Solveig is the King’s middle kid – the daughter between the beautiful princess and the little brother that will be king someday. Her Dad even forgets about her. When the kids are sent to a mountain hideout in the frozen north to wait out a war they take along supplies and their own private army of beserkers; Norse warriors who can do crazy feats of strength while in a battle trance. As their supplies start to dwindle the fortress becomes a snowbound prison with little food and rising tensions. And then people start getting sick…poisoned…but by who? It HAS to be someone in the group. Solveig has to dig deep to find the strength and cunning to make choices about who is a good ally…and who is the traitor. Author: Mathew Kirby
An apothecary is an old fashioned name for a person who mixes up medicine – to us, a pharmicist. In the old days, apothecaries mixed up medicines made out of herbs or other things in nature like ground up minerals. There was a bit of magic believed to be at work. In 2012, we associate medicine with chemicals, even though those chemicals might come from natural sources like plants or minerals. We think that science is at work…not magic. This book imagines what would happen if the ideas came together – a pharmacist who had some magical recipes for medicine that could do extraordinary things.
Janie moves to London and is desperately homesick for Los Angeles until she meets Benjamin, the son of the man who runs the drug store on her street. Benjamin’s Dad mixes her up a little something for homesicknesses. And it isn’t just M&Ms labelled “homesickness cure” either. Janie feels better. Interesting. I bet CVS or Walgreens won’t do that for you.
It turns out Benjamin’s Dad IS good at mixing up medicine recipes with a little something special added in. He gets his recipes from the Pharmacopoeia, an ancient book that has been handed down from scientist to scientist through the centuries. There is even a group of scientists whose job it is to keep the Pharmacopoeia out of the hands of any bad guys. When Benjamin’s Dad turns up missing Benjamin and Janie are pulled into an adventure that includes espionage, secret elixirs, invisibility, double agents, nuclear bombs…and the need for Janie to enlist the help of the girl in her class who is her worst nightmare. Sometimes, you have to make sacrifices to save the world. Author: Maile Meloy
Clara and her Mom live in a big crumbling mansion with elderlyMrs. Glendoveer and the housekeeper Ruby. Clara has a heart condition and her Mom won’t let her play outside or go to school. Clara watches the kids walk home from school from an upstairs window. She wishes and wishes she could go to school and have friends. It’s not that her life is bad…it’s just lonely.
There is one thing about the house Clara doesn’t like at all and that’s the birds. Five birds live in the backyard in a large pen called an aviary. The birds are squawky and mean spirited. Clara hates to go near them. For some reason Mrs. Glenoveer loves the birds and worries about them all the time. Sometimes people can get really attached to their pets.
One day when Clara is standing at the window watching the children walk home from school one of the girls sees her and waves. Clara can hardly believe it. When the little girl shows up at the door with her mother Clara really can’t believe it. A real girl who could be her friend! Clara’s Mom does not approve and so the girls start a secret friendship. Daphne is really curious about Clara and the old mansion and old Mrs. Glendoveer. When Daphne tells Clara what the town thinks about Mrs. Glendoveer Clara is astounded.
It turns out the Mrs. Glendoveer once had children of her own. One of them disappeared and the rest of them…were murdered! The murderer was never discovered and the town thinks Mrs. Glendoveer and her husband did it. Clara refuses to believe that kind Mrs. Glendoveer would do anything so terrible and sets out to solve a 50 year old mystery. Clara follows clues in the mansion, in the memories of some elderly townspeople, in old scrapbooks and diaries and in the story of her own father to prove once and for all what happened to the children. The trouble is, will anyone believe her? Will you?
The Aviary is very much like The Secret Garden with old family secrets, a lonely little girl in a mansion, a garden and something mysterious going on that can’t quite be explained. The mood is a little creepy. Candles extinquish themselves. The birds act strangely when Clara is present. Clara’s Mom turns quiet and stiff when certain questions are asked. And othen there is the murders. That alone is creepy enough! Author: Kathleen O’Dell
Prue doesn’t pay much attention at first when she notices birds acting funny at the park. She’s taken her baby brother there to play and she’s just glad he’s happy for awhile hanging on to his wagon and pushing it along all by himself. Prue is watching him play and letting her mind drift. But the birds. The birds! The birds keep grabbing her attention. They seem to fly in chaos and then form spiraling, diving patterns before dispersing again. When the dive pattern suddenly aims straight at her brother Prue takes notice. When the birds swoop down and actually pick up her brother with their talons and take him up into the sky she starts to run, but it is too late. How can birds pick up a baby? WHY would birds pick up a baby? And what in the world will she tell her parents?
That last question is the only one Prue can answer. She CAN’T tell them. Who would believe her anyway? Prue decides the best thing to do is go after her brother herself. She knows where the birds were headed – straight into the Impassable Wilderness. And even though NOBODY in their right nind goes there, Prue is going there, because she is determined to get her brother back.
Joined by her classmate Curtis, who she did NOT invite, Prue makes her way into the Wilderness and discovers a secret world there unknown to the people currently living in Portland. The people of Portland know the forest is there, but they sure don’t know what goes on inside. Animals talk. They strategize. They are at war! Curtis and Prue are immediately separated and captured. They each have to figure out which side is the right side and how to rescue Prue’s brother before it is too late. Sometimes it is really difficult to figure out which side is the good guys. (Just like in real life!) Is it the civilized Wildwood government, the Robin-Hood like-bandits, the coyote army, the rogue birds or the exiled Queen? Who is telling the truth and just WHAT does Prue’s little brother have to do with it?
This one is perfect for lovers of Narnia or 100 Cupboards – it’s about regular kids finding themselves in the middle of a magical place wrapped up in an epic battle. You might also like this one if you liked Redwall. There are a lot of action-packed battle scenes between the animals. Loyalty, bravery, friendship; all of these things play a part. The place itself, the fantastical Wilderness, it plays a part too….even though it’s just a forest in Portland, Oregon. In fact, you could go to Oregon and walk right into it. But beware – you just never know what might be in there! Author: Colin Meloy
Wildwood Chronicles Official Website (You will really like meeting Colin and Carson. HE is the author and also the lead singer in the band the Decemberists. SHE is the illustrator and also drew the pictures for The Mysterious Benedict Society. In the video below they take you to the forest that inspired their story. Very, very interesting and talented people! Don’t miss their 8 song Wildwood iTunes playlist.)
Cass and Max-Ernest from The Name of This Book is Secret are back in thier last adventure as members of the secret Terces Society. Cass and Max-Ernest have been inducted into the Society as agents keeping the world safe from the evil Midnight Sun, people who will stop at nothing (even murder!) to carry out their plans to live forever.
This one, #5, is definately a “wrap up the series” book. That isn’t to say it isn’t good, it is, but I think it will only be good to the readers who have already been along for the ride.
Loyal readers can happily watch Cass and Max-Ernest see their secret adventure to the very end…but the wrap up is more about getting to the bottom of the secret and less about the battle with the Midnight Sun and the evilly evil Ms. Mauvais – my favorite character. I missed her! Author: Pseudonymous Bosch
Here are the first two in the Secret Series with Cass and Max-Ernest: The Name of This Book is Secret and If you’re Reading This It’s Too Late and book #4 This Isn’t What It Looks Like. If you like these, you might also like the rest, each are about kids having incredible adventures, but without wands or dragons or spells. These kids fly airplanes, shrink, hypnotize people, solve puzzles and more.