YA & Children’s Books

 

Shiver starstarstarstarhalf

by Maggie Stiefvater

This is a YA story but very well written so I didn’t feel like I was reading children’s literature, as is often my problem with YA.

Grace has a fascination with the wolves around her rural home, but when she is dragged off her swing and attacked by the pack, she makes a connection with one of them that saves her life. From then on, her wolf comes to visit her every winter, though he also watches her in summer, but in human form.

This was a sweet romance story with a paranormal twist. It is written in alternating points of view so we see both Grace and Sam’s thoughts about the developing bond between them and the effects when a local boy is bitten and becomes one of the shapeshifter pack.

Despite the high school age concerns which is something I don’t usually care to read about, I enjoyed this one al the way through, though I thought the ending was a little too abrupt and left the last events unexplained. Some loose ends are expected though as it’s a series.

YA Romance readers who like a little paranormal should enjoy this one.

The Show Off Monkey and Other Taoist Tales starstarstarstarhalf

by Mark W. McGinnis

This is a book of retold Chinese fables, based on the writings of the ancient philosopher Chang Tzu but written in modern language that any child could follow.

The tales are very short and each has a morale at the end to teach the reader something about the foibles of human nature.

The pictures are beautifully done and in full color in what looks like an oriental style. Overall the book is beautifully presented and would make a nice gift to a child, though adults would enjoy it too!

 

willaWilla Wicked starstarstarhalf

by A.M. Hudson

This is a YA teenage witch story. The premise sounds really corny, but somehow it seems to work. Willa the teenage witch befriends her neighbour who everyone thinks is a dork. His recent suicide attempt makes them a little careful and mostly they whisper behind his back.

Little do they know, Henry Charming is not of their world. Through the minefield of high school dances and crushes, Henry has a bigger issue to deal with and Willa is the only person he trusts to tell his secret. Meanwhile, Willa’s crush on a popular guy brings its own teenage angst.

There’s a strong fairytale thread in this story and it isn’t the sort of thing I would want to read a lot of, but it was done pretty well so as YA stuff goes, I can’t complain too much. I did find myself wanting to know what would happen in the end. There’s even one scary bit.

 

cat-detectiveThe Cat Detective starstar

by Amma Lee

This is advertised as a YA book but it reads more like a children’s story. If it weren’t for an occasional wrong form of word, I’d recommend it to budding Mystery readers.

It’s a cute story. Wendy and her black cat, imaginatively named Black, set out to solve mysteries. It’s part of a series of course. Wendy has the ability to hear cats talk so Black is able to help her with her cases.

I’ve scored it low because, quite honestly, not enough happens. There is no tension or feeling of danger at any point and the case isn’t all that hard to solve.

In its favor I didn’t see any typos and any story about a talking cat can’t be all bad, but I won’t be reading any more of the series as it’s just too young for me.

 

dark portalThe Dark Portal starstarstarstarhalf

by Robin Jarvis

This is a whimsical children’s story but it’s not just a cutsie mouse story, there are elements of Horror for children. The rats peel mice, as in skinning, so probably for slightly older children with the disposition to enjoy things like Goosebumps.

It is mostly about a mouse family who travel, one by one, through a grate that they know takes them into the territory of the rats. First the father goes on a whim, then his daughter goes to look for him and soon several mice are where they shouldn’t be in a dangerous place.

I don’t often read stories directed at very young readers, but I liked the tone and the writing in this one. Adventurous mouse stories formed an essential part of my own childhood reading and I think this one could easily sit on a shelf next to The Secret of Nimh.

It’s a surprisingly multi-layered story with a spiritual element, but mostly adventures of the child mice. Imagine Nancy Drew stories or the Hardy boys in mouse form. The quality of the writing holds up all through and this is a story I would happily buy for my nieces and nephews who are appropriate age for stories that don’t write down to a child’s level, but concern young characters with whom they could identify. One of the better contributions to children’s literature that I’ve seen for a while.

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