Children’s Series Picks
I’ve been having good luck with (most) of my books lately. Maybe I’ve been lucky, maybe it’s because they’re from authors I already enjoy, maybe it’s because I’ve been too sick to be critical. Anyway I’ve got several solid children’s books to review this time, and I enjoyed them all.
Immortal Fire (Cronos Chronicles by Anne Ursu)
The Cronos Chronicles are about a pair of cousins Charlotte and Zee (Zachary), one from a small town in the US and one outside London, who have stumbled into the truth that the Greek gods are real and not too happy with humanity. This is their third tangle with the gods. The first book was set in the Underworld, the second on Poseidon’s yacht, and this one takes up just after they escape the Mediterranean and return to Charlotte’s home. Mysterious storms and monsters are loose across the world and even Charlotte’s parents are beginning to suspect that something is going on. Zee and Charlotte must once again, save humanity, but this time, there’s a new kid in the mix. Who is he and whose side is he on?
I enjoyed this one a lot. It’s MG / younger teen, totally clean, and pretty funny. There’s lots of action, some violence, but none of it very graphic. I like that the kids don’t emerge from these big fights without a scratch, but it felt like they were really getting hammered a little too often. I also really liked that Charlotte and Zee genuinely cared about each other. Not in a romantic way, but in a family way, where the other person gets on your nerves sometimes, but the bond is solid. In fact, there isn’t much romance in these books, which makes a nice change.
This is the last book in the series, and I wouldn’t start here. You’d be lost. But I can recommend the series, as one that will appeal to any gender and to parents as well as kids. They’d also be fun to read aloud. 3.75 for the series, 3.5 for this book, as it got a little muddled in the middle.
The Forgotten Sisters (Princess Academy, book 3) by Shannon Hale
Miri from the Princess Academy is back. This time, the king makes her an offer – train his royal cousins in her own Princess Academy, and her little village at home can OWN their village, for good. It seems like too good a deal to pass up, so she agrees. The stakes are high. A royal marriage may be the only way to prevent a war. But the three sisters are no princesses- they can’t even read. Miri is in over her head. Literally. She falls in the swamp, gets a snake bite her first day, and faints just inside the door. Off to a great start.
Although I enjoyed this book, it’s nothing really new. If you liked the first books in this series, you’ll like this one. The new girls are appealing, and I liked the setting. But for me, the book didn’t really come alive until about halfway through. I’m glad I read it though. Again, I wouldn’t read this one unless you’d read the first two. I still recommend this series, but I think it appeals a little more to girls that boys, more to kids that adults. Another one that would be good read aloud. 3.25 for this book, between 3-4 for the series, depending. I think it just won’t appeal to some readers, but then there will be plenty of readers who *love* it. You won’t know until you try it.
Slaves of Socorro (The Brotherband Chronicles, book 4) by John Flanagan
Hal and the rest of the Brotherband fellows are sent off to Araluen to patrol the coast for the Jarl. They’re just settled in when a group of slavers hit the coast. Hal and the ranger Gilan know who they are and where they’re headed, so they crew decides to follow. To rescue the Araluens, they’ll have to infiltrate the slave market, and it won’t be easy.
I admit, I’m a sucker for this writer. I love his Ranger’s Apprentice series, and this one is just as much fun. Flanagan excels at portraying young men, just emerging from childhood all through the difficult process of becoming men. Hal’s emergence as a leader is so well done. I would definitely recommend this author and this series in particular to kids. Unlike the previous two books, I think you could start with this one, although it would be better to start with the first one, but if you find this one first, grab it and give it a try. Although it’s set about a Viking longboat (more or less), Flanagan includes a little glossary of sailing terms so drylanders like me won’t be confused. 4 stars for this one, solid 4, maybe higher for the series.