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Staff Picks 4 Kids

Jinx by Sage Blackwood

syndetics-lcEvery child in Urwald Forest knows you never ever wander off the path.  So imagine six-year-old Jinx’s terror when his stepfather abandons him there.  Will he be eaten by trolls?  Or torn apart by werewolves?  Or maybe a witch will cast a spell on him?  Luckily, he is found by a wizard named Simon who needs an assistant.  Life as a wizard’s apprentice isn’t glamorous.  There’s the cleaning and the fetching and the cats—all 27 of them, but Simon doesn’t seem dangerous, only very grumpy.  Simon even decides to teach Jinx a little magic.  The problem is even though Jinx knows four languages, can speak to trees, and reads people’s minds, he is absolutely hopeless at learning spells.  He can’t even move the tiniest pebble with his mind or learn a concealment spell.  It seems to Jinx that he must be completely lacking in magical ability.  So imagine Jinx’s surprise when Simon casts a spell on him, making him collapse on the floor while his magic floats through the air in a golden ball for Simon to capture in a bottle.  It turns out that Jinx did have magical ability– a special kind of forest magic that Simon has stolen for his own.  Now Jinx must find Simon’s sworn enemy to ask him for help.  Will Jinx be able to get his magic back or will he just make things worse?

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

By MPPL on September 8, 2014 Categories: Fantasy, For Grades 4-6, Picks by Mary S.

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George

syndetics-lcA castle is almost always part of a fantasy story.  But in the book Tuesdays at the Castle, this castle has a mind of its own!  It can add new rooms, an entire wing, doors, archways, a secret passageway—whatever it thinks is best.  But most importantly, it protects the royal family and people who are loyal, especially Princess Celia.  People at the castle that bring harm to the family receive small, dingy rooms and can also be shut out of other rooms by the doors disappearing.  When the king, queen, and prince are attacked outside the castle and presumed dead, the remaining prince and two princesses, and the castle, discover who the evil people are and work hard to cleverly save the kingdom.

 

Book reviewed by Mary Lou H., Youth Services Assistant

By lbos on August 25, 2014 Categories: Fantasy, For Grades 4-6, Picks by Mary Lou H.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

syndetics-lcWhat do you do when you’re bored? Milo, who is tired of everything he owns, perks up when he notices that the large package in his room is really a tollbooth! Milo gets in his toy car, points to a random place on the map, pulls up to the tollbooth, and is instantly transported to the Kingdom of Wisdom! He travels around with a watchdog named Tock and a grumpy Humbug meeting some strange and amusing characters, like King Azaz and the Mathemagician, who rule the Kingdom of Wisdom but can’t decide whether words or numbers are more important. They’ve banished Princesses Rhyme and Reason, but the kingdom needs them back to restore balance! Can Milo and his companions find the princesses and convince them to come back? Will the rulers of Wisdom finally be able to agree on something? This is a funny and clever adventure that has been loved by children and adults for many years. Pick up a copy today and be transported to another world.

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Coordinator and Volunteen Coordinator

By lbos on June 9, 2014 Categories: Fantasy, For Grades 4-6, Picks by Claire B

Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

syndetics-lcHoly Bagumba, do you know what happens when a poor unsuspecting squirrel is sucked up by a super-duper vacuum cleaner and has to be given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation?  A superhero squirrel named Ulysses is born.

Mission 1:  Find food.  Being a superhero is hungry work.

Mission 2:  Find a place to live.  Flora, the girl who saved him, seems nice.

Mission 3:  Save the world.

Dangers are everywhere:  Flora’s mom wants to kill him.  A man attacks him with a knife.  And when he tries to fly, he lands smack into the door and gives himself a head injury.

Will Ulysses recover from his head wound?  Will he be able to accomplish heroic deeds?  And most importantly, will he be able to finish his poetry (He’s a writer as well as a superhero)?

Part comic strip, part novel, this story is a hoot!!   I defy you to stop laughing as you see Ulysses get his feet stuck in the waitress’ beehive hairdo or read his love poem to a donut.  I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

By lbos on March 31, 2014 Categories: Fantasy, For Grades 4-6, Picks by Mary S.

Garden Princess by Kristin Kladstrup

syndetics-lcMagic was banished from Princess Adela’s kingdom many years ago.  But until she went to Hortensia’s garden party, she had no explanation for why all Hortensia’s beautiful flowers were still in full bloom in October.  Or why a magpie was stealing jewelry and was talking to her!  In the book Garden Princess, Princess Adela discovers that the attractive girls that were invited to the parties were turned into beautiful flowers—by magic! The handsome young men were turned into servants, and, a magpie!  Princess Adela herself was turned into a dandelion weed.  You will need to read the story to find out the exciting way she was set free from the magic spell!

Book reviewed by Mary Lou H., Youth Services Assistant

By lbos on February 17, 2014 Categories: Fantasy, For Grades 4-6, Picks by Mary Lou H.

Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George

syndetics-lcCreel is in an awful situation. Her parents became ill and died leaving her and her brother to live with her poor aunt and uncle.  Her brother can work but Creel is seen as a burden to the family, so her aunt hatches a plan to sacrifice her to the local dragon in hopes that a knight will come save the damsel in distress and marry her.  Of course, her aunt’s family would benefit financially from this marriage. Well this isn’t your typical fairytale. The dragon doesn’t want to fight and gives Creel a pair of slippers if she will keep the knight away from the cave.  What she doesn’t know is that these slippers have magical powers to control the dragons. Read this book to find out what happens when the slippers get into the wrong hands. Can Creel help the young knight save the Kingdom from certain war?

Book reviewed by Barb M., Youth Outreach and Programming Assistant

By lbos on January 27, 2014 Categories: Fantasy, For Grades 4-6, Picks by Barb M.

Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff

syndetics-lcEleven year old Cady has lived in the orphanage with Miss Mallory since she was a baby.  Although Miss Mallory has a “Talent” for finding new homes for orphans, she does not seem to be able to find a place for Cady.  While Cady waits, she utilizes her Talent to bake cakes, hoping one day to bake a cake for her own adoption day.  Cady’s adventures intertwine with a family of children searching for their own Talents, a runaway balloonist, a missing dinosaur bone, and even a Talent thief until her story looks like a tangle of knots, but it may not be as tangled as it seems.  How this story unwinds will surprise you.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

By lbos on January 20, 2014 Categories: Fantasy, For Grades 4-6, Picks by Mary S.

The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone

syndetics-lcIn The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone, 6th-graders Jack and Ruthie take a field trip to the Art Institute of Chicago and fall in love with the Thorne Rooms, a collection of very detailed and beautiful miniature rooms. They also find magic, which takes them on quite an adventure. The plot of this book is sort of a mixture of The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, The Indian in the Cupboard, and Chasing Vermeer. I would recommend it for 3-4th graders who liked those books.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

By lbos on December 9, 2013 Categories: Fantasy, For Grades 4-6, Picks by Erin E.

Darkbeast by Morgan Keyes

syndetics-lcIn the compelling fantasy, Darkbeast, Keara is a confident girl who lives in a world where her Darkbeast, Caw, is a constant companion.  When her twelfth nameday arrives, Keara runs away from her village rather than be forced to kill Caw, which is required by law. The dreaded Inquisitors hunt them as they race through strange towns to find safety. Keara finds a temporary safe haven with a mysterious group of actors called The Travelers, but it’s only a matter of time until the Inquisitors discover the two.  Will Keara and Caw ever be able to sleep safely again? Find out in Darkbeast! This fantastical tale is continued in Darkbeast:  Rebellion and is highly recommended for those who are fans of the His Dark Materials series by Phillip Pullman.

Book reviewed by Amy S., Youth Services Programming Assistant

By lbos on December 2, 2013 Categories: Fantasy, For Grades 4-6, Picks by Amy S.

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

syndetics-lcGregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins is a quick and exciting read, and the ending definitely left me hanging so I might need to read the sequels. Fantasy isn’t my favorite genre, but I do like the idea of other worlds existing that we do not even know about. Gregor doesn’t see himself as a warrior in the beginning, but grows and changes as he faces numerous challenges in the Underland. Parts of the story were a little gross, other parts a little scary, and some parts sad. This would make a good discussion book because there is a lot of adventure, imagination, and many metaphorical themes.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

By lbos on September 23, 2013 Categories: Fantasy, For Grades 4-6, Picks by Erin E.