Saturday, October 30, 2010

Grimm Sunday

Shulman, Polly. The Grimm Legacy.
Nominated for the Cybils by KT
Elizabeth is having trouble making friends at her new school and misses hanging out with her father, who has remarried a woman with two daughters of her own. Her teacher suggests that she apply for a job at the New York Circulating Materials Repository, where he worked as a teen, and after an odd interview that involves her sorting buttons, she is hired. The repository has a varied collection-- fondue pots, old clothing, a few books, and a collection of magical items that are found in the stories by the Brothers Grimm! She learns many of the secrets of the collection from fellow pages Mark, Aaron and Anjali, and finds out that the job has some dangers-- a giant bird seems to be stalking Anjali, and items are being stolen from the collection. After being asked to pull suspect items, Anjali runs a spreadsheet of borrowers, and finds a pattern that leads to Benign Designs and a creepy guy that frequents the repository. She goes off by herself and runs into trouble and must be saved by the others, especially Mark.
Strengths: Very, very nice. Librarians everywhere will be beyond pleased. An atmospheric book; Shulman describes New York City and the Repository in palpable detail. Her descriptions of the smell of magic are brilliant. Nice romance. (page 323: "Then he kissed me. He tasted of chocolate and ginger and apples. Spring air, books. New grass. Magic." *Sigh.*) The characters work nicely together, there's a good sense of suspense and suspicion, and the inclusion of Grimm stories adds a lot to the plot.
Weaknesses: I was a little disappointed about the source of the thefts. It seemed a bit anticlimatic, and just was not what I was suspecting. Just not evil enough.
Buckley, Michael. The Inside Story (The Sisters Grimm, book 8)
Nominated for the Cybils by Laura Mihalik
The Mirror has run off with Daphne and Susanne's toddler brother, so along with Puck they chase him into the Book of Everafter and immediately begin to wreak havoc by not following the story. This brings them to the attention of the Editor, who is in charge of making sure the stories stay the same. They blast their way through The Wizard of Oz, Jack in the Beanstalk, Alice in Wonderland and several others before hunting the Mirror down in the story of Snow White. Along the way, their grandmother and parents show up to help, and while they are successful in keeping Mirror from taking over their brother's body, things do not end in a particularly pleasant manner. It sounds like there may be one more book in the series.
Strengths: This was fast-paced and easy to follow, and there was some character development occurring. That is often a problem when there are this many books in a series.
Weaknesses: Horrible binding. Grrr. Also, I disliked Puck. Sure, he's a bad boy, but he's not charming in the least.
LaFevers, R.L. The Wyverns' Treasure. (Nathaniel Fludd: Beastologist, book 3)
Nominated for the Cybils by Gina R.
Fresh from hunting basilisks, Nathaniel and his Aunt Phil come back to England only to find that her house has been ransacked, as has Nathaniel's. Not only that, but they get an urgent message that there are problems with the wyverns in Wales that require their attention. There has long been a truce with the wyverns-- in exchange for food, they do not terrorize the farmers, but they suspect an intruder and want Aunt Phil to take care of the matter. The intruder turns out to be the same gentleman with whom they had a problem in Egypt-- Obediah. Although he escapes again, they manage to save a baby dragon and make an older dragon happy, so it's a successful venture. More to come.
Strengths: Uncomplicated fantasy adventure for younger readers, with action nicely balanced with Nathaniel's adjustement to being without his parents. Good description of mythical creatures.
Weaknesses: Obediah lacks something as a villain. He's too gentle and doesn't cause quite enough harm.

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