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jnishjen has commented on (4) products.

Reckless by Cornelia Funke

jnishjen, October 7, 2010

Reimagining fairy tales is nothing new. Neil Gaiman’s Stardust is an excellent example of a book that explored the Otherness of the fairy world, returning to the Grimm-ness of the original source material and stripping away the Disneyfication of the tales. Cornelia Funke’s book, the beginning of a new series, will likewise be more appreciated by older readers (although it is supposedly for 9-to-12-year-olds). Jacob Reckless is 12 when he first goes through the magic mirror into the Mirrorworld, escaping the sadness of a family unit missing its father/husband. The story jumps over 12 intervening years during which Jacob learns to navigate through the dangers of that other world and becomes a court-appointed treasure hunter, and picks up when Jacob’s sheltered younger brother, Will, follows him into the Mirrorworld. They find themselves in the middle of a war between the royal family and the Goyl, a race of people made out of stone who are rebelling against centuries of persecution. Jacob has been a loner by necessity; now he is finding that love creates obligations too deep to ignore. There are shapeshifters and magic trees, loyalty and betrayal, adventure and secret plots, and of course Fairies in this fascinating new world.
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Big Red Barn Board Book by Margaret Wise Brown
Big Red Barn Board Book

jnishjen, June 3, 2010

This was one of our favorite bedtime books when my kids were younger. There's a soothing rhythm to the words as all the animals on the farm go through their day and then settle in at night - except for the field mice. I am excited to buy a copy for my best friend from high school, who has a new baby of her own!
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Erec Rex #01: The Dragon's Eye by Kaza Kingsley
Erec Rex #01: The Dragon's Eye

jnishjen, June 11, 2009

A plot in which the young protagonist finds out that magic is real, and then enters into a magical world with its own set of rules that are discovered through trial and error. This could describe lots of young adult fiction, starting with Alice in Wonderland, the Oz books, and moving through Harry Potter and its many inferior imitations. Kaza Kingsley follows this basic plan, but she has created a thoroughly original new protagonist and magic world, combining elements of Greek and Celtic myth and riffing on the modern world (there’s a MagicNet, remote controllers for intensifying magic, and non-magic people are “Losers,” as compared to the “Keepers” who have kept magic knowledge).
Erec Rex is part of a large family of adopted children with a single mom. He doesn’t think much of the fact that their family has a few odd items, like a walking alarm clock and a dancing coatrack, and he mostly finds it annoying when he has what he calls “cloudy thoughts,” premonitions that push him to act in ways that he doesn’t understand. When his mother goes missing, Erec follows a cloudy thought to find her, and soon, with his new friend Bethany, he is traveling across the magic world. Instead of finding Erec’s mother, though, they find that there is going to be a contest to find three new kings or queens; it is only natural for them to enter. They make new friends, but they don’t always know who to trust. We learn the conventions as Erec and Bethany do, and we cheer them on as they take part in increasingly more difficult tasks and find out that they are more than just average kids – though Kingsley leaves a lot still for them to discover in future books. I look forward to following this series to the end.
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The Lump of Coal by Lemony Snicket
The Lump of Coal

jnishjen, December 16, 2008

In this second little square Christmas book after "The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming," Lemony Snicket tells the story of a lump of coal finding his way in the world. He has two ambitions, both peculiarly appropriate: to be an artist or to create barbeque. His adventures, and eventual success, are told in a sweet-tart manner that is enjoyable for both kids and parents, and Brett Helquist's illustrations perfectly capture the lump of coal's craggy, lumpy scowl, fitted into a neat little suit.
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