Friday, December 11, 2020

Back to the Wild Wood with Oddmire Book 2


The Oddmire, book two: The Unready Queen
by William Ritter 
320 pages; ages 8-12
Algonquin Young Readers (Workman), 2020

Things are finally getting back to normal for the human and goblin brothers Cole and Tinn. After their previous adventure in the Wild Wood they are back home and going to school (mo-o-om! we can walk to school by ourselves!). Working through lessons. Discovering girls. And, for Tinn, trying to learn how to control his goblin magic. Fortunately, he’s got a goblin mentor who teaches him howling and the stuff of goblin culture he missed by living amongst humans. Learning magic might be like learning how to swim… or at least learning to listen to the universe and accept what it provides when you need it.

Relations between the fay folk and humans is already stretched, but when a new guy arrives in town and begins hiring roustabouts for his drilling rig, things blow up. When the humans cut down the Grandmother Tree, a giant destroys the drilling rig.

It takes little effort for a sour old man to convince the townspeople that the Wild Wood’s magic is evil. And it looks as though the pixies and other magic folk have been doing more than the usual mischief. Are they trying to start a war with the humans? Or is someone going to great lengths to make it seem that way?

Cole, Tinn, the Wild Wood witch’s daughter Fable, and Evie (whose very presence causes Tinn to stutter) are drawn into the conflict even after promises made. For Cole and Tinn: promises to stay out of the Wild Wood. For Fable: promises to stay within the Wild Wood. At the end of it all the question remains: is it possible for people of two vastly different cultures to live together in respect and tolerance and understanding?

This is the story of:
reluctant heroes
a young queen who does not want to be a queen
a changeling trying to find himself 
a brother feeling left out
an artist who wants to see the magic
But mostly the strong bonds of friendship and family.

Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by the publisher.

I'm taking a winter break ~ so have a Joyous Solstice and a Merry New Year!
See you in January.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Explorer Academy: The Star Dunes

Explorer Academy: The Star Dunes (Book 4) 
by Trudi Trueit 
216 pages; ages 8 - 12 
Under the Stars (National Geographic), 2020

In this most recent addition to the Explorer Academy series, we travel across scorching sand and through steamy jungles across Africa. Cruz Coronado and his friends are on their fourth mission (we met them previously here and here). Now the Explorer Academy students have been called upon to help deliver medication that can treat and prevent a virus from spreading through the mountain gorilla population in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda.

In the process, they discover that protecting the world’s threatened species can be a dangerous business.

Before they even begin the mission, Cruz is in trouble. While on an archaeological trip in Turkey, he decided to explore a cave by himself (breaking rule #1) and without telling the group leader (there goes rule #2). Now he’s at the bottom of a well, possibly pushed by an enemy trying to steal his journal. In Indiana Jones style, he manages to escape his predicament and get back to the group only to be tossed into yet another misadventure.

What I like about this book: In addition to mountain gorillas, the students get involved in creating a conservation plan for pangolins. There is a novel disease, requiring quarantine (this book hit the shelves days after our state began closing things and asking people to isolate). There are high-tech gadgets, nanobots, codes, puzzles, and tons of conservation science.

And no, I will not spoil the adventure. Suffice it to say this page-turner is laced with enough STEM stuff to (maybe) qualify for science class credit. Or at the very least inspire a few homeschooling kids to head out on a few explores of their own.

What’s really cool? There is a Field Journal for kids who want to be more involved in the Explorer Academy. Just sign in – there’s a Recruit Intake Form at the beginning – and pack your bags because the pages in this book take you on missions. You’ll explore your favorite spots, boldly plot future world travels, decipher a code, design a drone, and record your innermost thoughts and feelings along the way.

Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copies provided by Media Masters Publicity.