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  • Jen Harper 7:35 pm on 2015/06/03 Permalink
    Tags: , percy jackson and the olympians, rick riordan, the battle of the labyrinth, , the last olympian, the lightning thief, the sea of monsters, the titan's curse   

    10 Reasons to Read (or Reread!) the Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series 

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    Author Rick Riordan’s wildly popular Percy Jackson and the Olympians series has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide over the last 10 years and has been on the New York Times best-seller list for 357 weeks, as of May 3. And it’s not just because it pleases the Greek gods whose stories are the basis of the books.

    Readers first met the pentalogy’s 12-year-old protagonist, Perseus Jackson, in The Lightning Thief, published in 2005. The Sea of Monsters, The Titan’s Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, and The Last Olympian followed, detailing Percy’s journey from being a poor student living in New York with a single mom to discovering his true heritage as son of Poseidon, Greek god of the sea, and embarking on various quests toward completion of the Great Prophecy.

    If you haven’t gotten around to the series just yet or if you need a reason to give it another read, we’ve got 10, and—bonus—none of them involve getting struck down by Zeus’ lightning bolt.

    1. Riordan is an amazing storyteller.
    Percy Jackson started out as a bedtime story for the author’s son, Haley. He had asked his dad to tell him stories about the Greek gods and heroes. Having taught Greek myths for years as a teacher in Texas, Riordan certainly had the knowledge, but he eventually ran out of myths. Haley then asked his dad to make up new stories with the same characters, and thus Percy Jackson and his modern-day quest to recover Zeus’ lightning bolt was born. The book’s world is vividly depicted to the point that the concept of gods, demigods, monsters, and heroes living among us seems downright plausible (with a little imagination).

    2. You’ll notice new things every time.
    The first time you read The Lightning Thief, it’s a speed-reading mission. You’re on a frantic quest to find out what happens to Percy and his friends (and enemies). Ah, but on the second—or 20th—reading of the book, you’ll notice the many nuances, little jokes and clever references (like the entrance to Hades being in West Hollywood or the EZ DEATH lane in the underworld), and different characters and how they relate to Greek mythology. And if you read the 10th anniversary collectors’ edition, you’ll have brand-new content to read: It includes never-before published notes from Riordan about the book’s creation.

    3. The series shows readers that disabilities can actually represent great strengths.
    Percy is a good kid but not a great student. Bouncing from school to school, he’s often unable to control his temper, is challenged by his ADHD and dyslexia, and has never gotten a grade above a C. But as he learns at Camp Half-Blood, the summer camp for the children of the gods, all of the demigods have the same disabilities he has. The ADHD actually is meant to serve them well in battle as they have to think fast and be extremely mobile, and the dyslexia represents a brain hardwired to read Greek rather than English.

    4. No more wondering what you’re going to read next—at least for awhile.
    Book lovers usually have a long list of titles awaiting them once they’ve finished a book—so long, in fact, that deciding which one to go with can be a little paralyzing. Such is the joy of starting a series that’s already been released in full, like Percy Jackson and the Olympians. And once you complete the pentalogy, there are supplementary books, three graphic novels, and the sequel series The Heroes of Olympus. After that, you can get cracking on the original Greek myths that inspired Percy’s story. Then you’re on your own.

    5. The books bring mythology alive and make it meaningful to kids.
    Prior to Percy’s realization that he’s a demigod, Mr. Brunner, (aka Chiron) Percy’s Latin teacher, asks him about one of the Greek myths, “And why, Mr. Jackson…does this matter in real life?” But Percy doesn’t know. “You must learn the answer to my question,” Mr. Brunner/Chiron tells him. “About real life. And how your studies apply to it…What you learn from me is vitally important. I expect you to treat it as such.” Whether you’re 10 or 100, you’ve probably wondered at some point why certain school subjects matter—just like Percy did. And perhaps you haven’t yet found a use for memorizing all of the presidents in order or properly formatting a bibliography, but Percy Jackson and the Olympians shows readers that subjects that you may find irrelevant and perhaps boring actually might come in handy one day.

    6. No, seriously, you’ll actually learn real facts about Greek mythology.
    Riordan taught this stuff and he’s obviously a great researcher, because the real-deal Greek mythology parts of the books are on point. Can’t remember exactly what happens to Medusa’s victims? Or who Procrustes even was? And what was it that Hercules did again? And don’t the dead have to cross some river in Hades? Riordan covers all of that and more in the Percy Jackson books.

    7. The story offers the reminder that family dynamics are tough—even if (and especially if) one of your parents is a god.
    Sometimes fictional families can make kids feel like their own fams are even weirder than they thought. But the truth is that familial relationships are difficult to navigate. We see that in the first book with several characters: Percy and his totally awesome mom, who’s married to a really terrible guy who hates Percy; Percy and his father, Poseidon, whom he’s never known; and Annabeth Chase (daughter of Athena) and her dad and his wife. All of the demigods must at least have some abandonment issues, not having had their god-parent present in their lives. Basically, Camp Half-Blood should have a therapist on staff at all times, because families are complicated.

    8. Awesome female heroes!
    It’s the 21st century, so hopefully most people have come to terms with the fact that both male and female heroes (and people in general) can be super-powerful—and they don’t need to wear a bikini or some other revealing ensemble in order to kick butt. And the Percy Jackson series definitely shows strong females in all their glory: demigod Annabeth, a clever schemer and loyal friend; mortal (super)mom Sally Jackson, who sacrifices a great deal to protect her son but who is also quite willful when it comes to protecting herself; and demigod daughter of Zeus, Thalia Grace, a fierce fighter and strong leader.

    9. The flip side: female bullies.
    What’s that, you say? Bullies are a reason to read the books? Just go with us for a moment. Just like boys are often portrayed as the heroes of a story, they’re also almost always the bullies. And it’s pretty cool that these books throw off some of the gender stereotype chains by showing that, yes, girls can use their strength for both good and evil. The latter being the case with one of Percy’s boarding school’s biggest bullies, Nancy Bobofit, and Camp Half-Blood bully Clarisse La Rue, demigod daughter of Ares.

    10. The message that being a hero doesn’t mean you go around saving everyone—oftentimes it means working toward the greater good and empowering people to save themselves.
    Yes, Percy Jackson is the series’ primary protagonist, and he has a hefty hand in the series’ outcome. But he’s not Superman. He doesn’t just go around saving damsels (or lads) in distress. He realizes that often the more noble thing to do has less of a payoff for the ego and that the best way to really save someone is to let them have a hand in their own redemption.

    Who’s your favorite character from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series?

  • Holly Ashworth 5:36 pm on 2015/05/15 Permalink
    Tags: , jackson pearce, , , , maggie siefvater, rick riordan, spring into reading, , winter morgan   

    May’s Top Picks for Young Readers 

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    Now available for young readers to devour: stories of magic powers, hidden treasures, good battling evil, kids joining forces to save the world—and for good measure, a couple of Jeep-sized hot dogs. Boredom, be gone!

    The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan
    If the middle-grade kids in your life aren’t into Percy Jackson yet, the first couple pages of this book ought to do the trick. But odds are, they’re already fans—more than 40 million copies of The Lightning Thief have been sold, entrancing kids all around the world with the story of Percy, Poseidon’s son, who’s on a quest to save the world. In honor of the 10th anniversary of the book’s original release, Barnes & Noble is offering this exclusive edition, with extra content from the author and illustrator, and a specially designed jacket and endpapers.

    Theodore Boone: The Fugitive, by John Grisham
    In the five years since Grisham kicked off the Theodore Boone series, 13-year-old Boone—everyone’s favorite lawyer-in-training—has been bringing justice to anyone who slips through the system’s cracks. In his fifth time out, Boone is on a class trip to Washington, D.C., when he catches a glimpse of Pete Duffy on the Metro. Duffy is Boone’s old adversary, who was accused of murder, jumped bail, and is now a fugitive from the law. The killer on the loose will keep Boone in danger and keep young readers on the edges of their seats.

    Treasure Hunters, by James Patterson
    Time to jump aboard another awesome middle-grade series from bestselling author James Patterson, because this one’s about to leave port. It stars the four Kidd siblings, whose parents have just disappeared, leaving them to take the reins of their family’s treasure-hunting business. They’ll need to fight off pirates, kidnappers, rivals, and other scary adults as they hunt for 10 lost treasures and, ultimately, their lost parents. It’s an exciting read with plenty of heart and humorous bits, and it’s sure to steer middle graders to some fun waters.

    Hit & Miss, by Derek Jeter with Paul Mantell
    Derek Jeter gave middle graders some inspiration last year with The Contract, a fictionalized account of how his parents inspired him to reach the major leagues by channeling his frustrations into hard work, and setting some life rules (like no baseball ’til your homework’s done). Here he returns to the story, as he starts a Little League season in his hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan. We all know where his life story ends up—as a Hall of Fame shortstop—but it’s not until kids read about his challenges as a Little Leaguer that his goal (and, possibly, theirs) is put into perspective.

    Clash of the Creepers, by Winter Morgan
    It’s the sixth and final installment of Winter Morgan’s fun, fast-paced series that began with The Quest for the Diamond Sword, inspired by her son’s obsession with Minecraft. And if you thought a diamond sword was impressive, wait until you join Steve and his friends on this quest—to Mine Mountain, rumored to be packed with endless diamonds. A journey like this doesn’t come without dangers, and on this one, the Unofficial Gamers will have to fight off a major creeper attack, and figure out whether or not they should trust their new treasure-hunting buddies along the way. A lifetime supply of diamonds hangs in the balance, and kids will be hanging on every line of dialogue.

    Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures, by Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce
    Nine-year-old Pip has a brilliant and enviable talent—she can communicate with magical creatures of all kinds. It’s adults she has trouble talking to. When a misunderstood “Unicorn Incident” results in Pip spending the summer in Georgia with her Aunt Emma, who runs a veterinarian clinic for magical creatures, it seems like a match made in heaven. Unfortunately, Pip’s fun and educational visit is quickly complicated by the appearance of a group of mysterious (and highly flammable) creatures known as Fuzzles. If Pip and her newfound friend Tomas can’t figure out how to keep the Fuzzles from bursting into flames at the slightest provocation, everyone in town is going to be in big trouble. This witty and inventive middle grade series from acclaimed authors Stiefvater and Pearce is sure to appeal to young readers who love magic and animals (so, basically all of them).

    The Secret Treasure, by Winter Morgan
    As the Unofficial Gamer’s Adventure book series comes to a close, it’s time to start the newest series by Winter Morgan, who still has plenty of stories to share with the Minecraft-obsessed (and with those who just like a great adventure). Noah and Violet, a pair of treasure hunters, discover an enchantment book that can give great power to whoever controls it. The duo must protect the book from a group of evil griefers, or else the Overworld will be destroyed—but the griefers are a clever bunch, so it won’t be easy. Jump on this exciting series while it’s just beginning.

    Anna & Elsa #4: The Great Ice Engine, by Erica David
    Is Frozen fever still going strong at your house? Here’s an alternative to playing the soundtrack one more time, and it can help improve reading skills to boot. The adventures of Queen Elsa and her sister Anna continue in this fourth installment by Erica David, and all their friends, including Olaf the Snowman and Kristoff, are along for the ride. It’s fan fiction perfect for the Frozen-obsessed between the ages of 6 and 9.

    The Isle of the Lost: A Descendants Novel, by Melissa de la Cruz
    Before you watch the upcoming Disney Channel original movie Descendants, get to know the characters personally in this prequel. Four adolescent friends with famously evil parents—Maleficent, Cruella De Vil, Jafar, and Snow White’s Evil Queen—have spent their whole life in exile on an island. Magic-less and bored, they band together to steal a magical staff that may help them escape. But as they figure out along the way, just because they come from evil stock doesn’t mean they’re destined to be evil, too. You may recognize Melissa de la Cruz from her bestselling Blue Bloods series; you’ll love this latest dose of the darker side of magic, with a Disney twist.

    Cosmoe’s Wiener Getaway, by Max Brallier
    The author of Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? has cooked up another exciting adventure worth devouring. Cosmoe is the captain of a high-flying food truck called the Neon Wiener, in which he makes Jeep-sized hot dogs, dodges all kinds of galactic bad guys (like zombie space pirates and mutant worm monsters), and provides a service that some would say is even more important than sausages—he protects the galaxy from the Ultimate Evil. The story is told through lively illustrated panels that’ll send readers out to space in no time.

    Inside Out Junior Novelization, by RH Disney
    Inside Out, the new Disney Pixar movie starring Diane Lane and Amy Poehler, will be hitting theaters in June. Scoop up the novelization (written for ages 9 through 12) now so your kid can connect with it on a literary level. The story is one lots of kids will relate to: when Riley’s dad gets a new job, she’s uprooted from her Midwestern life and forced to move across the country to San Francisco. The story’s real drama happens in the Headquarters in Riley’s brain, as personified Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and Sadness battle it out for control of her attitude. It’s a lesson in juggling your emotions that all readers, young and old, can learn from.

    Shop All Young Readers >
  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 8:18 pm on 2015/04/13 Permalink
    Tags: dawn of the clans, geronimo stilton, house of hades, , kingdom keepers, pip bartlett's guide to magical creatures, rick riordan, top picks for young readers, warriors, wings of fire   

    April’s Top Picks for Young Readers 

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    Magical creatures, middle school mayhem, mouse detectives—these books have it all. They’re so entertaining and irresistible, you might find yourself raiding your kid’s bookshelf.

    The House of Hades, by Rick Riordan
    The third novel in the wildly popular Heroes of Olympus series ended on a cliffhanger, and The House of Hades picks up right where it left off: with Percy and Annabeth fighting for their lives in the Underworld. Meanwhile, the five remaining demigods who are left up above have been given the frightening task of sealing the Doors of Death in order to thwart Gaea’s evil armies. Doing so is crucial to their mission, but will it mean trapping Percy and Annabeth in the Underworld forever? A particularly nail-biting installment in Riordan’s series, this one will leave readers on the edge of their seats.

    Warriors: Dawn of the Clans #5: A Forest Divided, by Erin Hunter
    Erin Hunter’s popular Warriors series tell the story of a highly structured society of cats who have organized into different Clans and are living free (but often perilous) lives in the wild. Dawn of the Clans is a prequel series that delves deep into the history of the earliest settlers of the Clans. In its action-packed fifth book, A Forest Divided, Clear Sky is trying to convince the cats to band together, but it’s an uphill battle. Tall Shadow prefers the forest, while Wind Runner thinks it’s best to keep to the moor. One by one, the cats choose their homes and form crucial alliances. The Dawn of the Clans series offers longtime fans insight into how their favorite Clans first came to be, and gives new readers the perfect place to jump into the vast universe of the Warriors.

    Amulet Keepers, by Michael Northrup
    The second book in the TombQuest series finds Alex and his best friend Ren confronting dangers at every turn. Graves are opening at Highgate cemetery, and the streets of London are flooding with red rain. There’s definitely something evil afoot, and Alex and Ren have an idea of what’s happening: they believe that a powerful, ancient Egyptian creature known as a Death Walker is to blame. Unfortunately, a Death Walker is just as unpleasant as it sounds. The action unfolds at a breakneck pace, and computer-savvy young readers can continue the action online with a game that builds on the adventures in the book.

    Brightest Night, by Tui T. Sutherland
    Is there anything more irresistible to a young fantasy fan than a dragon? Although the Wings of Fire series is intended for children, it’s so clever and engaging, so filled with strong characters and complex situations, that adult readers may well find themselves swept up in the magic. The fifth installment in the compelling series is told from the perspective of Sunny, a Sandwing dragonet who is used to being underestimated by her peers. Sunny believes she may have found a way to both fulfill the Dragonet prophecy and end the war—but will anyone listen to her?

    Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures, by Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce
    Nine-year-old Pip has a brilliant and enviable talent—she can communicate with magical creatures of all kinds (it’s adults she has trouble talking to). When a misunderstood “Unicorn Incident” results in Pip spending the summer in Georgia with her Aunt Emma, who runs a veterinarian clinic for magical creatures, it seems like a match made in heaven. Unfortunately, Pip’s fun and educational visit is quickly complicated by the appearance of a group of mysterious (and highly flammable) creatures known as Fuzzles. If Pip and her newfound friend Tomas can’t figure out how to keep the Fuzzles from bursting into flames at the slightest provocation, everyone in town is going to be in big trouble. This witty and inventive middle grade series from acclaimed authors Stiefvater and Pearce is sure to appeal to young readers who love magic and animals (so, basically all of them).

    Geronimo Stilton Special Edition: The Hunt for the Curious Cheese, by Geronimo Stilton
    The residents of New Mouse City are suddenly under the weather, en masse! Waves of rodents are afflicted with hiccups, stomachaches, and strange looking warts. What could be the problem? It’s up to Geronimo Stilton and his detective friend, Hercule Poirat, to solve this tummy-curdling mystery. This special edition features a bonus mini-mystery and jokes and puns galore. Young readers hooked on the lightning-paced storylines and zany illustrations will be happy to learn there are dozens of books in the series, and Geronimo’s sister, Thea, even has her own spinoff series. Delicious!

    Disney Lands, by Ridley Pearce
    With the resounding defeat of the Overtakers, the Kingdom Keepers thought they could finally relax—but sadly, their victory was short-lived. Their mentor left one last puzzle behind—and it’s turning out to be more than just an idle brain-teaser. Disney Lands kicks off the first novel in a brand new Kingdom Keepers series, The Return, which promises fans more twists and turns in the unforgettable exploits of the five bright teenagers whose vigilance keeps Disneyland safe from evil.

    Bad Hair Day, by Sarah Mlynowski
    The fifth book in Mlynowski’s hilarious Whatever After! series of fractured fairy tales features a kicky reboot of Rapunzel. When fifth-grader Abby suffers a frustrating defeat during a spelling contest, her younger brother Jonah decides that a trip through the magic mirror might make her feel better. The siblings end up climbing Rapunzel’s hair to the top of her tower, but unfortunately, in the process, Jonah’s soccer cleats give Rapunzel an unexpected—and unwanted—haircut. Can the siblings fix the damage—or at the very least, teach Rapunzel that she’s more than just a pretty head of hair?

    Evil Spy School, by Stuart Gibbs
    When Ben Ripley accidentally shoots a live mortar into the principal’s office during a game of Capture the Flag (an honest mistake! It could have happened to anyone!), he is unceremoniously expelled from the CIA’s secret spy school for kids. Fortunately, Ben doesn’t have to hang out in in the boring real world for long before he’s recruited by SPYDER, his school’s ruthless and evil counterpart. Ben has the perfect opportunity to do some spying on the other side of enemy lines—and it seems like SPYDER has some particularly devious plans in the works. Can he manage to get word back about this plot without calling attention to the fact that he’s double-crossing a school that teaches double-crossing? B&N’s exclusive collector’s edition features a shiny yellow jacket and 32 pages of top-secret bonus content!

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  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 8:49 pm on 2015/03/10 Permalink
    Tags: , evertree, , , , rick riordan, the box and the dragonfly   

    March’s Top Picks for Young Readers 

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    Young readers are in for a treat this month. There’s something for everyone, from sports fans to adventure lovers, from scientists to amateur magicians. Several beloved series have come out with new installments or stand-alone novels, and as the days grow warmer and longer, there’s even more time to curl up in a sunny spot with a good book or two. Where will your burgeoning bookworm go today?

    Mo’ne Davis: Remember My Name, by Mo’ne Davis
    Mo’ne Davis may only be in the eighth grade, but she’s already earned a place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame after making history as the first female pitcher to win a game in the Little League World Series. She’s also the first Little League player to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The remarkable autobiography of this phenomenal young athlete—who is on the honor roll at her Philadelphia school, and also loves to play basketball and soccer—will inspire young readers to work hard and dream big.

    The Syndrome, by Ridley Pearson
    Fans of the blockbuster Kingdom Keepers series will tear through this brand new standalone novel. Told from the point of view of the Fairlies, it’s the story of the search for Kingdom Keeper Finn Whitman, whose mysterious disappearance has everyone worried. Amanda, her sister Jess, and their friend Mattie must work together to find him, using their special talents, which include telekinesis, mind-reading, and the ability to predict the future. The three girls are determined to succeed despite myriad dangers, insidious betrayals, and obstinate parents who just don’t understand. As an added bonus, this book includes a sneak peek at Disney Lands, the first book in the new Kingdom Keepers series, The Return.

    Frank Einstein and the Electro-Finger, by John Scieszka
    Precocious young scientist and inventor Frank Einstein is back with another madcap adventure. This time he’s working on a modified version of one of Nikola Tesla’s inventions in an effort to understand different types of energy. His quest pits him directly against his nemesis, the evil T. Edison, who is studying the same thing in order to monopolize the energy resources in Midville and put all of its citizens at his mercy. With the help of his trusty sidekick Watson and his artificial-intelligence pals Klink and Klank, will Frank be able to stop T. Edison and his chimp sidekick before it’s too late? Frank Einstein and his friends make learning about science shockingly fun.

    The House of Hades, by Rick Riordan
    The third novel in the wildly popular Heroes of Olympus series ended on a cliffhanger—and The House of Hades picks up right where it left off: with Percy and Annabeth fighting for their lives in the Underworld. Meanwhile, the five remaining demigods must focus on battling Gaea’s forces and locating the mortal side of the Doors of Death in the hopes that Percy and Annabeth will be able to seal them from the other side. A particularly nail-biting installment in Riordan’s series, this one will leave readers on the edge of their seats.

    Big Nate Lives it Up, by Lincoln Peirce
    Everyone’s favorite troublemaker is back with the latest adventure in the never-ordinary life of middle-schooler Nate. This time, there’s a new kid in town: Breckenridge Puffington III. As if that weren’t bad enough, Principal Nichols has asked Nate to take the new kid under his wing and show him around. But Breckenridge and Nate have very different ideas when it comes to having fun…or do they? Little ones who flip for the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books will love the saucy antics of the incorrigible Big Nate. This Barnes & Noble Exclusive edition includes a full-color poster.

    The Island of Dr. Libris, by Chris Grabenstein
    Twelve-year-old Billy is certain that he’s about to embark on the worst summer of his life thanks to the secluded lakeside cabin his mother has rented for them. After all, there’s no TV, no internet, and nothing to do. But then Billy stumbles upon the library of the cabin’s mysterious and absent owner, Dr. Libris. Upon reading one of the books, Billy hears various suspicious noises coming from an island in the lake—from the clang of swordplay to the whir of arrows. It’s almost as though the characters from the books he is reading are coming to life. But that’s clearly impossible…right? Children will love this imaginative book from the co-author of the popular I Funny series, and parents will love the wide-ranging literary references and classic characters—from Hercules to Robin Hood—that are sprinkled liberally throughout.

    The Evertree, by Marie Lu
    Fans of the wildly popular Spirit Animals series won’t want to miss the spellbinding seventh book. Conor, Abeke, Meilin, and Rollan, four children who were once strangers, have been brought together by the discovery that each has the rare ability to summon a spirit animal. In The Evertree, their challenging journey across Erdas is brought to a stunning conclusion. Their crucial final mission? To put an end, once and for all, to a powerful, ancient adversary who will stop at nothing in his efforts to destroy the world as they know it. Quick pacing and lively action scenes make this a compelling series for young fans of fantasy adventure.

    The Box and the Dragonfly, by Ted Sanders
    If Horace F. Andrews is just an ordinary (although smart and practical) boy, how did he end up in a secret warehouse filled with amazing and curious magical objects, including one extraordinarily powerful item that he can hardly believe he is allowed to handle? With a compelling and unique blend of magic and physics, author Sanders’s new series kicks off with a bang. Fans of Harry Potter will love this story, which is filled with an intriguing cast of supporting characters and features a likeable protagonist who finds himself embroiled in an age-old conflict with very high stakes.

    Public School Superhero, by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts
    Kenny Wright may be a mild-mannered kid who studies hard, minds his grandmother, and loves to play chess—but in his imagination, he thwarts evildoers and delivers justice as his alter-ego, Stainlezz Steel, a crime-fighting superhero. A prime target for bullies, Kenny wishes he could walk the halls of his crumbling inner-city school without fearing for his safety—until an unlikely friendship with a former adversary begins to teach him how courageous he really is. This Barnes & Noble Exclusive Edition has a reversible dustjacket that doubles as a poster.

    The Magic Trap, by Jacqueline Davies
    The fifth book in the smart, funny Lemonade War series finds odd-couple siblings Jessie and Evan Treski putting on a magic show—and who should appear but their father, who has long been perfecting his own vanishing act. The children are in for a series of challenges as a hurricane approaches, and in the process, they learn some difficult truths about families. Davies balances sobering discoveries with humor, as well as sharp insight into the way siblings relate to one another.

    My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish: Fins of Fury, by Mo O’Hara
    The capers of Frankie the zombie goldfish continue in the third book in this zany series. When Tom and Pradeep take Frankie camping, they find something even scarier in the woods than a zombie goldfish. In the book’s second adventure, the boys suspect foul play when Mark starts…being nice?! Then a number of paranormal pets (including a vampire kitten) go missing. Could Frankie be next? This fun, frenetic series will appeal to the silly side of even reluctant readers.

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  • Joel Cunningham 3:30 pm on 2014/09/04 Permalink
    Tags: , cover her face p.d. james, diana wynne jones, , , , , , mean streak, michael ende, percy jackson's greek gods, rick riordan, , , , , , the never-ending story, ,   

    What to Read Next if You Liked The Long Way Home, Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, Mean Streak, The Secret Place, or The Magician’s Land 

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    What to Read 94The Long Way Home, by Louise Penny, is the 10th volume in the best-selling mystery series featuring Armand Gamache, the (now former) head homicide inspector with the Sûreté du Québec. Penny’s mysteries offer up an addictive blend of literary prose and classic mystery tropes. The style will appeal to fans of P.D. James, the Grand Dame of British mystery writers, whose most popular books feature London Chief-Inspector Adam Dalgliesh. The 14-book series begins with the author’s evergreen 1962 debut, Cover Her Face.

    Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, by Rick Riordan, isn’t the next novel in the popular YA adventure series, but more of a reference book that covers all of the major players in the ethereal realm, as narrated by wiseacre Percy. For this kind of thing done to perfection, Diana Wynne Jones’ The Tough Guide to Fantasyland is nigh-indispensable. Written in the form of a tourist guidebook, it smartly (and smart-aleck-ly) unpacks the cliches of the fantasy genre with razor wit. Sample entry: “APOSTROPHES: Few names in the fantasy realm are considered complete unless they are interrupted by an apostrophe somewhere in the middle.”

    Mean Streak, by Sandra Brown, is a breathless romantic thriller about a woman who is kidnapped, only to discover that her captor may have rescued her from the real danger she faces from the ones she trusts most. For another suspense yarn that manages to meld sex and Stockholm Syndrome, pick up Wild Orchids, by Karen Robards, in which a woman is held hostage but later makes the curious decision to leave her family behind and hunt down the man that imprisoned her.

    The forthcoming The Secret Place, by Tana French, continues the Dublin Murder Squad series, the landmark literary mysteries that began with In the Woods. French’s novels are known for their rich characters, ambiguous plotting, and well-crafted prose, all qualities you’ll find in spades in The Little Friend, by Donna Tartt. Sandwiched between a supernova debut like The Secret History and the Pulitzer-winning The Goldfinch, Tartt’s sophomore outing has been unjustly overshadowed as of late, but you should really give it a chance. Its palpable Southern atmosphere and young female protagonist provide a good approximation of what might happen if a murder mystery broke out in the middle of To Kill a Mockingbird.

    The Magician’s Land, by Lev Grossman, concludes a brilliant trilogy about a disenchanted young man who finds out that magic is real, and so is the fantasy world described in his favorite childhood stories—but each is both less and more fantastical (and far darker) than he ever imagined. Though ostensibly written for children, The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende, tackles similarly juicy material, probing what value there is to be found in living vicariously through stories. I love the ’80s movie as much as anyone (FIGHT AGAINST THE SADNESS, ARTAX!), but the book is leagues better.

    Have you read The Long Way Home, Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, or Mean Streak?

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