This week’s article is going to be a little bit different. A lot of very interesting looking children’s fiction, aimed at 4th through 8th graders, has appeared on my desk lately. Here is a sampling:
Adventures of a Cat-Whiskered Girl by Daniel Pinkwater
“Big Audrey is a girl . . .with cat’s whiskers . . .and sort of cat’s eyes.
But, is there an other cat-whiskered, sort of cat-eyed girl?
Big Audrey waves goodbye to her friends Iggy and Neddie, Seamus, and Crazy Wig, in Los Angeles and hitches a ride with bongo-playing-while-driving Marlon Brando across the country to Poughkeepsie, New York, city of mystery. She finds she has questions needing answers—and a bit of inter-plane-of-existence traveling to do.
“Big Audrey and her telepathic friend Molly zigzag off on an incredibly strange and kooky adventure, and solve the mystery of the cat-whiskered doppelganger.” A follow up to The Neddiad and The Yggyssey [J PINKWATER]
Countdown by Deborah Wiles
Have you ever heard the phrase “Duck and cover”? “The fearful events of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis are witnessed by 11-year-old Franny, who finds her life and perspectives changing throughout the course of a week that is also marked by difficult family issues. By the National Book Award finalist author of Each Little Bird That Sings.” [J WILES]
Dark Life by Kat Falls
“In an apocalyptic future rising oceans have swallowed up entire regions and people live packed like sardines on the dry land left, DARK LIFE is the harrowing tale of underwater pioneers who have carved out a life for themselves in the harsh deep-sea environment, farming the seafloor in exchange for the land deed.
“Ty has lived his whole life on his family’s homestead and has dreams of claiming his own stake when he turns eighteen. But when outlaws’ attacks on government supply ships and settlements threaten to destroy the underwater territory, Ty finds himself in a fight to stop the outlaws and save the only home he has ever known.
“Joined by a girl from the Topside who has come subsea to look for her prospector brother, Ty ventures into the frontier’s rough underworld and begins to discover some dark secrets to Dark Life.
“As Ty gets closer to the truth, he discovers that the outlaws may not be the bloodthirsty criminals the government has portrayed them as. And that the government abandoning the territory might be the best thing for everyone, especially for someone like Ty, someone with a Dark Gift.” [J FALLS]
The Keepers’ Tattoo by Gill Arbuthnott
“Ten years ago, Alaric, leader of the Shadowmen, killed most of the Keepers — teachers of ancient knowledge that threatened his barbaric rule. Young Kit was captured, but his twin sister, Nyssa, escaped. Only later will she learn that both she and her lost brother bear the secret words of their people: three lines each of strange, unintelligible writing tattooed on their scalps. Now the Shadowmen are on the attack again, determined to quell a growing rebellion. Nyssa must find her brother, and together they must unlock the meaning — the power — behind the mysterious words.” [J ARBUTHNOTT]
The Mousehunter. The Curse of Mousebeard by Alex Milway
“Across the Seventeen Seas lies a world filled with spies, ship battles, and secrets….
“For many years, a curse has condemned Captain Mousebeard, the feared mousehunting pirate, to a life at sea, never to set foot on dry land. But the dastardly Isiah Lovelock, Mousebeard’s mortal enemy, is growing in power, and only Captain Mousebeard is brave enough to stop him.
“In order to stand a chance against Lovelock, the fearless Emiline and her friends – now fugitives themselves – must help the captain break the curse before his fate is sealed forever. Their adventure takes them to Norgammon, a mythical land of lost mice. There, they are introduced to a wonderful and dangerous assortment of mouse species, and a terrifying battle awaits them.
“Will Emiline and her crew be able to escape their enemies’ claws unscathed?” A second installment in a well-received new series, sequel to The Mousehunter. [J MILWAY]
The Shadow Hunt by Katherine Langrish
“When Wolf, a runaway from a monastery, rescues a strange child on Devil’s Edge, he takes her to a grand castle hoping to win the favor of its ruler. There he strikes up an unlikely friendship with a girl named Nest, and he thinks he’s finally found a place to call home. Wolf is determined to fit in, but not everything is as it seems at the castle. Dark forces are conspiring against Wolf and Nest, and a sinister enemy is looming closer than they could ever realize.
“With lies masquerading as reality, will Wolf and Nest learn who they can trust . . . before it’s too late?” [J LANGRISH]
A Wizard of Mars by Diane Duane
“Young wizards Kit Rodriguez and Nita Callahan are part of an elite team investigating the mysterious “message in a bottle” that holds clues to the long-lost inhabitants of Mars. But not even wizardry is enough to cope with the strange events that unfold when the “bottle” is uncorked and life emerges once more to shake the Red Planet with its own perilous and baffling brand of magic.
“The good news is that the Martians seem friendly. The bad news is that now they’re free to pick up on a long-dormant plan that could change the shape of more than one world — and they don’t mind using their well-intentioned rescuers to achieve their goals.
“Only Kit has a shot at defusing the threat. But when he vanishes from the Mars of here and now, his fellow wizards are uncertain where his true loyalties lie. Nita’s determination to find the truth—and Kit—sends her into battle against an implacable enemy who may be conquerable only by violating wizardry’s most basic tenets. As the shadow of interplanetary war stretches ever more darkly over both worlds, Kit and Nita must master the strange and ancient synergy binding them to Mars and its last inhabitants. If they fail, the history that left Mars lifeless will repeat itself on Earth.” Volume nine of the Young Wizards Series [J DUANE}