Category Archives: Squeaky Awards

Noah Zarc: Cataclysm (Noah Zarc, #2), by D. Robert Pease, Book Review

cataclysm

D. Robert Pease is two for two. His first MG novel, Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble, was given the very first Bookworm Blather Squeaky Award. His sequel, Cataclysm, will be receiving another. (Check out my review of Noah Zarc and my 5-Q interview with the author.)

In book one, Noah’s family had embarked on a scientific mission of repopulating the earth with animals. But Haon Craz had done his best to thwart their efforts. Now, we find out another side of this villain. A visit to Venus shows Noah the horrible squalor the Venetians live in. Haon, he learns, isn’t against the ARC project so much as he is for recolonizing the earth with people.  But the Poligarchy, in an effort to keep its rigid control over the solar system, won’t allow it. Yet we’re never quite sure if Haon is really a good guy. In fact, he seems downright suspect. Now Noah is having dreams that link him to Haon and cause him to seek the man out. Only that was Haon’s plan all along. Haon needs Noah to fly the ship back in time to implement his plan to prevent the cataclysm that destroyed earth in the first place. But is Haon really preventing it…or causing it?

This is another great mind-bender. The wild time jump details are fabulously thought out and cause some unexpected results. And we are introduced to some cool robot characters with personalities (personhoods, actually) of their own. Noah and James, one of the robots, share a special connection due to the neuro chip implanted in Noah’s brain. This gives them a direct mental link that comes in handy. They’re like brother, twins, two of the same person, almost. (“I felt like I was actually discovering who I was. And I realized I didn’t mind hanging out with me.”) Noah can even inhabit James, giving him a physical presence outside his own body and a chance to use his legs for the first time. Noah’s handicap gives readers a ready way to identify with him. We may not all be wheelchair- (okay, magchair-) bound, but don’t we all live with something we wish we could change? I know I do.

Squeaky AwardI have very little bad to say about this series. It can be a little difficult to follow at times, especially if I’m reading in the evening after a long day. You have to stay up on the details, and it moves fast. Also, there are a lot of unnecessary commas that slow the flow of the sentences.  But I can live with both of those. There’s so much good in the series: family, nobility, sacrifice, friendship, excitement, and imagination, not to mention a complete lack of offensive subjects and language. I also really appreciate the high value Mr. Pease gives to people. Cavemen are intelligent and enterprising, and the world was made for people. This implies intention and purpose, not chance and degradation. That is so refreshing to find.

In conclusion, this is a fun read with no caution flags. I highly recommend the series. Probably a 10+ independent reading level, but a great read aloud for those a few years younger.

They’re a steal on Kindle:

Mammoth Trouble 3.99
Cataclysm 3.99
Declaration 3.99

Winterling, by Sarah Prineas, 2012, Book Review

My blog’s been a little shy on sweetness lately, but this book fits the bill nicely. It was a wonderful surprise. First, I have to comment on how gorgeous the cover art is. I made it really big because I love it. Not only did it draw me to the story, it reflects it perfectly. Great job, Jason Chan. That’s exactly the type of cover I dream about for my own books.

What about the story? Super. Fer (Jennifer) is a young lady who just doesn’t seem to fit in at her school. It feels all wrong, and no wonder. When the Way near her house opens, she finds she belongs to the world beyond, a land now shadowed by the evil Mór. Her only friend in this new world is the puck, Rook, who’s thrice-bound to the Mór and unable to help her. Fer must rely on her own resourcefulness and principals in a fight she cannot win alone. Meanwhile, the poison is seeping through the Way, into the world in which she left her grandmother.

The plot is a little simplistic and predictable, but it is engaging. The new world is an easy one to succumb to. Its magic doesn’t actually involve fairies, but the mischievous character Rook is reminiscent of Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which was my first doorway to the faery realm. The Mór also shields her evil behind glamorie, a shimmery veil of beauty also associated with fairies. Taken together, they give this book the same feel as fairy magic. Characters that are wilding, or changing into animals, and never-ending winter add to the illusion, so for a few hours it’s easy to forget that magic isn’t real.

Maybe this isn’t the best book I read this year. It’s not the deepest or most thought-provoking. It’s not particularly clever or surprising. It’s even a little fluffy. But the prose is beautifully written and it celebrates friendship, loyalty and goodness. I guess a book doesn’t have to be perfect for a reader to loose herself in it and close the cover with a smile and a sigh of satisfaction. And that’s exactly what happened.

The cover says 10+, but I think Winterling would be a great read-aloud for kids as young as six or seven.

Pie, by Sarah Weeks, 2011, Book Review

This book is delightful. That’s not a word I usually use. It’s sort of an old-fashioned word that’s not really my style. A word old ladies might use to describe a chickadee singing on a sunny day or a glass of spiced tea in the winter. But it’s the word that comes to mind. Pie is simply a delight to read.

Eleven-year-old Alice lives in Ipswitch, Pennsylvania, and her Aunt Polly Portman is its pie queen. Polly never asks for payment, she simply takes pride and pleasure in pleasing others with her pie-making accomplishments. Notice the alliteration? All the perfectly placed sounds? Yeah, many passages have purposeful placement such as this. They roll along with a melodic mix of consonants, carefully metered and particularly planned. It’s pleasing to read.

But not everything is perfect in Ipswitch. Aunt Polly dies suddenly, leaving Alice distraught and confused. For Aunt Polly left her pie crust recipe to her cat, and she left the cat to Alice. How do you leave a recipe with a cat? That’s what the whole town–the whole world, it seems–wants to know. Because Polly Portman’s pie crust is the most coveted pastry in the national pie-making community.

And now a professional pilferer has come looking to pinch it.

I loved this book. It’s a light read and perfectly pleasing for my seven-year-old to whom I read it out loud. It takes place in the 1940’s and 50’s, so some contextual phrases or events needed a bit of explaining for an audience so young, but the plot and the mystery were easy to follow. There’s a good deal of laughter and silliness. The emotion Alice deals with at her aunt’s loss and her mother’s rejection, however, is real. It’s understandable. So is the easy friendship that develops between Alice and her schoolmate, Charlie.

This is a fun read-aloud, a fun together book with a sweet adventure bonus. You see, every chapter begins with a new pie recipe. What a perfect opportunity to move from the couch to the kitchen for a little pie-making adventure of your own. My son and I chose to make the chocolate cream pie and boy was it good!

I’d strongly encourage parents and teachers to take full advantage of Pie. It’s simply delightful!

Peter and the Secret of Rundoon (Starcatchers Series), Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, 2007, Book Review

Peter’s back. So is George, Molly, the Lost Boys, and the Evil Lord Ombra. Thought he was destroyed at the conclusion of book two? I thought so too. But he regathers his strength and returns to Rundoon where the forces of darkness have come up with the most farfetched plan yet: capture Peter, use his powers to call down more starstuff, and with it destroy the universe.

The stakes are high in this one. The highest imaginable. For the cosmic war between forces of light (creation) and forces of darkness (destruction) are revealed. You see, life is only an accident caused by a leaking of stardust to earth (sounds similar to the theories fed to me in school), merely allowed by the forces of light, but their attention is focused elsewhere. Peter can expect no help. Meanwhile, things aren’t going too swimmingly in Never Land. The Island has been captured by a tribe of fierce savages called the Scorpion who are working the natives and the Lost Boys to death. Peter must save them both. His outrageous methods involve a rocket, monkeys, luck, a flying camel, and a flying ship.

Peter and the Secret of Rundoon includes a LOT of action and returns to the slap-stick-type violence of book one. There are some casualties, including a few people fed to the giant crock, Mr. Grin, and King Zarboff’s giant snake, and Molly is praised and rewarded by her father for disobeying him, but overall the book is kid-appropriate. There’s no profanity. It’s fast-paced and highly entertaining. Like in the first two books, we’re given more explanations for the original Peter Pan story: Peter’s family background, how Mr. Grin swallowed the ticking clock, and how the ship Jolly Roger came to fly. The series is a must-read for kids 10+.

Book one: Peter and the Starcatchers
Book two: Peter and the Shadow Thieves
Book four: Peter and the Sword of Mercy

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, by John Boyne, 2006, Book Review

This is a startling look at the holocaust through the eyes of a nine-year-old German boy. Bruno is the son of a Nazi Commandant. As a result of a promotion, Bruno and his whole family leave their lovely home in Berlin and follow Father to his new assignment—head of Auschwitz concentration camp. Bruno can see into the compound from his bedroom window, but he’s sheltered by his parents and extremely naïve. It’s this very naivety that makes this book appropriate for children as young as ten.

Mr. Boyne’s words flow very nicely, but the style is old-fashioned, almost simplistic. It’s in keeping with Bruno’s innocence. At times, however, the book almost doesn’t reveal enough information. Without some prior knowledge of the holocaust, World War II, and Auschwitz in particular, young readers might not even realize what’s going on throughout much of the book and may need some explanation. For example, Bruno calls the camp “Out-With,” and though he’s told in conversation that he pronounces it wrong, the proper name is never given until the Author’s Note at the end. Of course, an older audience will pick up on this immediately, but probably not kids. He also calls Hilter the “Fury” and is also called out on his mistake, but we are left to assume he’s saying “Fuehrer.” Hitler, however, is mentioned by name once or twice. And the horrors of camp are reflected more than viewed directly, which is good, but at times kids may not understand what’s happening.

Bruno lives at Auschwitz for a year at least, and though he learns bits and pieces, he never really does figure out what the camp is all about. I see the author’s intention, and I applaud that he keeps the entire book very appropriate for children, but Bruno’s innocence is almost to the point of impossibility. It is my one complaint. His friend Shmuel, a Jewish boy that he befriends on the other side of the fence, also comes off a little unrealistically. Though Shmuel is living in hell, he never displays much emotion, he never responds to Bruno’s total lack of understanding, and he never attempts to make his friend understand.

It is this naivety and innocence, however, that make such a shocking mirror. We are shown Bruno’s dismay at being uprooted from his home. We see his casual attitude toward wealth. We see his sister’s shock and horror at finding a louse egg in her hair. We’re told of the compassion Father showed to his mother’s dying friend. We experience the grief of Grandmother’s funeral. Yet it all underscores in a truly startling way the humanity of the Jews who suffer these things and more only a few yards. We see how Shmuel’s fingers are wasting away. We hear Bruno innocently assume there must have been a minor outbreak of lice in the camp because their heads are shaved like his. We watch him eat food in front of Shmuel without thinking. We hear him talk to Shmuel about “playing.” Bruno never really understands the life-and-death struggle, the horror going on just past his house.

But the reader knows. By the end of the book, even without any guidance by adults as to particulars, even without any graphic revelations by the author, the reader will have figured out the gist of what’s going on behind the walls. At one point, perhaps the most poignant moment of the story, Shmuel thinks, “It was almost as if they (he and Bruno) were exactly the same really.” The injustice comes through loud and clear.

While I do maintain that ten-year-olds could read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, be aware that it does have a few disturbing moments. They’re veiled or related matter-of-factly, like the shooting of a dog by a Nazi officer. Or like the marital strife between Bruno’s parents that suddenly ends with the reassignment of this same officer. Or Bruno’s observation that Mother lately needed to self-administer a lot of medicinal shots of sherry. It is the ending, however, that I won’t give away but I will caution parents about. Again, it is implied and not shown, but the readers know. And it is very disturbing.

Kudos, Mr. Boyle, for a touching story, for letting speak the voices which were silenced long ago, and for doing it in a way that gives kids an understanding of the past without overwhelming them. In my opinion, it is stories like this one–which teach children through emotional involvement–that are our best defense against repeating history.

After reading, I learned that a movie based on this book came out in 2008. (Where have I been?) I found the entire movie on YouTube and watched it the same day. It’s beautifully done. I thought Bruno and Shmuel are more believable and the problems between the parents develop more understandably. There are some profound moments from the book, however, that are left out. It’s a serious film, but appropriate for the same audience as the book. Well done and highly recommended.

Related post: Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry

Peter and the Shadow Thieves (Starcatchers Series, book 2), by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, 2006

Peter and the shadow thievesThe pre-adventures of Peter Pan continue, and they’re just as fun and fantastic in Peter and the Shadow Thieves as they are in book one. Peter chose to stay in Never Land with the lost boys rather than live with Molly and her family in London. But when he learns the Others (evil ones who seek to rule the world with the power of stardust) have tracked the huge shipment of stardust to the Asters, he doesn’t hesitate to travel to their rescue. But he and Tink have to stow away on the very boat that carries the Others. The old villain Slank is among their number, along with a new nemesis, Captain Nerezza, and a cold, raspy creature called Lord Ombra who controls people by stealing their shadows. Peter must help the Asters return the stardust to the heavens before the Others get ahold of it, but Ombra proves a much cannier adversary than any he’s yet faced.

I’m really enjoying this series (again). Like book one, the sequel continues to tie well-known details from the classic story into new adventures. The new story explains the old one. In this case, Mr. Pearson and Mr. Barry take the shadow theme and give it a huge new significance. They also continue to exercise their superb talent for funny dialogue and keep their characters on the brink of disaster. I lose track of time in these books. Before I know it, I’m another hundred pages in.

This one isn’t quite as violent as the first book, which featured pirates. Ombra is an entirely different kind of evil. A scarier, more serious kind of evil. Appearing in the form of a cloaked man, he glides around, oozing in and out of tight spaces. He is what nightmares are made of. The threat in this one is slower, less slap-stick, and less violent, but more menacing. Still, it’s entirely appropriate for kids 10+. In fact, I don’t recall any profanities in this one at all.

This time around, I realized that the authors gave James Barrie, the author of Peter and Wendy, a cameo appearance in this book. I didn’t catch it last time I read it, maybe because I’m accustomed to seeing his name written as J. M. Barrie. But he’s in here for a brief “ah-ha” kind of scene, along with a St. Bernard (remember Nana?). Very cute.

I also want to mention the illustrations before I close out. They’re extremely well done–detailed black and white drawings (charcoal?) drawn on gray paper. Illustrator Greg Call does a wonderful job capturing the soul of each character in his expressions. They add greatly to the story.

I’m off now to read book three…

Read my reviews of the other books in this series:

The High King, by Lloyd Alexander, 1968, Book Review

I’ve so enjoyed this series. If you’ve never read it, check out my other reviews (scroll to bottom) then get thee to a library and check out book one. These are among the cream of the crop in children’s literature, and all five books are chock full of fantastic adventure and fabulous writing. They relate the story of Taran, a lowly Assistant Pig-Keeper with a valiant heart. He is only a rash eleven-year-old child at book one’s outset, wanting desperately to find glory on the battlefield—and he does, more often than he’d like—but his repeated quests serve to fill him with a good deal of wisdom. The takeaway value of these books is so rich. Book two, The Black Cauldron, received Newbery honors but this last book, The High King, took the crown (sorry, bad pun), and it well deserves its Newbery medal.

In my book four review, I made several easy predictions, including my guess that Taran would get the throne of Prydain. With a title like The High King, I don’t think it’s really a spoiler to say I was right. My dog could have seen it coming. Taran does fight the evil Lord Arawn and comes out successful, but it’s the getting there that is so fantastic. It’s the journey, the growing, the struggling along the way that make this such a fit ending to the series. Yet Taran finds out that kingship is “like jumping headfirst into a thorn bush” and a crown “more discomfort than adornment.”

I also guessed that Princess Eilonwy would return to the storyline, and I’m so glad she did. I just adore her character. She’s brave, yet Mr. Alexander doesn’t have her fighting unrealistically on the front lines. She’s sharp and outspoken, but she balances Taran so well. And she’s completely miffed over everyone’s expectation that she wash her hair and act like a lady. The banter between Taran and Eilonwy is still funny and light, but there is now a depth to it, a maturity, an adult awakening, a realization of what losing the other would mean. Taran and Eilonwy have grown up.

All the characters I’ve come to love have returned for this final installment, each comically consistent with their snapping harp strings, buzzing ears, and unique styles of speech, but not all of them make it to the end. War is costly and painful, but some things are worth dying for. Taran and company once again prove themselves valiant, honorable, and brave.

As in my four previous reviews, I have a whole list of fabulous quotes I want to share. Quotes that illustrate the rich quality of the series:

“Surprising how easy it is. The planning, at any rate. The doing, for some reason, always seems a little harder.”

“A man’s life weighs more than glory, and a price paid in blood is a heavy reckoning.”

“Every man is a hero if he strives more for others than for himself alone.”

“The deeds of man, not the words of a prophecy, are what shape his destiny.”

And when Taran is asked sharply asked in the heat of battle “Are you a warlord or a pig-keeper?” he replies gently, “Must you ask, friend? I am a pig-keeper.”

But my favorite quote is from Princess Eilonwy: “It’s been long since I’ve slept on comfortable roots and rocks. What a pleasant change from goose feathers!”

So much good stuff! I want to conclude, however, with a quote from Mr. Alexander:

“(Book five’s) structure is somewhat different, its range wider. If there is more external conflict, I have tried to add more inner content; if the form follows that of the traditional hero tale, the individuals, I hope, are genuinely human. And although it deals with a battle on an epic scale, where Taran, Princess Eilonwy, Fflewddur Fflam, even the oracular pig Hen Wen, are pressed to the limits of their strength, it is a battle whose aftermath is deeper in consequences than the struggle itself.”

The High King is indeed a grand finale. Mr. Alexander, you’ve been successful on every level.

Here are my reviews of the other books in the series:

Taran Wanderer, Lloyd Alexander,1967, Book Review

“Who am I?”

That is the question Taran seeks to answer in book four of the Chronicles of Prydain. Taran has already had many adventures, fought many foes, won several battles, and fallen in love with Princess Eilonwy. He is held in high esteem by all who know him, yet he is still an Assistant Pig-Keeper, an orphan with no known history. Were his parents peasants, or could he be of noble blood, making him worthy of the princess? This is what he seeks to learn, and he covers all of Prydain in his quest.

Taran Wanderer at first seemed a little pointless. There was no evil to defeat, no plot to foil. Taran simply began wandering with no clear direction and no clues to help him. “What I seek, I do not know. But, alas, I know it is not here.” But the old crew soon joins him—Gurgi, Doli and Ffluddur Flam—and the adventures start rolling in. The book grows as rich as ever, with the most important battle being waged inside Taran. It is exquisitely written. Once again I have page after page of notes, beautiful quotations, and nuggets of wisdom that give such deep insights into life. I just love this series.

In his travels, Taran is offered King Smoit’s kingdom and refuses it. He’s offered a stone of power by the wizard Morda and refuses it. He shows excellent leadership abilities, he judges disputes with the wisdom of King Solomon, he repays friendship with aid, he inspires courage and displays loyalty. In every respect, he acts admirably and proves himself noble. Before his quest ends (I won’t tell you if he’s nobly born or not), he realizes the folly of looking to blood to prove one’s worth: “When I was a child I dreamed of adventure, glory of honor in feats of arms. I think now that these things are shallow….As for my parentage, it makes little difference…manhood is not given but earned.”

Here are a few more quotes that I really like:

“Once the apple is ripe, no man can turn it back to a greening.”

“Was a royal robe enough to hide a dishonorable deed?”

“If I fret over tomorrow, I’ll have little joy today.”

“Trust your luck, Taran Wanderer, but don’t forget to put out your net.”

“Craftsmanship isn’t like water in an earthen pot, to be taken out by the dipperful until it’s empty. No, the more drawn out the more remains.”

“Life is clay to be shaped.”

Though I have not looked at the final book in the series, I believe this one sets it up in some important ways. As a result of his journey, Taran has established relationships all over Prydain, he’s learned the hardships its people face, and he’s seen how Arawn, the evil Lord, has devastated the land. He has also gathered a great deal of experience, wisdom and confidence. I believe in the next book, The High King, that Taran will face Arawn in a final battle and emerge as the leader of all Prydain. He has certainly proved himself able. I also think the princess Eilonwy will make a significant return to the series. I missed her fiery personality in this one.

Though I can make some strong predictions as to the tale’s ending, I wouldn’t miss the reading of it. This series has been phenomenal. Truly the sweetest of adventures!  I’m off to purchase the last book now…

Here are my reviews of the other books in the series:

The Island Stallion, by Walter Farley, 1948, Book Review

After rereading The Black Stallion a few weeks ago (read my review), I had to revisit my second favorite book by Mr. Farley. This is the first of a companion series, one I put off reading as a child because after cruising through a dozen books featuring the Black, my loyalties were firmly entrenched. I figured I could never come to feel about Flame as I did his black counterpart. I figured wrong.

Steve Duncan is a young man who visits his older friend, Pitch, in the Caribbean where they camp on an island with wild horses. The island is solid rock with only a small, sandy plain that barely grows enough grass to sustain life. Pitch is certain the Spanish conquistadors once inhabited the island. Steve is all about the horses.

Then one night a magnificent stallion appears on a cliff high overhead. It’s a beautiful animal, nothing like the scraggly horses that live on the plain, and the friends realize there must be more to the interior of the island than just rock. They eventually find a lost world full of Spanish treasures, including a valley full of the purest breed of horses Steve has ever seen. Then Steve discovers Flame, the wild stallion of his dreams

This, like The Black Stallion, is the wonderful story of the relationship that grows up between a boy and a wild horse. It’s not particularly beautiful, but it touches on the stuff dreams are made of: love and wonder. What kid wouldn’t want to discover a world left undisturbed for centuries, especially if the only ways in are through a maze of tunnels or a hidden canal? Who didn’t grow up with dreams of taming and loving a special animal loyal to no one else? Even after a months-long relationship with the Black, I fell in love with Flame. I wished I could travel to Azul Island and run in the tall blue grass with the wild band. And I did, time and again. My last trip was just this week; I brought along my two boys who loved Flame as much as I always have.

Like The Black Stallion, I give The Island Stallion the highest recommendation simply on its ability to cultivate dreams. In my opinion, they are the two best of Walter Farley’s many works. (A note of caution: the book does contain two fights to the death between horses.) Fifth grade reading level, first grade listening level.

How to Slay a Dragon (The Journals of Myrth, Book One), by Bill Allen, 2011, Book Review

how to slay a dragonI happened onto this book during a free promo and approached it very cautiously. You see, about five percent of the books I find for free do I actually finish—or even get beyond page fifteen. This one looked cute, however, and I was impressed with the sample text, so I settled in for a longer read. It ended up being a wonderful surprise!

Within, Greg Hart is about to start seventh grade, and he’s not really looking forward to it. True, he is the fastest kid in his class, but that’s mainly because he’s had so much practice fleeing dangers like Manny Malice. And he’s got a great imagination. His journal is filled with the feats of daring he’s accomplished in his own mind. That’s why he thinks he’s dreaming again when he’s sucked into the land of Myrth.

In Myrth, the people live by prophecy. Seriously, it’s almost law that prophecies MUST BE FULFILLED, and the people do everything in their power to see it done. So when Greg Hart finds out he’s the fabled Greghart of prophecy, the Greghart destined to slay the dragon Ruuan and rescue the princess, he’s notably alarmed. But he’s forced into action, accompanied by a young man by the name of Lucky. (“Oh, and I’m Lucky,” the boy in orange added quickly. Greg stared at him dumbly. “Good for you.” “No, I mean my name is Lucky. Short for Luke.” “Actually, it’s longer,” Greg said.)

On their journey, they meet a variety of quirky characters: Melvin, spiteful little brother to the legendary dragon-slayer, Marvin; feisty Princess Pricilla, who insists on being called Sasha and sets out to slay the dragon herself; and Bart the Bard, who has an annoying habit of singing ballads of death and destruction just before Greg heads into danger. Together they’re attacked by a bollywomp, chased by falchions, and march to battle against a valley full of “razor teeth”—with Greg protesting all the way. Oddly enough, things do work out, just not at all in the way you’d expect it to.

My reaction?  Sweet! (As in, I totally loved it!) This book has great characters and great action and adventure. I wasn’t quite as impressed with the settings. (I felt a little bit like I was walking around on a map.) But this is truly one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. Not just turn-up-the-corner-of-your-smile funny, but big-toothy-grin funny, and sometimes even crack-up-out-loud funny. It’s not the type of book you’d want to break open, say, in a crowd of strangers, or during a funeral, or when your teacher’s lecturing. But it’s great for most other times. To celebrate the book’s high sweet adventure ranking, I’d recommend reading it with a handful of hot tomales. (Sweet. Candy. Dragon. Hot. Get it? Okay, it was a little dorky, but hey, I like hot tomales!)

Here are a few more of my favorite quotes:

His name was Manny Malistino, only everyone called him Manny Malice, or better yet, Sir, if they thought he might be listening.

Better a live coward than a dead hero, he’d (Greg) always believed.

“Get some sleep.” Yes, of course. Wouldn’t want to be tired when I’m killed by the witch.

“Now, would you prefer to be roasted, mauled, or eaten?” If ever there was a question that deserved to be rhetorical… “Are there any other choices?”

The action, humor and word plays will appeal to the middle school crowd, though there’s absolutely nothing to prevent younger ones from reading. Language and content are perfectly clean. I’d highly recommend it for ages 10+.  I so enjoyed it that I’m awarding it the much-coveted (hee, hee) Squeaky Award.

The Journals of Myrth sequels also by Bill Allen:

You can find Mr. Allen on his website.