Thursday, October 29, 2015

Get Into the Spirit of Things

Here's the Sci-Fi, Paranormal & Fantasy You've Been Looking For

The Trap
By Steven Arntson
Best For, Boys: Ages 9 - 12
Rated 3.75 (ghosts, first crush, peril)

          Mystery, fantasy and paranormal adventures make this a good book for the Halloween season and beyond. Set in 1963 Farro, Idaho, this story covers friendship, civil rights, metaphysics and first crushes with an introspective and engaging narration. The story follows friends Henry, Helen, Alan and Nikki as the set out to find Alan’s older brother, who has been missing for several days. It's a haunting adventure that actually, in part, takes place in a cemetery. From out-of-body experiences to ghostly conversations The Trap keeps readers guessing about what will happen next.

What’s good: Believable middle school characters and a suspense-filled story.
What’s bad: The plotting is a little slow in the beginning, but picks up about midway though.

The Watchmen of Port Fayt
By Conrad Mason
Best For, Boys: Ages 8 - 12

Rated: 3.75 (pirates, fantasy creatures, violence)
          The Watchmen is a magical pirate-style adventure with echoes of Treasure Island and Harry Potter mixed into the fantasy soup. Set in the fantastical Carribean-like town of Port Fayt, the reader will find men and mythical creatures such as ogres, trolls, goblins and fairies walking the streets and doing business together. The Watchmen predominatley follows two main characters – Tabitha, the youngest member of the titular private police force; and Grubb, an orphaned half-goblin tavern boy who stumbles into a mysterious plot. This rollicking adventure pits them against corrupt militiamen, pirates, a weak governor and a very powerful witch who wants to destroy Port Fayt by raising the maw. As it happens, the Maw is a great and powerful sea beast worthy of an epic final battle. Get ready for a frenetically paced middle-grade fantasy that pirate fans should see as a winner.

What’s good: Pirates, magic fantasy and fast-paced adventure. Who could ask for more?
What’s bad: Sometimes difficult to follow due to the variety of characters and voices leading the reader through the story.

By Pam Munoz Ryan
Best For: Ages 10 - 14

Rated: 4.0 (intolerance, war, music)

          Echo is unlike any fairytale most young readers have read. Told through interconnected stories, it follows the journey of a magical harmonica into the hands of three young heroes. Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each come into contact with the same instrument. Set just before and during WWII, the tale is more about the young heroes’ embodiment of bravery, tolerance and kindness as they stand up to injustice, rather than the harmonica. But the harmonic plays a key role as everything comes together in the final climactic section where Friedrich, Mike and Ivy attempt to write their own happy ending through the power of music.

What’s good: A great blend of storytelling – magic, mystery and history.
What’s bad: Slowly paced. Plus some preteens may balk at reading a fairytale.