Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Beneath the Swirling Sky

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Beneath the Swirling Sky, The Restorationists 1 (Waterbrook, 2023) by Carolyn Leiloglou and illustrated by Vivienne To was a fun and nail-biting fantasy adventure. And bonus, I learned more about art and the art world.

12-year-old Vincent and his 6-year-old sister Lili are going to Great Uncle Leo’s for a week while their parents go on a cruise. Mom is upset that their young cousin Georgia is staying there and despite whispers between the adults about traveling and getting involved, she and Dad do leave. Vincent is afraid Uncle Leo, who is an art restorer, is going to make him work on art, but Leo only warns him, “Keep your paws off the art.” After what must surely have been a dream of going into Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Vincent knows it must have been true when Lili goes missing. He and Georgia team up to save her.

This is the first book in a trilogy. The sequels are expected summer 2024 and spring 2025. I’m really looking forward to them.

Read about the author here and check out her other publications here. Carolyn also is a book reviewer on this site.

See many of the illustrator’s beautiful art here and read about Vivienne here where you’ll see she’s also a visual development artist creating concept art for some animated movies. Here you can check out her picture books.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

The Girl Who Could Not Dream

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

The Girl Who Could Not Dream (Clarion Books, 2015) by Sarah Beth Durst was very enjoyable. It has such a fun concept: dreams can be bought and sold. I love the opening line, “Sophie had only ever stolen one dream.”

Sophie’s best friend is a sweet monster, with iridescent fur, tentacles, sharp teeth, who talks. She brought him out of a dream when she was six. Now Monster and her new friend Ethan help Sophie when her parents go missing and their shop’s dreams are all stolen.

You’ll meet funny and scary characters in this adventure, plus be introduced to interesting machinery that processes dreams. Get a sneak preview here.

Sarah Beth Durst writes for kids, teens, and adults. She’s one prolific author! On her website you can choose a category of her books to see what they are. Read about Sarah here.

Previously I recommended a later book of Sarah’s, Spark. It was good, but I like this one even better.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books, YA Novels

Dog Driven

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Dog Driven (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2019) by Terry Lynn Johnson is quite the scary adventure.

It’s risky enough for any teen to participate in the Canadian Great Superior Mail Run dog race, but for fourteen-year-old McKenna, who has hidden her deteriorating sight from her family, it could mean death for her and her dogs. But she is determined to win this race to encourage her younger sister Emma in her battle with Stargardt, an eye disease. Afterwards, she’ll tell her parents about her vision problems. And maybe she can help eight-year-old Emma gain some independence, too.

The author puts you right on the trail with McKenna and her dogs so you hear and feel what’s going on. As I said above, it’s scary to see what McKenna risks, but her determination is believable. Plus there are letters from the late 1800s about this mail run that increase the tension of the story.

Earlier I recommended her award winning book, Ice Dogs. I missed reading Falcon Wild, which I need to catch up with. Her newest book, is Rescue at Lake Wild–coming soon. Read about Terry Lynn Johnson here.

Note: Dog Driven is aimed at ages ten to sixteen according to the publisher.