Wednesday, April 26, 2023

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart is a delightful story about four gifted children who are brought together to help the kindly Mr. Benedict take on the sinister Mr. Curtain in Mr. Curtain's bid to take over the world.
Posing as youngsters interested in Mr. Curtain's exclusive "school" (actually a training ground to recruit followers) they infiltrate Mr. Curtain's domain and look for ways to stop him from taking control of society. Will they be able to do it with Mr. Benedict's help, and the help of other good guys, like the mysterious (though constantly sad) Miligan, and Mr. Benedict's other friends? Read the book and find out! It's a great book for kids as well as adults. I was delighted to find out that this story has been made into a series on Disney plus. While I cannot give an opinion on Disney's adaptations of the book, since I haven't watched them, I still think it's pretty great that such a fun story has been put on film!

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck

A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck tells the story of siblings Joe and Mary Alice and the few weeks every summer they spend with their very interesting grandma, from the time they're little to the time they're young teenagers.
The brother and sister who are from Chicago, have various adventures with their grandma who lives in a small town, from "borrowing" a boat to go fishing where they're not legally allowed to fish, to helping an abused young woman and an overly controlled young man escaped their situations with the help of some old clothes, and old lantern, and a ghostly legend. The stories are delightful and while funny, also teach the reader valuable life lessons about honesty and owning up to mistakes. The ending of the story is especially touching. I recommend the book to young people as well as adults. A Long Way from Chicago was published in 2000.

The Hope of Elephants by Amanda Rawson Hill

The Hope of Elephants by Amanda Rawson Hill is a novel told in free verse by a young cancer patient.
Her dad has had cancer several times, but now it's her turn. And why is the "Elephants" in the title part of the story? Because Elephants don't get cancer. At least they don't get it at the same rate humans do. The story itself is told in lovely free verse poems, using a balance of humor and grief. I found it to be sweet and painful at the same time, and I would recommend this book to young people and adults. Especially those who have been affected by any type of cancer.

Secrets of the Looking Glass (The Lost Wonderland Diaries book 2) by J. Scott Savage.

Secrets of the Looking Glass by J. Scott Savage is a fun book for kids and adults. Friends Celia and Tyrus are off on another adventure.
Tyrus is a book geek, and Celia struggles to overcome her dyslexia. I love the combination of the two characters and how they complement each other. In this story, the two friends are split. Meaning each one has a part of him or her split off, and each becomes two separate people. Tyrus becomes Ty and Tyrus, Celia becomes Lia and Celia. Not having read Carroll's original works I can't compare them, but I really did enjoy this story. I love how the characters are so relatable and have realistic struggles that they work courageously to turn into strengths.

The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis

The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis was not the first book written in the Chronicles of Narnia, but it was the first that happened in the series' timeline.
It follows the story of two friends, Polly Plummer and Diggory Kirk (who later became the Professor Kirk in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe). They become friends after Diggory and his mother Mable, who is dying from some unexplained disease, move in with Mable's brother and sister who are both unmarried so that they can more easily care for their sister. (Diggory's father is away in India, at this time, and can't help.) One day, the two friends stumble upon an adventure when Andrew, Diggory's unscrupulous uncle, decides to use them in an experiment traveling between dimensions. They find themselves first in what they called "The Wood Between the Worlds" a sort of between place they compare to the shared attic back home that all the houses in their row of houses share. After this, they find themselves in Charn where they (mainly Diggory) accidentally wake up Jadis, the evil queen who is the cause of so many of Narnia's troubles later. And then, after a mishap at home in London, they, Uncle Andrew, the queen, a horse named Strawberry, and Strawberry's owner Frank, find themselves in a brand new Narnia. Diggory, hoping to find some fruit in this new world that would cure his mother, wants to ask Aslan the Lion for some help. But first, Diggory, having brought Jadis, needs to do something to protect Narnia from her. Overall, the story is lovely, and a great tale that will entertain and cheer both children and adults. The story was first published in 1955.