Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Beyond Spiderwick chronicles book 2: A giant problem

Title: A Giant Problem
Author: Tony Diterlizzi & Holly Black
Location: J Diterlizzi
Reading Level: juvenile

Nick Vargas and his stepsister Laurie are the main characters once again. Older brother Jules helps out some this time. You will need to have read book 1, Nixie's Song, before reading this book. There is no explanation to catch you up on what happened in book 1. Actually, having waited a while for the book to come in, it took me a couple pages to remember and figure out what was going on. If you are hoping for a connection to the Grace family you won't find it until the very end (as in the last page) when they are waiting to let the Vargas clan know what they found out about the giants.

The giants seem to be waking up in groups and are causing quite a bit of destruction as they fight for territory. Jack Noseeum isn't much help as he is almost blind, so the Vargas kids are on their own to figure out how to stop the giants. Mermaids and something like a hobgoblin are introduced in this book. The hobgoblin like creature is a bit of a let down since it doesn't help much or have the charisma of Hogsqueel(from the Spiderwick Chronicles). Taloa, the nixie in book 1, has taken off to look for her sisters herself. The mermaids are the only creatures who can help, but remember, fairies can't be trusted.

Bottom Line: A Giant Problem is ok. That's about all the enthusiasm I can muster for it. I didn't hate it, but I definitely felt a bit disappointed while reading it. It lacks something the other Spiderwick books had- just doesn't grab you. It may be that the characters just aren't developed enough to form a connection with the reader.The ending gives the reader an idea about the third book, The Wyrm King, and I can only hope the writers will discover what was missing in this one as the third book is suppose to be the last in this series that had a promising start.

series review: Pebbles Plus Looking at Animal Parts

Title: series review of Let's Look At
Author: Wendy Perkins
Location: JNF
Reading Level: children

The titles in this series are for young children. Each spread has 2 lines of good sized text and a full page picture. There is a simple 5 word glossary at the end. Great photos of the animals that children are sure to love. Although not all pictures demonstrate the text, most show exactly what the words describe.

Bottom line: This is a good series to introduce animal parts, how the part is used, and how they are adapted for different animals. The titles can be used with preschool aged children. Indian River owns the following titles: Let's look at animal teeth, eyes, ears, and feet.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Title: Graceling
Author: Kristin Cashore
Location: YA Cashore
Reading Level: Young Adult

This story revolves around Katsa who is the niece of a king in one of the seven kingdoms. Katsa is unique because she is graced; she was born with the uncanny ability to perform a special skill. Unlike some other gracelings whose talents are swimming or archery, Katsa’s grace is killing. She is employed by her uncle as his primary enforcer and assassin. Katsa secretly despises her position so she joins an underground society devoted to righting the wrongs that are committed by people in power. While on a rescue mission for her society Katsa meets Po, a prince graced with fighting. Together Katsa and Po have to travel to one of the other kingdoms to solve a mysterious kidnapping and possibly multiple murders. They soon realize that the mystery has deeper implications than either expected and if they do not act, the whole land will be in peril.

This may sound like the typical fantasy adventure tale, but it is entirely unique. In her debut novel, Kristin Cashore uses stellar writing to create an extraordinary world peopled with fascinating characters. Katsa is a wonderful heroine. She is incredibly strong, and even though she grows and matures emotionally throughout the book, the defining elements of her character remain intact. Po is another fleshed out character whose relationship with Katsa is one of the best aspects of the novel. The action sequences are exciting, the plot is entirely engaging and the romance provides the finishing touch to one of the best novels of 2008.

The Bottom Line: I can’t say enough good things about Graceling. Give it a try and I guarantee you will love it! Even though this book is marketed to teens, the characters are not specifically teenaged, so adults who enjoy fantasy should love this book as well. Be on the lookout for Cashore’s next book, Fire, which comes out on October 6, 2009