Author Turner started this complex adventure in The Thief, and continued it in The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia. I had not read any of these before reading A Conspiracy of Kings. I still really liked it, but I think I would have liked it even more if I had read the other ones first. A lot of the plot has to do with political strategy, enemies, alliances, agreements & betrayals. When you can keep it straight, the brilliance of the strategizing is really fun.
Think of it as the TV show Survivor…only the players are real queens and kings and countries are at stake. They really are just trying to outwit, outplay & outlast each other. But in this game, if your torch goes out, you’re dead and your country is invaded.
In this one, the future King of Sounis is Sophos. He’s a teenager. I read that he made a kind of clumsy, whiny appearance in the other books. The very last thing he wants is to be King. There are actually a lot of other people who don’t look forward to him being King either. His own father has hidden him away with his books and his tutors – out of sight, out of mind.
When Sophos is kidnapped in a surprise attack and sold into slavery, he oddly finds relief from the pressure of having to face his future. As a slave, he has certain doable tasks to perform. He doesn’t have to make any decisions. He makes friends. What he doesn’t expect is all the information he can get when he isn’t living as the protected prince. He finds himself unable to ignore the battles that are taking place that imperil his country, his family and his friends. He also discovers that the the things he has been learning in books really can help him in his real life. He also discovers that having people think you are capable of very little, can be a pretty powerful tool. He plots a daring escape, manages an unlikely rescue and begins planning a complex series of alliances and maneuvers that show he really has the stuff of which leaders are made. Play the Power Match Game to see if you are clever enough to be King. Author: Megan Whelan Turner
Gee’s Bend is a tiny little place in Alabama on the bend of a river. It isn’t even a town really, just a place with a name. It’s the place where Ludelphia Bennett lives with her family and a few neighbors who are also sharecroppers for Mr. Cobb. Old Mr. Cobb owns the land around Gee’s Bend. The Bennetts and the other familes work the farm and pay their rent with a “share” of the harvest. It’s 1932 and times are really hard. It is the Great Depression and times are tough for everyone, especially those who are alreay dirt poor to begin with, people like the Bennetts and their neighbors.
Ludelphia’s courage starts to shine the day her mom goes into labor. Ludelphia helps her mom deliver the baby. After the birth, Ludelphia’s mom is very, very sick. Her only hope is Doc Nelson, the only doctor around and he’s 40 miles away in Camden. Ludelphia’s only ten but she sets out alone anyway on a dangerous journey for a girl of her time. It’s no small thing for a black child to set out travelling alone, but Ludelphia loves her mama and will do anything to save her.
On her journey Ludelphia meets people outside of Gee’s Bend for the very first time. She sees the wealth and modern ways of a big city. She confronts the difference between superstitian and modern medicine. And she experiences both the kindness and racism of total strangers – strangers whose help she needs in order to save her mother. Author: Irene Latham
Penelope Lumley, a student at the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, is on her way to a new life. Penelope is old enough to leave the Academy and make a life for herself. She has answered an ad for Governess:
Wanted Immediately: energetic Governess for Three Lively Children Knowledge of French, Latin, History, Etiquette, Drawing, and Music will be Required – Experience with Animals Strongly Preferred.
Once she arrives at the country estate she undergoes a very strange interview and hears some very strange noises that no one wants to explain. In fact, everyone wants to act as if the noises are not happening at all. Weirder still, no one will introduce her to the children.
Penelope is a girl that gets things done. She also knows a noise when she hears one. Not one to stand around when there is something curious to investigate, Penelope follows the strange noises to the barn. In the dim light of the barn she hears something rustling and sees shining eyes in one of the stalls. A small pony maybe? A lamb? A dog? Nope. The shining eyes belong to three children huddled in the dark staring at her with the eyes of wild animals.
Experience with Animals Strongly Preferred. You think! Some kids might act like little wild animals, but these children, well, they really are! Penelope sets out to teach them how to act like little ladies and gentlemen in time for a holiday ball. That means wearing clothes. That means walking upright. That means eating with utensils. That means NOT howling! It also means paying attention to Penelope’s lessons and not being distracted by squirrels. (These kids are a lot like Dug the talking dog in the movie Up “SQUIRREL!”)
A funny look at the trouble one girl takes on when she tries to teach some little wild things how to hobnob in high society. If you like A Series of Unfortunate Events give this one a try. The humor is very similar and the characters just as outrageous. Ahwoooooooooooo! Author: Maryrose Wood
When Steven “Steel” Trapp repeats something from memory, you can bet it’s accurate.
“His father didn’t challenge the accuracy of his son’s memory. Neither did his teachers. In fact, it had been a teacher who’d given him the nickname “Steel” because young Steven ‘had a mind like a steel trap.’ He never forgot anything. He was something of a freak, but he’d come to live with it.” (page 4)
Steel is like Sticky Washington in The Mysterious Benedict Society. If he sees or hears or reads something, he remembers it. It sticks, just like Sticky. This photographic memory makes school pretty easy. This school year, Steel’s FBI agent dad has enrolled him in a fancy boarding school. Steel isn’t quite sure why his dad his picked this particular school, especially after he runs into his friend Kaileigh there also. Coincidence? I dont think so!
It doesn’t take Steel and Kaileigh long to discover there is something oddly secretive about some of the classes at the school…like classes in how to shoot darts with a blowgun. Find THAT in the course catalog! And when Steel tries to talk to his Dad about it all his Dad will say is, “it will all become apparent.” Yeesh. Parents. If they can’t get answers out of the grown-ups, then Steel and Kaileigh decide to do some investigating of their own. They sneak out to follow people, listen in on conversations, find secret panels that lead to secret passages, wear disguises and more. With the help of Steel’s Roommate Verne, they even do a little hacking. All in the day of your kid spy in training.
Steel is resourceful and persistant. He’s curious and just a little bit relentless. He also thinks Kaileigh is pretty OK. More than Ok actually. Spying with just a little bit of romance. Author: Ridley Pearson
You can read about how Steel and Kaileigh first met in Steel Trapp: The Challenge. You also might like Max Cassidy, the kids in STORM or Alex Rider. All of them are also seasoned agents who have “the kid edge.” Nobody expects kids to be experts at anything, especially spying. If you like Kaileight in particular, try STORM, one of the operatives there is Gaia, like Kaileigh she can speak several languages, but she’s also a chemist – she blows stuff up!
When Allie’s friend’s big sister enters the regional Twirltacular baton twirling competition, Allie can’t wait to go see the spectacle of so many talented girls in glittery costumes.
But then her mom goes and ruins her plans be promising that she will attend her arch enemy Brittany Hauser’s birthday party. How could she make these plans without asking Allie first!
Allie’s pretty mad until she finds out the party is at Glitterati, a store that hosts birthday parties where girls can dress up and act like a model. And a stretch limo is taking the girls there. And they get to eat at a fancy restaurant. And they get to spend the night at a fancy hotel! Allie decides she can put up with Brittany just long enough to enjoy the benefits of her ooh lah lah once-in-a-lifetime party.
The problem…how to tell her friends that she is choosing the fancy party over them. Blame Mom! Problem solved! Except Allie tells a little white lie to cover up her real desire to go to the party and boy does she make a mess for herself in true Allie Finkle style. Another fun week in the life of Allie Finkle! Author: Meg Cabot
And here’s a book Allie would love – full of all kinds of glamourous advice like how to have the flutteriest eyelashes and how to make your own body glitter.