Here are some outstanding new publications to delve into while the days are short and the nights are long. This is an eclectic collection of historical fiction, fantasy, fairytales, science fiction, mythology, sports and mysteries that will appeal to ages nine and up (except for the last book which is geared for ages seven to ten).
The Lost Hero, by Rick Riordan, is the beginning of a new series but with the return of Camp Half-Blood, except the new heroes have to deal with Greek and Roman Gods. This spin-off from The Olympian series revisits mythological chaos and will have you devouring the book when reading the first exciting page. Riordan has the recipe for page-turners and this first book in this new series won’t disappoint you!
The Wide-Awake Princess, by E. D. Baker, is a delightful new take on the traditional Sleeping Beauty tale. When Princess Annie was born she wasn’t placed under the sleeping spell that her older sister and entire castle were stricken with. The story takes Annie throughout the land, incorporating other fairytales, as she searches for available princes to come back to the castle to rescue her family. This well developed story incorporates values, principles and heroism and Annie will, most likely, become embedded in your heart.
Moon Over Manifest, by first time author, Claire Vanderpool, won the Newbery Medal award and deserves all of the accolades it’s now receiving! This historical fiction takes place in 1936 in the tiny town of Manifest, Kansas. Twelve-year-old Abilene has to spend her summer there while her father is away working on a railroad job. She decides to search out more about what her father’s childhood was like and what emerges is a story of life in Mid-America back in the earlier part of the last century. A story that’s filled with interesting characters, encounters and even a mystery. What really strikes a chord with the reader is the authentic dialogue and expressions of the times. I greatly anticipate more of this author’s tremendous work!
Alienated, created by David O. Russell, and written by Andrew Auseon, is a hilarious story about two friends, Gene and Vince, who create their own newspaper and write about extraterrestrials. What their classmates don’t know is that these aliens are actually real. They are about to discover that they are in the middle of an intergalactic conflict and they are the ones who need to resolve it – and soon!
The Rivalry: Mystery at the Army-Navy Game, by my favorite sports mystery author, John Feinstein, continues with the same teen sportswriters, Stevie and Susan, as they set out to write about the big upcoming rivalry game. As they spend time in both Annapolis and West Point to learn about the teams they begin to uncover a mystery that will keep readers spell-bound throughout the book to the very end. And, check out Feinstein’s 4 other great sports mysteries.
Kingdom Keepers III: Disney in Shadow, by Ridley Pearson, is the third installment that takes place at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Since I’ve not read the other two books, I worried that this might be difficult to follow. However, it flows like a first in a series and the introduction to the same five protagonists as in the previous books instantly become familiar. The action takes place at night as the Imagineers have developed hologram guides to take guests through the park. A mystery develops when the head Imagineer has suddenly disappeared. I’m anxious to read the previous books in this series. Pearson and his co-hart, Dave Barry, have another fantastic series about Peter Pan.
The Red Umbrella, by Christina Diaz Gonzalez, is an insightful look into a difficult time for Cubans during the early 1960’s. Castro was changing the peaceful lives of the citizens by taking away freedoms, livelihoods and lives. Fourteen-year-old Lucia is sent to America, along with thousands of other children, without her parents in order to survive the revolution. She ends up in Nebraska with a foster family and her experiences throughout will keep you turning to the end. There’s a most helpful Spanish glossary at the end of the book.
The Dragon of Trelian, by Michelle Knudsen, will thrill even the most reluctant reader as it involves Calen, who is about to learn of his tremendous gifts in magic, and princess, Meglynne, who is hiding a dragon in a cave. The combination of both protagonists and all they must do to survive and bring their kingdom together will keep you engaged to the very last Half Upon a Time, by James Riley, will take you on a ride you won’t want to get off. Jack’s father has been missing ever since the problems with the beanstalk and the giant. And now he must go out and find a princess to rescue! Furthermore, he’s about to encounter many well known fairy-tale characters that aren’t anything like in the stories. This enlightening, and humorous, book is great fun. But, be sure to give yourself enough time in the day once you begin because chances are you won’t stop!
Thomas and the Dragon Queen, by Shutta Crum and illustrated sprinkled throughout by Lee Wildish, is a medieval tale about 12-year-old Thomas who is very short and seems to lack the abilities to rescue the princess. The king knights little Thomas as his other knights are off in battle. This wonderful story showcases someone that rises above difficult calamities by using his quick wit and his abilities to overcome evil.
As an experienced children’s book reviewer with over 12 years of reading and writing about books, my goal is to inform parents, families, educators – and especially kids – about the best, newest and most appropriate books currently available on the market. I’m also the only national book reviewer searching for books with appropriate content for kids.