Monthly Archives: May 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Cabinet of Earths

This is my 201st post. I missed my 200th post, so we’ll celebrate at the next milestone. For now, enjoy Number 201!

Middle Grade Author Shannon Whitney Messenger began Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays a while back. If you love middle grade literature, check out her blog on Mondays for a list of other sites featuring MG books.

Today I’ll talk about Cabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet.

From Goodreads: On their first day in Paris, Maya and her little brother, James, find themselves caught up in some very old magic. Houses with bronze salamanders for door handles, statues that look too much like Maya’s own worried face, a man wearing sunglasses to hide his radiant purple eyes . . . nothing is what it seems. And what does all that magic want from Maya?

With the help of a friendly boy named Valko, Maya discovers surprises hidden in her family tree. And now the shimmering glass Cabinet of Earths, at the heart of all these secrets, has chosen Maya to be its new Keeper.

As she untangles the ties between the Salamander House, the purple-eyed man, and the Cabinet of Earths, Maya realizes that her own brother may be in terrible danger. To save him, Maya must take on the magical underworld of Paris . . . before it is too late.

From Vicki: First, thanks to Akoss Ket for highlighting this book on her blog and bringing it to my attention. So, of course I had to read this: Paris, magic, purple eyes. And how cool is that cover?

Maya’s story is easy to follow and I enjoyed her friendship with Valko, her struggle to fight the magic for her brother’s sake, and the setting (of course!). The writing is a bit old-fashioned, but that fits the story.

What’s your favorite magical adventure set in a distant real-world land?

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Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: School of Fear

Middle Grade Author Shannon Whitney Messenger began Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays a while back. If you love middle grade literature, check out her blog on Mondays for a list of other sites featuring MG books.

Today I’ll talk about School of Fear by Gitty Daneshvari.

From Goodreads: Everyone is afraid of something…

Madeleine Masterson is deathly afraid of bugs, especially spiders.

Theodore Bartholomew is petrified of dying.

Lulu Punchalower is scared of confined spaces.

Garrison Feldman is terrified of deep water.

With very few options left, the parents of these four twelve year-olds send them to the highly elusive and exclusive School of Fear to help them overcome their phobias. But when their peculiar teacher, Mrs. Wellington, and her unconventional teaching methods turn out to be more frightening than even their fears, the foursome realize that this just may be the scariest summer of their lives.

From Vicki: I had wanted to read this one since it was published in 2009, but was so focused on young adult that I didn’t take the time. It was worth the wait.

It’s a different style than I’m used to, but I enjoyed that aspect. Instead of just one main character, we essentially get four. A distant third-person narrator tells each child’s story in alternating chapters. Each kid (each character, too, in fact) is extremely quirky in a different way and has a different voice. I think my favorite would have to be Teddy, who is full of facts about different ways to die. But I enjoyed all the characters and their interactions and how they learned to work together as a team to solve their biggest problem.

I figured out the twist, and some kids might as well, but it didn’t detract from the story. I was still hooked and had to read on to see if I was right, and to see how the kids would handle it in the end.

Definitely one of the more original books I’ve read this year. Does this remind you of another book? What’s the most original concept you’ve read this year?

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