Mlynowski, Sarah. Dream On (Whatever After #4)
November 26th 2013
by Scholastic Press
Copy provided by Deb Shapiro and Co.
Abby is excited to have Robin sleeping over at her house-- instead of an annoying younger brother like Jonah, Robin has a glamorous older sister named Dahlia, so Abby hopes to work on some dances and enjoy her sleepover. Instead, Robin sleepwalks into the basement where there is a magic mirror inhabited by the fairy Maryrose, and Abby, Robin and Jonah are sucked into the story of Sleeping Beauty! Robin promptly pricks herself on a spindle and falls asleep, making the princess, Brianna, very angry. She has looked forward to the day when she would fall asleep and wake up to her one true love in 100 years. Abby is worried about getting Robin home, so manages to put together a birthday party for Jonah so that he can be given "wifticals" by all of the fairies so that they can manage to get back, and hopefully fix the fairy tale at the same time. Of course, things don't go as well as she hopes, and there are a lot of complications to work through.
Strengths: This is a fun fantasy series for tweens-- a lot of Abby's concerns center around the fact that she doesn't have a cell phone, that she doesn't have cool clothes like Robin, etc. Abby is a strong character who takes matters into her own hands to fix the situation. Light and funny, with appealing covers, I can see these being very popular with fifth and sixth graders.
Weaknesses: There is something a bit odd about the fairy tale world that doesn't ring quite true. This would be fine for younger readers, but I somehow wanted a consistently medieval world for Abby to be dropped into.
Klimo, Kate. The Dragon at the North Pole (Dragon Keepers #6)
September 24th 2013
by Random House Books for Young Readers
Copy received from Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there.
Daisy and Jesse are excited about Christmas, and when it snows in their town, they are even more excited, since Emmy, their dragon, has never seen snow. Unfortunately, Emmy is enthralled with snow and the idea of Santa, so she is missing on Christmas morning, but leaves a notes saying that she has gone to help Santa. With the help of Alodie, Daisy and Jesse get magic snowshoes that take them to the North Pole as well. At first, everything is great. The snowshoes keep them warm, and while Santa and his elves are not quite the way the children imagined them, they enjoy their glimpse at the magical world. Soon there are cracks, though, and Daisy and Jesse begin to realize that Santa is actually Beowulf, the dragon slayer, and he has Daisy and Emmy brain washed. Jesse has eaten some of Alodie's magical crackers and can see what is going on, but will he be able to save his cousin and dragon, as well as the other dragons imperiled by Beowulf's evil plan?
Strengths: While I have not read the other books in this series, I can see them being enjoyed by children who have read through all of the Magic Tree House books. The dragon is fun, and the adventure to the North Pole is one that children who are on the fence about Santa will enjoy.
Weaknesses: This took a bit of a dark turn. It's not Santa who is evil, but a Santa impersonator, and I could see a first or second grader being a bit upset by this.
Hunter, Erin. Darkness Falls (Survivors #3)
September 3rd 2013, HarperCollins
Lucky is still struggling with the Alpha dog of the pack, who thinks that Lucky is responsible for the death of pups in the second book and wants to permanently scar Lucky, who is now the pack Omega. Lucky isn't having it, so he runs off, but has some complications. The city is poisoned, and when Lucky meets up with Mickey, the two find that Mickey's "longpaws" are gone, and his house is being robbed by evil longpaws, but not the ones with yellow fur. Shortly after this, the two find three puppies who belong to the "fierce dogs", but whose mother has died. They decide to take the puppies back to the pack so they can be cared for, but the Alpha thinks that the fierce dogs will never be anything but a threat and wants them gone. More dog politics ensue, and much running around the countryside from one settlement to another, being pursued by coyotes and worrying about the spreading black clouds from the ruined city.
Strengths: Kids love these. Some children want to read nothing else, so there is something to be said for them. The Broken Path comes out February 11th 2014, and The Endless Lake June 3rd 2014. The dog books are better than the Warriors series, and WAY better than Seekers.
Weaknesses: Personally, I find these to be extremely painful to read. This book in particular was full of meanness and violence which we would never condone were the characters human. Combine that with the sheer number of dog characters and the weird language that obscures some of what is going on (longpaws with yellow fur in loudbirds= humans in hazmat suits in helicopters) and these are ones that I would not read if left to my own devices. I would, however, rather read these than The Silmarillion. My daughter asked me that as I was complaining about the number of books that the lovely ladies who write as Erin Hunter produce. I shouldn't complain, but these are not my thing!