Here are three more from my Cybils reading – only this time, books that were on my TBR list before they were nominated, as they’re from authors I’ve enjoyed in the past.
Seven Stories Up by Laurel Snyder. Random House Children’s, 2014.
In the 1980s, Annie goes with her mother to meet her dying grandmother, who lives in a grand, deserted hotel. Falling asleep to the sound of her mother and grandmother arguing, she wakes up in the same room in 1937. There she meets her grandmother again – now a young girl named Molly, who’s confined to her room because of her asthma. Careful not to let her grandmother know who she really is, Annie nonetheless convinces Molly to sneak out of her Lonely Room and explore the city and the hotel. But the longer she stays, the more trouble she has remembering her modern-day self. Can she figure out a way to get back to her mother? This is a sweet story filled with adventures of the everyday sort. It has lots of appeal for those who like gentle historical stories and would be perfect for girls graduating from the American Girl books. Snyder is also the author of the independent book Bigger Than a Breadbox.
Rose and the Magician’s Mask by Holly Webb. Sourcebooks Jabberywocky, 2014. Published in the UK by Orchard, 2010
In book three of the stories about Rose (which was a Cybils mgsf finalist last year), an enormously powerful magical mask has gone missing from the palace, clearly stolen by the magician who caused the unnatural winter in Rose and the Lost Princess. When visions reveal that he’s hiding in Venice, the city of masks, her master, the king’s alchemist Mr. Fountain, his bratty daughter Bella and Rose’s fellow apprentice all head off for Venice. The great masked ball at New Year’s Eve is an event of great power that will seal the mask to its new owner if they can’t retrieve it in time. Somehow, everyone seems to think that Rose and her heritage – still a mystery to her – is central to these happenings, even as Rose is determined to be satisfied just being herself. There are new depths and hints of revelations to come about both Rose and Bella in what is still a highly satisfying series. It has lots of appeal for kids (both boys and girls, despite the covers) on the younger end of the middle grade spectrum, while the story is compelling enough to appeal to adult readers as well.
Minion by John David Anderson. Walden Pond Press, 2014.
Minion takes place in the same world as Anderson’s Sidekicked, which I read and loved last year because it was also a Cybils mgsf finalist. Our protagonist, Michael Morn, was raised by nuns until he was adopted by a mad scientist employed by various supervillains and crime lords. Only his adopted dad and his best friend know of his superpower, the ability to push people’s thinking in the direction he wants it to go. This comes in very handy when he needs to help his dad rob a bank or a store so they have enough money to pay the bills. His adopted father does everything he can to raise Michael right aside from the accomplice in crime as needed bit, including keeping his ability secret from the both of the crime bosses that battle over New Liberty. Michael and his best friend, Zach the human porcupine boy, enjoy visiting the mall to look for girls. But Michael is surprised when he actually meets one: Viola, a girl with a laugh like an arpeggio. Life gets much more complicated very quickly when New Liberty is plagued both by a rash of aggressive masked bad guys and its first, equally aggressive superhero. This is a compelling, ambiguous book about a boy searching for right in a world of grays. There are several scenes of violence, and the uncertain division between right and wrong makes it best for readers old enough to deal with that.