Outstanding and Superior Titles from The Horn Book Guide January to June 2010




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Outstanding and Superior Titles from The Horn Book Guide – January to June 2010

Title

Author

Level

Genre

Review

Once

978-0-8050-9026-0

Gleitzman, Morris

I

Allegory

This Holocaust parable plays its main character’s naivete against readers’ likely knowledge of the historical realities—the juxtaposition is believable and not at all precious. Gleitzman manages to find a grain of hope in the unresolved (and likely dire) conclusion, but this is the rare Holocaust book for young readers that doesn’t alleviate its dark themes with a comforting ending.

Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci

978-0-8050-6305-9

D’Agnese, Joseph

I

Biography

D’Agnese presents an engaging, kid-friendly look at Leonardo Fibonacci and his eponymous numerical sequence. In Pisa, Italy, in 1178, a young Leonardo daydreams about “the glory of numbers.” But his mathematical musings lead to trouble. O’Brien’s illustrations are textured with swirls and spirals—a whimsical homage to the man who discovered, as he believed, “the numbers Mother Nature uses to order the universe.”

Driven: A Photobiography of Henry Ford

978-1-4263-0155-1

Mitchell, Don

I

Biography

Mitchell’s brief, engaging text appraises its subject, placing him in the context of his times. Ford’s contradictions make him even more fascinating; e.g. he hired disabled and minority workers but was fiercely anti-Semitic. Although this type of complexity begs for an extended treatment, Mitchell’s succinct introduction successfully whets readers’ appetites. The book’s inviting design features an array of photographs, captions, and quotes.

Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy), The

978-0-545-12508-6

Kerley, Barbara

I

Biography

Thirteen-year-old Susy Clemen’s biography of her father informs this account covering both biographer and biographee. Kerley details Susy’s process of writing about and observing her father, using primary sources and inserting seven small facsimiles of Susy’s journal pages into the book. Fotheringham’s muted palette and large, sturdy illustrations provide discreet counterpoint to a complicated design.

Calamity Jack

978-0-59990-373-6

Hale, Shannon and Dean

I

Fantasy

Graphic Novel

In this companion to Rapunzel’s Revenge, the swashbuckling plot again shines in the graphic-novel format. Frequent wordless stretches show adrenaline-fueled action sequences, while the panel arrangement, shifts in perspective, and sound effects drive steampunk-flavored fairy talk will appeal to boy-, girl-, reluctant-, and eager readers alike.

Carbon Diaries 2017, The

978-0-8234-2260-9

(sequel or part of a series)

Lloyd, Saci

YA

Fantasy

Punk teen Laura (The Carbon Diaries 2015) heads back to London and university, where her band becomes the voice of a grassroots movement protesting human rights abuses and government culpability. In a gripping tale of global peril, Lloyd explores sociopolitical currents in a speculative future that feels all too plausible. A glossary defines Briticisms and futuristic slang.

Conspiracy of Kings, A

978-0-06-187094-1

(sequel or part of a series)

Turner, Megan Whalen

YA

Fantasy

In this eagerly awaited fourth novel (The Thief, etc.) set in a semi-classical world, Turner focuses on Sophos, prince of Sounis, who has been kidnapped by rebel barons. Turner’s knotting of plots and counterplots, battle tactics, diplomatic skullduggery, the tensions of state business and personal desire, as well as events from earlier books, is masterful.

Darksolstice

978-0-439-93471-8

(sequel or part of a series)

Llewellyn, Sam

I

Fantasy

Lyonesse series. In this follow-up to The Well Between the Worlds, the kings of Beyondsea agree to support Idris against the evil regent Fisheagle if Idris proves himself by rescuing his kidnapped sister. Idris’s passage from diffident boy to commanding monarch is authoritatively drawn; the wonders and horrors of his journey are described in dream-like prose that is both sense-rich and challenging.

Demon’s Covenant, The

978-1-4169-6381-3

(sequel or part of a series)

Brennan, Sarah Rees

YA

Fantasy

Demon’s Lexicon series. In a present-day England pulsing with dark magic, Mae, who has no powers of her own, demonstrates leadership when the Goblin Market folk are threatened. Meanwhile, her bond with the sexy and lethal Ryves brothers deepens. All threads culminate in a great, bloody battle that leaves several open endings. The story has enough new developments to leave readers eager for the next installment.

Enchanted Glass

978-0-06-186684-5

Jones, Diana Wynne

I

Fantasy

A boy named Aidan, recently orphaned and fleeting stalkers, pleads for refuge at professor Andrew Hope’s inherited estate. Aidan’s presence—and the weredog and giant he befriends—draw the ire of the sinister and mysterious Mr. O. Brown. Jones’ story is characteristically buoyant and witty; the magic is always brainteasingly clever and comically down-to-earth. An intelligent, refreshing hoot.

Fever Crumb

978-0-545-20719-5

(sequel or part of a series)

Reeve, Philip

YA

Fantasy

Fans of Reeve’s Hungry City Chronicles will find plenty to treasure here, but newcomers won’t be left behind: Fever Crumb has lots of mysterious origins, technological wonders, and sociopolitical complexities. Touches of whimsy balance high-minded themes, and orphan Fever is a sterling example of Reeve’s ability to depict the universals of human nature as shaped by an utterly foreign set of social conventions and conditions.

Finnikin of the Rock

978-0-7636-4361-4

Marchetta, Melina

YA

Fantasy

In the years since his homeland was taken by brutal enemies, Finnikin has trained in combat and diplomacy. A strange message brings him to a prophetic young woman named Evanjalin, who propels him on a journey fraught with danger but leading resolutely toward home. This sweeping fantasy’s setting is a fully realized medieval-type world of bloody battles and dark mysticism.

Foiled

978-1-59643-279-6

Yolen, Jane

YA

Fantasy

Graphic Novel

In this graphic novel, top-notch fencer Aliera learns that her “too good-looking to be true” lab partner isn’t human—then discovers she herself is the world’s “Defender.” Aliera is colorblind, and when she dons her fencing mask, vibrant colors explode on the page. The juxtaposition of reality and fantasy is compelling as is Aliera’s strong voice.

Guardian of the Dead

978-0-316-04430-1

Healey, Karen

YA

Fantasy

Boarding school student Ellie becomes involved with the patupaiarehe—fairies who inhabited New Zealand before humans. Even as she’s falling in love with one of them, Ellie is caught up in an effort to thwart neighboring patupaiarehe who are plotting the destruction of half of New Zealand. Vivid imagery gives this story some compelling sequences, and it plot surprises make it a quick read.

Half World

978-0-670-01220-6

Goto, Hiromi

YA

Fantasy

In this dark quest fantasy, fourteen-year-old Melanie Tamaki’s mother has been kidnapped and taken to half World, a mid-point between our mortal realm and the afterlife. As Melanie navigates this nightmarish land, her allies help her realize her destiny. The growth of the heroine and the clean narrative arc, which careens from one vivid, surreal scene to the next, should captivate readers.

Incarceron

978-0-8037-3396-1

Fisher, Catherine

YA

Fantasy

Finn is a Prisoner, trapped in the sentient prison Incarceron. Claudia, daughter of the Warden, has been raised to privilege in a technologically sophisticated society that has chosen to artificially re-create a simpler, seventeenth-century-esque “Era.” Fisher’s dystopic future, in which technology and decay coexist in a dazzling kaleidoscope of images and time periods, is brilliantly realized in this elegant, gritty, often surprising novel.

Mysterious Howling, The

978-0-06-179105-5

(sequel or part of a series)

Wood, Maryrose

I

Fantasy

Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series. Miss Penelope Lumley is governess to three uncivilized (understandably, as they’ve been raised by wolves) children on a full-of-secrets country estate. Let the over-the-top characterizations, ludicrous situations, and tongue-in-cheek humor begin! This first installment is practically all setup, settling Penelope in and introducing various mysteries. Like Lemony Snicket, Wood has the gift of simultaneously sending up and inhabiting the story she’s telling.

Night Fairy, The

978-0-7636-3674-6

Schlitz, Laura Amy

I

Fantasy

After nearly being eaten by a bat and left flightless, young night fairy Flora vows to become a day fairy and avoid bats altogether. Schlitz explores Flora’s moral development, magical spells, and cleverness as she learns to wield a dagger, sting predators with her mind, and make friends with squirrels and hummingbirds.

Out of the Woods

978-0-385-75154-4

(sequel or part of a series)

Gardner, Lyn

I

Fantasy

Aurora, Storm, and Any Eden thought their troubles were over at the end of Into the Woods, but no. A witch needs a new heart and sets her sights on Aurora’s; Any is turned into a frog; Storm must return the Pied Piper’s pipe to the Underworld. The fractured fairy-tale stew is more haphazard her, but it’s a well-conceived and entertaining mash-up nonetheless.

POD

978-1-60898-011-6

Wallenfels, Stephen

YA

Fantasy

Black pearlescent orbs hover over Earth’s surface, obliterating every human who ventures outside. This creates a crisis for sixteen-year-old Josh, trapped with his father in their house in Washington State, and for twelve-year-old Megs, trapped by herself in a parking garage in Los Angeles. Each of these alternating stories, which only obliquely intersect, has a compelling arc, ending with hope and renewal.

Poison Eaters & Other Stories, The

978-1-931520-63-8

Black, Holly

YA

Fantasy

With its wide range of subject matter and style, this collection of supernatural stories shows off Black’s fertile imagination. Palpable details and shifts in tone carry readers between times and places while the diverse protagonists create some unexpected perspectives. Two stories here are new, but most appeared in previous collections, which may account for the entertainingly eclectic mix.

Red Pyramid, The

978-1-4231-1338-6

(sequel or part of a series)

Riordan, Rick

I

Fantasy

Kane Chronicles series. Carter and Sadie’s father is a magician and descendant of the pharaohs; he disappears after a failed spell summons five gods into the mortal world. Fleeing assassination orders, the brother and sister begin to discover their own powers. The book’s action hits its stride in the second chapter and never lets up. Narrators Carter and Sadie are nicely individuated with honest, compelling voices.

Ship Breaker

978-0-316-05621-2

Bacigalupi, Paolo

YA

Fantasy

In a dystopian future America, “ship breaker” Nailer discovers a wrecked clipper ship and its sole survivor, Nita. Nailer chooses to protect Nita and help find her family. Bacigalupi’s novel vividly depicts a bleak vision: a “whole waterlogged world…torn down by the patient work of changing nature.” This thriller will grab readers’ attention as Nailer and Nita “crew up” to survive.

Story of Cirrus Flux, The

978-0-385-73381-6

Skelton, Matthew

I

Fantasy

In eighteenth-century London, orphan Cirrus Flux inherits a sphere containing the Breath of God. His instincts for self-preservation kick in when mysterious strangers come calling. Help from an unlikely pair sees him through the plot’s entanglements (the presence of so many dangling threads may portend a sequel). Skelton’s storytelling—plot, characters, setting—is executed at a high level, and the prost is accomplished.
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