Sunday, August 10, 2008

Horns & Wrinkles, by Joseph Helgerson, 2006

Claire's troubles begin when her nasty, pillowy cousin Duke drops her off a wagonwheel bridge over the Mississippi River. She floats down on a puff of fairy dust. Things go rougher for Duke-- he sprouts a rhino horn for a nose, and his parents (and dog Duff) get turned to stone. So begins a fantastically inventive and irreverent farce involving river trolls, rock trolls, shooting stars, riddles, bullies, catfish, long-lost uncles and brothers, muskrats, and a leech or two. As twisty and "rivery" as the Mississippi herself, well worth the journey. Recommended.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Savvy by Ingrid Law, 2008

Mississippi Beaumont's family members always turn thirteen with a bang. That's when their unpredictable (and usually uncontrollable) "savvy" kicks in. One brother makes electricity, another makes hurricanes. But on the day before Mibs's thirteenth birthday, when Mibs' Poppa is injured in a serious car crash, Mibs' impending savvy is all but forgotten. It's going to take more than a savvy superpower to get to Poppa's hospital in Salina, Kansas, 90 miles away, but with the help of windstorms, talking tattoos, a pink bible-selling bus driver, a first crush, and a vanishing seven-year old, they may just make it. Strongly recommended for middle-grade readers and fans of warm-hearted youth fiction.

The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart, 2007

Reynie Muldoon's test-taking aptitude makes him a shoo-in for the opportunities and privileges offered by a mysterious, unnamed group. As an orphan, he has nothing to lose by accepting eccentric Mr. Benedict's offer to join his society along with three other unwanted children with curious talents. Their mission is dangerous, but it just might save the world. Sounds like a job for the Mysterious Benedict Society. Fun, nostalgic middle-grade adventure. Recommended.