Crilley, Paul. Rise of the Darklings (The Invisible Order Book 1)
Nominated for the Cybils by Virginia; review copy recieved from Goodman Media
In Victorian London, Emily Snow's life is hard enough. Her parents have both gone missing, so she and her brother William live in a horrible boarding house, and she goes out every day to try to sell watercress to buy food. When she happens upon a fight involving piskies, things get worse. While she is befriended by the piskie Corrigan, she is stalked by the evil Ravenhill and has to enlist the help of her friend Jack when the fey queen, Kelindria, wants her to complete a task in order to regain her brother. Then things get complicated. Pursued on all sides by evil water witches, Ravenshill, the fey on the side of Kelindria AND the fey on the side of the possibly evil Dragda, Emily and Jack have to work out what is best for the humans, who belong to The Invisible Order, an institution founded by Christopher Wren in order to keep the fey at bay.
Strengths: Good use of Victorian London setting, innovative use of different fantasy creatures, plenty of action and suspense.
Weaknesses: It was hard to tell who was good and who was evil, which makes for a more intriguing book but is also a bit hard to follow.
Vernon, Ursula. Dragonbreath: Curse of the Were-Wiener.
Nominated for the Cybils by D.M. Cunningham.
Danny Dragonbreath and his friend Wendell are concerned after Wendell is attacked by a school hotdog and starts itching and growing hair on his back. Upon investigation, the hot dogs are found to be feral were-wieners, and the product help line is not much use, other than to tell the boys that they have a limited time to stop the wieners from turning all of their victims into lycanthropic minions. With the aid of rats and a previous nemesis, a blob of potato salad, the boys manage to defeat the main wiener and restore order to their school. Until the next time.
Strengths: This made me laugh out loud several times. Vernon has a good feel for things that will make ten year olds AND adults laugh. The illustrations add some zip to the story, and the format is excellent for younger or struggling readers. I can see these being wildly popular in elementary school. Really enjoyed this.
Weaknesses: Falls on the elementary side of The Pilkey Line. There is no way I'm going to have a book in a middle school library with the word "wiener" so prominently displayed!