs, iridescent, ziggurats, gargantuan, marionette, carnelian, crystalline, languorously, disconsolate, bailiwicks, progenitors, obsidian, narrative matrix, all as words that would require extra attention. Again, Valente introduces us to no end of magical creatures, some whom have evolved from myths and legends and others I’m sure of her own making, including, hreinn (some type of reindeer-person), selkies, imps, dwarves, gnomes, hippogryphes, nixies, nymphs, Lutin, hobgoblin, glashtyn, Scotch-wight, Ouphe, Mermen, hobgoblins, peris, centaurs, Monacielli, minotaurs, baku.
Age Recommendation: This is a very difficult book which requires a strong vocabulary and excellent reading comprehension. Things do take a slightly more romantic turn than in the prior book so I would lean towards Grades 5 and up for this, although very strong fourth grade readers may be able to tackle it so long as their family is comfortable with the content....more
When I was on the hunt for fairy books I was delighted to find that Gail Carson Levine (of Ella Enchanted fame) had a new series out! Then when I receWhen I was on the hunt for fairy books I was delighted to find that Gail Carson Levine (of Ella Enchanted fame) had a new series out! Then when I received the book from the library, I noticed a small Disney insignia on the front cover and was dismayed. I am not sure I want Levine through a Disney filter, but I guess we’ll see!
It borrows the (I assume Disney owned?) premise of Never Land, a place where fairies dwell and boy and girls never grow up. Human children are rather annoyingly called Clumsies and the old “if you stop believing a fairy dies, unless you clap to show you believe” statement is trotted out. And then, before any actual story is even established, the whole “fairy talent” appears, with an “animal-talent” fairy and “keyhole-design-talent” fairy which quite honestly has made me lose faith in the whole endeavor.
Prilla, our main character is something more than a fairy, a bit of child attached itself to the laugh that makes a fairy. Subsequently she doesn’t seem to have a fairy talent, a very sad thing indeed. There are of course, fairies who aren’t quite properly formed, being created from slightly less than a laugh, but the less said about them the better.
A hurricane comes to Never Land threatening the lives of all who reside there. In order to save the day, Prilla must join with other fairies to complete a quest to save a broken egg. And perhaps, in the end, she will learn her talent after all.
I feel a bit embarrassed now that I've recommended this to people without having read it. I was so excited that such an amazing author had fairy offerings on the table so I told her as soon as I discovered it. It’s really just not like Levine’s other books at all. It reads like it could have been written by anyone and has no real depth. While it does not seem to be a part of Disney’s Tales of Pixie Hollow series, it is nonetheless related. That said, it is a vast and epic improvement over the Rainbow Magic fairy books and I would strongly recommend suggesting it for readers who are stuck on a Rainbow Magic binge and need to be moved onto something more challenging and interesting. It is also relatively benign in terms of content (there is some scariness, but nothing more than your usual Disney type danger) and therefore would hold interest for younger readers as well.
One other tiny complaint – there is no real mention of race throughout the book, so would it have killed the illustrator to make any of the fairies appear to be minorities? Did they all have to be drawn white?...more
After Tanya’s parents’ divorce, she’s become difficult and moody. Where difficult and moody really mean “tormented by fairies only she can see and whoAfter Tanya’s parents’ divorce, she’s become difficult and moody. Where difficult and moody really mean “tormented by fairies only she can see and whom she can tell no one about”. Fed up with Tanya’s antics, her mother sends her off to her grandmother’s for the summer. For Tanya, there’s no escaping fairies and as she settles in, she learns there’s a lot more danger involved than she first thought. With the help of her friend Fabian, Tanya is determined to get to the bottom of a mystery that is nearly fifty years old, but things are soon well out of her control.
The fairies in this book are very much not the flitting through gardens and simpering under bluebells types. They are mischievous, dangerous, and often vindictive. Also they steal children. When you examine the parts of this book, it seems very dark indeed, quite scary and yet the tone is more that of a mystery with a magical twist. It stood quite decently on it’s own, perhaps too much so, as it felt so complete I could see readers stopping rather than continuing the series, and yet I have a feeling that the author intends to reveal much more in the rest of the trilogy.
One of the aspects of this book that was particularly dark was Tanya’s personal rejection by those that should love her. She is very much made to feel difficult and unloved, which goes a long way to explain her untrusting and sometimes defiant personality. I did appreciate that unlike so many other books of this genre, in the end, the adults had a hand in helping resolve the conflict. And it certainly demonstrated the damage that keeping secrets can do, whether the secret keeper is an adult or a child.
Recommended for: Grades 3 and up. I would worry that readers younger than that might find it a bit scary. It would be on level for many third and fourth graders....more
This is a book for people who love words and worlds. The Fairyland that Valente has conceived is beyond intricate, I can only think of Carroll’s WondeThis is a book for people who love words and worlds. The Fairyland that Valente has conceived is beyond intricate, I can only think of Carroll’s Wonderland as a comparison point. They both feature odd creatures and powerful capricious Queens and a host of rules that are complicated and difficult to follow. Unlike Alice, twelve year old September does not fall down a rabbit hole. Rather she climbs over her sink (losing a shoe in the process) to join the Green Wind who has come explicitly for her. She is admitted to Fairyland without papers because the Green Wind indicates that he has taken her for the purpose of Ravishing (this is not expounded upon, thank goodness).
Once there, September finds a quest for herself (retrieving a witch’s stolen spoon from the Marquess), a friend in the form of a Wyvern and heads off for the capital of Pandemonium. She meets the fearsome Marquess and then must begin yet another journey and then of course, terrible things befall her along the way. But there is much magic and there are friends and magical creatures who help, so it is not all sadness and difficulty.
I found this to be a terribly difficult book. In fact, I couldn’t concentrate on it unless I had absolute quiet. The world-building was very complex, with an amazing number of magical creatures: djinni, Marid, Wyvern, wairwulf, spriggans, brownies, hamadryads, Jarlhopp, nasnas, goblins, Harpies, pooka, Tsukumogami and many others. All apologies that some of the links go to wikipedia. Some of these creatures have long established roles in folklore that Valente is drawing on while others function similarly but with her own twist. At times the story includes other reference likely to go right over the heads of younger readers, such as mentions of Excalibur and Durendal and information that children get to fairyland by mushroom ring, tornado, wardrobes of winter coats and gaps in the hedgerows (making reference to other literature).
There is some terribly complicated stuff in here about fathers leaving and people making up stories to explain the loss and about the Marquess stealing a spoon vs. the government coming and taking September’s father away to war. There are also asides to September herself which will be hard for the reader to process.
The vocabulary is very, very difficult. I written down examples, some of which I wasn’t 100% sure of myself as well as many that I thought were way above the general vocabulary level of anyone not in high school; “widdershins, perish, hamadryads, spriggans, smelted, brambly, autumnal acquisition, tesseract, paisley cravat, verbiage, exeunt, purview, wastrels, perverse and perilous, thaumaturgists, puissant, paladins, jacquard, bureaucracy, ledger, dilettante, beneficence, magnanimousness, comestibles, morbidity, metamorphosis, indirect dative, cotillion, primordial, ”
Age Recommendation: Despite its degree of difficulty, the plot seems more aimed at younger readers making this a pick more for very advanced middle grades readers and some tweens than teens. It would also work as a bedtime read aloud for children that may feel they’re a bit old for that sort of thing. I would say 4-6 graders reading above grade level would be able to tackle this. I do believe there is enjoyment to be had from this even if you don’t pick up all the nuance and reference, but for thorough comprehension it will take very strong readers.
Good for: As Valente herself intimates, this is really a book for lovers of magical worlds and would work for lovers of Alice in Wonderland or The Wizard of Oz (keeping in mind that I read the former more than 25 years ago and the later, never) rather than children looking for stories about fairies. ...more
It took me far too long to read this, a sure sign that it dragged. There were parts that I loved, but for the most part, I found it a bit overwhelmingIt took me far too long to read this, a sure sign that it dragged. There were parts that I loved, but for the most part, I found it a bit overwhelming. There were a ton of characters, most of whom lacked development. Oyster (the main character) whizzed through locations with great speed, something that didn't really allow readers to get their bearings before charging on to the next thing. I guess ultimately, I didn't buy into the world-building as well as I should have. Oh well.
Gah. Unlike the charming letter Suzanne Selfors used to begin Smells Like Treasure, N.E. Bode’s letter feels adult and dry. Evidently our author is dealing with a crisis of confidence and manages to pull out of it due to a magnificent story told by a nun. These are inherently adult things, being at a conference and feeling like a fraud, having a vast knowledge of nuns. I am not quite as anxious to delve into this one.
The story begins in a nunnery where a ten year old boy, Oyster, is increasingly difficult. He’s been raised by nuns after being abandoned as a baby, but as an older child he is continually up to mischief, much to their dismay. Think Maria in the Sound of Music, but with more tadpoles. These nuns have fantastic names such as Sister Mary Many Pockets and Sister Alice Self-Defense, thus dubbed by Oscar, it seems, based on their main characteristics (a trick that allows the author to avoid any characterization of these women). Like many children who have been abandoned or given up for adoption Oscar thinks of his parents and sometimes wonders if he’s where he belongs. A truly awful woman who works with the nuns adds to his fears by continually harassing him and calling him a reject.
But when Oscar finally makes it outside the protective walls of the convent, he soon learns there is more to the world than his tiny safe haven. There’s even more to the world than his own city of Baltimore. A chance encounter with a Mapkeeper of Imagined Other Worlds sets Oscar wondering, but before he’s truly dreamt of what may come, he finds himself inside a map, specifically, another world imagined by his parents. He is viewed as a salvation, the one who will save this world which is in peril.
From there an adventure ensues. Sadly, it drags in places and rushes through others. Characterization is weak and the world building is a bit lacking. Children who are into imaginary creatures and worlds might take to it more than others, but it’s unlikely to draw in children who aren’t used to the genre. I felt like there was too much going on and also, not quite enough going on.
It should be noted that I have some concerns with the handling of adoption in this book, from the abandonment on the church steps to his parents being a married, happy couple. While Oscar does explore some of the emotions that might be typical of a child in his situation, in other parts, it seems like his fantasy of a normal home life with his biological parents will come true. I think my one true relief in the end was that he did end up mostly staying with the nuns and visiting his parents.
An additional note of annoyance: Oscar had long wished to be friends with a boy who lived across the street from the convent. A boy who happened to wear leg braces. And of course, was miraculously cured by the end of the book. I just can’t. You lose any possible credit for diverse characters if you’re going to use magic to heal them in the end.
Is this the kind of kids book that an adult would like? Maybe not. But is it a definite winner for advanced elementary readers? I would expect so. WitIs this the kind of kids book that an adult would like? Maybe not. But is it a definite winner for advanced elementary readers? I would expect so. With plenty of action and adventure, The Candy Shop War is long enough to keep avid readers occupied for more than a few minutes and has enough complexity to keep them guessing. I also really liked that the characters weren't dumb. They were involved in questionable schemes and made bad decisions, but they were frequently re-evaluating their choices and being honestly when they'd chosen badly. It added an element of believability to the book while also setting a good example for readers....more
Garden Princess was largely unremarkable. It's a fairy tale and mildly clever, but not particularly spellbinding. The first half deals with a magic-yGarden Princess was largely unremarkable. It's a fairy tale and mildly clever, but not particularly spellbinding. The first half deals with a magic-y situation which resolves and then the second half is more of a romance. So it was just fine. Except, I really have to give credit for there being a heroine who is not considered attractive (not unattractive, just plain), eats whatever she wants and undergoes no physical transformation before the end of the story. She believe people can and do love others for what is on the inside, and as it happens, she's right. So while I can't say it's the most fascinating fairy tale I've read, I'd certainly give it to children who like that sort of thing, if only for the positive message....more
This was a magical-realism book that was a little heavy handed with the magic. There was nothing original or subtle about the magic, it sort of bludgeThis was a magical-realism book that was a little heavy handed with the magic. There was nothing original or subtle about the magic, it sort of bludgeons you over the head. Bretton's personal touches on the magic were just that, little details. Sarah Addison Allen's books contain far more original magical concepts and that's sort of what I wanted here, a New England rather than Southern version.
There's a romance, a big battle scene climax, and evidently the series continues. I will certainly continue the series as very light reading despite it being not quite what I was hoping....more
Just finished this (ARC). I'm still processing. I didn't love it quite as much as the first two. I also feel like I read the last two too long ago andJust finished this (ARC). I'm still processing. I didn't love it quite as much as the first two. I also feel like I read the last two too long ago and had memory gaps, so anyone eagerly anticipating the May release may as well get set re-reading. I'll come back when I've formulated what I want to say, but for now, I'll just say that this story felt so unfinished at the end that I do hope Cashore has another installment planned....more
This simply didn't live up to my hopes. It was fine, had some good parts, but there were some pretty unforgivable choices that Baggott made in regardsThis simply didn't live up to my hopes. It was fine, had some good parts, but there were some pretty unforgivable choices that Baggott made in regards to how the parents treat their son and the racist language (yes, the n-word is dropped three times) that she uses. Like everyone else who feels compelled to use the n-word in a children's book Baggott clutches desperately at the straws of "historical accuracy" and "resisting white washing the past". I would argue that you can say "n-word" in a book and kids will pick up on the seriousness of the language just fine....more
Folks, sometimes I read a book just so you don't have to. It was an absolute slog trying to get through this sequel to The Princess and the Goblin. MaFolks, sometimes I read a book just so you don't have to. It was an absolute slog trying to get through this sequel to The Princess and the Goblin. MacDonald, a minister, is clearly on a moralizing tear. There are long sections on accountability, responsibility, and believing in things you cannot see. There are examples of the evils of alcohol and greed and a nice little piece on how it is a privilege to be poor.
His vocabulary doesn't get any more accessible either, keep an eye (and a dictionary) out for atomy, carbuncular, circumfulgent, adit, and opprobrious - to name some of the hardest words I bumped into.
On top of that, Princess Irene doesn't even surface until Chapter 19 and when she does, she's considerably less helpful, useful and interesting than she was a book ago. Also, the violence increases to a remarkable level (if the threats of roasting alive don't get you, the difficulty in removing a mattock from the brain of a freshly murdered bulldog just might). Finish up with a kiss between the newly betrothed Irene and Curdie (ages 9, so no, that's not her writhing on the cover, and 13 respectively) and you may find you've strained your eyeballs what with all the rolling.
Age Recommendation: Definitely for Grades 6+. You know. If you want to inflict something dark and moralizing on them. Great for: People who are looking for Christian allegories.