Cinderella Smith – The More the Merrier

Cinderella Smith: The More the Merrierby Stephanie Barden

144 page middle grade tale of friendship, kindness and fun

Cinderella Smith is one of a kind.  She’s “vexylent.”  It may not be a real word, but it could be.  Combine very with excellent and you know Cinderella’s meaning.  Cinderella likes words and she likes to play around with them.  In third grade, Cinderella is determined to win her school spelling bee. It is important to her because, of course she would like to win, and because the winner plans a class party. She wants to plan a party everyone can enjoy.  She doesn’t want her once good friend, Rosemary T., to win. She’ll plan a unicorn party and that’s something that only Rosemary T. and her posse of friends will like. That doesn’t seem right to Cinder – a party should be fun for everyone.

While studying words with her friends, Erin and Charlie, Cinder notices that Rosemary T. has been using some pretty mean ones lately. Cinder’s parents are on a trip, her aunt is taking care of her and Rosemary T. is spreading rumors around the class.  She’s decided that Cinder is babyish and weird.  It doesn’t feel good to be excluded and Cinder , in desperation,  gives her the silent treatment. Aunt Flora helps her understand how important it is to be yourself and enjoy life. While creating “pancake surprise,” Cinder learns that putting tons of ingredients together makes very tasty pancakes.  And her idea of “the more the merrier” is born. This philosophy spills over to school and Cinder finds a way to include everyone.

You’ll learn some pretty great words by reading Cinderella Smith – the More the Merrier and you’ll also find some good friends.  They know they’re different, but they’re okay with that.  There are no adventures in “same.”

The Familiars – Secrets of the Crown

Secrets of the Crown (The Familiars, #2)by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew JacobsonThe Familiars (The Familiars, #1)

Three are chosen – discover who and how in 374 pages of fantasy adventure for intermediate and middle readers

Who’s your favorite “Familiar”?  What animal would your familiar be?

Two years ago I read The Familiars.  I was attracted to it because that year I had a reader of only cat books.  Aldwyn, one of the Familiars, was a cat so I thought I’d give it a try.  I did and it was great fun.  The main characters are a stray cat, a red-eyed tree frog and a blue jay.  I don’t think there could be a more unlikely trio and their distinct personality traits had me smiling all the way through.

When I saw The Familiars – Secrets of the Crown in the bookstore I knew I wanted to keep this series growing in my classroom.   My to-be-read piles are all over and rather large… finally it was time to read about the Familiars again.  I am so glad I did.  First, because I was reminded of just how fun the characters and the story line is.  One of my favorite scenes is as the quest begins and we find out that Gilbert has blundered a spell (yet again) and now has three extra toes that cause him to hop with a limp and a wobble.  Second, because the third is coming out September 4 and I definitely want to spend more time with Aldwyn, Gilbert and Skylar.  I can’t wait to find out what new challenge Paksahara will put forth, how the prophecy will continue to unfold and how magic will be restored to Vastia (at least I hope it will).

Vastia has been placed in peril.  On the edge of a new era, the kingdom is threatened by take over if the prophecy of a new three who will save and guide the kingdom into the future is not fulfilled before evil Paksahara eliminates all remaining vestiges of magic and has her way.   In a race against time the keepers, both past and present, of Vastia must decipher the riddles laid out before them.  Who are the three?  Is it the three children, Jack, Marianne and Dalton?  They are learning the ancient ways as quickly as they can, but will it be in time?  Or is the prophesied three their Familiars?  Could it be a combination?  In Vastia humans and animals team up, complimenting each other and completing the circle of magical power.  Will they discover all they need to know quickly enough?  Time is of the essence.  Paksahara is experienced, evil and strong.  Will they be in time or Vastia will fall prey to the Paksahara’s Dread Army of skeletal wolves, zombie bears and ghoulish animals.  Will the uprising begin?  How will it end?