Book Reviews by Jonny

     Lance Lee’s Orpheus Rising is a suspenseful fantasy that is based on the Greek myth about Orpheus losing his wife Euridice to a snake bite and his attempt to rescue her from Hades. In Mr. Lee’s modern story, Sam and his father John live alone, study for school, and do chores day after day. At night, they keep having strange dreams neither one understands. They also have a quirky newspaper delivery man who taunts them about having no mother in the house.

     Trick or Treat: The Story of the Switch Witch and How She Came to Be is an awesome book about Halloween! Young Abigail is a witch who lives in Transylvania where everyone looks forward to Harvest Night. This is the one time of year when witches and warlocks attend the mortals’ extra-fun activities in town. Unfortunately, Abigail can’t stand that the treats run out every year, and some participants go home empty-handed. She wants her friends and family to have sweets too.

     Hannah and the Hobgoblins is a terrific book by Deborah Dolan Hunt that puts a positive spin on witches. It’s about Hannah Drew, who lives in Salem, Massachusetts. She thinks she’s growing up in a normal, traditional family, and she’s excited to be celebrating her 12th birthday on October 29th and 30th with friends and family at a Halloween-themed sleepover party. Trouble starts to find her when her Aunt Agatha sends her a Connemara Witches book that is an ancient family heirloom.

     Roger Tarkington and the Magic Calendar: Surviving Middle School is the second book in the Middle Grade Time Travel series by I.M. Maynard. It’s a great mystery and adventure with all of the same funny middle school antics that appear in the first book. Many of the kids and staff are honest and friendly but a few still gang up on each other. When Roger is assigned to read Robin Hood for class, he decides he could be “Roger Hood” by using his magic time travel calendar to help others any way he can.

     Kid Lit: An Introduction to Literary Criticism by Tom Durwood is informative and interesting to read. It begins by briefly defining children’s literature, kid lit for short, and highlights its history. It covers coming-of-age resources well, so plans for future editions include adding information about picture books and some international literature too. The book is divided into three sections. The first clearly summarizes concepts such as identity, gender, social class, trauma, and war as they relate to literary criticism.

     My Homework Ate the Dog by Derek Taylor Kent is a terrific story about 11 year old Rudy Berkman, who decides to light off a rocket he made out of boxes and accidently catches his house on fire. Since he’s gotten into trouble before, his parents think attending Danville Reformatory School will help, so they all move to Danville. It’s no accident that rearranging the town’s letters backwards spells out Evil Land. Right away, Rudy notices the town’s people seem too friendly, and the kids act like robots.