Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Iron Hearted Violet

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
ironheartedviolet.jpegI decided to read Iron Hearted Violet (Little, Brown and Company, 2012), one of Kelly Barnhill‘s earlier books, because of reading several recent ones.
Violet is not your average princess. First of all, she’s not beautiful. Even her eyes don’t match. But her people love her anyway. She’s an excellent story teller. Her only friend is a stable boy named Demetrius and the two often escape duties to run around the castle. One day they stumble on a forbidden book and Violet starts reading about the Nybbas, who is not ever to be mentioned. While her father is off hunting the first dragon that has been sighted in years, Violet’s mother gets very sick, and cracks start showing up in the castle. Will their world collapse?
Kelly recently won the Newbery medal so I figured it is only appropriate to link to an interview about her win. Here’s my recommendation of The Girl Who Drank the Moon in case you missed it.

Posted in Award Winners, MG Novels, So Many Good Books

The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
Barnhill_GirlWhoDrankMoon_HC_jkt_rgb_2MB_HRThe Girl Who Drank the Moon (Algonquin Young Readers, 2016) by Kelly Barnhilll is unusual. It’s not told all in the viewpoint of a child main character–in fact we’re in the viewpoint of two adults, a swamp monster, and even a tiny dragon. The girl’s viewpoint comes later in the book.
The people in the village sacrifice the youngest born child each year to keep themselves safe from a witch. What they don’t know is that the witch is actually kind and she’s been rescuing these children and giving them to good homes on the other side of the forest. This time Xan keeps a baby girl, whom she names Luna. She raises her with the help of Glerk, a swamp monster, and Fyrian, a perfectly tiny dragon. To keep everyone safe from Luna’s magic, Xan locks it inside her until she’s thirteen. Meanwhile, a young man from the village plans to kill the witch.
I loved this epic story and had a hard time putting it down. And isn’t that a beautiful cover? The book has been put on a number of Best Book lists and is a New York Times bestseller.
The author describes herself on her website as: “Author. Teacher. Insufferable Blabbermouth. I also make pie.” Read more about her here. I haven’t read all of her books, yet, but besides this one, I’ve already recommended The Mostly True Story of Jack here.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

The Mostly True Story of Jack

jack.jpgThe Mostly True Story of Jack (Little, Brown, 2011) by Kelly Barnhill is told in multiple viewpoints. It’s good. It’s scary. And it has a great opening: “Frankie was the first to know. Frankie was the first to know most things–but since he hadn’t spoken since he was eight years old, it didn’t matter what he knew. He couldn’t tell anyone.” How could you not read that book?!
But in case you aren’t convinced, here’s a bit more about the story. 12-year-old twins, Frankie and Wendy, know that whatever happened four years ago when Frankie disappeared and came back scarred is back. So does Wendy’s best friend, Anders. Even Clayton Avery of the rich and powerful Avery family senses something–his ears are itchy and there are bell like sounds. Enter Jack. His parents are divorcing and Mom is bringing him to stay with an aunt and uncle in Iowa. Jack feels like he is growing more invisible than usual. And now his mother is abandoning him here with these strangers and in this strange house that seems to shift and waver. Then he overhears his aunt and uncle talking about the family unraveling, and a catastrophe instead of divorce. Mabel says, “I just pray that Jack won’t hate us for what we’ll need him to do.” Too late, Jack thought.
jack2.JPGI read the book with the above cover, but am buying this cover version for a grandson. It’s spookier!
Kelly recently posted about work on her most recent novel. “On cutting, and revising, and hanging on, and letting go” is a helpful read for any writer.