Journey to Fantastic Worlds in these Magical Stories

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With the return of Harry Potter to bookshelves everywhere, the world is starting to feel just a bit more magical again. However, the story of The Boy Who Lived is not the only one to be told! Check out these great titles recommended by SLC reviewers that take readers on journeys through worlds filled with magic and adventure.

We’re excited to include an exclusive sneak preview of this first title that will appear in our upcoming August/September issue. Subscribers can always find reviews of other great titles like this at reVIEWS+

Auxier, Jonathan
Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard
2016. 464pp. $18.95 hc. Amulet Books/Abrams. 9781419717475. Grades 4-8

The second Peter Nimble adventure introduces Sophie Quire, a feisty young bookmender who expertly and lovingly restores the pages, covers, and spines of many treasured tales. Storybooks are on the verge banishment in the city of Bustleburgh, and because she cannot imagine a world without stories, Sophie rescues a handful of books from their Pyre Day fate. Just as Sophie is apprehended by the nasty Inquisitor Prigg, Peter Nimble and his companion Sir Tode come to her rescue. Peter presents Sophie with the Book of Who, one of the Four Questions. When complete, this set of books protects stories and holds the world’s magic. Sophie learns she is the last storyguard, entrusted with finding the books of What, Where, and When, stopping Pyre Day, and saving her world. Magical obstacles like quickbramble and kettle bogs can’t stop Sophie from completing her quest, for she is supported by an odd yet impressive cast of characters and creatures—including a talking silver tigress and an old tattooed scrivener. Auxier has created an electrifying and extraordinary story. Middle grade readers will likely wish to reread to appreciate the wonder that is this book. Aimee Haslam, Graduate Student, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia
Highly Recommended

 

Black, Holly & Cassandra Clare
The Iron Trial
2014. 304pp. $17.99 hc. Scholastic, Inc. 9780545522250. Grade 3 & Up

If your students were fans of the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson books, they will like this first book in the Magisterium series. Callum has always known about magic and his family’s abilities. He is about to go to the Iron Trial to test and see if he will be chosen to train at the Magisterium. Because of a family tragedy, Callum’s dad does not want him to qualify and has taught Callum to fear for his life if required to attend. Callum does his best to fail, but he is still picked. As the novel progresses, Callum becomes a reluctant hero like Harry and Percy, especially with his male and female companions. Callum and the reader both begin to realize that something is just not right. Can he and his friends survive their first year? This book is perfect for fantasy and adventure lovers. Neely Swygert, Information Technology Specialist/Librarian, Gadsden (South Carolina) Elementary
Recommended

Grove, S. E.
The Glass Sentence
2014. 512pp. $17.99 hc. Viking Children’s Books (Penguin Young Readers Group). 9780670785025. Grade 5 & Up

This book, rather like Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, throws the reader into a world that is both familiar yet otherworldly. Sophia’s world has suffered The Great Disruption, which broke the continuity of time. Time zones represent eras and different eras keep time differently. Sophia’s Uncle Shadrack is a mapmaker, but maps are also different—they store memories and emotions as well as places. Sophia’s adventure begins when Shadrack is kidnapped. Many dangers face Sophia and Shadrack as they attempt to find each other. This is the first book in the Mapmakers series, so although one adventure wraps up, the ending leaves readers ready for a sequel. Grove has created a complete, detailed world in her first novel that would be interesting, if frightening, to travel in. Students who are fans of fantasy and strong female characters will enjoy this book. Suzanne Libra, Teacher Librarian, Silver Hills Middle School and Alternative Campus, Westminster, Colorado
Recommended

 

Funaro, Gregory
Alistair Grim’s Odditorium
2015. 432pp. $16.99 hc. Disney-Hyperion 9781484700068. Grades 5-8

A well-written, engaging fantasy novel, this is the first in a planned series. Set in 1800s London, Grubb, hiding from bullies, finds himself allied with Alistair Grim who collects items believed to have magical powers. To hold these, he has built the Odditorium. When Grubb accidentally takes one of the Odditoria, the trouble starts. Doom dogs come to take Grubb’s soul, and villains are now aware of Grim’s location. A battle ensues with the Odditorium and its inhabitants escaping. Grubb’s bravery and quick thinking save the day. Unfortunately the villain also escapes, thus setting the stage for the rest of the series. The book has all the elements of a good fantasy novel: action, well-drawn characters, a classic good vs. evil battle, and interesting fantasy elements. Humor, plot twists, and the action sequences throughout keep the reader’s attention. While targeted at middle grades, fantasy-loving high schoolers and adults will enjoy the book. Betsy Ruffin, Educational Reviewer, Cleburne, Texas
Highly Recommended

 

Mlynowski, Sarah; Lauren Myracle & Emily Jenkins
Upside-Down Magic
2015. 208pp. $14.99 hc. Scholastic, Inc. 9780545800457. Grades 3-7

Fifth grader Nory Horace, a Fluxer, is disappointed when she fails the entrance test to Sage Academy, a magic school. Her ability to change into animals goes wrong, turning her transformations into half one animal and half another. She is sent to live with her Aunt Margo to attend Dunwiddle Magic School where there is an Upside-Down Magic class that is designed to help those students that have trouble controlling their magic. Nory meets Elliott, a Flare, who lights fire, but ends up freezing the object. An incident with bullies makes them realize that their powers can be used positively and should be nurtured. Readers will enjoy the magical aspect of the book as well as relate to Nory, who struggles to fit into her new classroom. The characters learn valuable lessons about accepting others, and using their talents. With some similarities to the Harry Potter series, this selection is an easier read with important life lessons. Jo Drudge, Educational Reviewer, Rome City, Indiana
Recommended

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