Alex and the Other

March 28, 2018

Alex and the otherAlex and The Other by Philippa Dowding

illustrated by Shawna Daigle

Published by: Dundurn Press, c2018; 137p. [ARC]         Series: Weird stories gone wrong     

From back cover:
“Beware the haunted bathroom mirror. Beware strangers in overcoats and dark glasses. But most of all, Beware The Other…..”

Alex and The Other is the fourth installment in Philippa Dowding’ spooky series “Weird stories gone wrong“.  This series is like a mash-up of the TV shows ‘Urban Legends’ and ‘Ghost Adventures’! Every tale is filled with heart-stopping pauses, thrilling psychological twists, yet each of the central characters has a unique humanness to them… and the character of Alex is no exception.

Alex is a loner and likes to stay to himself. This penchant for solitude has him seeking out the only place in school that he can be alone and that is the supposedly haunted boys bathroom. His retreat to this basement refuge is disrupted by an unexpected occurrence after looking at his reflection in the mirror. Fear and confusion start to seep into his psyche bit by bit, and he begins to wonder if  he would know if he was going crazy or not! Then green fog, strange voices, infiltrate his hideaway and an overpowering fright launches him running home. Once again, Alex is left questioning if this was all his imagination or not. Then Alex meets The Other and the struggles with himself, begin in earnest.

Author Philppa Dowding has created a narrative that is gripping page-turner where readers will be engaged and mesmerized from beginning to end!

Every school library should have this series and reluctant readers will vanish!

I cannot wait to read her next installment in this series!

Highly Recommended for grades 4-7!     Five Stars
five-stars

 

 

 

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A World Below

February 15, 2018

below

A World Below : by Wesley T. King

Published by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books  c.2018;  274p.  [Ebook generously supplied by NetGalley] : to be released March2018

[A 2018 Junior Library Guild selection]

From celebrated, multi-nominated award winning author, Wesley King, comes his latest middle grade adventure, “A World Below“. The ethereal-like cover only hints at what is the story could be like between the pages!

Readers will be shocked, riveted and intrigued from the first page : “consider everyone on this list missing or deceased.  Notify parents immediately. Pictures for identification of bodies may be required.” 

As the title implies, the majority of this fast paced adventure story dives deep below ‘terra ferma’ and takes the world of caving, caverns, and tunnels to a whole new level! The author`s effective use of vivid description, intense action and suspense continually builds with each alternating ‘time’ stamped chapter.

For myself, A World Below is a cool mix of  Arthur Conon Doyle’s The Lost World and Jules Verne’s “Journey to the centre of the earth” and Edgar Rice Burrough’s ‘The Lost Continent’ — a true science fiction fantasy adventure tale.

This is a story of challenges and discovery that will captivate even the most reluctant of readers!

Highly Recommended for all Middle Grade readers who wish to go ‘spelunking’!!

five-stars

Booktrailer: A World Below


The Great and the Small

October 30, 2017

GSEbookCov

The Great and the small  by written and illustrated by Andrea Torrey Balsara

Published by: Common Deer Press

 

This debut story by author Andrea Torrey Balsara, “The Great and the Small“, is a tale unlike anything l have ever read and I was hooked from the start.

The author has crafted a very descriptive, darkly-told suspenseful tale where the reader is taken into a world that is often hidden from humans.

Each chapter begins with an excerpt taken from historical record dealing with the ‘Black death’ which foreshadows the setting of of each chapter. This in turn creates a sense of foreboding within the reader. Atmospheric, detailed black and white illustrations add to intensify this sense of apprehension.

Although for the most part this tale is told from the perspective of Fin, a young disabled rat, whose curiosity often ends with disastrous (dire) results. Yet there is also a parallel storyline. Fin’s zeal in following orders leads into a mishap and an encounter with an ‘ugly two-leg.’ Perceptions are altered for both characters.  The reader is given a glimpse into the beginnings of a strangely unique friendship in which both Fin and the ‘two-leg’ gain a greater understanding of one another.

This experience teaches Fin that being a part of the ‘colony’, blind acceptance and trust can have far-reaching consequences. But will he be able to look deep within himself and do the right thing?

This is not a story for the faint of heart, but it is a tale that will surely have a reader sitting at the edge of their seat and holding their breath until the end!

Recommended for intermediate readers!

Curriculum connections:
History- Medieval; medical research; fear; loss; bullying; courage; acceptance; drawing.


August 19, 2014
A Fantasy with magic and myth collide!

A fantasy where magic and myth collide!

Bog by Karen Krossing

229p.; c2014

published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Markham ON

 

The soft water colour like cover art is reminiscent of Maurice Sendek’s “Where the wild things are”. However that is where any similarity ends! Karen Krossing’s latest book is a refreshing imaginative and original story.

Bog , a charming irresistible cave troll, secure world crashes to a sudden halt as he witnesses his father turning to stone as they are being hunted by the dreaded disciples of the feared ‘Troll Hunter’.

 

Sunk in grief, Bog resolutely decides to leave behind the remnants of his family to embark on untroll-like quest — avenging his father. Beginning this journey alone, Bog is interrupted in his mission by surprises that impact him in many unforeseen ways.

Bog is a most  fascinating, yet complex character that the reader can sympathize with and enjoy how the author intertwines First Nations lore with other legends.

This is unquestionably a narrative that will captivate, entrance and transport a reader into the realm of magic and myth!

Highly recommended for grades 3; 4;  5

 

 


The Rule of 3 by Eric Walters [ a brilliant new Dystopian novel!]

February 24, 2014

RULE-OF-THREE

  The Rule of Three3  by Eric Walters

  published by razorbill/Penguin Canada ; 404p. ; c2014

It was the dramatic boldly coloured cover of Walter’s latest book, The Rule of Three3, that captured and intrigued me from the start.

In no time, I became completely absorbed by this realistic and disturbing premise and by my own simultaneously personal question of, ‘what if ” this situation really occurred?’  Could this be a possible outcome to humanity – a dramatic reaction to a shocking ‘global viral catastrophe’?

This thought alone, made me want to halt my reading. But it was these same disturbing thoughts that compelled me to continue. Though the story feels almost science fiction-like, one only has to think back to recent global weather events that resulted in similar scenarios.

One quickly realizes that the veneer of civility is shed, if one is without all the computerized driven technologies that have become such an integral part of today’s society.

Through the eyes of sixteen year old Adam, we witness the fear of a seemingly local (innocent) power loss, escalate as the days increase without resolution, to an atmosphere of disorder, feuding, vandalism and desperation. As more time elapses, Adam and his family … with the help of a astute neighbour…try to combat the ever violent disorder and chaos surrounding their suburban neighbourhood into something more orderly…a necessity for survival.

Unfortunately what once was the norm, now has to be re-thought , a mentality, that not all can conform to.

Sacrifice and survival become the key, if any shred of what civil end humanity is to be retained.

This is a strong read, that will challenge the reader to think beyond the box!

Truly a  story of  “what ifs”!

Highly recommended!!

For Intermediate and Senior students


Awakenings by Canadian author Hally Willmott

October 26, 2013

This debut novel by Canadian author, Hally Willmott., took me by surprise! A teen fantasy with a mix of the supernatural quickly builds momentuem with the sudden and unexpected death of sixteen year old Jacey’s parents.

The story accelerates as Jacey and her older brother, Hudson, race to the hometown of their Aunt and their birth ‘ Nevaeh’ racing toward sanctuary. It is during this period of grief and flight, that Jacey experiences visitations from malevolent entities and visions in a mirror – an image of herself!
Jacey is plagued with more questions then answers….thus begins her journey of self discovery. Will she have the courage and determination to forge ahead and do what must be done or will the outside forces bend her to their will?

This exciting debut novel will certainly captivate teen readers!

Awakenings -- by Hally Willmott

Awakenings — by Hally Willmott


Ghost of heroes past by Charles Reid

March 30, 2011

Vancouver, BC: Ronsdale Press, 2010.
168 pp., pbk., $10.95.
ISBN 978-1-55380-102-3.

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.

 One of the reasons that I picked up this title is that I know of a number of reluctant male readers who are keen to read about anything that has to do with war.

Reid’s central character is Johnny Anders,  who exhibits much of the similiar sentiments that teens today display about Remembrance Day. This is evident on the opening page when he states to his father  that “it’s all old stuff that happened a long time ago. What’s it have to do with me?”

Through a series of events presented in a time-travel format, Johnny is taken to various points in history where a unknown ghost in the guise of a soldier acts has his guide. First confusion fills him  as to these ‘ghost’ visits, and then as the nightly treks continue to different war-torn locals, Johnny’s many unanswered questions nudge him to seek some sort of explanations by using the resources in his school library.  Here he stumbles into an odd sort of friendship with another new student like himself, only this is a girl and her name is Casey.

Their shared interest in history allows Johnny to divulge to Casey about his nocturnal soldier-ghost visits and the various journeys he has been taken on. As Johnny is given the priviledge of ‘seeing’ what roles the men and women during war played, he and Casey are inspired to continue their research in locating information on notibale heroes such as Bill Chong, Joan Bamford Fletcher and fighter-pilot Raymond Collishaw.

By the conclusion of the story we see how Johnny’s time-travel adventure have impacted and changed his preceptions of meaning of Remembrance Day and that the “old stuff  that happened long ago” really does have significance for all generations.

 Easy read…. recommended for Boys!

Interest level: Grade 6 to 8

Reading Level: Grade 5 to 7

Genre: Historical fiction; War; Remembrance Day

 

Who would like this book?  ANy boy who is interested in war; First Nations soldiers;

Furthur Information on Canadian War Heroes:

Bill Chong: 

Canadian Weblink:http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/sub.cfm?source=collections/hr_cdnchinese

YouTube link for Bill Chong: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n88YwntKXvY

Raymond Collishaw weblink:http://www.earlyaviators.com/ecollish.htm

Joan Fletcher Bamford: http://www.tiltcreative.com/rogues/heroesandrogues.htm

Tommy Prince (First Nations War Hero):http://firstnationsdrum.com/2002/09/thomas-prince-canadas-forgotten-aboriginal-war-hero-2/

Genre: Historical fiction; War; Remembrance Day

Author Weblink:

http://www.cbc.ca/books/booksandauthors/2010/11/ghost-of-heroes-past.html