Archive for February, 2013

Review of The Great Cake Mystery, by Alexander McCall Smith

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

The Great Cake Mystery

Precious Ramotswe’s Very First Case

by Alexander McCall Smith
illustrations by Iain McIntosh

Anchor Books (Random House), New York, 2012. First published in Scotland in 2010. 73 pages.
Starred Review

A book for beginning chapter book readers about the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective, Precious Ramotswe, when she was a little girl! Now readers ready for short chapters can enjoy the flavor of Botswana, as adults have been doing for so long.

Sweet things have been disappearing at Precious’s school, and one boy has been found to have sticky hands. But is that enough evidence against him? Precious doesn’t think so, and she comes up with a clever trick for catching the real thief.

The story is simple and perhaps a little predictable, but it doesn’t talk down to kids and would be a delight to read aloud to a class or to a family at bedtime.

The style, matter-of-fact and pleasant, matches that used in the books for adults, and I did feel like I was meeting the same person as a child. And now we have the treat of her interactions with her father, Obed Ramotswe. In fact, he tells Precious a story at the beginning, which is what triggers the thought that she may be a detective one day. And then a piece of cake is missing from her school.

She might easily have forgotten all about it – after all, it was only a piece of cake – but the next day it happened again. This time it was a piece of bread that was stolen – not an ordinary piece of bread, though: this one was covered in delicious strawberry jam. You can lose a plain piece of bread and not think twice about it, but when you lose one spread thickly with strawberry jam it’s an altogether more serious matter.

This book is a selection for this year’s Summer Reading Program in Fairfax County, Virginia, and I’m delighted that got me to finally read it. This will be a fun one to tell kids about. It’s perfect for that first desire to step into chapter books and will reward readers with an absorbing story.

I also love that it’s set in modern Botswana as a lovely place where normal kids live and go to school. Some things about Botswana – like the wildlife – are spelled out, and the pronunciation of names (like Ramotswe) is given. But it’s clear that kids are kids and are the same everywhere.

alexandermccallsmith.com
anchorbooks.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/great_cake_mystery.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I write the posts for my website and blogs entirely on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Stand-out Author: John Green

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

One of the lovely things about this being my 12th year of posting Sonderbooks Stand-outs, my favorite books of my reading year, is that I can take the long view. I’m doing a series on Stand-out Authors featuring people with a book on my 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-outs who have appeared on my lists before.

There were four authors with 5 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, and there are six with 3. But only one author has a total of 4 Sonderbooks Stand-outs: John Green.


(Here are David Levithan and John Green when I accosted them at the opening of the 2010 ALA Annual Conference Exhibits.)

My son got me following John’s video blog years ago, but I may have been attracted to An Abundance of Katherines by the mathematical symbols on the cover and the storyline that included a math genius. That was the year I didn’t get all my stand-outs reviewed, but An Abundance of Katherines was #4 in Contemporary Teen Fiction on my 2007 Sonderbooks Stand-outs.

Now, really I suppose I should say that John Green has 3.33 Sonderbooks Stand-outs (which is a cool number in itself). Because on my 2008 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, he had 1.33 books make an appearance. Paper Towns was #2 in Contemporary Teen Fiction, and Let It Snow was #3. Since he only wrote a third of Let It Snow, the rest being written by Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle, you can see why I say he has 3.33 Stand-outs.

And then there was this year’s Sonderbooks Stand-out, the truly outstanding The Fault in Our Stars. This was #9 in Teen Fiction, but this time I didn’t separate out the Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Contemporary. The Fault in Our Stars was, in fact, the only Contemporary Teen Novel to appear on my list this year, so that makes it #1 in its category.

At the start of 2012, I got to hear John speak at ALA Midwinter Meeting in Dallas, and he’s a great speaker as well. I’m happy that he’s young — because the chances are good that he will write many more great books before he’s done. He never forgets to be Awesome!

Review of Flame of Sevenwaters, by Juliet Marillier

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Flame of Sevenwaters

by Juliet Marillier

A Roc Book (Penguin), 2012. 434 pages.
Starred Review

I completely blame Juliet Marillier. Sunday afternoon, I should have gotten a whole lot of organizing and packing done for my impending move. Instead, I read Flame of Sevenwaters. I should have known better than to even start it, since pretty much all of her books has absorbed me to the extent that I forget about trivial things like eating.

This is the sixth book in her stories from Sevenwaters, completing a second trilogy. Each book completes a story, but there is an overarching storyline throughout each trilogy, so the books are best read in order. The second trilogy features three sisters from the household of Sevenwaters.

Flame of Sevenwaters takes place from the viewpoint of Maeve, who was sent away from Sevenwaters as a child to be tended by Aunt Liadan after she was severely burned in a horrible accident in which she tried to save her dog from a fire. Maeve is reconciled to the fact that there’s not much she can do, with her fingers that don’t bend. The people at Harrowfield are used to her shocking scars, but she’s been putting off going back home to Sevenwaters because she can only be an embarrassment at the high table, unable even to feed herself.

However, ten years after the accident, Uncle Bran is sending a fine young horse to her father, in hopes he can use it to placate a local nobleman after his sons and their companions disappeared on Sevenwaters land. Maeve does have a way with animals, and her presence will help calm the horse. The people of Sevenwaters are sure the disappearance is the work of Mac Dara, the powerful fey prince who’s the father of Cathal, a man who married one of the daughter’s of the house. Cathal’s been staying out of Mac Dara’s reach, but now it seems a showdown is at hand — and Maeve, despite herself, is going to be part of that showdown.

At Sevenwaters, Maeve finds two dogs alone in the forest. She slowly wins them over, and wonders where they came from.

This was the first time I had taken the dogs to the keep with me, but we had been practicing against this possibility. They had walked halfway there and back again with me and Rhian several times now. They had learned to stay quiet and calm while Emrys or Donal worked with Swift in the field or on the tracks around the clearing. They had learned not to bark at the cows or the druids. As for sleeping arrangements, I had not been displaced from my bed as Rhian had anticipated. Bear would have slept inside readily, but Badger did not like to be in the cottage when the door was closed. When night fell and Rhian began to secure our abode with shutters and bolts, he always went out to lie on the old sacks beyond the door. Bear would generally cast a sad-eyed look in my direction as he followed, but he would not leave Badger on his own. I had never before seen a dog with eyes of such a remarkable color as Bear’s, a mellow, lustrous gold-brown. Against his black coat, now glossy with good care, they were striking indeed.

I thought I’d figured out some patterns to Sevenwaters books, but this one breaks them. And it’s a wonderful culmination to the story so far. I sincerely hope this isn’t the end.

julietmarillier.com
penguin.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Fiction/flame_of_sevenwaters.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I write the posts for my website and blogs entirely on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Stand-out Author: Mercedes Lackey

Monday, February 18th, 2013

I’m doing a series on authors on my 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-out List who have appeared on my lists before. There’s one author left with a total of 5 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, Mercedes Lackey.

I remember I read some of Mercedes Lackey’s books before I ever started writing Sonderbooks in 2001. The only one that stood out as exceptional to me was Firebird. That one’s a fairy tale retelling, so perhaps it’s not surprising that when Mercedes Lackey began her Tales of the 500 Kingdoms — all playing off of fairy tales — that’s when she consistently got counted among my favorites. I’ve always enjoyed fairy tale retellings, and I love these. So often, they point out what’s odd about the fairy tale, and play off the Tradition with humor and insight and a whole lot of fun.

All of the five stand-outs are from the Tales of the 500 Kingdoms. The first one, The Fairy Godmother, sets the stage for all the rest. Apparently, I was still holding out when I first read it, since it wasn’t a 2004 Stand-out. But with the next book, One Good Knight, she hit the 2006 Sonderbooks Stand-outs at #3 in Romance Fiction.

In my 2007 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, she ranked even higher with Fortune’s Fool at #2 in Fantasy Fiction. (That was the year I didn’t get all my reviews of stand-outs written.)

I remember I liked the books so much, I purchased the next book, The Snow Queen — and then neglected reading it because it didn’t have a due date like all the library books I had checked out. When I finally got around to reading it, it was a 2011 Sonderbooks Stand-out, coming in at #4 in Fantasy Fiction.

This past year, I decided it was time to catch up on the series. (Of course, I was sad when I had done so. I liked knowing there was another one of the books out there I could read.) Both were 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-outs in Fantasy Fiction, Beauty and the Werewolf taking #2, and Sleeping Beauty at #3.

This series doesn’t necessarily have to be read in order, though you might want to start with The Fairy Godmother, which lays the groundwork. But they are all so much fun, you won’t want to miss any!

Review of Martin de Porres: The Rose in the Desert, by Gary D. Schmidt and David Diaz

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Martin de Porres

The Rose in the Desert

written by Gary D. Schmidt
illustrated by David Diaz

Clarion Books, 2012. 32 pages.
Starred Review
2013 Pura Belpre Illustrator Award

Picture book biographies are always in danger of going unnoticed. They aren’t really written to help kids do reports; they’re written to appreciate a remarkable life.

This book is all the more lovely in that it tells kids about the life of a saint. Who better to inspire children?

The Author’s Note at the back tells why Martin de Porres was important:

His greatest gift was his ability to ignore the boundaries his world had erected and to reach toward the poor and the ignored. . . . He was beatified in 1837 and canonized in May 1962 — the first black saint in the Americas — when Pope John XXIII named him the patron saint of universal brotherhood. He soon also became the patron saint of interracial relations, social justice, those of mixed race, public education, and animal shelters.

The main text of the book is more poetic, and appropriate for children. The author doesn’t come out and say that Martin did miracles, but he tells what people said about him:

Soon, all the people of the barrios knew who the young cirujano was. When a man was hurt, he was carried to Martin. When a child grew pale, she was brought to Martin. When a slave was whipped, he staggered to Martin. And when the infirmary of the monastery was filled with the poorest, Martin carried his patients to play with the panting dogs in the shade of the wonderful lemon tree.

The paintings that go with the story are worthy of the Belpre Award.

This is a lovely book about an inspiring life.

After thirteen years, every soul in Lima knew who Martin was: Not a mongrel. Not the son of a slave. “He is a rose in the desert,” they said.

hmhbooks.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Nonfiction/martin_de_porres.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I write the posts for my website and blogs entirely on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

I’m posting this review today in honor of Nonfiction Monday, hosted today at Wrapped in Foil.

Review of Kepler’s Dream, by Juliet Bell

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Kepler’s Dream

by Juliet Bell

G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2012. 247 pages.

Here’s a sweet summer friendship story, with a mystery and family drama woven in.

Ella Mackenzie is at “Broken Family Camp” at her grandmother’s in Arizona while her mother undergoes chemotherapy in Seattle that they hope will save her life. Her parents are divorced, and her father can’t take her because he leads fishing trips in Spokane. He doesn’t get along with his mother, but persuaded her to take Ella.

Ella finds that her grandmother, Violet Von Stern, is a formidable woman who insists on good grammar and seems to like books more than people. In fact, she has a private library to house her collection, and while Ella is there a book dealer and two teenage boys are helping Mrs. Von Stern catalog her collection.

Fortunately, there’s a girl around who’s eleven like Ella. Rosie is the daughter of Miguel, who works on Mrs. Von Stern’s property. Rosie and Miguel take Ella to Rosie’s uncle’s place to learn horseback riding. But while she is there, Ella has family mysteries to solve. What happened to her grandfather and Rosie’s grandfather so long ago? And is that related to why her grandmother and her father always fight?

All that’s background to a more blatant mystery. One night there’s a break-in that looks like an inside job. And a rare edition of Johannes Kepler’s work of fiction, The Dream, the most valuable book in the library, has disappeared.

The characters in this novel and quirky and feel alive. The friendship between the girls must get past a bit of prickliness to get off the ground, which feels realistic. And you’ve got the weight of Ella worrying about her mother to give the book some depth. (Spoiler alert: Her mother lives. This book stays uplifting and positive. That would have changed its character to a real downer.) Her relationship with her father does get better, and she gains a relationship with her grandmother.

Again, this is a nice story of friendship and family with a mystery thrown in.

julietbell.com
penguin.com/youngreaders

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/keplers_dream.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I write the posts for my website and blogs entirely on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Stand-out Author: Garth Nix

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

I’m doing a series on 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-out Authors who are returning to my list, in other words, my Favorite Authors. Four different authors have a total of 5 Stand-outs, and tonight I’ll be featuring Garth Nix.

Some books are so good, I can always remember the experience of reading them the first time and where I was when I read them. I remember reading Sabriel on Christmas vacation, when our family was driving from San Diego to Phoenix. It had been recommended to me by both my son and my husband, and I was blown away by how good it was.

Of course, when I got home from the trip, I immediately had to read the next two books, Lirael and Abhorsen. In a way, I was lucky I’d taken my time getting around to reading the first one, since they were all published by the time I did, and I could devour them as fast as possible. (Rats! Just writing about them makes me want to read them again! I don’t have time to put my life on hold right now, since I’m buying a house. I will have to resist!)

All three books of this series made my 2004 Sonderbooks Stand-outs in Young Adult Fantasy. Sabriel was #3, and Lirael and Abhorsen were #9 and #10, respectively.

I still hadn’t had enough of Sabriel’s World, and when a book of short stories and a novella came out in 2005, Across the Wall, it made my 2005 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, #6 in Young Adult Fantasy.

Finally, this year, Garth Nix is back on the list, this time with something totally different, a Science Fiction story rather than a Fantasy. I listened to A Confusion of Princes on audiobook, and I was completely absorbed, almost too absorbed for driving! On my 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, it was #8 in Young Adult Fiction. (I didn’t divide the genres this year.)

Another cool thing that happened this year, was I got to meet Garth Nix at the Margaret Edwards Luncheon! (And, yes, he’s Australian, so he has a cute accent, too!) I was sad that I had not yet read A Confusion of Princes, so I couldn’t tell him how great I thought it was. Anyway, now I’m telling all my readers: Garth Nix’s books are the sort you will remember forever. Stand-outs after one year, but also after eight years.

Review of Why We Broke Up, by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

Why We Broke Up

Novel by Daniel Handler
Art by Maira Kalman

Little Brown and Company, New York, 2011. 354 pages.
Starred Review
2012 Printz Honor

I read this book as part of my crazy plan to read award winners, even though I know it’s impossible, so I began by focusing on award winners where I’ve actually met the author. I started this book the evening after I got home from ALA Annual Conference, and stayed in bed late on Independence Day morning to finish it. The book is absorbing, quick reading, but very insightful.

Now I have to say to start off with: Call me old-fashioned, call me a prude, but I’m really glad that back when I was dating, we didn’t get naked with a guy on the 2nd date or so. We didn’t expect a kiss to mean we’re going to be felt up right away. And on top of that, I’m really happy that I didn’t have to plan when and where to lose my virginity. Or, wait a minute, I did plan a big party with all my family and friends (a wedding) and I lost my virginity in a truly extraordinary place (a honeymoon). Makes me feel sorry for kids today missing out on that.

But the story — the story is outstanding. Min explains what she’s doing right at the start:

Dear Ed,

In a sec you’ll hear a thunk. At your front door, the one nobody uses. It’ll rattle the hinges a bit when it lands, because it’s so weighty and important, a little jangle along with the thunk, and Joan will look up from whatever she’s cooking. She will look down in her saucepan, worried that if she goes to see what it is it’ll boil over. I can see her frown in the reflection of the bubbly sauce or whatnot. But she’ll go, she’ll go and see. You won’t, Ed. You wouldn’t. You’re upstairs probably, sweaty and alone. You should be taking a shower, but you’re heartbroken on the bed, I hope, so it’s your sister, Joan, who will open the door even though the thunk’s for you. You won’t even know or hear what’s being dumped at your door. You won’t even know why it happened.

It’s a beautiful day, sunny and whatnot. The sort of day when you think everything will be all right, etc. Not the right day for this, not for us, who went out when it rains, from October 5 until November 12. But it’s December now, and the sky is bright, and it’s clear to me. I’m telling you why we broke up, Ed. I’m writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened. And the truth is that I goddamn loved you so much.

The thunk is the box, Ed. This is what I am leaving you. . . . Every last souvenir of the love we had, the prizes and the debris of this relationship, like the glitter in the gutter when the parade has passed, all the everything and whatnot kicked to the curb. I’m dumping the whole box back into your life, Ed, every item of you and me. I’m dumping this box on your porch, Ed, but it is you, Ed, who is getting dumped.

The thunk, I admit it, will make me smile. A rare thing lately. . . . The world is right again, is the smile. I loved you and now here’s back your stuff, out of my life like you belong, is the smile. I know you can’t see it, not you, Ed, but maybe if I tell you the whole plot you’ll understand it this once, because even now I want you to see it. I don’t love you anymore, of course I don’t, but still there’s something I can show you. You know I want to be a director, but you could never truly see the movies in my head and that, Ed, is why we broke up.

And so Min gives Ed a box full of stuff. The box and each item in it is pictured one by one, as Min tells the story of their relationship. It wasn’t a long relationship, lasting from October 5 to November 12. But Min has quite a number of souvenirs and you can see from the excerpt above how good she is at spinning words, showing you pictures.

And, I have to say this also, the book has a universal feel to it. On the back, it says, “Min and Ed’s story of Heartbreak may remind you of your own.” There are quotes from other writers about high school heartbreak.

I realized that though I had my heart broken not long ago, though I did get a divorce, I never did really break up. Instead, I got secretly betrayed and abandoned, while I was trying to cling by my fingernails to the marriage. Funny how reading someone else’s story, it’s easy to see what a good thing it was for Min to break up with Ed. Easy to imagine the satisfaction that Thunk must have brought. I got to thinking, what would I put in a box if I were to really act out a break up with a Thunk? What would I write in a letter? Now, mind you, there’s no box big enough for 24 years of marriage, and no book long enough. But Why We Broke Up did spark some deep thinking. I decided to celebrate Independence Day by putting away my wedding pictures. (Yes, I admit, I still had them up.) So not only was it a tremendously engaging story, it was therapeutic, too.

And that’s a win all the way around.

whywebrokeupproject.com
lb-teens.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Teens/why_we_broke_up.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I write the posts for my website and blogs entirely on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Stand-out Author: Anne Lamott

Friday, February 15th, 2013

I’m doing a series featuring authors whose books were 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-outs who have appeared on my lists in the past. It turns out a lot of names turn up multiple times. It’s not that I’m biased — it’s that these people write wonderful books.

Anne Lamott is today’s featured author, with 5 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, all Nonfiction. (And she’s the first Nonfiction author I’m featuring.) I find her interesting, because I first discovered her through her classic on writing, Bird by Bird, long before I started writing Sonderbooks. Over the years, she began writing about faith about the same time I became a lot less rigid in my beliefs. So we were coming from opposite directions, but we meet in a place where her books on faith exactly speak to my heart.

I read it before I ever wrote Sonderbooks, but Bird by Bird was still a 2004 Sonderbooks Stand-out, because I did a category for Nonfiction Old Favorites, and it was #3.

2005 was the year I first read a book by her on faith, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. I liked it so much, it was #1 in the “Musings” category of my 2005 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. Reading some of the quotations I selected, I still love them! Like these:

Everyone has been having a hard time with life this year; not with all of it, just the waking hours. Being awake is the one real fly in the ointment—but it is also when solutions come to us.

But Jesus kept harping on forgiveness and loving ones enemies, so I decided to try. Why couldn’t Jesus command us to obsess about everything, to try to control and manipulate people, to try not to breathe at all, or to pay attention, stomp away to brood when people annoy us, and then eat a big bag of Hershey’s Kisses in bed?

In my 2007 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, that year when (Alas!) I didn’t get everything reviewed, her book Grace (Eventually) was #3 in Christian Nonfiction.

And then, of course this year she had not one but two 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, #2 in Nonfiction: Personal Stories, Some Assembly Required, a wonderful journal of her grandson’s first year, which goes well with the book I read years ago about her son’s first year. (HOW did her son and my son grow up so fast?)

And she also had another #1 choice, in Other Nonfiction: That wonderful book on prayer, Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. This one’s quick reading, but will make you laugh and think and pray. Here’s another little snippet:

Prayer is taking a chance that against all odds and past history, we are loved and chosen, and do not have to get it together before we show up.

There you have it, another Favorite Author. Her books make me look at the world with a little more humor, love, and joy.

Review of Goblin Secrets, by William Alexander

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Goblin Secrets

by William Alexander

Margaret K. McElderry Books, New York, 2012. 223 pages.
2012 National Book Award Winner

Here’s a creepily atmospheric tale of an orphan living on the streets, under the control of a powerful witch. Graba keeps many “grandchildren” running her errands, bringing things to her. On the first morning of this book, she has Rownie wind up her leg.

“My leg bones have run down,” she told him. “Wind them for me now.” She extended a gearwork leg from under her stool. It was bird-shaped, with three long talon-toes in front and one in back, at the heel. The whole limb had been made out of copper and wood.

Rownie pried the crank out from her shin and wound it up, watching gears turn against chains and springs inside.

Graba always said that Mr. Scrud, the local gearworker, hadn’t enough skill to make legs into human shapes. Vass whispered that Graba needed the chicken legs to hold up her hugeness, that nothing smaller would suffice, and that Graba wouldn’t be able to walk today if she hadn’t lost the ordinary legs she’d been born with.

There’s clockwork all over the place, though it’s not exactly a steampunk story. The Captain of the Guard has clockwork eyes. A clockwork mule pulls a cart, and there’s a huge clock over the city of Zombay.

Rownie is still missing and looking for his older brother, Rowan, who disappeared after his illegal troupe of actors was stopped by the Guard. Players are illegal in Zombay — except for among Goblins, the Tamlin, the changed.

Rownie sees a group of Goblins performing, and is pulled into the act. They offer him a much more welcoming place than what he has with Graba. But Graba’s still looking for him, and he’s not sure why, but it seems the fate of the whole city may be at stake.

It may be a fault in me, or I may not have read carefully enough, but I was never very clear on how the magic in this world worked, or how someone could be part clockwork, or how hearts could be made into coal, or how a person was “Changed” into one of the Tamlin. I guess I like magic rules a little more spelled-out than they were in this book.

The book does “atmospheric” extremely well, though. And I loved the magical masks the players use, and how a mask helps Rownie feel brave.

Ultimately, it’s an adventure story about a kid who needs some kindness, and I was happy to see him find some kindness, and also get to play a part in important events.

willalex.net
KIDS.SimonandSchuster.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/goblin_secrets.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I write the posts for my website and blogs entirely on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!