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review 2020-06-02 14:00
The Key to the Demon's Gate
The Key to the Demon's Gate - Daniel Quilter

by Daniel M. Quilter

 

The target age for this story is Middle Grade and it reads appropriately for that level to me. The story is wonderfully imaginative and sends three teenage protagonists on quests and through adventures that would definitely appeal to young readers.

 

Henry Rockwell and his friends get whisked away into a fantasy world adventure with demons, pirates, magic and of course a quest.

 

Though the character development and plot were fairly average for the age group, I think younger kids would enjoy it. My only complaint is that it ends with some of the details of the story unfinished and an invitation to continue the adventure in the next book.

 

I'm becoming less tolerant of this sales approach as more authors do it and although I don't mind it in favorite adult or YA series, I think it sends the wrong message to younger readers and feel that even a series should conclude the adventure at hand and act as a stand alone. How can you encourage reluctant readers to take an interest if the story never ends? Or takes three or more books to do so?

 

Overall an okay story that would sit well in a children's library one the series is complete.

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review 2020-05-30 15:28
The Graveyard Book
The Graveyard Book, adult version - Neil Gaiman

by Neil Gaiman

This is a very imaginative story about a baby whose parents are murdered, but he alone of his family escapes into a graveyard. He is adopted by the spirits there and has an unusual life, growing up among the dead.

 

He is called Bod, short for Nobody, and as he grows, his adventures take us through different worlds, including discovering the city of the ghouls. He learns ghostly antics that should be impossible for humans, but it's a Fantasy, so rules of Physics do not apply.

 

The trouble with Gaiman books is that I can't help comparing them to other Gaiman books. I can't say this is as good as The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, but it's a good story, if a little on the young side. It gets quite exciting towards the end. The people who killed his family are still out there and eventually we will learn who they are and why.

 

It's a satisfying read and will definitely appeal to children and YA readers.

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review 2020-05-28 14:05
The Eyes of the Dragon
The Eyes of the Dragon - Stephen King

by Stephen King

 

Stephen King says in the introduction to this book that although he was writing it for his daughter, he made an effort not to talk down to a child audience. Despite his good intentions, I felt that this story was written at a very young level. That doesn't stop it from being a good story, but I think he could have told it in his usual adult voice and made it even better.

 

Some spoilers ahead:

 

The premise is fairly well-trodden ground; an evil wizard called Flagg, advisor to the king, craves power. The king has two sons, Peter and Thomas, and the eldest has been groomed for future kingship, while the wizard thinks the second son, Thomas, will be more easily manipulated. So the wizard concocts a plan to kill the king and get the elder son blamed for it, not realising that his efforts to teach the younger son his own sneaky ways will backfire on him when Thomas witnesses the murder.

 

This is where it all falls down. The evil wizard's plan moves ahead and Peter is blamed for his father's murder, but instead of outing the wizard, Thomas whines and begs for his help because he has not been prepared to be king.

 

Suspension of disbelief is stretched a bit in this story. I found Peter the most interesting character and was constantly frustrated over Thomas' failure to act. A little sibling jealousy just doesn't wash as sufficient reason to leave his brother rotting in a tower for years! Peter's escape plan also stretched credibility a little too far, unless you think of the story as a fairy tale in the same vein of magic as Rapunzel or Rumplestiltskin.

 

As much as I love Stephen King, I won't be reading anymore of his children's stories and may not bother with future attempts at Fantasy. He's let me down in this genre.

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review 2020-05-28 13:35
The Dark Portal
The Dark Portal - Robin Jarvis,Peter Glassman

by Robin Jarvis

 

This is a whimsical children's story but it's not just a cutsie mouse story, there are elements of Horror for children. The rats peel mice, as in skinning, so probably for slightly older children with the disposition to enjoy things like Goosebumps.

 

It is mostly about a mouse family who travel, one by one, through a grate that they know takes them into the territory of the rats. First the father goes on a whim, then his daughter goes to look for him and soon several mice are where they shouldn't be in a dangerous place.

 

I don't often read stories directed at very young readers, but I liked the tone and the writing in this one. Adventurous mouse stories formed an essential part of my own childhood reading and I think this one could easily sit on a shelf next to The Secret of Nimh.

 

It's a surprisingly multi-layered story with a spiritual element, but mostly adventures of the child mice. Imagine Nancy Drew stories or the Hardy boys in mouse form. The quality of the writing holds up all through and this is a story I would happily buy for my nieces and nephews who are appropriate age for stories that don't write down to a child's level, but concern young characters with whom they could identify. One of the better contributions to children's literature that I've seen for a while.

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review 2020-05-25 03:56
Pug's Snow Day by Kayla May
Pug's Snow Day - Kyla May

 

 

This is a cute story in the form of a diary written by Bub the pug. He hates water and loves peanut butter, but he especially loves Bella (his human girl). Another great Branches book for young readers - an early chapter book that kids will love, especially those who like animals. :)

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