A witty, energetic story that’s as educational as it is entertaining.

ROGUE WOLF

From the The Oldenglen Chronicles series , Vol. 3

In the continuation of Mason’s (Lone Wolf, 2016, etc.) middle-grade fantasy series, young Jackson Wolfe tries to prevent a hostile wolf pack and poachers from harming his family and animal friends.

England-born Jackson has truly found his place in the magical Oregon valley called Oldenglen, where he and his family make their home. Thanks to a wolf bite that his father sustained as a child, Jackson has heightened senses of smell and hearing. He’s the perfect intermediary between the glen’s “woodfolk” animals and humans, particularly because he also possesses the powerful Gladestone, which grants him the ability to converse with wildlife. But not all the animals are friendly—an unknown wolf pack, led by Rogue, is planning to settle in the glen. Not only could the woodfolk become the wolves’ prey, but the pack’s presence, so close to humans, could also attract hunters. Meanwhile, poachers have snatched a fledgling eagle named Windlord from the glen. Jackson organizes a rescue mission, but he may be losing the woodfolk’s trust; he wants to drive Rogue’s pack away without any killing, while some animals would prefer letting gun-happy humans take care of the problem. With help from his human pal, Sarah Lopez, Jackson struggles to ensure everyone’s safety, including his own. Mason’s third series installment offers another rousing Oldenglen tale. The story starts quickly—Jackson spots the unfamiliar wolf pack in the very first chapter—and a handful of animal and human villains help maintain a perpetual sense of menace. Overall, it’s a breezy read that’s filled with welcome moments of humor, as when Notch, the black-tailed jackrabbit, says, “I’m all ears.” Readers will sympathize with Jackson’s ongoing struggle with his own identity; a few animals think him to be a wolf sympathizer, while the vicious Rogue abhors his human side. Mason also presents a motley, offbeat assortment of characters, including a vole and saw-whet owl, which may encourage young readers to do further research on unfamiliar species.

A witty, energetic story that’s as educational as it is entertaining.

Pub Date: April 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9948371-6-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Tricklewood Press

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2017

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THE LAST BOOK IN THE UNIVERSE

In this riveting futuristic novel, Spaz, a teenage boy with epilepsy, makes a dangerous journey in the company of an old man and a young boy. The old man, Ryter, one of the few people remaining who can read and write, has dedicated his life to recording stories. Ryter feels a kinship with Spaz, who unlike his contemporaries has a strong memory; because of his epilepsy, Spaz cannot use the mind probes that deliver entertainment straight to the brain and rot it in the process. Nearly everyone around him uses probes to escape their life of ruin and poverty, the result of an earthquake that devastated the world decades earlier. Only the “proovs,” genetically improved people, have grass, trees, and blue skies in their aptly named Eden, inaccessible to the “normals” in the Urb. When Spaz sets out to reach his dying younger sister, he and his companions must cross three treacherous zones ruled by powerful bosses. Moving from one peril to the next, they survive only with help from a proov woman. Enriched by Ryter’s allusions to nearly lost literature and full of intriguing, invented slang, the skillful writing paints two pictures of what the world could look like in the future—the burned-out Urb and the pristine Eden—then shows the limits and strengths of each. Philbrick, author of Freak the Mighty (1993) has again created a compelling set of characters that engage the reader with their courage and kindness in a painful world that offers hope, if no happy endings. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-439-08758-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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An artfully crafted tale with mesmerizing details and a subtle exploration of free will and good versus evil.

BEHIND THE BLUE

A fan of magic and her reluctant companion embark on an adventure when the mysterious Blue Man charges them with a mission.

Little Katherine contemplates what exists behind the scrim of the sky, and she gets her answer after she meets a boy named Charlie, who literally runs into her upon fleeing a blue man and a talking salamander he encounters in the nearby forest. The man is non-threatening, and asks the two to help him recover some lost items, to which Katherine heartily agrees. He doesn’t provide much information, however, so once she and Charlie enter this enchanted universe, they must take it upon themselves to figure out what the Blue Man has lost and how to go about helping him find it. With the help of guides like snarky, enigmatic Gerald and good-natured Frank, the children travel through very deep puddles to different realms behind the clouds, learning about the Blue Man’s nemesis, Grey Lady, who may have snatched his magical dragon stones. Schilling’s well drawn, vibrant world elevates his story above the standard adventure quest. His lively, amusing dialogue complements a fantastical world where fish flit through the air like bees (and may accidentally transport you elsewhere), manta rays make shy cabbies, crushed flowers pop back to life and magic permeates everything. While adults will find the narrative captivating, this book is tailor-made for storytime read-alouds.

An artfully crafted tale with mesmerizing details and a subtle exploration of free will and good versus evil.

Pub Date: July 15, 2005

ISBN: 0-595-36189-7

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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