Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New fantasy and mystery books for young readers

Mystery and fantasy can be a great combination for young readers. Here are some stories that mix fantasy and adventure with a touch of the mysterious. Fast-paced, entertaining and sometimes funny (meet Esmeralda Lightfoot, a nosy hedgehog ...), these books are just right for a chance to escape into fantasy!

No Passengers Beyond This Point, by Gennifer Choldenko (Dial Books) Fantasy. With hardly any warning, siblings India, Mouse, and Finn Tompkins are sent to stay with an uncle in Colorado when the bank forecloses on their house. But after their plane lands, a bizarre feathered taxi whisks them away to a strange, fantastical place called Falling Bird. There, each of them is given a perfect house -- and a mysterious clock that is ticking down to the time when they'll have to decide whether to stay there forever. It's all quite baffling, but anyone who likes fast-paced, unusual fantasy adventures with well-drawn characters will enjoy the ride.

The Missing Magic, by Lexi Connor (Scholastic) Fantasy. Now that Beatrix (a.k.a. "B") is 11, she should be able to cast spells with rhymes like everyone else in her magical family, but no matter how hard she tries, she fails. Then a new English teacher comes to B's school, and B realizes -- maybe a bit later than she'd have liked, as she casts some spells accidentally -- that her unnaturally perfect spelling ability is the key to her powers. This fun, lighthearted, and easy-to-read fantasy is the first of five books (so far!) in the B Magical series; want more? The Trouble with Secrets is the second story.

Sundered Lands: Trundle's Quest, by Allan Frewin Jones; illustrated by Gary Chalk (Greenwillow Books) Animal Fantasy. Mild-mannered hedgehog Trundle Boldoak likes his simple, cozy life as Port Shiverstone's town lamplighter. But his world is turned upside-down the night he meets Esmeralda Lightfoot, a spitfire hedgehog who insists that Trundle has a destiny to fulfill, and the two of them are attacked by vicious pirates. As they flee from the bloodthirsty buccaneers, Esmeralda and Trundle fall off of their planet, onto a windship, and into a whole host of wild and dangerous adventures! Fans of Brian Jacques' Redwall books are sure to enjoy this story, which is filled with memorable animal friends (and foes) and packed with action.

A Tale of Two Castles, by Gail Carson Levine (Harper) Fantasy Mystery. When 12-year-old Elodie journeys from her family's farm to the city of Two Castles, she hopes to secure an apprenticeship as a "Mansioner," or actor. But Mansioners' apprentices must pay for their learning, and when Elodie's only coin is stolen, she instead accepts an apprenticeship with a wise and kindly dragon named Meenore, who is (among other things) a detective. Together, Meenore and Elodie investigate a series of threats against the shape-shifting ogre Count Jonty Um -- and must clear Elodie's name when she is falsely accused of a crime. This fast-paced and unpredictable adventure is a wild ride.

Beyonders: A World Without Heroes, by Brandon Mull (Aladdin) Fantasy. In this new series opener by the author of Fablehaven, 13-year-old Jason Walker is suddenly (and unexpectedly) transported from the hippo pool of a Colorado zoo to a strange world called Lyrian. At first, Jason's only concern is finding a way back home, but as he gets to know the downtrodden citizens of Lyrian, he is drawn into a plot to rid the realm of its ruler, the tyrannical evil wizard Maldor. With wonderfully inventive creatures, clever dialogue, and nearly non-stop action, A World Without Heroes will leave you eager for the next exciting volume of the Beyonders series.

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