During a war hundreds of years ago, the seven sons of King Agamon of Balabad were each given a key. The seven keys were part of the security built around a grand treasure. The sons were sent to seven different places in the world to keep themselves (and the keys) safe until the war was over. Only when the keys came together again could the treasure of Balabad be found again.
500 years have passed since the seven sons were sent into the world. The sons are long gone, the fate of the keys unknown.
In today’s Balabad, a tiny (made up) Middle Eastern country, Oliver Finch is living with his parents, his Dad a foreign correspondant and his mom an art curator. Oliver is homesick for his friends, movies, pizza and everything familiar about New York City. Oliver and his only friend Zee find amusement and relief from the heat and blowing sand in the tent of the local carpet seller, Haji, an excellent storyteller.
One day, the boys learn about the theft of a 500 year-old carpet, The Sacred Carpet of Agamon. Then Zee overhears his father having a curious conversation and then Zee finds something interesting…an old key….and then Haji disappears under mysterious circumstances. An Indiana Jones-like adventure with a secret map, a cavern of mazes, greedy bad guys and smart kids who figure out the clues that lead to the secret of the seven keys.
This story is based on a real treasure found in Afghanistan called the Golden Hoard of Bactria. The treasure lay buried under a hill for 2,000 years before it was found again in the late 1970s.
Eff and her family live in the American frontier during pioneer times. But this isn’t your regular frontier story – in this story the pioneers have magical skills! What Columbus discovered in the New World is a dangerous place where dragons and mammoths and bears live. (As if grizzly bears aren’t bad enough, throw in some prehistoric creatures and some magical beasts!) The settlers have used their magic to set up a magical barrier – an invisible force field – to keep the dangerous animals away from their settlements.
Eff’s twin brother Lan is the seventh son of a seventh son. In their magical world being a seventh son is good – it means powerful magic. Eff is a thirteenth child. Some people think thirteenth children are bad luck. Even some of Eff’s relatives believe that Eff is cursed and will bring bad luck to everyone around her. Eff believes it too until the year everything changes.
This is a really original story set in an unlikely place. I think we are all used to reading magical stories set in the Middle Ages with knights and castles, but this time Patricia Wrede has done something really different. I liked that about this book. I also liked Eff. If lots of people around you were telling you you were bad luck…it would be hard not to believe them, wouldn’t it? I liked watching Eff fight for belief in herself. I can’t wait for book two. Author: Patricia Wrede Series: Frontier Magic (This is the first one – more will follow.)
Perp Walk is an interactive game of old-school investigation, logic, and determination. Everyone’s got an excuse or an alibi — or so it seems — but some stories are not as good as others. Use your knowledge and logic skills to catch the bad guys in this game of alibis and lies. Perp Walk
Talk the Talk Word of the Day: Signpost – A signal that lets someone know you have left a message for them.
Things at Harper’s house are different since her Daddy drove away. There had been fighting and he had been drinking too much and this time, after he drove away, he never came back home again. It’s quieter now. There’s no shouting. But Harper’s mom is having a hard time paying the bills and paying the rent. One day, Harper returns from school and sees that all of their belongings are sitting in their front yard. The landlord has kicked the family out. With nothing but the necessities that will fit in their car the family heads to a motel for shelter and to figure out what to do next. Harper’s dreams of finally having her poetry noticed at her school’s annual poetry contest are dashed when the “what to do next” means Harper babysitting her little brother instead of going to school.
Spending her days at the motel with Hem, her little brother, Harper slowly begins to meet the other people that are also living in the motel or in a tent city in the woods behind the motel. What do they have in common? Homelessness. This ragtag group, united as they face common enemies (poverty, unemployment, illness, homelessness) turns out to be the rock Harper and her family have been looking for. You can make a home…wherever your friends and family are, even if that home is in a motel, a shelter or a tent.
Harper is smart and self-reliant. She has a good head on her shoulders. She thinks about her family’s problems a lot, but not in a way that is whiney or all doom and gloom. She thinks about the problems so that she can problem solve. She comes up with ideas and strategies to make their situation better. This makes her a great team player within her family. Author: Ann Haywood Leal
Calder, Petra and Tommy (Chasing Vermeer, The Wright 3) are back with another puzzling art mystery. Now in 7th grade, the three go with their class to see an exhibit of Alexander Calder’s mobiles at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Shortly after the field trip, Calder and his Dad take a trip to England and stay in a tiny village well known for its giant garden maze. The maze is life-size, and easy to get lost in, like the maze in the last challenge in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. To Calder’s surprise, the village also has a newly installed Alexander Calder sculpture in the town square. Many people living in the village are angry about the new sculpture, some villagers even seem angry at Calder for sharing the artist’s name. The anger turns to fear, however, when the sculpture, and Calder, both disappear without a trace. Petra and Tommy are flown to England to try to help Calder’s dad and the police figure out what happened to Calder. Is he lost in the maze, or something worse? Try to solve the puzzle and find the clues with Tommy and Petra. The illustrator hid puzzles in the pictures again – see if you can solve those too! Author: Blue Balliett Illustrator: Brett Helquist