I’ve written more than once about how I don’t read very many book blogs. And then I started wondering, why don’t I? So while I don’t have time to read dozens, though I know they’re out there, I’ve added two focusing on my favorite topic, children’s literature. Charlotte’s Library focuses on science fiction and fantasy for children and young adults, and I’m in love. Charlotte is a reader after my own heart, and I read this book based on her recommendation. Through her weekly round-ups of kids sf/f blog reviews and interviews, I also found the charming Bookie Woogie, where three kids and their dad review a different book every week. I’ve read this to my son, and recommended it to the mother of a reluctant reader, because what better to get kids excited about reading than other kids excited about reading? And now, on to our story….
Mistress of the Storm by M.L. Welsh This is a beautiful, classic-style fantasy about an unhappy child who doesn’t fit in and ends up finding her place in the world. Verity Gallant lives with her parents and younger sister Poppy in the tiny coastal town of Wellow. At home, Verity’s mother much prefers the smaller, prettier Poppy, while at school, Verity’s size and brains make her even more of an outcast. Her only friend is an old lady, Alice, whom Verity visits often as a friend of the family, and she also find refuge at the library. But things are about to change. A mysterious stranger appears in the library and gives Verity a strange book and a small wooden ball. He tells her that the Storm is coming. Soon both friends and enemies are telling her that the Storm is coming. What this means she has no idea, but of course, her life changes forever, in ways both good and bad. Verity must learn enough about herself and about the undiscussed secrets of her family to figure out what kind of trouble is brewing and how to stop it. The book is filled with character whose names, like those in Dickens and Harry Potter, tell you their nature, including Verity herself, but also Henry Twogood and Villainous Usage. The book had a nice balance of clueless and helpful adults. It includes the intruiging idea of Original Stories, stories made up and then read aloud in magical places so that they happen in real life over and over again. I wasn’t quite happy with some parts of the final confrontation, but overall, this is a book that I probably would have read over and over again had it existed when I was child. Give it to the bookish and lonely middle graders in your life.