A morally-sound hero who earns sympathy and cheers as a champion of the wildlife.

Lone Wolf

From the The Oldenglen Chronicles series , Vol. 2

Mason, Robin

LONE WOLF: BOOK TWO OF THE OLDENGLEN CHRONICLES A twelve-year-old boy’s ability to communicate with animals may come in handy when revenge-minded bullies invade his family’s land in Mason’s (Oldenglen, 2015) middle-grade fantasy. Although initially reluctant to leave his England home, Jackson Wolfe has grown to love Oregon. The Oldenglen estate where he lives is a magical place where the boy can understand the forest’s inhabitants. But while the woodfolk are pals, Jackson’s had less luck making friends at school. Bully Noah and his three cronies who form The Pack target Jackson after he sticks up for nerdy Daniel. When Noah instigates a tussle outside a library, Jackson momentarily unleashes the “wolf within,” [5] a transformation he thought would materialize only in Oldenglen. Jax the Wolf has amped speed and strength, with golden eyes the sole physical change — but it’s his eyes that Noah may have witnessed. Now designating Jackson a freak, The Pack creeps into Oldenglen, where Noah boasts of knowing the area. Fortunately, Jackson has help, from the woodfolk who immediately spot the camping bullies to San Franciscan Sarah, who’s visiting the boy she’d befriended over the summer. With a hunting dog and gun, Noah poses a threat to Jackson and his woodsy companions, especially if he tells potentially-armed adults he’s spotted wolves or coyotes. So Jackson, Sarah, and the woodfolk make a plan to protect Oldenglen. This laudable tale is more exciting than the series’ first, which Mason co-wrote with his father. Handling exposition thoroughly but efficiently, the author dives right into the story to establish the new villains. Noah, et. al., even if mere eighth-graders, are genuinely scary; he and older brother Nate, in a discernible black truck, follow Jackson’s bus all the way home. Despite further distress (Jackson’s missing porcupine buddy Squiffle) and the occasional menacing animal (a bull elk literally looking for a fight), the narrative’s predominantly jaunty. The good guys, for one, are surprisingly skilled at psychological warfare, opting to disturb the bullies’ sleep and campsite, which results in hilarious directives: “Send in the moles.” [214] Jackson battles relatable issues, too, including loneliness, feeling like both wolf and human with no real pack of his own.

A morally-sound hero who earns sympathy and cheers as a champion of the wildlife.

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9948371-2-7

Page Count: 348

Publisher: Tricklewood Press

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2016

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

BROTHERS IN ARMS

BLUFORD HIGH SERIES #9

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

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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