“Tuck Everlasting” by Natalie Babbitt

“Mommy, would you drink the water?”

My daughter has asked this question, in her most thoughtful little voice, at least half a dozen times since we listened to the audio book of “Tuck Everlasting” on a five hour drive during our summer vacation.

The “water” to which she is referring is the literal fountain of youth found in the woods of 10-year-old Winnie Foster’s nineteenth century family farm.

“No, I don’t think I would,” I say. “Would you?”  Her answer is almost never the same.

The road that led to Treegap had been trod out long before by a herd of cows who were, to say the least, relaxed.

Thus begins Natalie Babbitt’s 1975 classic novel about a little girl who discovers the Tuck family.

Doomed to—or blessed with—eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less a blessing that it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune.

The novel has twice been adapted into a film, most recently in 2002 by Disney.  As a family, we listened to the audio version on a car trip and everyone — including my skeptical husband — immediately got sucked into the story.

A somewhat bittersweet ending makes for some excellent philosophical and ethical fodder for you to discuss with the kiddos — Why did Winnie make the choice she did?  How come the Tucks seem to feel a sense of doom?   And, of course, as the book cover asks –

What if you could live forever?

“Jasper Jones” by Craig Silvey

“Jasper Jones” by Craig Silvey

Wandering through the library one lazy afternoon, I stumbled up “Jasper Jones.”  Reading the back flap, I thought “eh, sounds okay.”  Little did I know that I would become obsessed with this book, sneaking away to read a few pages here and there, for the next 72 hours.

As the story opens, we meet Charlie Bucktin, a bookish thirteen year old, who is startled one summer night by an urgent knock on his bedroom window. His visitor is Jasper Jones, a teen outcast in their small Aussie mining town.  Jasper has come to ask for Charlie’s help. Terribly afraid but desperate to impress, Charlie follows him into the night.

Jasper takes him to his secret glade, where Charlie witnesses Jasper’s horrible discovery. With his secret like a brick in his belly, Charlie is pushed and pulled by a town closing in on itself in fear and suspicion. He locks horns with his tempestuous mother, falls nervously in love, and battles to keep a lid on his zealous Vietnamese best friend.

Set during the Vietnam War era, this simmering summer where everything changes, Charlie learns why the truth of things is so hard to know, and even harder to hold in his heart.

By the way, did I mention the writer was something like 25 when he wrote this book?  A riveting choice for teen, but anyone who like thrillers will find themselves hooked on this coming-of-age Aussie thriller.  Is it too late to recommend a perfect beach reading book?  Spring, summer, winter or fall, I loved “Jasper Jones”.

Meg Cabot Thinks Vampire Novels Need New Blood

(Wall Street Journal) Meg Cabot’s latest book is “Overbite,” a vampire novel for adults that is a sequel to her previous book, “Insatiable,” and tells the story of Meena Harper, who works for a demon-hunting unit of the Vatican, and whose ex-boyfriend is also the son of Dracula.

Cabot began writing “The Princess Diaries” in the late 1990s, when she worked as an administrative manager at a residence hall at New York University. “I remember I took a kid to the bookstore and I was like, what kind of books do you like?” Cabot said. “She loved diary books, so I was like, Okay, I guess that’s what kids like.” Cabot, who until then had been writing romance novels, bought a stack of children’s books that day and began writing what eventually became “The Princess Diaries.” The series became bestsellers and were adapted for two films by Disney.

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“How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack” by Chuck Sambuchino

If you thought the coming zombie apocalypse was going to be trouble, boy-oh-boy did you have your priorities in the wrong place.

Listen up, people!  There’s a new threat in town—and it’s only twelve inches tall. How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack by Chuck Sambuchino is the only comprehensive survival guide that will help you prevent, prepare for, and ward off an imminent home invasion by the common garden gnome. Once thought of as harmless yard decorations, evidence is mounting that these smiling lawn statues are poised and ready to wreck havoc. The danger is real. And it’s here.

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Donating books – Seven places that want your used books.

6 places that want your used books

So you’ve got a pile of gently used picture books that your kids have long outgrown, or maybe it’s that dusty pile of current chick-lit by your bedside that you want to clear out.

Here’s a few ideas on how to donate those gently used books to an organization that can get them into the hands of someone who’s eager to read them.

1.  Local Charities

Donationtown is a great website that can help match you with a local charity.  Just enter your zip code and find a local group that will come to your home and pick up your donations.  Not just for books, but clothes, toys, furniture, etc.  http://www.donationtown.org — Enter your zip code and find a local charity that will come and pick up your donations.

Organizations like Goodwill and the Salvation Army will take books and sell them in their stores.

2. National Groups

These groups focus primarily on getting children’s books into the hands of needy kids.

BookEnds, a nonprofit organization based in Southern California, is about Kids Helping Kids. BookEnds’ recycles children’s books through student-run book drives and places them in schools and youth organizations in need of books.

Kids in Need, Books in Deed Kids in Need – Books in Deed is a nonprofit organization that brings free books and free author visits to Kids in Need throughout the state of Florida.

Reading Tree Reading Tree places and maintains book collection bins in communities across the country. By collecting and redistributing used books, we are able to support literacy programs by providing fundamental books to kids.

Darien Book Aid Plan This non-profit, all volunteer organization that builds a foundation of peace, understanding, and friendship by distributing free books. Book Aid sends books in response to specific requests from Peace Corps volunteers, libraries and schools all over the world Books are also donated to libraries, prisons, hospitals, Native American and Appalachian groups in the United States.

Reader to Reader A non-profit organization that distributes books to schools and libraries in need.

3. International Charities

The Book Bus – The Book Bus Foundation was founded in 2007 by Tom Maschler with the aim of spreading literacy and the joy of reading to children in Zambia. The Book Bus now operates in Malawi and Ecuador as well as Zambia. The Book Bus provides a mobile service and actively promotes literacy to underprivileged communities in Zambia and Ecuador. The legacy of each Book Bus visit is a reading corner and bookshelves stocked with children’s books.

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5 Best Picture Books About Dogs

I don’t usually review picture books but as promised…

Children’s Humorous Literature)

1. Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion.

Harry is a white dog with black spots who hates to take a bath.  One day he gets so dirty he has black fur with white spots!  Uh oh… where’s Harry?

 

2. Go Dog Go by PD Eastman.

Life lessons? Romance? Literary instruction? Go, Dog. Go! offers all this and more, wrapped up in one simply worded, warmly hued package. Using single-syllable words in rhythmic repetition, and introducing colors and prepositions, this Seuss-styled classic has been an early favorite of children since 1961.

3. Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell.

Ah, Emily and Clifford — love them forever.  Fuzzy felt on the cover lets readers pet the “biggest, reddest dog” on the block in Clifford the Big Red Dog 40th Anniversary Edition by Norman Bridwell. In this original 1963 text, young Emily proudly introduces her oversize pet and his unusual tricks.

4. Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh.

This beautiful deluxe edition marks the tenth anniversary of J.otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh’s modern Christmas classic the story of a little dog named Olive with big reindeer dreams. This new edition is a larger version of the original book, and it features flaps to lift, spots to scratch and sniff, and a pop-up grand finale. Designed to be a perfect holiday gift, this edition will appeal to Olive’s many fans and is sure to make new ones.

5. Martha Speaks by Susan Meddaugh.

When Helen Finney feeds alphabet soup to her dog Martha, Martha begins to speak. But having a talking dog is not as fun as it seems.

Dog Books: The 10 Best in Canine Literature for ages 8 and up

Dog Books: The 10 Best in Canine Literature for ages 8 and up

We love man’s best friend and apparently we love to read about them too.  I need to do a whole other list of fantastic dog picture books.  But for now, here’s a list of my 10 favorite books about dogs.

1. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. Through the love she gains from her new pet, a girl gains the courage to ask her father about the mother who abandoned them. “In this exquisitely crafted first novel [a Newbery Honor book], each chapter possesses an arc of its own and reads almost like a short story in its completeness,” said PW in our Best Books of 2000 citation.

 

2. Call of the Wild by Jack London.  First published in 1903, The Call of the Wild is regarded as Jack London’s masterpiece. Based on London’s experiences as a gold prospector in the Canadian wilderness and his ideas about nature and the struggle for existence, The Call of the Wild is a tale about unbreakable spirit and the fight for survival in the frozen Alaskan Klondike.

 

3. A Dog’s Life:  Autobiography of a Dog by Ann M. Martin.  Squirrel and her brother Bone begin their lives in a toolshed behind someone’s summer house. Their mother nurtures them and teaches them the many skills they will need to survive as stray dogs. But when their mother is taken from them suddenly and too soon, the puppies are forced to make their own way in the world, facing humans both gentle and brutal, busy highways, other animals, and the changing seasons. When Bone and Squirrel become separated, Squirrel must fend for herself, and in the process makes two friends who in very different ways define her fate.

4.  Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. When Marty Preston comes across a young beagle in the hills behind his home, it’s love at first sight — and also big trouble. It turns out the dog, which Marty names Shiloh, belongs to Judd Travers, who drinks too much and has a gun — and abuses his dogs. So when Shiloh runs away from Judd to Marty, Marty just has to hide him and protect him from Judd. But Marty’s secret becomes too big for him to keep to himself, and it exposes his entire family to Judd’s anger. How far will Marty have to go to make Shiloh his?

5. Lad: A Dog. Lad, a courageous and dignified 80-pound collie, lived in The Place. The Place was thick with woods, abounding with squirrels to chase, and a cool lake in which to plunge — a beautiful kingdom — and Lad was its undisputed king. Lad’s loyalty to his chosen Master and Mistress knew no bounds. The stories in this book are all about Lad. Some will make you laugh out loud, some will make you cry. And when the book comes to its conclusion, you will know one thing for sure — that Lad was a dog with a soul . . .

6. Dog of Flanders by Louise de la Ramée. Thanks to the support of a loving dog that he helps nurse back to health, an aspiring young artist never gives up hope, despite being subjected to all sorts of terrible hardships.

 

 

7. Ribsy by Beverly Cleary. Henry Huggins’s dog, Ribsy, is hopelessly lost in a huge shopping mall parking lot. It’s raining hard, the pavement is slick, horns are honking, and drivers are shouting. When Ribsy thinks he has found the Hugginses’ new station wagon at last, he jumps in the open tailgate window and falls asleep, exhausted. When he wakes up find himself in the wrong car, lots of little girls pet him and make plans to give him a bath. All Ribsy wants to do is go home to Henry. Instead, he’s about to begin the liveliest adventure of his life.

8.  Sheep by Valerie Hobbs.  The sheep closed in around him like a big, woolly blanket. The puppy had never been so scared or so excited in his life. Soon he was racing, feinting, dodging—learning what it means to be one of the proud breed of Border collies, the finest sheepherders in the world. Then, almost overnight, his life is turned upside down. He finds himself in a series of strange places, with no sheep, his family gone. With nothing but the courage he was born with and a dream, he searches for the life he once knew, gathering names and adventures as he goes. For a short time, he’s called Blackie. To the Goat Man, he’s Shep. To Hollerin, he’s Spot. There’s one name that threatens to haunt him forever—Sparky, the name Billy the circus man calls him. But there’s another name that he is given, one that finally makes him feel at home. . . .

9.  The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.  Enzo is a lab terrier mix plucked from a farm outside Seattle to ride shotgun with race car driver Denny Swift as he pursues success on the track and off. Denny meets and marries Eve, has a daughter, Zoë, and risks his savings and his life to make it on the professional racing circuit. Enzo, frustrated by his inability to speak and his lack of opposable thumbs, watches Denny’s old racing videos, coins koanlike aphorisms that apply to both driving and life, and hopes for the day when his life as a dog will be over and he can be reborn a man. When Denny hits an extended rough patch, Enzo remains his most steadfast if silent supporter. (Publisher’s Weekly)

10. Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant.  A picture book for all ages.  A comforting and smile-inducing poetic text speculates on the place where all good dogs go, describing Dog Heaven as a wonderful location filled with countless ham biscuits, good meals, lots of petting, and endless stretches of fields to run in.

Five Classic Books To Read-Aloud With Your Kids

One of the joys of being a parent is crawling into bed with your little ones and rereading something you remember fondly from childhood.  Or perhaps discovering a classic that you never quite got around to reading.  When it comes to bedtime read-aloud books, I prefer to stick with the classics of children’s literature.  It makes me feel like I’m helping to enrich their classical education.  Besides they can read “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” on their own.

Unfortunately, there’s been more than one time when I’ve eagerly cracked open some unfamiliar dusty old classic only to discover that it’s either seriously dated or too difficult to read (sorry “National Velvet”).  In the hope of attempting to help others avoid the mistakes I’ve made, here’s a list of five fun classics that everyone in the family will enjoy.

1.  Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. Kind of a no-brainer. This charming tale of friendship between a girl, a pig and spider is and alway will be timeless.  It’s a good choice for the younger ones in the family — even 3 and up.  However, be prepared to cry your eyes out when Charlotte passes into the great beyond.  I confess that it was my young daughter comforting me with “it’s okay, Mommy.  Charlotte lived a good life” when we came to that part.

2.  “James and the Giant Peach” by Roald Dahl.  I adore all of Dahl’s work but at times he can be a little dark.  And while this story does have its share of wicked aunts and sad orphan boys, it’s quirky enough not to plant the seeds of serious nightmares in the head’s of the wee ones.  James’ journey inside an enormous stone fruit with a gaggle of insects is a quirky tale that is also a good choice to read to younger kids.  Dahl’s rich imagery, amusing characters and fantastical situations will delight all.

3.  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.  Beyond the wardrobe lies a magical world that will test four siblings and bring them together. This is the first in the series and one can always hope that kids will be inspired to read the rest on their own.  Once again, be aware that Aslan’s ultimate sacrifice near the end can be a little tough.  But never fear, it all turns out okay in the end.

 

4. The Black Stallion by Walter Farley.  This first book in the pulp series from the 40s is an action movie on paper including a fast moving plot; tons of adventure; and a love story between a boy and his horse.  I’d never read this book before my daughter and I picked it up, and I was more than pleasantly surprised with how much fun it turned out to be.  Also, when you’re done, rent the film adaptation from the 70s.  It’s a truly beautiful film.

5.  The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Read it quick before the film comes out in two years.  The language is somewhat more challenging in this longer book so probably not the best choice if you’re reading to kids six and under.  But Bilbo Baggins mythical quest has been keeping young and old interested for 70 years.

 

 

If you’ve got a favorite classic that you’re family has enjoyed hearing read aloud let me know about it.

“Gooney Bird Greene” by Lois Lowry

A series by Lois Lowry

THE BOOK MAMA BASICS

For ages: 6 -10

Gender specific: Girl friendly

Any pictures?:  B&W illustrations

How long?: 96 pages

Are there more?: Three more books

Similar to?: Clementine or Moxie Maxwell

What’s it cost?$5.99 on Amazon

SynopsisGooney Bird by Lois Lowry (ages 6 -10) appears in Mrs. Pidgeon’s second-grade class one October, asking for a desk “right smack in the middle of the room” because she likes to be in the middle of everything. She dresses the part, too: it’s pj’s and cowboy boots that first day, green stretch pants, a polka-dot T-shirt, and a tutu the next. And she loves to tell stories, every bit of them “absolutely true,” from the tale of how she got her name to how she got her diamond earrings (gumball prizes) from the prince. The tales themselves, about moving, pets, and neighbors, are multilayered. They not only amuse but also illustrate characteristics of good storytelling. Before she’s done, our heroine has even found ways to elicit stories from her classmates from the silent Felicia Ann to the twitchy Barry. (edited from Booklist)

Review:  As a parent, sometimes it’s frustrating when your child decides to read a book beyond their reading level.  Sadly, this was just such a book at my house.  But, lo and behold, apparently it wove such an enchanting tale that my struggling reader stuck with it the whole way through.  Gotta love a book like that.  Perhaps not Lois Lowry’s best, but she once again demonstrates that she understands kids and what they respond to.  Gooney Bird has her own website that little fans may want to check out.  http://www.loislowry.com/goonybird.html

“The Name of This Book is Secret” by Pseudonymous Bosch

“The Name of This Book is Secret” by Pseudonymous Bosch

THE BOOK MAMA BASICS

For ages: 8 -13

Gender specific: Not even a little bit

Any pictures?:  Nope

How long?: 384 pages

Are there more?: Three more

Similar to?: The Mysterious Benedict Society

What’s it cost?$6.99 on Amazon

Synopsis:  The first page of “The Name of This Book is Secret” warns: “Do not read beyond this page!” Why, you ask?  The book contains a dangerous secret so nefarious as to be perilous to even the innocent page-turners daring enough to venture forth. The first chapters present a tricky exercise in metafiction in which the story about a secret is revealed as being itself too secret to tell.  (a ploy sure to tickle more puzzlesome readers)  But then the intrusive narrator, who is equal parts snarky and delightful, strikes a deal and deigns to tell the story with fake names in Your Hometown, as long as you agree to “forget everything you read as soon as you read it.” Then follows the actual story of two intrepid kids who uncover a mysterious society bent on immortality, which as you can imagine, gets them in and out of all manner of trouble.  (Edited from Booklist)

Review: Well, turns out the secret isn’t really that big of a secret.  Nevertheless, the story’s irreverent tone is certain to hit a home-run with the 8 -13 year old crowd.  In some ways, the writing and tone harkened back to the likes of Roald Dahl, and that just can’t be bad.  This is an excellent out-loud bedtime book — especially, in my humble opinion, for dads to read to the wee ones. A bit on the long side, but packed with a crazy mystery and tons of dry wit.

“The Trouble with Chickens” by Doreen Cronin

“The Trouble with Chickens” by Doreen Cronin

THE BOOK MAMA BASICS

For ages: 8 -12

Gender specific: Fun for all

Any pictures?:  Black and white illustrations by Kevin Cornell

How long?: 128 page

Are there more?: Stay tuned…

Similar to?: The Adventures of Nanny Piggins

What’s it cost?$9.67 on Amazon


Synopsis:  In “The Trouble with Chicken” by Doreen Cronin, retired search-and-rescue dog J.J. Tully is enjoying the simple life on a farm when his world is turned upside down by an annoying hen, Moosh, and her two equally obnoxious chicks, Dirt and Sugar, who hound him to help locate Poppy and Sweetie. They fear that the missing chicks have been kidnapped and are being held hostage inside the house where ferocious Vince the Funnel-an aptly named canine-lives. When Moosh appears with a note stating it “behooves” the chickens to “rendezvous” to get back her peeps, J.J. muses about the likelihood of birdbrains with sophisticated vocabulary, and he must sniff out the true offenders. (Edited from Booklist)

Review: Bestselling author Doreen Cronin (Click, Clack, Moo) uses her deadpan humor in “The Trouble with Chickens” to pitch-perfect effect in her first novel for young readers.  Heavily illustrated with black-and-white artwork from Kevin Cornell, this new series is destined to become a classic.  A tiny bit convoluted, but enough fun that you don’t really care.  A narrator switcheroo in the middle of the story is a bit jarring.  Overall, this is a delightful canine mystery.

“I Spy Fly Guy” by Tedd Arnold

“I Spy Fly Guy” by Tedd Arnold

An easy reader series

THE BOOK MAMA BASICS

For ages: 4- 7

Gender specific: Boys will love it

Any pictures?:  Silly cartoons

How long?: 32 page

Are there more?: 8 or so.

What’s it similar to?: PJ Funnybones or Marvel I-Can-Read.

What’s it cost?$5.99 on Amazon

Synopsis:  Boy and fly meet and so begins a beautiful friendship.  Er, and so begins a very funny friendship.  Fly Guy’s propensity to hide in a garbage can when he and Buzz play hide-and-seek results in disaster. Fly Guy is carted off to the dump, and when the boy tries to find him, he is faced with a multitude of flies that look, act, and sound exactly like his pal.  Using hyperbole, puns, slapstick, and silly drawings, bestselling author/illustrator Tedd Arnold creates an easy reader that is full of fun.  (edited from School Library Journal)

Review:  If you’re struggling to get a kindergartener or first grader — especially a boy — to read on their own then you may find that “I Spy Fly Guy” by Tedd Arnold is stinky good fun for little readers.  It’s the perfect I-Can-Read series for kids just getting the hang of that whole reading thing.  The clever storylines don’t talk down to kids.  The vocabulary is fairly simple.  Told in three easy chapters, the number of words per page is manageable for young readers ranging from 2 to about 20 words per page.  And because it’s a series, if they like one, you’ll likely have an easier time getting to read the next one.

“Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” by Grace Lin

“Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” by Grace Lin

A Newbery finalist

THE BOOK MAMA BASICS

For ages: 8 -12

Gender specific: Slightly more girl-friendly

Any pictures?:  Beautiful illustrations done by the author

How long?: 304 page

What’s it similar to?: “The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate” and “Turtle in Paradise”

What’s it cost?$7.99 on Amazon

Synopsis:  Living in the shadow of the Fruitless Mountain, Minli and her parents spend their days working in the rice fields, barely growing enough to feed themselves. Every night, Minli’s father tells her stories about the Jade Dragon that keeps the mountain bare, the greedy and mean Magistrate Tiger, and the Old Man of the Moon who holds everyone’s destiny. Determined to change her family’s unlucky fortune, Minli sets out to find the Old Man of the Moon, urged on by a talking goldfish who gives her clues to complete her journey. Along the way she makes new friends including a flightless dragon and an orphan and proves her resourcefulness when she tricks a group of greedy monkeys and gets help from a king.  (edited from School Library Journal)

Review:  Based on Chinese folklore, “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” by Grace Lin is fresh adventure that will likely introduce your little ones to a whole new world.  We read this as an out-loud book at my house and that’s a great idea for kids 5 and up.  Otherwise, it’s probably more like a 4th grade reading level book.  However, my daughter loved it so much that she found two of  Grace Lin’s other books “Year of the Rat” and “Year of the Dog” and read those on her own.  I have a feeling we’re going to be seeing many more wonderful books by Ms. Lin in the future.

“Mercy Watson to the Rescue” by Kate DiCamillo

“Mercy Watson to the Rescue” by Kate DiCamillo

THE BOOK MAMA BASICS

For ages: 4 – 7

Gender specific: Fun for all pigs and people

Any pictures?:  Vibrant fun illustrations

Are there more?: Yes!  Six amazing porcine adventures

How long?: 80 page

What’s it cost?$5.99 on Amazon

Synopsis: After the Watsons tuck their pet pig Mercy into bed with a sweet song and a kiss, she feels warm inside, as if she has just eaten hot toast with a great deal of butter on it. However, afraid of the dark, Mercy snuggles into bed with the couple. Moments later, all three are rudely awakened from their lovely dreams with a BOOM! as their bed falls into a hole that has opened in the floor beneath them. In hot pursuit of buttered toast, the porcine wonder inadvertently gets help and saves the day.  Along the way, she causes great, humorous distress to the fussy next-door Lincoln sisters. (edited from School Library Journal)

Review: Mercy Watson, a disarmingly charming pig adopted by a loving human family, makes her debut in this new series of chapter books for beginning readers.  Three cheers for Kate DiCamillo author “The Tales of Despereaux” and “Because of Winn-Dixie.”  Mercy Watson is her first, but surely not last, foray into the “easy reader” genre.  This is a fun, quirky series about a lovable pig, who seems more like a family dog or even a small child, that will get the most reluctant little reader hooked.   Van Dusen’s bright gouache illustrations have a jovial exaggerated style and capture the sometimes frantic action and silliness of Mercy’s heroic escapade.  Four hooves up!

Fun, gorgeous illustrations for young readers. From Mercy Watson: Princess in Disguise

“Beyonders: A World Without Heroes” by Brandon Mull

“Beyonders: A World Without Heroes” by Brandon Mull

From the author of Fablehaven

THE BOOK MAMA BASICS

For ages: 9-13.

Gender specific: Pretty boy-friendly, but great for all fantasy fans

Any pictures?: Not so much

Are there more?: This is the first in a new series

How long?: 429 page

What’s it cost?$11.86 on Amazon.

Synopsis: Jason Walker has often wished his life could be a bit less predictable–until a routine day at the zoo ends with Jason suddenly transporting from the hippo tank to a place unlike anything he’s ever seen. In the past, the people of Lyrian welcomed visitors from the Beyond, but attitudes have changed since the wizard emperor Maldor rose to power. The brave resistors who opposed the emperor have been bought off or broken, leaving a realm where fear and suspicion prevail.

In his search for a way home, Jason meets Rachel, who was also mysteriously drawn to Lyrian from our world. With the help of a few scattered rebels, Jason and Rachel become entangled in a quest to piece together the word of power that can destroy the emperor, and learn that their best hope to find a way home will be to save this world without heroes.  (edited from product description)

Review: This first book in the new “Beyonders” series by the author of the popular “Fablehaven” series has already shot to the top of the best sellers list.   A World Without Heroes is an adventurous blend of fantasy and humor with a heroic quest that should prove to be popular with the young fantasy crowd.   Mull has the ability to write fast-paced action and well drawn mythical characters which should hook fans of the genre.  A fresh treat for fans of Mull’s Fablehaven series or those discovering this bestselling author for the first time.

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