STRANGE THE DREAMER by Laini Taylor: Another New YA Series

April 28, 2017

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

It seems that no sooner do we post a list of books than another one in that category hits the shelves.  A few weeks ago, we published a list of new YA “latest in the series” books.  At the time, we hadn’t yet gotten our hands on Laini Taylor’s most recent novel –first in a new series.  (Check out our reviews of her earlier series, Daughter of Smoke and Bone:  here and here.)  Taylor is a master at creating believable fantasy realities and worlds.  Her latest world is tantalizing, colorful, and simply magical.  There is some resemblance to her previous characters with the attributes of winged creatures, the color blue, orphans and adopted families.  But make no mistake, this is a new and different world.  Both Meghan and I (Ruth here) loved the book, though Meghan thought it took a little more time to get into this new world with its special rules and magical realities.

What we both appreciate:  Taylor’s beautiful writing.  I marked so many passages to share with other book-lovers that I probably should just buy them the book.  The descriptions of book-lovers in their own world in libraries made me sigh and nod my head.  The vocabulary words she creates also resonate, like:  thakrar: the precise point on the spectrum of awe at which wonder turns to dread, or dread to wonder; or shathaz: the desire to posses that which can never be yours.  Be assured that both these words have a special place in the novel.

So, what’s it about?  Obviously, a dreamer:  Lazlo Strange by name.  An orphan who survives a rough childhood with monks, then an apprenticeship to a librarian, Lazlo dreams of a world that may be a myth, a world only known as Weep which has been cut off from the rest of the world for two hundred years. When he gets the chance to follow the Godslayer and a cadre of experts to that magical world, his adventures and romance unfold.  Is the blue-skinned goddess of his dreams real?  What ghosts haunt the city?  Is there a way to enter your dreams and nightmares?  We highly recommend this enticing read!  And stay tuned for the next in the series.



TRIANGLE by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen: The First of a New Trilogy

April 22, 2017

Triangle by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

So many good reads to recommend for our youngest book lovers!  We recently reviewed Little Red, The Bad Guys, and Baby Loves Quarks, and the hits keep on coming.  Last fall, we mourned the last of Jon Klassen’s Hat series (We Found a Hat ), and fortunately we are now able to celebrate the first of a new trilogy with Triangle.  The latest book is an ode to shapes, especially Triangle himself, the hero of the tale.  He’s a bit of a trickster, out to play a sneaky trick on his friend Square.  The sly humor of the story tricks not only Square, but Triangle, who ends up trapped in his own home.  And there are clever surprises for us as readers, too.  It’s the kind of  intriguing picture book we have come to expect from both of these award-winning authors.  Great for young audiences who appreciate the repetition and delightful illustrations–and a treat for adult readers, who love the wit and off-beat humor of the feud between the shapes, the emotions told only through the eyes.  Lots of fun–and such a delight to know two more are in the works.

TALES OF BUNJITSU BUNNY by John Himmelman: Our New Pick for Early Reader Chapter Book Series!

April 14, 2017

Tales of Bunjistsu Bunny by John Himmelman

We recently posted a list of hot-off-the-presses early reader chapter book series.  But now that we’ve been reading them, we seem to keep finding more and more.  So stay tuned for another list soon.  But in the meantime, I can’t help but share this series that has really caught my fancy.  Not only that, I can vouch for pre-school readers loving being read this series, and early readers delighting in reading it to themselves. But wait, there’s more:  adults I know just love this series, too.  It’s on my coffee table, and is one of the most adored books in my house right now with all ages.

Introducing Isabel, also known as Bunjistu Bunny.  She is not only an amazing Bunjitsu artist, she is a warm-hearted, Zen-loving friend to those in her community.  She is one smart cookie, as she overcomes challenges, solves problems, and works to improve her bunjistu moves.  Each chapter has an adventure–and a message that is told with wisdom and a sly sense of humor.  (Best of all, not preachy at all.) The illustrations are full of movement and expression and keep the book lively and entertaining. Isabel herself, the marvelous Teacher who tells her how to conquer bad dreams and challenges her to defeat a wave, the cricket who brings good luck — all wonderful.  I can already vouch for the second in the series, Bunjitsu Bunny’s Best Move, and a third just came out:  Bunjitsu Bunny Jumps to the Moon.  Happy Reading! 


April 7, 2017

Binging on a delicious series is what some readers love to do (and count us in at Lit for Kids).  When we finish “the latest” in a series we love, you’ll find us scanning the blogs and Author’s Pages to find out when the next installment will be out.  So far this year, lots of popular series have continued their on-going stories, and we have our reviews ready for you.  So pull up a chair and get set for a return to your favorite characters and their adventures.

King’s Cage  (Red Queen Series) by Victoria Aveyard

The saga of Mare Barrow continues in the thrilling third installment. When we last left our heroine, she was stripped of her Lightening Girl powers, and the captive of her enemy King Maven Calor.  In Mare’s world, the Kingdom is ruled by the Silver bloods, with the Reds, like Mare, the serfs and workers for their Silver  Lords.  But despite Mare’s red blood, she has the special powers thought to be unique to the Silvers:  a new breed  emerging in the land.  War has broken out among the Bloods, and intrigue simmers everywhere–at court, in the mountains, and throughout the land.  The revolution and romance continue in The King’s Cage in the midst of almost non-stop action.  I’ll be interested to hear from others about their views on the King’s cage itself. . .is it the prison Mare is in?  The one of King Maven’s making for himself?  Or. . .?


A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes) by Sabaa Tahir

There’s something about impenetrable prisons and YA dystopia novels this spring. . .In this sequel, heroes Tobias and Laia make an arduous–and adventurous–journey across the desert reach the prison of Kauf, where Laia’s brother has been imprisoned for having secret knowledge of Martial weapons. The Blood Shrike, aka the duo’s childhood friend Helen has orders from the Emperor to hunt them down and kill them.  The characters, villains as well as heroes, in this saga are fascinating.  I am intrigued by the Commandant, who is also Elias’ mother, who is scheming to seize power and is willing even to poison her own son to achieve her ends.  Many of the most compelling conflicts deal with emotions, though the fierce battle scenes and twists and turns of plot are also tension-filled.  The second installment is as great as the first!  It will be hard to wait for the third book in the series.


The Last of August (Charlotte Holmes Novel) by Brittany Cavallaro

We met Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes in the first of this trilogy, A Study in CharlotteIn this contemporary setting, the two meet at a private school. in the United States, and become best friends, much as pairs from both families have for generations. (Yes, in this novel’s world, Sherlock and Watson were real human beings, not fictional.) There’s even a Moriarty family that figures in, and as with all families, some are good, and some are, well, villains set out to murder the good guys.  Hard to tell which is which at times.  What about August Moriarty?  Should Jamie and Charlotte  trust him or shun him as they undertake a dangerous race through the gritty underground scene in Berlin and glittering art houses in Prague.  In this second installment, Holmes and Watson discover that this complicated case might change everything they know about their families, themselves, and each other. Definitely for high school age at least with some more adult situations.



A Trio of New Recommended Early Reader Chapter Book Series

March 31, 2017

We are always on the lookout for new series to recommend and share with our early readers friends.  Chapter books are especially welcome; these texts have the benefit of connecting a longer story through chapter segments that retain the same characters and keep the reader engaged.  Even with stories that are written for kids to read on their own without adult help, the best of this genre retains well-written prose and imaginative and appealing illustrations.  Here are a few contemporary series that we have found delight early readers–and are also great read-alouds for the slightly younger set.  Enjoy!


Rabbit and Robot, The Sleepover by Cece Bell

There’s something appealing about odd couple friends:  think Frog and Toad or Elephant and Piggy.  There’s a new pair of friends for your reading pleasure:  super-logical Robot and fussy compulsive Rabbit.  But friends they are, and rabbit couldn’t be more excited about their first sleep-over!  And he has it perfectly planned, with a detailed list of activities:  make pizza, watch TV, play Go Fish, go to bed. But Rabbit didn’t take into account that Robot prefers nuts and bolts on his pizza.  There are several other mishaps and not quite connections in their sleepover, but friendship prevails.  Bell is a terrific cartoonist, and her illustrations are just right for the humor and engagement of the story.  Expect numerous calls for re-readings! And luckily, there are more in the series:  checkout Rabbit and Ribit and Robot for the follow-up adventure, and be on the lookout for book number#3 soon.


Juana and Lucas by Juana Medine

Juana is a delightful new heroine who hails from Bogota, Columbia.  Her dog Lucas is the best amigo a girl can have, and joins her in many adventures. I love the Spanish words used throughout the tale, as well as Juana’s account of learning English for her special trip to Florida.  The way illustrations help make the meanings clear is masterfully done.  Full spreads are delightful, in which Juana uses words and pictures to tell us us why, for example, she strongly dislikes her school uniform or why Mami is the most important person in her life. Magical! It’s only been out for a few months, but more in the series are in the works.  Stay tuned!


Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon

Dory is a little firecracker who gets into trouble in the tradition of Junie B. Jones or Ramona.  Her family’s nickname for her is Rascal; can you guess why?  Dory is blessed ( her older siblings would say cursed) with a very active imagination, which helps her keep track of the menagerie of monsters in her house as well as the evil Mrs. Gobble Gracker, who steals baby girls.  Luckily, she always has her banana at the ready to make calls for help to her Fairy Godmother Mr. Nuggy.  This series is both charming and funny, for adult readers as well as the children it’s written for.  The illustrations make it an almost graphic novel, with loads of pictures and word bubbles to pore over on each spread.  Three books in the series so far, and we can’t wait for more!





March 24, 2017

Snow White:  A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan

The story of Snow White is one of the most famous and often retold of fairy tales, across cultures and with a range of up-dates and adaptations. (You might enjoy our Snow White flight for the whole family.)  Recently, award-winning graphic novelist Matt Phelan created a stunning retelling set in Depression-era Manhattan.  It’s a surprisingly fitting time frame and the atmosphere is just right.  Samantha’s father is the King of Wall Street, who sends her off to boarding school. When Samantha’s mother dies, the King marries the Queen of the Follies–a real beauty, but a pretty terrible step-mother!  When Samantha (our Snow White, gaining the nick-name from her birth mother) flees from Mr.Hunter who has been hired to kill her, she is taken in by diverse street kids who call themselves The Seven (yes!  it’s perfect!)  The story itself is very true to the original, but is told mostly through the stunning black and white graphics–quite a bit like a silent movie.  I love the important and well-placed splashes of red that heighten the drama.

Lovers of graphic novels as young at ten will be drawn to this unique little book.  Highly recommended!

LITTLE RED by Bethan Woollvin: A New Retelling for Early Readers

March 18, 2017

Little Red by Bethan Woollvin

We’re always on the look-out for updated and innovative fairy tales, especially when the revamp is both humorous and irreverent.  In Little Red, the dark woods, the long trip, and especially the villainous wolf  “might have scared some little girls. But not this little girl.” Readers will delight in this repeated refrain.  And our contemporary heroine doesn’t need to wait for the Woodsman to come and save her; she carries her own axe into Grandma’s cabin and is quite capable of dealing with the wolf herself. Observant readers will note that Little Red, on her way back home through the woods, has a warm wolfskin rather than a red cape.  The illustrations are modern–bold and graphic.  Kids as young as four years old that we know have demanded repeated rereadings, and it’s a good recommendations for early readers as well.

If you appreciate retellings of Little Red Riding Hood, you might visit our Bookflight:  Little Red Riding Hoods

as well as Little Red Riding Hood Around the World.