Boots completes Kate Hannigan’s The League of Secret Heroes trilogy. (Well, maybe?!.  As the books ends, there is room for more stories with these characters. I would be glad to read them.)   The series presents a blend of history, mystery and superpower action.  They are fun!  The graphic interludes sprinkled throughout are a nod to comic books, important to the era, and the stories.  Each book, Boots, Mask and Cape, celebrates the story of the girls who make the new super-hero group, The Infinity Trinity.  Through them readers learn about different aspects of society during the. World War II era.  One is an Irish immigrant, one is Japanese American and one is African American.

Throughout the series Josie, Akiko. And Mae, discover and grow their powers.  Drawn together by their love of comic book heroes, the girls soon realize something is wrong.  There are plots and spies in the. United States.  Through codes, ciphers and persistence, the girls realize they must do something to help their heroes survive and save their country.

Boots begins in Chicago where the girls discover a Nazi plot to disrupt airplane manufacturing.    Chicago is where Mae’s grandmother and aunts live  Mae’s aunts are pilots who deliver planes from the manufacturing plants to the air strips where they will be launched into service.  The plot becomes personal when the evil Metallic Falcon captures Aunt Willa and Aunt Janet in an attempt to keep the Infinity Trinity from achieving their ultimate goal of finding and freeing Zenobia and the other missing super heroes.

It will take all their courage and skill.  Can they complete their biggest mission yet?


Happy Reading!📚

A Game of Fox & Squirrels

Have you ever tried playing a game, but the people you are playing with keep changing the rules.  It’s not really fair.  And it’s not really fun, but whenever you try to stand up for yourself you get ridiculed, teased and pestered.  You can ask for help, or you can just let it go.  Maybe the next time will be different.  It’s hard to choose what to do.

Samantha Littlefield’s home life is a bit like that.  After the incident that broke her sister’s arm, the girls find themselves in a car with Aunt Vicky on their way to her home in rural Oregon.  It’s really different from Los Angeles.  The house is way off the road.  They have fresh air, quiet, chickens and Aunt Vicky has a wife, Hannah.  Everything is different.  At first all Sam can think about is how, and when she will get back home.

It’s clear that Aunt Vicki and Hannah are trying.  They’ve been thinking about what the girls will need to feel happy, safe and at home.  There’s even a birthday present waiting on Samatha’s bed when she arrives.

“Is this for me?” Sam picked it up, pulled the long pink ribbon through her fingers.

“Happy birthday,” Aunt Vicky said.  “It was yesterday, wasn’t it?  I thought you might like a present.  We can bake a cake later too.  With frosting.  I’m not sure we have enough sugar, but we definitely have the eggs.”  She chuckled, but Sam didn’t know why.

Oh, the chickens.  Eggs and chickens.  Eggs and cakes.  Chicken and cakes.  Was this the sort of thing people in Oregon found funny? …

Sam ripped off the paper and gasped.  It wasn’t a book, as she’d been expecting.  A Game of Fox & Squirrels was written in faded type across a battered box.  The ampersand was swirly and inviting, and Sam couldn’t help but run her fingertip along its wild, swooping curves.

Something moved outside the window.  A flash of red, fast as a heartbeat.  But when Sam looked, she saw only the same old green grass and trees and blue sky.

“Its’s a card game,” Aunt Vicky said.  “Works better with a few people.  We can play later, if you want.”

Later, when Sam looks closely at the cards, she loves the characters.  The squirrels are resourceful and strong.  The trickster fox is enchanting.  The next day Sam finds the characters have come- Squirrels: Birch, Cedar and Maple and Fox:  Ashander – into her room.  They talk to her and offer her a chance for adventure.  The fox suggests a quest.  He says if Sam is able to find and retrieve the Golden Acorn he, Ashander, will grant her everything she wishes for.

It seems like an easy choice  and so the quest begins.  Almost immediately the rules change and Sam finds herself lying, stealing and putting those she cares for and depends on, in danger.  How will she win the game?  Is winning a game important?  What is important when you need help?  Should anyone go on an important quest alone?  What matters most?

In the Author’s Note of A Game of Fox & Squirrels, Jenn Reese says this is a book she had to write.  It is a book she wished she’d had as a child when she was living with a “fox” – someone who kept changing the rules so she could never please them no matter how carefully she tried to follow the rules.  Parents and teachers, make sure you read book… it may be just the story someone needs to hear.

Happy Reading! 📚

Root Magic

The reviews for Root Magic, Eden Royce’s debut novel, caught my eye.  I’ve also noticed this title on a couple of Mock Newbery 2022 list so I made sure it rose to the top of my TBR pile.  This story had me intrigued from the graveside opening through to the the final words, “‘That’s okay.” I smiled, full of hope and promise.  “I know how to keep a secret.'”

Jezebel Turner and her family live on a South Carolina island.  They are of the Gullah Geechee people.  Her family chooses to keep the old ways alive.  Jez and her twin brother, Jay, have each other.  They  gather what they need from the salt marsh – shellfish and grasses to be woven into mats and baskets.  They work with their grandmother making healing potions, lotions and teas.  They help their mother tend the garden and harvest the produce, bringing what’s extra for Mama to sell at market.  They enjoy each other and play wherever they can find the time.  Summers are full of work and joy, quiet and fun.

But summers end. Gran, the calming anchor of their lives, dies.  She has been Jez’s dearest – maybe her only friend.  Her final gift to Jez is a treasured rag doll carefully sown from the scraps of their shared life and carrying one of Gran’s final breaths.  With almost no time to process her loss, Deputy Collins in on their doorstep threatening to take action for… Jez doesn’t know and she knows she can’t ask either.  It is 1963 and white law enforcement are able to act freely in communities of color. In less than a week after the burial and “the visit”, school will begin.  This year school will be different too.  Jez’ll be skipping to 6th grade, while Jay will travel with their classmates into fifth.

Feeling alone at home…and at school… the twin’s 11th birthday bring some striking revelations.  Dinah, the doll walks and that’s not all the magic that is put into motion.  Jez and Jay begin to learn about their heritage Uncle Doc. Through his teaching they come to understand the importance of ROOTS,  and also the importance of following your heart and believing  in the power of ancestral stories

Bravery, kindness, family love and historic truths anchor this incredible story.  Wow!

Happy Reading!📚

Are You Ready to Hatch an Unusual Chicken?

A few weeks ago I read this book’s  companion Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer.  It was such fun, I quickly found the next book.  In it, Sophie continues her work with Unusual Chickens and begins to revitalize her recently inherited, Redwood Farm.  Hortensia  James, reaches out to Sophie through email to return two new Unusual Chickens that Agnes had loaned her when she could no longer care for them.  She also sends Sophie her first clutch of eggs.  This means lots of learning about incubators and caring for the eggs as a mother hen would.  Thankfully she has friends to help her with this – Chris, Sam and Gregory.  They know about poultry and they know about Unusual Chickens.

In addition to those friend’s, Sophie’s cousin, Lupe, comes to stay with them when she begins college close by. Sophie is thrilled to have more of her family on the farm.  Unfortunately not everyone is as welcoming to people with brown skin.   As Sophie learns how to care for chicks and to discover all she can about each species of unusual chicken, middle school begins, Sophie holds a potluck work party to clean up Redwood Farm and she finds a way to help Lupe and Sam solve problems that come their way.

What kinds of Unusual Chickens will Sophie hatch?  How will she learn about them and care for them?  What will she do to make sure they are safe?  How will she bring Redwood Farm back to its past glory?  Will Sophie pass the inspection conducted by the Unusual Poultry Committee, Northern California Division?Will Mrs. Griegson help, or hurt the farm? What will happen next?  Read to find out – you’ll be glad you did.

Happy Reading! 📚

The Troubled Girls of Dragonmir Academy

Marya Lupa is a girl from a remote village in Illyria.  Unlike her brother, Luka, she had NO potential to bring her parents status and honor. Only the boys of Illyria can possess potential magical abilities.  Only boys can become sorcerers and obtain the awesome job of protecting the country from the destructive, terrifying power of the DREAD.  This is the destiny Marya’s parents plan for her brother to claim.

As long as Marya does her chores, her parents pay her little attention (though they criticize her from exploring her world and questioning everything.). When her younger brother succumbed to a fever, Maria has even more time on her hands.  At home she is belittled and chastised so Marya often finds her way to her neighbor’s where she helps care for the two young boys or helps Madame Bandu, a tapestry weaver and keeper of Illyrian history, with her work.

In return for her help, Madame Bandu teaches Marya to read and encourages her to read everything and learn as much as she can.  Marya learns history and folksongs.  She learns science and mathematics.  She learns the ways of people and the stories they share.  Madame Bandu helps her wonder about what the tellers choose to share AND what they choose to omit.  She encourages Marya to wonder about truth and to question who benefits by how a story is told.

On the day of Luka’s evaluation, it seems as though Marya may also have a bright future.  Luka will be a scorcher and she could become Madame Banda’s apprentice.  Possibility surrounds the Lupa family.  Anything might be possible until everything explodes into a chaos of uncertainty.  Luke is deemed to have no magical ability and Marya is compelled by order of the Emperor to attend The Dragonmir Academy for Troubled Girls.  Why?  What is the truth?  Who benefits from the story – what is shared?  What is omitted?  Read this spellbinding tale to find out!

Happy Reading! 📚

Sisters of the Neversea ~ a contemporary Peter Pan story

Sisters of the Neversea has me thinking – as all good books do.  Its reviews caught my attention because I like the Peter Pan story.  I know the Disney version – the play version – the versions shared by countless movie remakes, and the version shared in Peter and the Starcatchers series with their deliciously vile villains.  In writing this review I have to confess, I’ve not read the 1904 original by J.M. Barrie.  My grandparent’s copy sits on my bookshelf and I wonder, I should give it a try… maybe – original tale…maybe not – outdated language and world views…I’ll see.  Here’s why I might wait.  Cynthia Leitich Smith has combined iconic bits from the popular story in ways that made me question and think about how stories and books grow and encourage understanding and empathy.

Sister of the Neversea begins as the blended Roberts-Darling family celebrate a family milestone.  Mom, John and Lily are Muscogee Creek from Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Dad and Wendy have joined them from London, England, and the family has been further blended when younger brother, Michael, was born.  Lily and Wendy are step-sisters AND best friends.  They adore their younger brother – but unsettling changes have come to their family.

John is celebrating his graduation from high school. He has college plans for the upcoming school year.  A new job has dad and Wendy moving to New York City.  This leaves Wendy and Lily only one day to worry about the fate of their sisterhood and their family.  Before they have a chance to talk about what is happening and how they actually feel, a flying boy in search of a storyteller, a fairy – tasked with keeping Peter Pan content and Neverland safe, and a rouge shadow, uncomfortable with its origins behavior enter their bedroom.

Cynthia Leitich Smith has created a complex, contemporary Peter Pan tale.  What does being an Indigenous member of our society?  How can we, as non-Indigenous members of society show respect and care for all people?  Readers  can explore ideas about family, stereotypes, identity, environment, social justice and personal responsibility.  You can ponder these ideas and/or  you can enjoy another great Peter Pan inspired adventure.  How do the choices you make effect the world?

Happy Reading! 📚


Another Great Book in the Greenglass series

The Raconteur’s Commonplace Book by Phineas Amalgam is Kate Milford’s fifth book featuring the magical town of Nagspeak situated on the Skidwrack River. Each book is skillfully mysterious ~ real and unreal, magical and ordinary, everyday and unique all at once.  Curious readers can’t help but be intrigued.  

Lexio, an online dictionary, defines a raconteur as a person who tells anecdotes in a skillful and amusing way.  Phineas Amalgam is such a collector of tales.   When he and his fellow guests find themselves waylaid at the Blue Vein Tavern by unrelenting rain, he suggests they pass the evenings sharing stories.  Each story is original and personal.  Over the course of days and tellings, it becomes apparent that the stories and their tellers are connected.  Are the guests at the Blue Vein Tavern there by chance, or is there something this particular group of people must do to put their stories together and face the truth?   Fate seems to rest in their collective hands.

I think you’ll enjoy this collection of tales.  If you’re already a reader of the Greenglass Series, I think you’ll be completely satisfied.  If you’re new to the series, please make time to enjoy the rest.   This series is one to be savored and reread – I missed so many details and clues the first time through.  It was fun to find them later.




Happy Reading!📚

PS – I kept a paper in my book while I was reading so I could keep track of new words.  There were a lot for me.  I don’t think I’ll use them, but it was fun to see how they perfectly fit into this story. 


Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer

Sophie’s summer vacation has just begun.  She’s moved from LA to  the very small town of Gravenstein, California. She’s living on the farm her dad inherited from his Uncle Jim.  There’s nothing but dust and junk and grapevines with no grapes.  It’s lonely, but Sophie is determined to make the best of things.  She will, if she can figure out what to do.  Tacked on the wall inside the barn, Sophie finds a flier advertising “unusual chickens” along with an address to inquire about a catalogue.  Sophie thinks a farm with chickens could be more interesting than what she is living with now.  She asks about getting the catalogue.  Her mom agrees it can’t hurt, and suggests she write a business letter to Redwood Farm requesting one.  Sophie gives her letter to Gregory, the mailman, who says he’ll deliver it the next day.

While she waits, Sophie decides to organize some of stuff Great Uncle Jim has collected all over the farm.  She discovers a typewriter in the hayloft and makes a space for herself there.  It is peaceful.  Typing reminds her of her Abuelita, and Sophie begins to write to her, sort of like a diary.  She knows her grandmother won’t answer, but it eases her loneliness to connect with someone. she knows loves her.  

Sophie continues to explore the farm looking for things to do.  She finds a little tipped over house and wonders what it’s for.    She soon discovers it’s likely for an angry little white chicken who appears from the blackberry bushes the next day.  Sophie decides to care for it while she figures out what to do.  Now she really needs to hear from Redwood Farm Supply because she has a chicken that is indeed “unusual.”  Henrietta (named after the chicken in The Hoboken Chicken Emergency) has telekinetic powers.   

After Sophie discovers this chicken has powers, several things happen at once.  Sophie receives a response from Agnes, the owner of Redwood Farm Supplies, telling her that Henrietta is one of Great Uncle Jim’s chickens and admonishes her to keep the chicken a secret in order to keep her safe.  Someone named Sue Griegson (who’s about the same age as Sophie’s parents) claims to be missing chickens and tries to steal Henrietta.  More of  Great Uncle Jim unusual chickens come home to roost with Henrietta.

Using information she learns from library books and the librarian, from talking to Gregory, the mailman, from the i chicken-care correspondence course sent to her by Agnes, and help she receives from other poultry loving kids in town, Sophie knows she has a lot of work to do to keep her flock happy, healthy and safe.   She is determined to do what is right, even when it is challenging and makes her reach outside her comfort zone.

Read Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones with illustrations by Katie Kath. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it – and hope for more.  It is fun.  The writing is great.  The format is unique.  The illustrations are funny.  It’s a lighthearted story that will make you smile and think at the same time.

Happy Reading!📚

PS – If anyone reads this who knows Vera M please tell her about this book.  She’ll definitely appreciate the chickens!

What do you wish? Granted… should it be that simple?

Reading Granted by John David Anderson is an absolute joy. I started wondering about magic in our world.  What is magic?  What is my responsibility for keeping it alive?  Is it real?  Should I worry about it, or just let it go?  To begin answering my questions I looked up the definition.  Magic is:  1) a power that allows people to do impossible things by saying special words or performing special actions;  2) a special power, influence or skill; 3) a wonderful, exciting or attractive quality.

When I stop to think about it, I’ve been the beneficiary of all three types of magic described by the definition.   An unexpected, totally sincere compliment, is magic.  Sharing a smile or a spontaneous hug, offering help where and when it is needed, is magic.  Noticing a cardinal in a bare tree save a few golden apples against a clear blue sky, is magic.  It seems that magic is all around us if we only slow down enough to notice and see.

At the start of Granted, before the story begins, readers are reminded that every wish made on stars or candles blown or coins tossed (as long as it remains unspoken) is heard.  The book is the story of what happens to grant one wish.  The story is that of Ophelia Delphinium Fidget, ~ a Granter.  She is one of a few select fairies whose job it is to venture out into the world to grant the wish of unsuspecting humans.  The fairies who are Granters do this every day.  It is the work of the Granters, that generate the magic allowing  the fairies to do what they do and to stay undetected in the human world.  As Ophelia’s mission begins, magic levels across the world are at an all-time low.  Care must be taken.

Ophelia Delphinium Fidget is excited when she receives the mission -her first.  She is aware that navigating the human world will be full of danger, but she has prepared carefully.  She is ready! 

But NOTHING goes as planned.  There are jets, aggressive geese, a broom, a hawk, windshield wipers, a truck and more…  In addition, there is a difficult choice.  Because of the waning magic available to the fairies, only some wishes can be granted.  Years ago the fairies decided that an impartial lottery would be most fair.  But is it?  Are all wishes equal?  Is a boy’s longing for his father’s return from deployment in Iraq more important than a girl’s wish for a purple bike to replace her stolen one?

Read Granted to find out how Ophelia Delphinium Fidget decides and who is there to support her in her decision.

The common expression, “Be careful what you wish for” takes on a whole new meaning.  

If you’re new to the writing of John David Anderson, Ms. Bixby’s Last Day and Posted  are among my 4th/5ht/6th grade favorite reads.  Check them out too.

Happy Reading!📚

Anya and the Dragon

Anya and the Dragon by Sofia Pasternak is a fantasy adventure set in tenth century town of Zmeyreka.  The tale deftly combines Slavic folklore and Jewish traditions to introduce readers to domovoi, rusalkas, and many other magical creatures.  Magic has been banned in the Zmeyreka for ten years, but here and there it still thrives, and  surrounds Anya.  Her grandmother, Babula, has plant magic.  She makes medicines that help the community.  Dyedka, her grandfather, has animal magic that helps to keep the farm animals safe and thriving.   In fact many creatures, extinct in other parts of Russian are found in Anya’s village.  It is rumored to be the home to the last dragon.  The Tsar has sent a family of Fools – who are capable of, and allowed to perform Fools’ Magic- to capture and kill it if they find it. 

The Fools have seven sons – all named Ivan.  The first six Ivans are found in three sets of fair-haired twins who take after their father.  The seventh Ivan is a dark-haired like his mother.  He feels alone in his chaotic family.  He is eleven, as is Anya.  She is an only child of the only Jewish family.  She feels alone and apart in her village. Both are tolerated, but not fully accepted or included because they are seen as different.  Because of this, they are drawn to each other.  As the story unfolds, Anya and Ivan make some important choices – power or friendship, money or integrity, comfort or compassion.

I thoroughly enjoyed Anya – dedicated to her family, curious about others and trying to find her own place in the world.  Ivan is a one-of-a-kind friend from a unique family and also searching for his way in the world.  Both are firmly connected to their families, but both know there is more to life if they are open and able to be true to themselves.  

I also recommend Anya and the Nightingale, the sequel.  I like it as much, if not more.  Prejudice and stereotyping, tolerance, disabilities and diversity are entwined with the magic and adventure.  I am hoping there will be more books about these friends.

If you enjoy this time period and Eastern European folklore you will also enjoy reading the adult novels from The Winterlight Trilogy by Katherine Arden:  The Bear and the Nightingale, The Girl in the Tower and The Winter of the Witch.  I thought they were wonderful!

Do you have a favorite fantasy to recommend?   What culture’s mythology have you enjoyed exploring?  Please share your books and ideas in the comments.

Happy Reading!📚