Tag: middle grade fiction

Book Review: Dwarf Story, by W.W. Marplot

Dwarf Story Cover
Image belongs to the publisher.

Title:   Dwarf Story
Author:   W.W. Marplot
Genre:   Middle Grade
Rating:   3.5 out of 5

For Arty to miss a day of school, either he is very, very sick or a fairytale-character turf-war has begun in his backyard — such as what begins this particular Wednesday. First, he finds an ax-swinging, bearded, sweaty warrior Dwarf scaring his dogs. Soon enough, Emma, Cry and other middle-school friends also find fairy creatures — Elves, Spriggans, Pixies, and a hoped-for Dragon — crashing into their normal homework-doing, backpack-carrying, phone-charging schooldays. 

Why are these magical beings here? What should be done? Is that axe sharp? Can Pixies be given aspirin? 

Arty with his friends — and spying jerks, and questionable strangers with long names — follow the clues and try to find out, even as things turn dark and dangerous. 

The mythical beings are taking sides. The Gwyllion, that legendary Old Woman of the Mountains, has a sinister plan, turning the neighborhood into a fantasy battleground. One that awaits young heroes.

This is a middle-grade fantasy adventure that was a so-so read. And it’s not listed on Goodreads that I can find, so I can’t point you in that direction. I don’t read much middle-grade, so this may just be a case of being the wrong reader for the book.

I thought the premise was great, but the execution was lacking. I’m not the target audience, but solid-storytelling and logical plot progression should still be prerequisites for a good story, and this veered a bit off-track in places. Like the fact that none of the parents seemed at all concerned about what their kids were into. Or any of their siblings, for that matter. These kids had smart phones, but they were left to wander around without interference? That didn’t really make sense to me.

(Galley courtesy of Waxing Gibbous in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Forgotten Book, by Mechthild Gläser

the forgotten book
Image belongs to Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan.

Emma’s life is pretty good. She attends a prestigious boarding school. Her friends all trust her enough to ask her for advice. She’s pretty sure the guy she’s had a crush on for ages is about to ask her out. Things are going well. Except for arrogant Darcy de Winter, the heir to the family who owns the school, who’s there searching for clues about his missing sister.

Then someone trashes the abandoned library Emma and her friends have taken as “theirs,” and Emma finds an old book hidden there. The book is filled with pages written by many different people over the years. A diary of sorts, Emma thinks, and she starts writing in it as well.

When the things Emma writes in the book come true—sort of—Emma realizes there’s more to the book than she thought. But someone else knows of the book’s power, and will stop at nothing to take it from Emma. Emma must unravel the mysteries hidden in the book—and the school—if she’s to figure out what the book is—and who’s after it.

The Forgotten Book is labeled as YA, but that seems a tiny bit too old for this book, to me. Or maybe Emma’s led such a sheltered life that she seems younger. And, considering this is a boarding school, there is surprising little conflict or animosity between a group of students who all live together. Everyone gets along. That was the most far-fetched part of this book for me. Not the magic book.

I enjoyed the mystery, as Emma tries to figure out the secrets of the book, as well as the mysterious creature mentioned in the book. The school sounds like a fantastical place to live, or at least to visit. Emma is an interesting character:  she’s very innocent and oblivious to some things, but she’s inquisitive enough to make up for her naivety.

Mechthild Gläser is an award-winning German author. The Forgotten Book is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

 

Darcy Moon and the Aroona Frogs, by Catherine Carvell

 

darcy-moon
I do no own this image. Image belongs to Star Bright Books.

Catherine Carvell was born in England but moved to Australia at age 8. She loved nature and stories, so she studied biology and journalism. Now she lives in Singapore with her family and pet turtles. Darcy Moon and the Aroona Frogs is her first middle-grade book.

Darcy Moon has enough problems, her father’s wacky job and her mom’s hairy armpits are just the tip of the iceberg. When she wanders into the local swamp and an old turtle asks for her help, she is understandably freaked out. The Aroona frogs are disappearing, and Darcy is an Earth Guardian. She has to help, but she’s up against a local millionaire while she tries fix the food-chain and save the swamp. And that doesn’t count the talking frogs.

Darcy Moon and the Aroona Frogs is a unique, humorous middle-grade book dealing with environmental issues, greed, and quirky families. It’s totally worth reading…and I don’t even have kids!

(Galley provided by Star Bright Books via NetGalley.)

Escape to Ash Island, by J.H. Lucas

ash island
(I do not own this image. Image belongs to J.H. Lucas.)

 

J.H. Lucas has worked in film and in graphic design. He has been a finalist or semi-finalist for several awards. Escape to Ash Island is the first book in the Generation Havoc series.

One hundred years from now, America is has changed. From the Saharizona desert wilderness, to the cowyotes and buffalopes that populate it, things are not what they used to be. The poison sands of the desert are spoken of in the Prophecy Song, which is now forbidden.

In a slave labor factory in the middle of Saharizona, Cash, a young inventor with no memory of life before the farm, wonders about what’s beyond the fence. And he hears about a mythical island in Calitopia, so he and his friends escape the factory and head across the desert. But they don’t know the Red Enforcer, a cyborg, is on their trail determined to stop them—and the Prophecy—forever.

Escape to Ash Island is set in a vividly imagined word that is far different from the America of today. In essence, it is about friendship and the survival of hope, but these themes are set amidst adventure. Escape to Ash Island feels more like middle grade fiction than young adult, but it is an entertaining read.

(Galley provided by J.H. Lucas via NetGalley.)