An imaginative fable about two witches that should excite young readers.

Grimm House

A children’s tale that reveals a little girl’s travails combines suspense, fantasy, and some dark fears.

Hadley Brighton’s parents decide to take a 10-day cruise, leaving the girl under the supervision of a high school–aged babysitter, Zoe. One day, an old woman named Maxine Grimm arrives unannounced, claiming to be Hadley’s great-aunt, a revelation of sorts because Hadley is sure she has never heard of her. Maxine informs Hadley that her parents’ ship capsized, the two are lost at sea, and in the interim she plans to take Hadley to her own home, where she lives with her younger sister, Charmaine. Terrified at the prospect that her parents are gone forever, Hadley reluctantly leaves with Maxine and is quickly subjected to an oddly regimented schedule that essentially reduces her to the role of a housekeeper. She spends the bulk of her day completing chores—mostly cleaning duties the aunts consider so grotesque as to be beneath them—and her aunts actually compel Hadley to dance for her supper. She turns out to be a precociously gifted dancer. Hadley becomes reasonably suspicious of her aunts, not merely because of their virtual enslavement of her and their general oddness, but also because they seem cruelly dismissive of her understandably persistent interest in her parents’ fate. Then Hadley hears a rumbling in an oversized dustbin the aunts inexplicably keep, and a talking beetle discloses that they are actually witches who intend to suck out her talent, as they have done to so many children before: “Anyhow, they did their talent every night for the witches, and then one night—poof! All that was left was ashes. And then the witches sweep up the ashes and put them in the bin.” Hadley has no choice but to craft a plan to escape the Grimm House before she becomes yet another victim of Maxine and Charmaine. Written for young children, this brief story artfully combines magical flights from reality, an endearing touch of sweetness, and some genuinely creepy material still appropriate for a younger reader. It’s unclear why parents would leave a child with a teenager for 10 days or why that babysitter would so easily surrender her charge to a stranger, but these wrinkles in the plot never diminish its overall charm. McQuestion (Write That Novel!, 2016, etc.), who has written two other books for younger readers, has produced a delightful tale for children to peruse or for parents to read to their kids.

An imaginative fable about two witches that should excite young readers. 

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9864164-6-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Nightsky Press

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.



In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Mary's Song

From the Dream Horse Adventure Series series , Vol. 1

A novel tells the story of two spirited girls who set out to save a lame foal in 1952.

Mary, age 12, lacks muscle control of her legs and must use a wheelchair. Her life is constantly interrupted by trips with her widower father to assorted doctors, all of whom have failed to help her. Mary tolerates the treatments, hoping to one day walk unassisted, but her true passion involves horses. Possessing a library filled with horse books, she loves watching and drawing the animals at a neighboring farm. She longs to own one herself. But her father, overprotective due to her disability and his own lingering grief over Mary’s dead mother, makes her keep her distance. Mary befriends Laura, the emotionally neglected daughter of the wealthy neighboring farm owners, and the two share secret buggy rides. Both girls are attracted to Illusion, a beautiful red bay filly on the farm. Mary learns that Illusion is to be put down by a veterinarian because of a lame leg. Horrified, she decides to talk to the barn manager about the horse (“Isn’t it okay for her to live even if she’s not perfect? I think she deserves a chance”). Soon, Mary and Laura attempt to raise money to save Illusion. At the same time, Mary begins to gain control of her legs thanks to water therapy and secret therapeutic riding with Laura. There is indeed a great deal of poignancy in a story of a girl with a disability fighting to defend the intrinsic value of a lame animal. But this book, the first installment of the Dream Horse Adventure Series, would be twice as touching if Mary interacted with Illusion more. In the tale’s opening, she watches the foal from afar, but she actually spends very little time with the filly she tries so hard to protect. This turns out to be a strange development given the degree to which the narrative relies on her devotion. Count (Selah’s Sweet Dream, 2015) draws Mary and Laura in broad but believable strokes, defined mainly by their unrelenting pluckiness in the face of adversity. While the work tackles disability, death, and grief, Mary’s and Laura’s environments are so idyllic and their optimism and perseverance so remarkable that the story retains an aura of uncomplicated gentleness throughout.

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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