The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1)
By Rick Riordan
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology
Recommended for Ages: 9+
I have just discovered this series and must say – I am a fan.
Initially Percy Jackson seems like your typical twelve year-old, with a closer look however, you begin to notice he has a few problems to deal with. He’s a little hyper, suffers from dyslexia, is a little hotheaded and, unfortunately, keeps getting expelled from school after school because strange (and dangerous) things always seem to happen to him. Trying to keep him safe, his mother desperately tries to get him to Camp Half Blood where Percy can be with other Half-Bloods (one parent is a god and the other mortal) and train to defend himself against the monsters that attack these heroes in the real world. The mystery begins to unravel and the adventure soars as the young hero learns his father is Poseidon, god of the sea, and one of the “big three” of the Olympian gods. Percy must battle mythological monsters like the Minotaur, Furies, and even Medusa.
The story is chock full of adventure tying in ancient Greek mythology with a fresh urban feel as the young demigod learns the fate of the mortal world is in his hands as he alone can solve the mystery of Zeus’ missing master lightening bolt and stop a war of epic proportion from erupting between the gods.
The book is exciting and suspenseful and I am ready to dive into the next book of this series. This adventure should translate well when it makes its theatrical debut currently scheduled for February 2010. It has great promise to be exciting and action packed.
A lot of things can be said about Owen Birmbaum. He is twelve years old and the fattest kid in school. It’s not mean – it’s statistics. He hasn’t always been this way – only for the last two years. Another thing you can say about Owen is he is an easy target for bullies – even his gym teacher has targeted him as a source of personal entertainment and new feats of humiliation are orchestrated with each and every class.
Owen is not the only one having trouble. He is very close with his little sister Jeremy. Her name is actually Caitlyn, but she belongs to a club called GWAB (Girls Who Are Boys) where the girls are required to refer to one another by boy names, wear boy clothes, and cut their hair short. Things have not always been this way for Owen and Jeremy.
One thing Owen has going for him is he is smart. Really smart – he has an IQ one point shy of genius status, but he doesn’t brag about it. This eccentric kid invents really cool things like the Nemesis – a device kind of like a TV that shows things from the past, and Owen really needs to see something from a specific date and time in his past because that is when everything changed so dramatically for this brother and sister.
This story is laden with the trials, tribulations and miseries of middle school life told directly from this quirky kid with a heart that is even bigger than he is. Throughout all the humorous events of the story, the author engages you with this tale of two compelling kids that you can’t help but root for, particularly as snippets of their past are slowly revealed and Owen discovers the answers are not in the past, but in the present, and this is what will determine the future.
This story is humorous, honest, and above all else heartwarming. SLOB has been awarded the Junior Library Guild Award and, in my opinion, is destined to receive many more accolades.
By Ellen Potter
Hardback: 199 pages
Recommended for Ages: 9-12
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This series is a prequel of sorts to the legend of Merlin beginning in the early years when Merlin is first coming into his magical powers. This is the second story in the five book series chronicling the great wizard’s youth.
As the story opens, Merlin is 13 years old and has the privilege of attending the great council meeting with the ambassadors of nearly every race of fantasy that reside on the enchanted isle as they must decide what to do with the Treasures of Fincayra. He has been charged with the guardianship of the Flowering Harp to heal the lands for the harp only responds to a heart true and wise – the heart of a wizard.
Having toppled the evil King Stangmar (his estranged father who was bewitched) and freeing Fincayra from a terrible blight Merlin sets out with the magical harp to restore the enchanted world into a flourishing Merlin has only one month to complete a quest to find the soul of the Seven Songs of Wisdom and journey to the Otherworld in order to obtain the elixir that can save his mother’s life. On his quest he makes a number of discoveries not only about his past, but about what lies within. The challenge is enormous. He has begun to discover the powers within him, but has not as yet mastered the ability to control these emerging powers. He has learned some of the stories of the wisdom of the Druids, the Greeks and the Celts, but us far from truly understanding the true meaning of it all. He has learned his true name and pieces of his past but now must also learn the secrets that sleep within his innermost being. He has already lost his father in the battle, and now his mother, poisoned by a deathshadow meant for her son, is the first victim of the renewed surge of evil sweeping the land.
Merlin is an emerging personification of yin and yang. He is full of contradictions that compliment each other and open his eyes to the possibilities of what destiny has in store for him as he follows the winding path to wizardry. Contradiction and controversy are rampant in the epic Arthurian legend, and Mr. Barron has imagineered an early life worthy of these legendary roots as the keeper of knowledge, particularly of the arcane secrets.
As in all epic journeys, great adventure and unfathomable danger lie in wait for the boy who would be wizard. He must battle the ogre Balor He is accompanied on his great quest by a merlin hawk named Trouble, the forest girl Rhia, and a mournful jester named Bumbelwy. There are captivating characters and backstory for the Arthurian legend that begin to emerge through this tale. This is a tale that will not disappoint the most demanding Merlin fan. It will engage you and take you of the ride of your life.
THE SEVEN SONGS OF MERLIN
By TA Barron
Genre: Juvenile Fantasy
Hardcover: 336 pages
Recommended for ages 9-12
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Eleven year-old Wendy Wiles’ world seems to be crumbling all around her. Her parents are talking divorce, she has to move away from her beloved modern city apartment to a broken down old-fashioned farmhouse in the country, and her brother, Mike…well, he just loves to get on her case and constantly tease her like older brothers sometimes do. Just as Wendy thinks things can’t possibly get worse, mysterious things begin to happen.
Her new best friend, Jennifer, tells her the old dilapidated house they moved into is haunted! Strange things are happening everywhere and Wendy isn’t the only one seeing weird sights. Strange music fills the air and a sudden gust of wind has leaves swirling into ghostly human shapes that dance about; a shimmery vision of a young boy dressed in old fashioned clothes plays a haunting melody on the piano, and a young woman’s face that appears in the mirror are all clues to the mystery that must be solved. Mike, Wendy and Jennifer dig through old library records on their quest to unravel the truth about what happened at that old house so many years ago. The clues slowly begin to fit together to unlock the secrets hidden in the murky past when a mysterious skeleton key suddenly appears to confirm the rest of the mystery.
This spine-tingling paranormal is a great read for kids aged 9-12. This is a page-turner that will keep them engaged beginning till end.
GHOST FOR RENT
By Penny Lockwood
Publisher: Hard Shell Word Factory
ISBN: 0-7599-0340-9 trade paperback
Paperback: 65 pages
Recommended for Ages: 9-12