Fantasy & Science Fiction

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George

Princess Celie’s favorite day of the week is Tuesday because that’s the day Castle Glower usually grows a new room or two, or a turret, or passage. Castle Glower’s favorite person is Princess Celie, the only one who has ever tried to explore and map the ever-changing structure. Castle Glower is not shy about making its opinion known. When the Castle decides Prince Rolf should be the King’s Heir, he awakes one day to discover his bedroom has been moved next to the throne room. Unwelcome guests find their quarters growing smaller and shabbier, while favored residents are housed in spacious comfort in Tuesdays at the Castle, by Jessica Day George.

When the King and Queen disappear--ambushed and presumed dead--visitors from foreign lands arrive suddenly to advise Celie, Rolf, and their sister, Lilah, during the time of transition. But the Castle seems to know that something isn’t right and the plotters underestimate the Castle’s abilities. They also underestimate the courage and intelligence of the Royal children. The Castle creates a turret, stocked with useful items, that appears when Celie and her siblings need it. It provides a passage to a hidden room where the children can overhear the council’s scheming--complete with a magic cloak that muffles sound so the children will not themselves be overheard. Celie’s maps and her relationship with the Castle are the keys to saving the kingdom, the castle’s inhabitants, and the castle itself.

Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

Liesl and Po

"Coincidences; mix-ups; harmless mistakes and switches.  And so a story is born."  Imagine Cinderella with a really, really wicked stepmother and a lonely, yet helpful ghost. 

In Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver, 11- year-old Liesl is confined to a tiny attic bedroom, locked away and totally isolated by her cruel stepmother while her father falls ill and dies.  Her only friends are the shadows and the mice -- until one night two shadows move and speak.

Wildwood by Colin Meloy

Wildwood by Colin Meloy

How five crows managed to lift a twenty-pound baby boy into the air was beyond Prue, but that was certainly the least of her worries.

So begins Colin Meloy’s debut novel Wildwood, in which a girl named Prue journeys into the Impassable Wilderness, a dense maze of a forest outside her hometown of Portland, Oregon, in order to retrieve her brother--with an awkward classmate named Curtis tagging along. Due to some misfortune involving coyotes decked out in military uniforms, the two children must separately navigate this strange world where talking animals uneasily coexist with humans who have never met anyone from the outside. A revolution is about to happen, and Prue and Curtis quickly find themselves on opposite sides.

Mistress Masham's Repose by T. H. White

Mistress Masham's Repose

When one thinks of heirs and heiresses, one thinks of bags and bags of money.  But in T. H. White’s Mistress Masham’s Repose, ten-year-old Maria has no money. She is only the heiress to a falling down 17th-century English estate called Malplaquet. Even so, she might have enjoyed a lovely if quiet life in the countryside. But she doesn’t.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The Little Prince

Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s enduring classic, The Little Prince, explores topics of great importance such as art, friendship, space travel, responsibility, proud flowers, and what a boa constrictor looks like after it has eaten an elephant. This cherished fable is narrated by a pilot whose plane crashed in the Sahara. After meeting the little prince in the desert, miles and miles from any inhabited place, our narrator gradually learns about the little prince’s travels and world view.

The little prince comes from Asteroid B-612, a very small planet where he dutifully cleaned out the miniature volcanoes and tended to his beloved flower. His flower had many demands, and her haughty manner made the little prince feel confused and manipulated. As a consequence, he decided to leave his home and go exploring.

Amulet Book 1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi

Amulet Book 1: The Stonekeeper

Emily and Navin have just moved into their grandfather's abandoned house with their mother. Their grandfather has been missing for decades, so Emily doesn't think twice about picking up the necklace she finds in his library. What she has awakened though, is a gateway to a bizarre and magical world. Suddenly her mother is swallowed whole by a hideous tentacled creature and it's up to Emily and Navin to get her back. So begins the first book in the Amulet series, The Stonekeeper.

It turns out that the necklace is a powerful amulet that can control and protect any surrounding life force. Emily's grandfather's last wish was for her to take up the stone and help save this strange world, known as Alledia, from an evil elf king. Emily also receives several robots that her grandfather single-handedly constructed to help her with this mission. The first robot we meet is the pink rabbit, Miskit, who wields a stun gun while piloting a giant mechanical exoskeleton.

Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World) by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Dan Santat

Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World)

A bright young girl runs through the chaos of demolished streets. Plumes of black smoke rise from the rubbled buildings. No one else is in sight. Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World) is a life lesson that everyone should receive: always take responsibility for your actions, particularly when they involve a ginormous hulking robot with the power to crush cars and shoot lasers every which way.
 
Usually when my school science projects went wrong, it was more of a mild disappointment than anything else. My baking-soda-and-vinegar volcano did not erupt. I received a C- instead of an B+. These are minor hiccups when compared to our main character’s situation. Oh No! allows us to think about our own mistakes and say, “Well, it could have been worse…much, much worse.”

A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine

A Tale of Two Castles

In A Tale of Two Castles, by Gail Carson Levine, young Elodie embarks on her journey to Two Castles with the warning of her family ringing in her ears: beware of ogres and dragons, and, even worse, the whited sepulcher. Elodie’s parents think she will apprentice to a weaver. But headstrong, independent Elodie dreams of becoming a mansioner--an actress. As she nears Two Castles, Elodie discovers that the free,10-year apprenticeships have been abolished. She does not have enough money to pay for an apprenticeship or to pay for the voyage home. What will she do? How will she survive?

Hero by Mike Lupica

Hero by Mike Lupica

Fourteen-year-old Zach Harriman lives in New York City with his mother and father.  He has been living the life of a typical teen until his father is killed under mysterious circumstances. In Mike Lupica's book Hero, Zach decides that following the devastating loss of his father, he wants to get to the bottom of the story.  He knows that his father was powerful and had the ear of the President of the United States.  He knows that his father was very skilled in his job of "getting things done."  Zach suspects that his father's death was no accident but a premeditated murder by an organization known as the "bads."

Zach's mother decides to throw herself into the presidential campaign for the candidate that Zach's father supported.  Though Zach supports his mother's political efforts, he decides to turn his energies towards the investigation of his father's death.  He starts asking questions.  He also begins to notice that he is being followed.  While walking though Central Park he is approached by a mysterious stranger who has information for him.  When Zach tells his beloved Uncle John about this man, he warns him to stay away from the stranger.  Who should Zach believe?

What hath Harry Potter wrought?

Was it only twelve short years ago that “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” changed the children’s book world forever? This Friday’s release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” the first installment of the last Harry Potter film, brings it all back.

I can still remember eagerly reading an advance copy of the first book and falling head over heels into the world of Hogwarts. J. K. Rowling used familiar elements – a school setting, an orphan, wise teachers, magic – in a fresh story that was notable for its wild invention. Bertie Botts’ Every Flavor Beans, portraits that came to life, the sorting hat, Muggles: these clever new creations were what readers noticed first. It was only with the unfolding of succeeding books that Rowling’s masterful plotting became apparent. Like many others, I devoured the final book over the course of a weekend, tearing up in places and turning the last page with mingled satisfaction and regret.
 
The effect on young readers was the real phenomenon. Kids who might once have eyed thick books with trepidation now proudly announced that they’d read a whole Harry Potter book in one sitting! They read the books over and over, sharing jokes and sayings from the books with their friends. It’s not too much to state that J.K. Rowling created a new generation of fantasy readers.