Readers should gladly follow this tale’s young hero, whether he’s facing evil spells or a typical childhood.

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Mystery on Mount Dusk

From the Mount Dusk Mysteries series , Vol. 1

In this debut YA fantasy, a 10-year-old boy learns that the secret of his new hometown lies with the strange disappearances of two families centuries ago.

When George Mutton’s expectant mom decides she needs more bedrooms to accommodate her twin babies, the family moves to Mount Dusk. With a 50-person population, the town doesn’t afford much opportunity for George to make friends, but he finds a confidant in Charlie Redwin. George is fascinated by Mount Dusk’s enigmatic history, which entails a couple of families vanishing back in 1795. Even more intriguing is the fact that the Muttons reside in the home of one of those clans, the affluent Regales, while George later learns the other family, comprising circus/magic performers, was the Redwins. Turns out Charlie’s not-very-nice Uncle Hubert may have used a spell to imprison Regale souls somewhere on the mountain. In order to free the souls, George and Charlie will need a Redwin spell book, with incantations that only work when recited by a Redwin descendant. The two reluctantly team up with George’s intermittently whiny little sister, Maggie, who can hopefully earn the trust of Charlie’s twin, Yvonne, who has seemingly sided with her nefarious uncle. If the kids can find a way around Hubert’s ghostly Redwin Guards, they may have a chance at saving the Regales. The story thrives entirely on George’s perspective: in his eyes, his carpenter father’s a klutz and 7-year-old Maggie’s clearly “a spoilt brat.” Thankfully, George is a smashing protagonist, sympathetic to Maggie post-tantrum and, though initially seeking adventure, ultimately risking his safety to help the trapped Regales. Taylor retains genuine mystery by shrouding Mount Dusk in ambiguity, its specific location unrevealed. There are likewise a couple of bombshells regarding links between characters as well as a surprising villain and an ally or two. Hubert, the unquestionable baddie, remains spiteful and eerily furtive (going who knows where every night) but manages to be creepier still when he’s a perfect gentleman in front of Mrs. Mutton. The ending promises more Mount Dusk secrets to come—and sequels.

Readers should gladly follow this tale’s young hero, whether he’s facing evil spells or a typical childhood.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9965595-1-5

Page Count: 175

Publisher: Neverland Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2016

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The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and...

WAITING FOR THE BIBLIOBURRO

Inspired by Colombian librarian Luis Soriano Bohórquez, Brown’s latest tells of a little girl whose wish comes true when a librarian and two book-laden burros visit her remote village.

Ana loves to read and spends all of her free time either reading alone or to her younger brother. She knows every word of the one book she owns. Although she uses her imagination to create fantastical bedtime tales for her brother, she really wants new books to read. Everything changes when a traveling librarian and his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, arrive in the village. Besides loaning books to the children until his next visit, the unnamed man also reads them stories and teaches the younger children the alphabet. When Ana suggests that someone write a book about the traveling library, he encourages her to complete this task herself. After she reads her library books, Ana writes her own story for the librarian and gives it to him upon his reappearance—and he makes it part of his biblioburro collection. Parra’s colorful folk-style illustrations of acrylics on board bring Ana’s real and imaginary worlds to life. This is a child-centered complement to Jeanette Winter’s Biblioburro (2010), which focuses on Soriano.

The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and “iii-aah” adding to the fun.   (author’s note, glossary of Spanish terms) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-353-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating...

FRINDLE

Nicholas is a bright boy who likes to make trouble at school, creatively. 

When he decides to torment his fifth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Granger (who is just as smart as he is), by getting everyone in the class to replace the word "pen'' with "frindle,'' he unleashes a series of events that rapidly spins out of control. If there's any justice in the world, Clements (Temple Cat, 1995, etc.) may have something of a classic on his hands. By turns amusing and adroit, this first novel is also utterly satisfying. The chess-like sparring between the gifted Nicholas and his crafty teacher is enthralling, while Mrs. Granger is that rarest of the breed: a teacher the children fear and complain about for the school year, and love and respect forever after. 

With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating tale—one to press upon children, and one they'll be passing among themselves. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-689-80669-8

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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