Vaughan, M.M. Six
May 12th 2015 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Parker and his sister Emma (who is hearing impaired) have just moved to the US with their father, Dr. Banks. Parker has a terrible time in his new school-- he is bullied, and finds an ally in wealthy computer geek Michael, who is giving money to the horrible Aaron. Emma does much better than Parker, but both children struggle with missing their mother, who was killed in a car accident several years previously. The three family members are able to read each other's thoughts thanks to a communication device their father has planted in their wrists. Dr. Banks worked with the Avectron corporation, and when his work on teleporting the wealthy to a manufactured planet, Six, doesn't go well, he is kidnapped by the evil Bowveld. Before he is taken, he is able to tell Parker to find Solomon Gladstone. With the help of Michael's family retainers, Parker and Emma are able to find Solomon, and find out information about his father's company's plans. After much evading of the company's personnel still on Earth, the three manage to get taken to Six. Will they be able to be reunited with their father? And are there other family mysteries that they will also uncover?
Strengths: Lots of fun science about teleportation, good adventure, evil scientist villains, chase scenes, and a sidekick who is wealthy enough to make obstacles disappear. Loyal family retainers who don't tell parents anything. That's a good start for a middle grade science fiction book. Somewhat like Omega City.
Weaknesses: I kept waiting for the pig that had been transported and then became a family pet to be mentioned more, but she wasn't at all. The ending is odd, and I can't tell if there will be a second book. The bullying was COMPLETELY unnecessary and just made the book longer. (368 pages.)
What I really think: Will probably buy a copy because the science is fun, but this would have definitely benefited from a LOT more editing. Really dragged in the middle, and dropping the whole bit with the pet pig and the bullying would have tightened up the story a lot.
Yep, Laurence and Ryder, Joanne. A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans.
March 10th 2015 by Crown Books for Young Readers
When Winnie's great aunt Amelia passes away, she leaves the family mansion in San Francisco to Winnie and her mother, a horse trainer who has been badly injured. Amelia had been corresponding with Winnie, and has told her the biggest secret of all-- the mansion comes complete with Miss Drake, a dragon! Miss Drake is sad about the demise of her pet (whom she called Fluffy), and is a bit annoyed that Winnie has found her. Winnie is insistent, however, so Miss Drake takes her shopping to a magical store. There, the two purchase a sketch book, which has the power to make whatever is drawn in it real. They don't know this at first, however, and Winnie completes 20 drawings of magical creatures that come to life and flee the book, endangering the delicate balance of magic that Miss Drake has tried so hard to keep. Most of the creatures are easy to catch, but the pemburu is unwilling to be caught, and is growing and growing, feeding on the magic of others. While working together against this common threat, Miss Drake and Winnie learn a lot about the other, and Miss Drake begins to understand why Amelia left Winnie in on their secret.
Even though Winnie's situation is somewhat sad (her father passed away when she was young, her grandparents disapproved of her mother, and things were not easy), things are improving, and the discovery of Miss Drake doesn't faze Winnie at all. The two have an uneasy relationship at first, with Winnie thinking that Miss Drake is the pet, but they both come to see that the other has skills and powers that are valuable.
This reads much like classic children's fantasies such as No Flying in the House or the Ruth Chew books, and the reader is sent right into a magical world without apology... and the world makes sense because we want so much to believe it is true. Flying on a dragon to a magical shop over San Francisco? Absolutely. A magic sketchbook that brings drawings to life? Hand it over. A tiara with a tiny dent where the pteranodon bit it? I will fight all of the pemburus you want me to as long as I can have a dragon like Miss Drake living in MY basement!
An excellent choice for a first fantasy book, A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans was a heartfelt magical romp with lots of adventure as well as some deeply poignant moments.