Tag Archives: kidlit

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.

Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble, by D. Robert Pease, 2011, Book Review

One thousand plus years into the future of our solar system, Earth has been destroyed. People now live on Mars and Venus, fly around in the coolest space ships, and utilize amazing technology (like holopads, personal flying thermsuits, chef-bots that speak with French accents, and neuro implants). They’ve even perfected time travel. But, unfortunately, all animal life has been destroyed in the great Cataclysm.

Enter the Zarc family. Hannah and Noah Sr. are scientists in charge of a government sanctioned project to rescue extinct animal populations and resettle them on the slowly recovering Earth. They do this by traveling back in time, capturing a male and female of each species, and holding them within the Animal Rescue Cruiser (ARC) until their natural habitats can sustain them on Earth. Twelve-year-old Noah Zarc, a paraplegic and incredible space pilot, is a vital part of this family program. Not everyone, however, is excited about the repopulation efforts, and some will go to any lengths to stop it.

Futuristic sci-fi is not usually my first choice, but this spin on Noah’s ark looked so intriguing I had to download it. I’m glad I did. Not only is it one of the most original stories I’ve read recently, it’s well-written, entertaining, sometimes unpredictable, and just plain fun. It’s also squeaky clean, totally appropriate for middle-graders as young as eight, though I’d probably rate it at about a fifth grade reading level.

One thing that I really appreciated about this book was the worldview from which it was written. I expected the usual naturalistic approach. You know, one more repetition of the we-all-evolved, save-the-earth mantra of modern science. But this story was refreshingly open-minded. It did have one reference to people “evolving past” something, but it also spoke again and again of creation, and it gave cave people high intelligence. And my favorite, my absolute favorite statement it made was that the earth – this uniquely life-supporting planet – was MADE FOR PEOPLE. For you see, the Poligarchy (the solar system government), in an effort keep power, will not allow people to repopulate the earth, only animals. Not even when people are dying on Venus. This adds a unique element of sympathy for the antagonist. It also counters the real-life Green Movement that sometimes erroneously places greater importance on our planet rather than on the people for whom the earth was made.

Kudos on an excellent first novel, Mr. Pease!  It would be a worthwhile purchase even if it wasn’t only 3.99 on Amazon.  And in honor of a clean, kid-friendly read, I’m bestowing on Noah Zarc the first ever Bookworm Blather Squeaky Award!

Books two (Cataclysm) (my review) and three (Declaration) are also available. Jump onto his website for more information. He can also be found on Twitter, Facebook, and his blog.

Tomorrow: 5-Q Interview with Noah Zarc author, D. Robert Pease.