Chainani S. (2013). The School for Good and Evil. NY: HarperCollins.
What if all the fairy tale villains and heroes that we all love and hate come from one place? And what if that place was a school where the heroes and villains trained to be good or bad and where they learned chivalry and hexes. What if that place was called The School for Good and Evil? Sophie and Agatha are best friends. Sophie is the ‘princess,’ pretty, kind, energetic, and beautiful. Agatha is the hag, the witch’s daughter, ugly, and sour. They live in a village where every year two children are kidnapped. One is a good person that everybody loves and the other is the ugly, unlikeable person that nobody likes. And every year the village receives new fairy tale picture books that sometimes have characters inside that look uncannily similar to children kidnapped years ago. So when it’s Sophie’s and Agatha’s year to potentially be kidnapped, Sophie is sure that she’ll be put into the School for Good and Agatha will be put into the School for Evil. Sure enough, one dark night Sophie and Agatha get kidnapped. But somethings strange happens, Continue reading
Pennypacker S. (2016). Pax. New York: Balzer + Bray.
A beautifully crafted tale with incredible illustrations by Jon Klassen, Pax is a wonderful story that pulls you in and keeps you reading until the last page. Pax was an orphaned fox cub when his ‘boy,’ Peter, found him by the side of a road. Since then, they’ve been inseparable. Wherever Peter has gone Pax has gone; it feels like they’ve been together forever. Pax was there for Peter when his mom died, and Peter has always been there for Pax. Everything was perfect. Until one day. With the war coming, Peter’s father has signed up for the army. To Pax’s surprise, on the way to Peter’s grandfathers house they stop by the side of a large forest and get out of the car. Peter is crying and Pax can’t figure out what’s wrong. Then Pax is left behind on purpose in the wild and Peter is delivered to live at his grandfather’s house so his father can go to the war. But immediately, Peter is wracked with guilt over allowing his father to convince him to leave a tame fox in the woods, and he embarks on a long, challenging journey through the wild. This sparks two heart wrenching tales, one of a tame fox’s adventures in the wild and the other a story of a boy trying to find his fox.
Brown, P. (2016). The Wild Robot. New York: Little, Brown and Company.
Peter Brown’s art has come to middle grade fiction, and combined with his equally bare bones writing style, he has created a meditation on nature versus technology, a philosopher’s handbook, if you want to go that far.
After falling off a cargo ship and bobbing along in the ocean, Roz reaches the shores of an island where otters manage to open up her shipping box and activate her. Roz opens her eyes, looks around this place – the only place she’s ever known – and even though she is indeed a robot, she considers it home. However, survival quickly becomes her primary focus, when a storm sweeps her down in a mudslide, angry bears chase her, and a mama bird makes sure Roz lands with a clank out of a tall and sticky pine tree. Intriguingly, Roz begins to observe the island’s animals and learn their ways and their language. The line between real and robot is tenuous and appealing in Continue reading
Prendergast, G. (2016). Pandas on the Eastside. Victoria: Orca Book Publishers.
A little book with a fun design on the cover caught my eye, and it was so easy to delve in and imagine East Vancouver during 1972, I had finished the story of Journey Song before I knew it. Part historical fiction, part alternate reality, it’s the story of a wilful and cheeky girl, Journey, and a wide cast of characters who live in Vancouver’s downtown Eastside when two giant pandas were gifted to the American people from the Chinese government. In reality, the transportation of the pandas went smoothly and didn’t stop in Canada, but Prendergast imagines a world where the United States and China have a spat and the pandas are delayed indefinitely in a warehouse in Vancouver; a stop in the trip that never actually happened.
Journey becomes concerned about the pandas’ living conditions in the warehouse Continue reading
Flanagan, J. (2005). The Ruins of Gorlan. New York: Philomel Books.
“An ordinary archer practices until he gets it right. A Ranger practices until he never gets it wrong.” -Halt, The Ruins of Gorlan.
The Ruins of Gorlan is the first in a witty and humorous series called Ranger’s Apprentice that takes place in the medieval times. The story follows a young orphan named Will and carries us through his apprenticeship to a grim Ranger named Halt during a very dangerous time. Rangers are an elite intelligence force that operates for the King in a country called Araluen. Their uncanny skill in archery, and their ability to become unseen whenever they want makes them a revered force among the country. If a criminal hears the words “King’s Ranger!” Continue reading
Roy, P. (2015). Eco Warrior. Vancouver: Ronsdale Press.
Eco Warrior by Phillip Roy is a wonderful tale about a sixteen year old boy named Alfred that pulls you in right away and keeps you reading from page one to the end. Alfred is traveling to Australia in a homemade submarine with his pet seagull and dog to learn how to be an environmentalist and save the oceans. On the way Alfred learns many life lessons and meets new friends for life. After Alfred arrives in Australia he’s mistakenly accused of sabotaging a tanker and has to make a daring escape with the help of a friend. Because of that Alfred makes his way over to Tasmania to see if he can help the Sea Shepherd Society battle tankers that supply Japanese whale hunters with fuel for their ships.
Eco Warrior is short book that outlines the dangers that our oceans are in and shows that it’s still possible for us to make a change. You do not need to read the previous six books in Continue reading
Gayton, S. (2015). Hercufleas. London: Andersen Press Ltd.
Hercufleas is an original and touching fable of hope, courage, size, and much more. When Greta needs an ally to fight a giant, she recruits Hercufleas, a large flea. After being separated from his fleamily, this unexpected hero-to-be joins forces with Greta, together embarking on a journey to save the girl’s hometown of Tumber. Many adventures challenge them, but Hercufleas and Greta show that Continue reading