Monday, September 19, 2016

Speed Dating with Middle Grade: Part 14


Title: Crown of Three
Author: J.D. Rinehart
Genre: Fantasy
Read If You Like...: medieval magic, royal conflicts, Game of Thrones
Three-Sentence Summary: In a land ruled by a brutal king and wracked with Civil War, a prophecy brings hope of peace when illegitimate triplets of the king overthrow his reign and assume the throne. Separated at birth, the three must leave their separate lives behind and come together to save the kingdom of Toronia. The author of this must be a Game of Thrones fan because it was exceedingly complex and excessively violent for a middle grade novel.

Title: Serafina and the Black Cloak
Author: Robert Beatty
Genre: Fantasy
Read If You Like...: Historical settings, spine-tingling mysteries, Stranger Things-esque monsters
Three-Sentence Summary: Serafina and her father live secretly in the basement of the extravagant Biltmore Mansion, he as the estate's maintenance man and she as a stowaway no one knows even exists. When children begin to disappear from the estate, Serafina decides she must break her father's rule of never leaving the Biltmore's grounds and venture into the fearsome forest to investigate a mysterious man in a black cloak she believes is linked to the disappearances. The twists in this story are unexpected, and Beatty has created an unpredictable world of mystery and magic that its readers will investigate with anticipation.

Title: Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans
Author: Don Brown
Genre: Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction (yes, and ewww, 2005 is historical to middle schoolers)
Read If You Like...: Survival stories, "based on a true story" stories
Three-Sentence Summary: This graphic novel telling of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath is simple in scope, void of individual stories and experiences. Instead, it relies on simple text and straightforward facts and numbers to convey the chaos, heroism, and racism surrounding this natural disaster. Perhaps it's intended to be a concise but thorough introduction, one that touches on all the major issues and themes, to an audience that wasn't even born in 2005, but to me it felt too simple a telling (and conclusion) of such a complex event that still has repercussions.

Title: Nightmares!
Author: Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller
Genre: Horror
Read If You Like...: light-hearted horror (aka: the not-too-scary kind), Goosebumps, Jason Segel (obviously)
Three-Sentence Summary: Charlie's life would be okay if it was just the creepy new house and creepy new stepmom (who he's convinced is actually a witch), but when his nightmares become real, he's got a whole new problem on his hands. The line between the real world and dream world should never be crossed, and it seems up to Charlie and friends to make sure the door between the two is closed for good. The story features creepy elements but, overall, is pretty mild, serving its purpose as a light adventure read.

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