Oppel, K. (2104). The Boundless. NY: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers.
The Boundless is a great Kenneth Oppel book set in an alternate history where after building the Canadian Pacific Railway across Canada, they built a gigantic train, larger and longer than any other, and stories tall. Will Everett, the main character of this book, is travelling as a first class passenger on the train’s maiden voyage when he stumbles on a key to a train car that holds a huge treasure. But there are other people looking for that key and that train car as well, and Will finds himself caught up in a terrifying adventure, spanning kilometers of Canada, meeting new people left and right. In order to survive Continue reading
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
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
Poston A. (2018) Heart of Iron. Balzer + Bray
Ana doesn’t know where she comes from. She was found as a child drifting through space with a metal sentient robot named D09, and was brought in and raised by a group of space pirates. Now years later, seventeen year old Ana is on the hunt for equipment that will fix D09’s terminal glitching, and she will do anything to get it. Ana has a lead, and it’s coordinates to a lost ship that could have the equipment needed. But Ana isn’t the only person looking for these coordinates. An Ironblood royalty, Robb, beats her to it and runs off with the coordinates. In a last ditch effort to save D09, Ana chases him, right into the heart of trouble. As the situation escalates, Ana and her family of space pirates are thrust into an swirling adventure that forces Ironblood and space pirate to Continue reading
Foody, A. (2018). Ace of Shades. Toronto: Harlequin Teen.
Enne’s mother, Lourdes, told her that if she wasn’t home in two months, then to count her as dead. So naturally, after four months of waiting, Enne leaves her peaceful town of Bellamy and travels to New Reynes, the so called City of Sin, in search of her mother. Her mother told her to visit Mr. Levi Glaisyer if she was ever in New Reynes, so Enne’s first mission is to find Levi. But when she does find Levi, she figures out that he’s an Iron Lord, the leader of a gang in New Reynes, and a con man. Confused as to why her mother told her to see him, but being dragged deeper and further into the trouble surrounding her mother and Levi, Enne is forced to work with Levi to figure out where her mother is. Levi has his own bucket of problems as well, as he has to find 10,000 volts (the currency of New Reynes) in ten days in order to stay alive, and the promise of volts from Enne if they find Lourdes is a last ditch attempt to Continue reading
Gratz, A. (2017). Refugee. NY: Scholastic Press.
Following three children from different places and different time periods in history, Refugee is a gripping and suspenseful story that takes the brave spirit of these seemingly unrelated children and swirls them around in the ocean as they all flee their homelands by boat, then follows them as they struggle to survive, fight to belong, and grapple with issues such as invisibility.
Everything is connected. Josef is escaping a budding Nazi Germany, Isabel flees Castro’s Cuba in the 1990’s, and Mahmoud is running from Syria in present day, yet their journeys tie together in the end. An incredibly timely middle school read, may readers question if we have learned from history or if today’s refugees be treated in the same appalling manner.
Historically accurate, thrilling, and heartbreaking, Refugee will bring you another perspective.
Glaser, M. (2017). The Book Jumper. NY: Feiwel & Friends.
This is one you’ve got to read if you’re a bibliophile and you liked the concept of Inkheart. In The Book Jumper, Amy Lennox and her mother pick up and travel from Germany to her grandmother’s house on the Scottish island of Stormsay. She’s not looking forward to it, and upon arrival her grandmother already has one rule in place – she must read. Except Amy discovers she has the power to jump into books and interact with the characters! In fact, she discovers her family shares this skill and they are also keepers of an antiquated library. Amy quickly learns that a book jumper’s duty is to insure important ideas aren’t stolen from books; indeed, there is a book thief on the prowl. She meets another book jumper, Will, and together they travel from world to world, meeting famous characters and fighting to save crucial ideas before the books themselves are lost forever.
Incredibly crafted and plot-driven, this story is unique enough to keep you happy. I especially found myself wrapped up in the Gothic island setting.