August 23, 2007

Once Upon a Crime

By Michael Buckley
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

This is book 4 in the Sisters Grimm series. Picking up where we left off in the third book, The Problem Child (see review, October 2006), Granny Relda, Mr. Canis, Mr. Hamstead, Daphne and Sabrina are all driving pellmell to New York City to find the fairies who live there in the hopes that they can cure the seriously injured Puck. The fairies take in the once-banished Puck to cure him, but the Grimms soon are embroiled in another mystery when Oberon, the King of the Fairies (and Puck's father), turns up dead with a red handprint on his body. The Scarlet Hand strikes again! The Grimms are hired to track down his killer, but as they run into the Everafters living in New York, they uncover another secret. Veronica Grimm, mother of the girls, was heavily involved with helping the Everafter community--and her family knew nothing about it. The news about her mother confuses Sabrina, just when she was deciding to give up fairy tale detective work. But as the family unravels the clues, running into Sinbad the Sailor, Mother Goose, the Seven Dwarves, the Wizard of Oz, and other new characters, Sabrina realizes she is doing just what she is meant to do. There are plenty of chases and escapes, and plenty of humor as usual, in this Sisters Grimm story. Fans will be happy to know book 5, Magic and Other Misdemeanors, will soon be available.

August 13, 2007

The Hero and the Crown

By Robin McKinley
Newbery Award Winner 1985
Rating: 4 3/4 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

This is the prequel to the excellent The Blue Sword (see review, Oct. 2006), and is set hundreds of years in the past. Aerin is the misfit daughter and only child of the king of Damar. Other members of the royal family possess the "Gift," a type of magic. But Aerin remains stubbornly without any such proof that she belongs in the family. Her only friends are her old nurse, Teka, Tor, the heir to the kingdom, and Talat, her father's castoff war horse. But when Aerin stumbles across a recipe for kenet, a salve that supposedly makes one fireproof, she becomes a slayer of the small and nasty dragons who inhabit the country and feels she has finally found a niche in her world. Trouble is also brewing in the North, and talk comes of trying to find the long lost Crown, which makes the wearer unbeatable. Then Maur, the last great dragon, awakes to lay waste to Damar. Will a second-rate king's daughter, kenet and an old war horse be enough to face him? And what happens when Maur is just the beginning of the threat to Damar? Readers cannot help but be swept into Aerin's world, where she undertakes the slow changes from the girl who hides in her room to a hero of Damar. A fully realized world and great characters make this a fantastic work of fiction.

August 02, 2007

Magic By the Lake

By Edward Eager
Rating: 3 3/4 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

Jane, Katharine, Mark and Martha were last seen in the story Half-Magic. Now, the four siblings are at a cottage called Magic by the Lake for the summer with their mother and new stepfather. The children happen to wish for some more magical adventures and the turtle Mark had caught earlier turns out to be a magic turtle, capable of granting their wish. From their previous experience with magic, the children know they need to be careful, so they make up some rules like grown ups being unable to see what magic is going on, and adventures only can happen every three days. But the four are still able to mix it up with pirates, discover the South Pole, tangle with cannibals, and many more adventures before Martha wishes to break all the rules and the magic in the lake goes haywire. Can the others fix the magic before it is too late? A light and fun bit of fantasy and adventure. Eager takes a page from his favorite children's author, E. Nesbit, in his style. Readers will be happy to know more books in the series exist, including Knight's Castle, Magic or Not?, The Time Garden, The Well-Wishers, and Seven-Day Magic.