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

Over the Moon

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Over the Moon (Scholastic Press, 2019) by Natalie Lloyd is a delightful fantasy. That doesn’t mean there isn’t trouble.

Twelve-year-old Mallie Ramble’s family depends on her wages, since her father can no longer go Down Under and work in the mine. But she’s sick of leaving Coal Top and going down to the valley to work as a servant for the rich. When an opportunity comes up for adventure and riches–even if it is for boys only, especially orphans–Mallie applies. However, her new job is more risky than she could imagine.

Meet Starbirds (flying horses), villains, monsters, and more in this world of dust where once people wove starlight.

I’ve recommended Natalie Lloyd’s first book here. See her other books here. And read about her here.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

The Turning

TheTurningThe Turning (Greenwillow Books, 2018) by Emily Whitman is SO good! It’s compelling from the first line to the end. I had so much sympathy for the main character. And his family.
Aran is a selkie. He lives at sea with the clan. But unlike the others he is always in longlimbs as he has no selkie skin to transform him into a seal. He prays to the moon to give him one so he can dive without needing to surface for breath, so he can swim long distances and keep up with the others. Then he finds out his mother has kept a secret from him and he may never get a pelt. Aran will risk everything to be a full selkie–even living on land.
What a magical story of a convincing world! (The book has a cool cover too.) You really don’t want to miss reading this book that has been chosen as a Junior Library Guild Selection.
Read Emily’s About Me to learn some of the inspiration for this book. The author has also written YA books–you can read about them here.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

The Wrinkled Crown

This is the second time for me to read a book by Anne Nesbet. I liked the first book. I like the fantasy The Wrinkled Crown (Harper, 2015) even more. And this coming Monday in Portland, Oregon, the author will be speaking at a bookstore called Green Bean Books!

But back to the book…

Almost twelve-year-old Linnet (Linny) lives in Lourka where the rule is that no girl must even accidentally touch a lourka, the musical instrument with the same name as the village. If she touches one, on her twelfth birthday she’ll be taken by the voices to Away. Because Linny is so musically inclined even as a baby, her father gives her a tethered twin, Sayra, to keep her safe. Sayra, Linny’s best friend, is too kind and lets Linny off of the tether where no one can see. Of course, Linny more than breaks the rule about lourkas. But on their birthday, it’s not Linny who is taken!

The opening line is intriguing: “It was maybe Linny’s last day of all–a pretty horrible thought–but the air in the meadow was humming with sunlight, as if nothing were the slightest bit wrong.” But better yet are the struggles that follow, because Linny has to do everything she can to save Sayra.

“I write books for young people-well, to be honest, I write stories I would want to read myself, and I am younger than the average dragon, but older than most poodles.” – Anne Nesbet

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Castle Hangnail

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
castlehangnail.jpgIf you like fun fantasy, you’ll like Castle Hangnail (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015) by Ursula Vernon, who not only wrote the story, but did the illustrations.
The minions at Castle Hangnail are worried. If they don’t get a master soon, the castle will be decommissioned. The ravens say someone is on the way, but no one expects it to be the twelve-year-old girl who shows up. Can she really be a wicked witch? Molly, the “evil” twin, has to convince them she is.
I loved the humor in this book. How can one not enjoy lines like these that open the story? “It was a marvelously dark and dour twilight at the castle. Clouds the color of bruises lay across the hills.”
I also loved the characters from the nonhunchback guardian to the suit of armor and the minotaur cook to the doll made out of burlap, and, of course, Molly, the Wicked Witch, who is bad, er, good at being wicked.
Ursula Vernon is the author of the Dragonbreath books, too. Read more on her website: http://ursulavernon.com/.