Pullman, P. (1996). The Golden Compass. NY: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers.
The Golden Compass is a fantastically written story about a fantasy world where everybody has a companion that is part of their soul, called a daemon. Their daemon is with them when they are born and stay with them until they die. This story is about a girl named Lyra, and her daemon, Pantalaimon, who lives in Jordan College, Oxford. Brought up without any parents, by the scholars and people in Jordan College, she is free to explore Oxford, interacting with the other kids living there. So she and the other children are shocked, along with everyone else, when children start going missing. A rumour quickly spreads that a group called the Gobblers are kidnapping these children and taking them up North. Lyra is helpless to do anything until one day when Continue reading
Paver M. (2006). Wolf Brother. NY: HarperTrophy.
In a story that takes place six thousand years ago, Torak’s father is dead, mauled to death by a demon bear. Now twelve year old Torak is on the run, alone in the wilderness. He and his father always traveled alone, avoiding the large tribes that live in the forest. But now Torak is alone and scared. Then, a few days after his father’s death, Torak stumbles onto a wolf cub. After a quick investigation of the scene Torak sees that Wolf’s pack is dead, drowned by a flash flood. Hesitant at first, but more and more interested, Torak starts befriending the small wolf cub. And soon the two are inseparable. Traveling and hunting together. So when the demon bear that killed Torak’s father starts showing up again and murdering people and animals from other tribes, the two get caught up in a mission to defeat the evil in the land.
Wolf Brother is a fantastically written novel that keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole journey.
Oppel, K. (1997). Silverwing. NY: Harper Collins.
Shade is a bat, he lives in a large colony and is, unfortunately, the runt; however, he is determined to prove himself by making the annual migration to Hibernaculum. During the migration however, a fierce storm kicks up and Shade is separated from his mother and the rest of the colony. Shade ends up on an island, where he meets another stranded bat name Marina. The two decide to team up and together, they set out on a journey to find Shade’s colony. The journey is fraught with danger with many near death experiences. And along the path they meet many new bats. One is a giant carnivorous vampire bat named Goth who is trying to hunt them down. But the adventure will only bring Shade and Marina closer together as the travel through the country, avoiding predators and dodging Goth the whole way. Will Shade make it to the Hibernaculum Continue reading
Meloy M. (2011). The Apothecary. NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
Moving to new cities can be tough, as fourteen year old girl, Janie, knows all too well. It’s 1952 and she’s just moved to London from America with her family. She soon meets a boy name Benjamin, whose father is the local Apothecary. There is something strange about Benjamin, who talks a lot about spies and such stuff. But when Benjamin’s father is kidnapped, Janie finds herself getting wrapped up in a mission to save him. Benjamin and Janie must search through London, following the clues left behind. This leads the two on a magical adventure from birds, to plants, Janie must let go of everything she thinks is real and embrace the magic that keeps her and Benjamin alive. But the two must hurry, Continue reading
Draper, S. (2010). Out of My Mind. NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
Melody is gifted with photographic memory. She can remember everything she’s ever seen; however she can’t walk, or talk. Melody has cerebral palsy, a condition that affects people differently. In Melody’s case, she finds it difficult to move in the same way that normal people can. Moving her legs and feet is difficult and even rolling over on the floor requires a monumental effort. But because of her condition, Melody is looked down on by most adults and fellow kids at her school. Melody refuses to live like this and wants to find a way to show to the world how incredibly smart she is and how she is way more than just her condition. And with some help from a friend and her loving parents, Melody might just find a way to show to the world that Continue reading
Oppel K. (2005). Airborn. NY: HarperCollins.
Matt Cruse is a cabin boy aboard the magnificent blimp, the Aurora. The Aurora is a massive airships that carries hundreds of passengers across the world. Matt feels at home in the sky, and loves his job. One night Matt is on watch, in the crows nest, keeping an eye out for any incoming airships or storms. All is calm until Matt spies a lost hot air ballon, not far away. He notifies the bridge and the airship veers away from its course to go rescue the hot air ballon pilot. Matt is chosen to go across to the hot air ballon when they get near and when Matt lands in the ballon, having jumped from the Aurora, he sees something strange. There’s only one pilot, an old man who’s on the ground mumbling about creatures in the sky. Matt attaches him to the harness connected to the Aurora and as the old man gets hauled out of the ship, Matt looks in the ballon’s log. Inside are detailed drawing of creatures he’s never seen before, creatures that can fly. However later that night the old man dies from his injuries and Matt soon forgets about that night. But years later, when a young women, bearing the same last name of the man that died Continue reading
Mass W. (2005). A Mango-Shaped Space. NY: Little, Brown and Company.
Mia sees colours. Not just the normal colours that most people see, but colours every time she hears sounds. Colours in weird shapes and sizes that show up when she hears the meow of her cat, or the sound of a car. Each sound has their own unique colour and shape. This is synesthesia, but Mia doesn’t know it’s called that, because she’s never told anybody that she can see colours in this way, not even her best friend. But as school gets harder and harder, Mia finds it increasingly harder to keep up in math and Spanish, as her colours make it difficult for her to make those connections. Pressured from all sides about her school work, Mia finally cracks and tells her parents about what she sees. Skeptical at first, Mia’s parents take her to see all sorts of doctors, one even accusing Mia of making it up; however, they soon find out that Mia’s ability is named synesthesia.
A Mango-Shaped Space is a wonderful, heartfelt story, fantastically written and definitely worth the read.
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