December 22, 2008


By Frances Hardinge
Rating: 4 1/4 stars

What if you took money out of a wishing well, spent it, and then had to grant the wishes that were attached to those coins? That is the situation three friends find themselves in when the spirit of the well visits them and informs the trio that they need to find the wishers and grant their wishes. To accomplish this, she gives them each a power: charming Josh can control things made of metal or electricity, timid, talkative Chelle is able to voice the thoughts of a wisher out loud, and insightful Ryan grows eyes on his hand that allow him to see things differently. At first they view their tasks as impossible, but when they start to figure out wish-granting, they are feeling as good as angels...until things begin to go wrong. The wishes don't come true like they think; in fact, they start to turn out very badly indeed. And as Ryan starts to uncover the truth behind the spirit in the well, he realizes that getting what you wished for may be one of the worst things that could happen to you. But how can you detach yourself from a maniacal magic spirit? And what if some of your friends don't want to? This is an excellent twist on wishing well magic, with plenty of spookiness, adventure, and thoughtful philosophy behind what wishes really are. Readers will be drawn right into this world, where the ordinary and magical live side by side, and will be thrilled by the plot twists. Top notch!

December 15, 2008

The Unnameables

By Ellen Booraem
Rating: 4 1/4 stars

In this genre-defying story, Medford Runyuin is an orphan being raised on the Island, a community that chooses to live much like older more Puritanical times, without electricity or modern conveniences. Names are important on the Island, for they identify who or what something is, and only useful things are named. 13 year old Medford is anxious for he is hiding something under his bed--items that cannot be viewed as useful, items that could be proved unnameable. And harboring unnameable items could lead to banishment from the colony. But everything changes when the Goatman appears on Medford's porch. This creature that defies the rules of known beings makes Medford think to maybe, just maybe, challenge the rules of his own society. But can he make a society built on hundreds of years of nearly unchanged rules see things differently? Or will he be banished to become an unnameable? This is a great read, both interesting and exciting, and readers will be propelled quickly to the satisfying ending. Fans of Lois Lowry's The Giver will find much to like here.