“The Death of Mrs. Westaway” by Ruth Ware
“The Death of Mrs. Westaway” by Ruth Ware
Wildwood by Colin Meloy, illustrated by Carson Ellis
In this story, friends Colin and Prue venture into the Impassable Wilderness when Prue’s baby brother is taken away by crows. Prue and Colin adventure through the various societies within the woods in search of Prue’s brother.
Along the way, the heroes meet characters in this secret world warring with one another including the Dowager Governesses and her army of coyotes, the birds of the avian principality, the bandits of Wildwood, the peaceable mystics and the leaders of south wood. The characters become entwined in a battle for the freedom of this wilderness.
The story oscillates from the point of view of Prue to that of Curtis as their adventures diverge and then converge at the climactic ending. The book is very Narnia-esque, and is very much a coming of age story for the two main characters.
This book is recommended for ages 10+, and would work well as a read-aloud book for parents. The content is far beneath that, in maturity, of a true middle grade book, but the sheer heft of this volume will likely intimidate younger readers away from reading it themselves.
Controversial points: the largest complaint besides the length seems to be that the vocabulary is troubling and perhaps not age appropriate.
Outstanding points: This was a great escape into a secret world of adventure. The reader becomes very happily lost in the Wildwood along with the characters. The illustrations by Carson Ellis are gorgeous.
Review by Cedar
“The Real Boy” by Anne Ursu
On an island on the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest and a boy. The city is called Asteri, a perfect city saved by the magic woven in its walls when a devastating plague swept through the world years before.The forest is called the Barrow, a vast wood of ancient trees that encircles the city and feeds the earth with magic. The boy is called Oscar, a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the Barrow, who spends his days in the dark cellar of his master’s shop grinding herbs and dreaming of the wizards who once lived on the island. Oscar’s world is small, but he likes it that way. The real world is vast, strange and unpredictable. And Oscar does not quite fit in.
The wizards have long since disappeared and the city children are falling ill. Something sinister and dangerous lurks in the forest. Oscar has held the same belief as all the islanders, that the magic will keep them safe. Now even the magic is not enough to save the island.
Though this book is geared to an audience of 8 – 12 year old children it has many messages for children, teens and adults alike. It is a book about transformation, belonging and courage. Oscar, refreshingly candid character, is a dynamic lad who shows a great deal of growth throughout the story. I found myself cheering him on at each new challenge, willing him to be strong enough, brave enough to meet life and the problems it is suddenly presenting head on. The plot has twists and turns to keep readers interested right until the last page. I think people of all ages will find this an irresistible read.
Review by Christine
“Walking Through a World of Aromas”, by Ariel Andres Almada, Illustrated by Sonja Wimmer
In this story, Annie is born blind and learns to navigate the world through smell. She uses this talent in the kitchen, where her skills extend to creating meals that evoke fond memories for people. When a young man named Julian comes to her for a cure for his lethargy, it becomes clear that the solution to his problem isn’t the cooking but the cook herself.
This book has a gentle, romanticized and playful writing style, its illustrations are bright, colourful and whimsical and the text is interwoven with illustrations.
This would be a good book to read aloud to older children. The text is small, and there are a lot of words on each page, which might not hold the interest of younger children.
The plot is about overcoming adversity and finding happiness and love, which would appeal to older children ages 4-8.
Although the story is arguably a romanticized vision of blindness, this book teaches us that if we set our minds to it, we can all turn what we perceive as a weakness into a strength.
The character Annie is the doer in this story, and is empowered not despite, but because of her blindness. She is offered Julian’s arm as a guide, but insists on walking on her own. Annie says it is precisely because she didn’t know that something was considered impossible that she was able to learn to do it. This is a powerful message for children to help nurture a positive sense of self and a positive attitude toward others.
Review by Cedar
Chez Lanark Highlands Public Library nous avons une toute petite collection de livres Français pour les enfants et la jeunesse. En voici un.
“Ou sont passés les dinosaures?” par Sylvie Desrosiers
Ce livre fait partie de la série Notdog. Il y a ce chien intelligent mais, malheureusement, laid et ses humains John, Jocelyn et Agnes, nommées les inséparables, se trouvent en plein milieu d’un mystère. Un oeuf de dinosaure a disparu de l’exposition de paléontologie “Le sort des dinosaures”. Les détectives de douze ans doivent retrouver la relique et la personne qui l’a volé. Malgré leur jeunesse, les amis ont du succès mais pas sans les difficultés.
La vocabulaire de ce livre n’est pas très difficile et les personnages sont intéressants. Je l’ai trouvé amusant et le recommande pour les étudiants.
La revue par Christine
Du même auteur (Sylvie Desrosiers), à la courte echelle
I apologize for posting a review for The Clockwork Dynasty twice. Here is another book of the fantasy genre for you to consider.
The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson
This epic story of the decline of magic and the US government’s subsequent endeavor to reintroduce it (for less than altruistic reasons) is written in five parts. The POV is first person, epistolary which gives it a unique flavour. I was hooked right at the beginning of the book and read avidly until the beginning of part 3. The story just took a nosedive and it was like slogging through waist deep snow to keep reading. I thought about the reason for this sudden decline in interest and decided it was because the most interesting characters had little to no page time in this section. Perhaps it was meant to be dry and officious and the point was well taken but it dragged on for way too long. I was just about to pack it in and return the book to my local library when suddenly, toward the end of part 4, the two missing characters made a reappearance. The plot thickened, as they say, and it was again hard to put the book down, right up until the final page. Having said all that, the ending was much less than satisfying. So really, only 2.999 stars.
Review by Christine
The Clockwork Dynasty by Daniel H. Wilson
This novel is a perfect blend of fantasy, sci-fi, steampunk and historical fiction. Daniel H. Wilson provides a history lesson spanning some two hundred years in the guise of a very entertaining read. The fast paced page-turner seamlessly brings together figures from the era of Peter the Great and modern North American society as well as taking a miraculously congruous side trip to present day China with speculation about the real nature of the armies of clay soldiers found in mountain caves there.
The idea of artificial intelligence is forwarded as definite possibility with the use of automatons who are not only fully aware mentally but who also operate with believable, complete, emotional involvement and interaction with our human species throughout the novel.
Wilson’s masterpiece begins with a running start in the prologue and his pace never flags until a whirlwind, satisfying ending. I highly recommend this read for lovers of all the genres included in The Clockwork Dynasty.
review by Christine