Sunday, February 25, 2007

May Bird and the Ever After by Jodi Lyn Anderson

Meet 10-year-old May Bird, who lives with her mother and a hairless rex cat named Somber Kitty at the edge of a woods in a place called Briery Swamp. She spends much of her time with her cat in the woods, dreaming of being a warrior princess or in her room drawing pictures of strange creatures. She's not like the other kids in her class, who think she's just plain weird. May Bird's mother, concerned and coming to her wits' end with May's "strange" behavior, is talking about sending her away to a boarding school in New York. Even though May Bird has reason to be scared now that she's started seeing ghosts in the woods and in her home, she's more scared of leaving her beloved West Virginia woods. Things become stranger still when, in the ruins of an old post office, she finds a mysterious letter, postmarked from 50 years ago, but addressed to May Bird at her address. The letter leads her into a world that is even further away than New York where being different--being "a live one", might just be deadly for her--a world where the Bogeyman is real; where ghosts are afraid of "people like her." It is a complex story with many layers, some humorous (ghosts of thieves playing practical jokes on one another) and some frightening (ghosts having their souls sucked into nothingness by the evil Bo Cleevil). In this strange and frightening world, May learns that, just maybe, she isn't as alone as she thought she was, and she just might find that she's more of a warrior princess than she ever dreamt.

Some sources list this story as being at a reading level of Ages 9 and up, others at Grades 5 and up. Because of the complexity and possible fright factor for some, I would tend to agree with the latter. That said, I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next as May Bird ventures through the land of the dead in an attempt to find answers, to find her way home, and to find herself. The series so far is:

  • May Bird and the Ever After (Book 1)

  • May Bird Among the Stars (Book 2)

  • May Bird: Warrior Princess (Book 3)

Some of you have asked if there will be other books in this series. After reading Book 3, my thoughts are that there will not be any further books in the series--simply because the story was wrapped up very nicely. That said, you just never know. If I hear of any additions to the series, I'll be happy to add them to the list.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Snow Spider by Jenny Nimmo

Many, many years ago, I read Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising. The series enthralled me, and I found myself anxiously waiting for each book in the series to come back in to our school library (the series was popular). So how is this relevant to Jenny Nimmo's The Magician Trilogy? Reading The Snow Spider put me in the same frame of mind that Cooper's series put me into so very many years ago, so much so, that I (1) can't wait to read the 2nd book in Nimmo's series and (2) am itching to re-read Cooper's series. Set in Wales, Nimmo's new series (she is author of the Charlie Bone books), introduces us to Gwyn and his family on the day of Gwyn's ninth birthday. Gwyn's grandmother gives him five very puzzling gifts--a piece of seaweed, a scarf, a whistle, a twisted brooch and a broken toy horse--and tells hiim that now is the time to find out if he, Gwyn, is a magician. Gwyn and his mother and father, still grieving from the mysterious disappearance of his sister Bethan almost five years previous, pretty well think that Gwyn's gran is nuts. But is she? Full of the richness of Welsh names The Snow Spider is an intriguing tale of darkness, mystery, and the light of hope. I'm looking forward to reading the next one.

Reading level as listed on Ages 9-12