Out of Abaton: The Wooden Prince

By John Claude Bemis; Reviewed by Sarah Page

The Wooden PrinceIt’s always interesting to read a new take on an old story. Out of Abaton: The Wooden Prince, is the first part of a new series by John Claude Bemis featuring the familiar character Pinocchio. I was intrigued when I read the synopsis of the book online, and wondered how Bemis might have reimagined these well-known characters. I was slightly hesitant to choose this book because the story of Pinocchio has never really appealed to me. I am, now that I have finished it, glad…

Aim

By Joyce Hostetter; Reviewed by Carol Baldwin

aimWhen critically acclaimed children’s book author Joyce Hostetter’s editor suggested she write a novel based in her own backyard, Hostetter spun a tale of the polio epidemic in Hickory, NC and called it Blue (2006). The main character had more to tell and Hostetter’s 2009 novel Comfort  continues the story of Anne Fay dealing with the effects of polio, as well as her father’s return from WWII. Both novels were widely praised and won awards, but Hostetter knew there was more to these stories. A prequel to these two novels, Aim imagines the world before Blue

Be Light Like a Bird

By Monika Schroeder; Reviewed by Carol Baldwin

be-like-a-birdSeveral weeks ago I attended Highlights Foundation Summer Camp and I’m still reflecting on the material I learned. One of the keynote addresses was by Susan Campbell Bartoletti which I blogged about here. In this review I use some of Bartoletti’s points to review Monika Schroeder’s latest middle grade novel, Be Light Like a Bird.

The Last Cherry Blossom

By Kathleen Burkinshaw; Reviewed by Carol Baldwin
TheLastCherryBlossom

Twelve-year-old Yuriko has become accustomed to daily air raid drills and the sounds of American B-29s flying over Hiroshima. But even though the sounds are familiar, she is always worried. Will we actually get bombed? What if the school collapses? Will a desk actually protect me? Is my papa safe? How will I find him if a bomb hits us?

Empty Places

By Kathy Wiechman; Reviewed by Carol Baldwin

empty placesKathy Wiechman’s second historical novel, Empty Places, is well-researched, beautifully written, and evocative of time and place (the 1930’s in Harlan County, Kentucky).
Within the first few pages the reader meets spunky, 13-year-old Adabel Cutler who is trying her darndest to keep her family from falling apart. Adabel’s father is a coal miner who drinks too much and fights with her big brother…

Scar

By J. Albert Mann; Reviewed by Carol Baldwin
ScarScar: A Revolutionary War TaleJ. Albert Mann’s first young adult historical novel, is short but powerful. Spanning the course of just three days, Mann artfully alternates between Noah’s present predicament—he is wounded and is caring for a young wounded Indian—and the events leading up to it.

The Way to Stay in Destiny

By August Scattergood; Reviewed by Carol Baldwin

The Way to Stay in DestinyThe minute sixth-grader Theo Thomas gets off the bus and arrives in Destiny, Florida with his Uncle Raymond, I’m right there with him. The author, Augusta Scattergood uses great details to pull readers into the character and setting: Theo grabs his bags, baseball mitt and a tattered book, Everything You Want to Know About Baseball; the heat hits him like a slap in the face; diesel fumes whoosh around him; he encounters slithery gray stuff hanging from the trees; and no “old men in shorts and flip-flops” meet him and his uncle at the Marathon…

Blue Birds

By Caroline Starr Rose; Reviewed by Carol Baldwin

Blue BirdsThis is the reason I love well-written historical fiction: It draws me into a place and time that I am barely familiar with, brushes me with information and imagery, and leaves me wanting to know more. Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose is such a book. Written from the points of view of Alis, the daughter of one of the first British colonists to land at Roanoke Island and Kimi, a Roanoke girl who has lost her father and uncle at the hands of the English, this novel-in-verse creates a plausible backstory of the Lost Colony. The alternating viewpoints are an excellent vehicle to show what it meant to the English and Indians…

Wonder At the Edge of the World

By Nicole Helget; Reviewed by Carol Baldwin

Wonder At the Edge of the WorldI don’t usually think about historical fantasy as a genre until I read Wonder at the Edge of the World by Nicole Helget and was contemplating how I would review it. Then I realized I’ve read other books with both historical and magical elements; King Arthur and Percy Jackson and the Olympian series are two that come to mind. If this genre appeals to you, then you’ll want to read this book.
Set in Kansas right before the Civil War, this is the story of how a young girl, Hallelujah Wonder; and her best friend, Eustace, who is a slave…

Turning on a Dime, by Maggie Dana

Reviewed by Carol Baldwin

Time travel. The Civil War. Multi-cultural. Horses. Romance. There aren’t many books that fit such a wide variety of categories—but Turning on a Dime by Maggie Dana does just that.

Samantha DeVries’ father is Lucas DeVries, a third-generation American of Dutch descent and master horseman; her mother, Gretchen, is an African-American and a history buff who has traced her family’s lineage back to 1875.

Caroline Chandler is the daughter of a plantation owner in Mississippi who prefers her brother’s… Read more.

Book Review: Sky Raiders (Five Kingdoms), by Brandon Mull

Reviewed by Christian Roulland Kueng
Sky Raiders is the first in a series called Five Kingdoms by best selling author, Brandon Mull. Mull is also the author responsible for the Fablehaven and Beyonders series, in addition to picture books Pingo and Pingo and the Playground Bully. What starts out as a fun Halloween with a visit to a weird haunted house, Cole Randolph and his friends, Dalton and Jenna, discover something more sinister happening in the basement… Read more here.