14. The Tale of Despereaux:

being the story of a mouse, a princess, some soup, and a spool of thread

By: Kate DiCamillo

Illustrated by: Timothy Basil Ering

Level: J


The Tale of Despereaux begins in Book One with the birth of Despereaux, a mouse.  It tells how he is not like other mice and gets in trouble.  In Book Two, the story goes into the past to follow a rat named Chiaroscuro, who is not like other rats because he loves the light.  After Roscuro’s adventure, in Book Three, the story goes back in the past again to follow the story of Miggery Sow.  Finally, all three stories come together to interact with each other.  The recursive path of the story will appeal to younger youth, as each story is its own.  For older readers the story was still charming but a bit tedious.

Published in: on November 24, 2008 at 11:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

13. Storyteller

By: Edward Myers

Level: YA


Jack had a calling.  He had stories that bubbled up inside of him that had to come out.  One day he left home to tell others of his stories.  Along his way, Jack met Loquato a talking bird.  Together they travel to the royal city where Jack becomes the royal storyteller.  Of course, as in any fairy tale, Jack fell in love with the princess and has to try cheering up the king.  Then, everything goes wrong.  The novel explores plot and character development quite brazenly as Jack tries to find his way out of situations through storytelling.  Finding oneself, betrayal, love, and loyalty are all essential parts to the story to create a satisfying whole.

Published in: on November 22, 2008 at 9:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

12. A Darkling Plain

By: Philip Reeve

Level: YA

Series: The Hungry City Chronicles


Tom Natsworthy was partly responsible for the destruction of the traction city London.  Hester Shaw married Tom and weathered her own share of nightmares with the Stalker Grike and the revelation that her father was Thaddeus Valentine.  They had a daughter named Wren who left Anchorage-In-Vineland for adventure, where she met Theo Ngoni a Zagwan slave and former Green Storm aviator.  Other main characters include Fishcake a Lost Boy who is abandoned at all turns, and the Stalker Fang (aka Anna Fang) who is bent on making the world green, including wiping out humanity.

These characters begin book four of the Hungry City Chronicles separated and emotionally heartsick.  As always events roll out of control as war between the traction cities, cities that roam and prey on other traction cities, and the Green Storm, a collective who want to create a greener earth.  Proponents of the traction cities find the secret that London is not dead and Wren and Tom Natsworthy travel there when the city is betrayed.  A new superweapon is deployed and Tom Natsworthy flies off to confront the supposed perpetrators and become an advocate for New London and their project.  Meanwhile, Hester Natsworthy has been estranged from the rest of her family but is keeping company with Mr. Grike when she rescues Theo Ngoni who gives Hester a quest to follow.  That quest leads them to the traction cities and beyond where Hester and Theo are separated.  Theo gets an old letter from Wren and heads towards London where they meet together.  Hester continues to the Green Storm to stop the new superweapon.  The Green Storm and traction cities both converge on New London as the possible site of the new superweapon where a battle is fought.  Meanwhile, Tom, Hester and Mr. Grike travel to the real base and deal with the superweapon.

As the concluding volume to an extensive story, this book is quite satisfying.  The realistic quality of death and the emotional vagaries of humankind are explored well.  Social commentary is subtle and not overstated as other books of this genre can be about the environment.

Published in: on November 22, 2008 at 2:10 am  Leave a Comment