Sunday, November 22, 2009

Page-Turners: 10 Novels To Sweep You Away

Holiday novels

Odd and the Frost Giants, by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Brett Helquist, HarperCollins, $14.99, ages 9-12, 128 pages. Twelve-year-old Odd finds the courage to take on an evil giant who's turned mythical gods into animals after losing his father on a Viking expedition and crushing his leg under a tree in this exciting Nordic adventure novella, Gaiman's contribution to the 2008 World Book Day. (View a trailer below!)

The Lost Conspiracy, by Frances Hardinge, HarperCollins Publishers, $16.99, ages 10 and up, 568 pages. When a tribe of shunned Lace people try to fool an inspector into believing Arilou is the next Lady Lost (a venerated woman who can detach her senses from her body), their ruse goes terribly wrong and only sister Haithin can unravel the sinister plot that threatens their enchanted island in this exquisitely written epic.

A Season of Gifts, by Richard Peck, Dial Books for Young Readers, $16.99, ages 9-12, 176 pages. Struggling to fit in and scratch out a living in their new town, a Methodist minister and his family find an unexpected ally in their eccentric, gun-toting neighbor Grandma Dowdel, in this hilarious, heart-warming companion to the Newbery Medal-winning A Year Down Yonder and Newbery Honor-winning A Long Way to Chicago.

The Magician's Nephew, by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Yoko Tanaka, Candlewick Press, $16.99, ages 9-12, 201 pages. A 10-year-old orphan named Peter is told by a fortuneteller that he must follow an elephant to find his long-lost sister Adelle in this luminous story about believing in the impossible by the author of the Newbery Award-winning The Tale of Despereaux.

The Extra-Ordinary Princess, by Carolyn Q. Ebbitt, Bloomsbury Children's Books, $16.99, ages 9-12, 336 pages. After a plague kills the king and queen of Gossling, their youngest daughter Amelia must rescue her three older sisters from an evil spell and fulfill the prophesies of her people before an evil uncle destroys the kingdom in this fairy tale adventure by debut author Ebbitt.

Flawed Dogs, The Novel: The Shocking Raid on Westminster, Philomel Books, written and illustrated by Berkeley Breathed, $16.99, ages 8-12, 240 pages. A show dog falls from grace after he's framed by a vindictive poodle for taking away a baby, then rallies his adorably odd friends from the pound to exact revenge, only to realize that all he really wants is to win over his human again in this heart-warming, hilarious first novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Breathed.

The Shadow of Malabron: The Perilous Realm: Book One, by Thomas Wharton, Candlewick Press, $16.99, ages 9-12, 400 pages. A motorcycle accident strands Will in a mysterious realm where dark forces are trying to turn stories into a nightmare and looks to a spirited girl named Rowan, a wise wolf and other Storyfolk to help find a gate that will take him home in this first book in an exciting fantasy trilogy by an award-winning adult author.

Leviathan, by Keith Thompson, Simon & Schuster, ages 12 and up, 438 pages. With assassins on his heels, the prince of the Austrio-Hungarian Empire forges an unlikely alliance with a middie aboard a British hot-air beast in the first of a four-book fantasy series that reimagines the battle lines of World War I with fabricated animals and animalistic machines. (View the book trailer under my October review!)

The Wizard of Rondo, By Emily Rodda, Scholastic Press, $16.99, ages 9-12, 352 pages. Leo and his cousin Mimi plunge back into the perilous world Rondo through a portal on Leo's antique music box in search of a missing wizard and encounter a fierce cloud monster in this fun, exuberant sequel to The Key of Rondo by the acclaimed author of the Deltora Quest series.

Al Capone Shines My Shoes, Dial Books for Young Readers, $16.99, ages 10 an up. By Gennifer Choldenko. Six months after his family moves to Alcatraz for his dad's work, 12-year-old Moose must pay back a favor to infamous prisoner Al Capone and figure out how a bar spreader got into his sister's luggage in this riveting sequel to the Newbery Honor-winning Al Capone Does My Shirts.

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