Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo, a review

She calls herself a cynic as she copes with her mother, who dotes on a pretty porcelain lamp named Mary Ann instead of her tomboy daughter. And Flora adores comic books, especially those about an unassuming janitor who transforms into a shining light of rescue. Plainly, she’d like her own life to be more like that.

Dreamtreaders by Wayne Thomas Batson, a review

In Dreamtreaders, a middle-grade story by Wayne Thomas Batson, Archer Keaton, age 14, serves humanity as a Dreamtreader. In his dreams, what he imagines becomes “real.”

Failstate by John W. Otte, a review

Failstate: Legends by John Ottte (2013) looks like a graphic novel, but it isn’t. It’s a middle grade novel, the middle book of a three-book series, but it stands alone very well . No one who picks it up cold like I did will think this is an unfinished story, and unexplained details from the past just make it seem more realistic.

Merlin’s Nightmare by Robert Treskillard, a review

Robert Treskillard concludes his terrific YA Merlin trilogy with this book, Merlin’s Nightmare (2014), leaving some threads open for starting a new work focused on Arthur.  I’m really enjoying Treskillard’s re-imagining of Merlin as a non-magician. Merlin is a Christian who occasionally has visions. As the book opens, Merlin, in hiding in the North, has […]

Merlin’s Shadow by Robert Treskillard, a review

Multiple times, it looks like all is lost. How can they survive being stranded on a peninsula, with armed enemies cornering them? How can they survive being surrounded by Vortigern’s murderous men, and then by Pictish barbarians who are only too happy to murder them?

Merlin’s Blade by Robert Treskillard, a review

In Merlin’s Blade (2013), the opening book in Robert Treskillard’s Arthurian saga, Merlin begins as a bashful, gawky teenager, son of a blacksmith, nearly blind. Some unknown druids come to his tiny town in post-Roman Britain, bringing with them a mysterious, demonically mesmerizing stone.

Kubo and the Two Strings, a review

I’d heard this anime-style 2016 feature film praised by some in the industry, so I decided to watch it. My takeaway: religious families will want to discuss various elements of the story together. An example: identifying ancestor worship as a substitute for knowing and loving the real God. Kubo’s story is a hero tale, where […]

The Rock of Ivanore by Laurisa White Reyes, a review

In The Rock of Ivanore by Laurisa White Reyes (2012), Marcus Frye has learned a bit of magic that sometimes works. He’s the 14-year-old orphan apprentice to the magician Master Zyll.

Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson, a review

In the book Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson (2006), Silver is a plucky 11-year-old whose parents and sister vanished four years ago. She’s being cared for by a selfish mean woman in the family mansion, Tanglewreck, one of those old English manor houses with a lot of mysteries to it.

Diary of Wimpy Kid #1 by Jeff Kinney, a review

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (2007) is a hot book where middle-schoolers are concerned. It’s a #1 New York Times bestseller, and its sequels are too. Many parents, though, aren’t so thrilled. So what is it about this book that is so appealing to kids?