In Book 1: Gods of Manhattan, we found out that 13 year-old Rory can see impossible things…a cockroach riding a rat like a horse, American Indians, and lots of people who have been dead for two hundred years! Rory is a “Light,” one of the few mortals who can see the spirit world, the Gods of Manhattan, who live in his city. Rory can see and talk to the spirits of Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, Walt Whitman and many more people from New York history. He can also see the Munsee Indians whose spirits are trapped inside Central Park. To understand how Rory came to know he is a “Light” and understand how our world and the spirit world co-exist, I think it would be good if you started with book 1. There are a lot of characters to meet who all play important roles as the story moves along – a lot like all the characters in the Percy Jackson stories.
In Book 2: Spirits in the Park, Rory, his little sister Bridget (aka “Malibu Death Barbie”), his dog, some teenage Spirit friends and a couple cockroach warriors take on some of the most powerful and sinister figures in New York history. The kids and their cockroach warriors want to free the Munsee Indian spirits trapped in Central Park . When they find out that freeing the Indians could start a war between the Indians and the Gods of Manhattan, the kids need to get to the bottom of who trapped the Indians in the first place, and why. The answers are not at all what they expect. Can they free the Indians and prevent an all-out war at the same time? Author: Scott Mebus; Series: Gods of Manhattan
Like I said, you probably want to start with Book 1: Gods of Manhattan. Then, read the book Duel! It tells the story of the longstanding feud between Alexander Hamilton and Aarron Burr. Really, this is historically real…and the two guys appear in Spirits in the Park still hating each other. Knowing their real story will help you understand the conflict in Spirits in the Park. Plus, Duel! is a great book itself. Then, if you like the idea of a spirit world co-existing with ours, try The Night Tourist and of course, the all-time favorite, The Lightning Thief.
This book doesn’t have any chapters in it. It’s a collection of letters and notes with a few newspaper articles thrown in here and there. You have to figure out who is who and what is going on by reading the letters the characters write to each other and by reading the newspaper articles that report the strange happenings at 43 Old Cemetery Road.
Ignatius B. Grumply is a crabby old author with writer’s block who has rented a creepy old house for the summer. He doesn’t know it, but a boy named Seymour is living on the third floor and a ghost lives in the attic – a bossy old lady ghost.
The old man is none too happy when he discovers the boy. Seymour isn’t too happy about the old man either. The two set up a few house rules to keep things from getting ugly:
Mr. Grumply’s Rules:
You will not bother me when I am writing
You will stay out of my bedroom and bathroom at all times.
You will not lurk in doorways or dark hallways.
You are not permitted on the second floor, which I have claimed as my own for the duration of the summer.
You will not tell me what time I have to go to bed.
You will not tell me what to eat or when to eat it.
You will not play old man music on the stereo.
You’re not allowed on the third floor. No exceptions.
And this begins a tentative agreement to help the two get through the summer without all out war breaking loose. They agree to communicate by letter, which is fine, until the old man shoots some accusations at Seymour that are simply not true. The slamming doors, the loudly playing piano, the falling chandalier – none of that was Seymour, that was the ghost! Mr. Grumply doesn’t believe a word of it and he isn’t at all interested in having a liar for a housemate.
Read the letters to hear them duke it out in writing – the letters are funny exchanges between these people who don’t care for each other at all…at first! Author: Kate Klise Series: 43 Old Cemetery Road
If you liked Dying to Meet You don’t miss the other 6 in the 43 Old Cemetery Road series, and when you get done with those, try Billy Bones – he’s another ghost in hiding with a fun family. If you like how the story was told through letters try one of these: IndyPL Kids’ Blog Stories Told Through Letters
Calen is a magician’s apprentice. He runs errands for his mage master and studies his lessons and mostly tries to stay out of trouble. Learning magic isn’t quite as exciting as he hoped though, and frankly, he’s a little bored. He doesn’t want to just READ about magic, he wants to DO magic.
Princess Meglynn is also bored. The life of a princess isn’t as exciting as it might sound either. Meg is so bored, she’s taken to exploring the palace and grounds dressed as a servant girl. While out exploring, Meg stumbles upon a huge secret. It’s so huge Meg isn’t so sure how much longer she can keep it to herself.
The secret? Meg is keeping a baby dragon in a cave outside the palace grounds. The problem? The dragon is a puppy no more. It is growing at an alarming rate and sometime soon, it will be able to breath fire. And there’s something else, something strange about the dragon’s attachment to Meg. Sometimes when she’s in the castle, Meg can feel the dragon in her mind.
Meg figures a magician’s apprentice is just the person to help her figure out this weird attachment she has too her dragon. Calen figures this princess and her dragon is just the thing he needs to stop READING about magic and start DOING magic. What they don’t know, is that while they are spending time in the cave learning about the dragon and experimenting with some magic, there is a murderess traitor inside the palace walls.
The two friends and their dragon are about to get more excitement than any of them ever wished for. They have to learn to trust each other and what they’ve learned about the bonds between friends, even dragon friends, to save each other and the people they love. Author: Michelle Knudsen
If you like this one, and you like reading about young magician finding his powers, try The Magic Thief. If it’s dragons you like, try The Dragons of Ordinary Farm or Timothy and the Dragon’s Gate or Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary.
Here’s a fun book for Percy Jackson fans. Rick Riordan (Senior Scribe, Camp Half-Blood) has compiled “three of Percy Jackson’s most dangerous adventures never before committed to paper” as well as confidential interviews with Percy Jackson, Annabeth Chase, and Grover Underwood. Author: Rick Riordan
I liked the character interviews the best – great questions are asked. Percy, Annabeth and Grover are really put on the spot! For example:
Who would you least like to meet in a dark alley – a Cyclops or an angry Mr. D?
If you had to trade Riptide for another magic item, whose item would you choose?
Of all your Camp Half-Blood friends, who would you most like to have with you in battle?
Susan, Roy, Henry & Emma live in Iowa. It’s summer, it’s hot and they’re bored. They do have bikes though, so they take off exploring. They really don’t expect to have much happen, but riding bikes is at least more interesting than sitting on the porch bored and hot. Imagine their surprise when they find a mysterious brick wall rising up out of the middle of a cornfield.
The kids try to think of all the different reasons the wall might be there. Thinking about this is at least interesting and something to do, but the sun is still hot. The kids are hot. The kids are thirsty. One of them wishes for a root beer float and suddenly the kids find themselves transported to a diner…serving root beer floats! Now this is a discovery!
Through trial and error the kids figure out the rules that make the wishing wall work. They find that they can wish their way through time or space. Each friend takes a turn making a wish and crazy adventures follow. Whenever magic is concerned, it’s always important to keep in mind, “be careful what you wish for!” I thought it was a nice change of pace to read a magical story where the fate of mankind doesn’t hang in the balance…a kind of magic that makes a root beer float appear when you really need one!
In the story, the kids like the Edward Eager Half Magic series of books. These are real books that you can read too. In the Hal f Magic books, bored kids find a magic coin. The problem with the coin is you only get half your wish, so lots of crazy adventures happen. Author: Laurel Snyder
If you like this one, you also might like The Penderwicks. There isn’t any magic in the Penderwick books but the kids have fun adventures anyway riding their bikes, exploring and doing the things kids do when there aren’t adults around…because if you aren’t out on your bike exploring with your friends, you’ll never find a magic coin or a magic brick wall!