July Book Club

For the month of July, we're reading James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl.

The meeting is July 28 from 5-6pm.

FullSizeRender3.jpg

Please call (678-635-8801) or come by the shop to register as space is limited to 20 participants. Cost is $20, which includes the book, a keepsake, and a snack. 

We will discuss the book at the meeting, so remember to sign up with plenty of time to read the book. The participant will receive the book and background information upon registration. Participation is at the parent's discretion.

An exciting bonus: On Stage Walton presents James and the Giant Peach: The Musical this month and they are offering $10 tickets to the show for our book club participants! Call us or come by for further details & check out On Stage Walton for show times.

Summary from publisher:
Roald Dahl was a champion of the underdog and all things little—in this case, an orphaned boy oppressed by two nasty, self-centered aunts. How James escapes his miserable life with the horrible aunts and becomes a hero is a Dahlicious fantasy of the highest order. You will never forget resourceful little James and his new family of magically overgrown insects—a ladybug, a spider, a grasshopper, a glowworm, a silkworm, and the chronic complainer, a centipede with a hundred gorgeous shoes. Their adventures aboard a luscious peach as large as a house take them across the Atlantic Ocean, through waters infested with peach-eating sharks and skies inhabited by malevolent Cloudmen, to a ticker-tape parade in New York City.

This happily ever after contemporary fairy tale is a twentieth-century classic that every child deserves to know.

Silly (Sounding) Plots That Are (Actually) Amazing

We've all done it. We've read the synopsis on the back or inside cover of a book and quickly put it back (maybe even with a raised eyebrow) because what we read sounded unappealing or just plain silly (and not the make you laugh kind of silly). In this series, we'll talk about titles you may have passed on but are more than worth a second look.

Early Young Adult: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

One word kept me from reading this series for months: cyborgs. 
Kudos if you enjoy reading about them, but I read the synopsis of the first book in this series of retellings, Cinder, and rolled my eyes. Heavily.

I'm so glad I gave in; I devoured this series. Not only does Meyer write about cyborgs in the best and most interesting way possible, but she does it in a way that makes us look at the real world in a different light, as good fiction should.

She also retells some of our favorite fairy tales in a fascinating future world (which is another reason I didn't pick up the series as long as I did, I find that it's hard to build future worlds that aren't crazy dystopian and I read enough of that, thank you). Each book in the series adds another perspective while building the same story line, which is difficult to do well, but Meyer excels with this format. This series has everything going for it: strong leading and supporting characters (both male and female), both romance and friendship, courage and power, technology, diplomacy and mind control.

A caveat: This is Young Adult, so there is a little content that isn't appropriate for a younger crowd. If that's something that worries you, you can avoid the bulk/worst of it by skipping Fairest (Lunar Chronicles 3.5). This book gives Queen Lavana's backstory, which makes you intermittently pity her and loathe her, but you won't miss out on too much of the plot.

June Book Club

For the month of June, we're reading Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne.

The meeting is Friday June 23 from 5-6pm

IMG_3615.JPG

Please call (678-635-8801) or come by the shop to register as space is limited to 20 participants. Cost is $20, which includes the book, a keepsake, and a snack. 

We will discuss the book at the meeting, so remember to sign up with plenty of time to read the book. The participant will receive the book and background information upon registration. Participation is at the parent's discretion.

Summary from publisher:
Shocking his stodgy colleagues at the exclusive Reform Club, enigmatic Englishman Phileas Fogg wagers his fortune, undertaking an extraordinary and daring enterprise: to circumnavigate the globe in eighty days. With his French valet Passepartout in tow, Verne’s hero traverses the far reaches of the earth, all the while tracked by the intrepid Detective Fix, a bounty hunter certain he is on the trail of a notorious bank robber. Set from the text of George M. Towle’s original 1873 translation, this classic of Verne’s adventure novel comes vividly alive, brilliantly reflecting on time, space, and one man’s struggle to reach beyond the bounds of both science and society.

May Book Club

For the month of May, we're reading Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie.

The meeting is Friday, May 19 from 5-6pm

FullSizeRender.jpg

Please call (678-635-8801) or come by the shop to register as space is limited to 20 participants. Cost is $20, which includes the book, a keepsake, and a snack. 

We will discuss the book at the meeting, so remember to sign up with plenty of time to read the book. The participant will receive the book and background information upon registration. Participation is at the parent's discretion.

Summary from publisher:
One starry night, Peter Pan and Tinker Bell lead the three Darling children over the rooftops of London and away to Neverland – the island where lost boys play, mermaids splash and fairies make mischief. But a villainous-looking gang of pirates lurk in the docks, led by the terrifying Captain James Hook. Magic and excitement are in the air, but if Captain Hook has his way, before long, someone will be walking the plank and swimming with the crocodiles…

The Chronicles of Prydain

Summary from the publisher:
The Chronicles of Prydain, based on Welsh mythology, have become the standard of excellence in fantasy literature for children. Since The Book of Three was first published in 1964, young readers have been enthralled by the adventures of Taran the Assistant Pig-Keeper and his quest to become a hero. Taran is joined by an engaging cast of characters that includes Eilonwy, the strong-willed and sharp-tongued princess; Fflewddur Fflam, the hyperbole-prone bard; the ever-faithful Gurgi; and the curmudgeonly Doli—all of whom become involved in an epic struggle between good and evil that shapes the fate of the legendary land of Prydain.

The Black Cauldron was a Newbery Honor Book, and The High King won the Newbery Medal for “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.”


Review:
How can you improve on "the standard of excellence in fantasy literature for children"? This series has everything you could want: comedy, courage, wisdom, foolishness, power, tragedy, and friendship. There are five books in the series, and each builds upon the adventures in the last.

  • The Book of Three introduces the threat of the Horned King, a servant of Arwn, to the peace of the Prydain, and we meet Taran and the companions for the first time.
  • The Black Cauldron seeks to destroy the power of Arwn to create the deathless warriors, the Cauldron Born.
  • The Castle of Llyr takes us to the isle of Mona and the bumbling Prince Rhun.
  • Taran Wanderer follows Taran's journey to self-discovery.
  • The High King brings us to the battle for all Prydain.

The only caveat is for pronunciation. As it is based on Welsh mythology, there are Welsh names. And Welsh may be even more notorious than French in the realms of spelling versus saying. Fortunately, there is a pronunciation guide in the back of each book. I also recommend the audio books as you read along, narrated by James Langton. His Welsh accent is lovely and helps to keep younger readers or more difficult to engage readers engrossed in this incredible series.

April Book Club

For the month of April, we're reading The Adventures of Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green.

The meeting is on Friday, April 28 from 5-6pm

IMG_3396.JPG

Please call (678-635-8801) or come by the shop to register as space is limited to 20 participants. Cost is $20, which includes the book, a keepsake, and a snack. 

We will discuss the book at the meeting, so remember to sign up with plenty of time to read the book. The participant will receive the book and background information upon registration. Participation is at the parent's discretion.

Summary from publisher:
The classic story of social justice and outrageous cunning. Robin Hood, champion of the poor and oppressed, stands against the cruel power of Prince John and the brutal Sheriff of Nottingham. Taking refuge in the vast Sherwood Forest with his band of men, he remains determined to outwit his enemies.

Tale as Old as Time: Beauty & the Beast Stories

Tale as old as time, tune as old as song...

Beauty & the Beast was, and still is, one of my favorite stories growing up. With so many different versions of the fairy tale, it is easy to find new joy in an old story. Here are a few of our favorites:

We can't forget our older readers, as there are many retellings for middle grade readers and the young at heart. I've yet to read them all, but here are several of my favorites:

What is your favorite version or retelling of Beauty & the Beast? We would love to expand our horizons in children's literature about our bookish Belle.

March Book Club

For the month of March, we're reading The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett.

Meeting: Friday March 24 from 5-6pm

untitled1.png

Please call (678-635-8801) or come by the shop to register as space is limited to 20 participants. Cost is $20, which includes the book, a keepsake, and a snack. 

We will discuss the book at the meeting, so remember to sign up with plenty of time to read the book. The participant will receive the book and background information upon registration. Participation is at the parent's discretion.

Summary from the publisher:
After losing her parents, young Mary Lennox is sent from India to live in her uncle’s gloomy mansion on the wild English moors. She is lonely and has no one to play with, but one day she learns of a secret garden somewhere in the grounds that no one is allowed to enter. Then Mary uncovers an old key in a flowerbed – and a gust of magic leads her to the hidden door. Slowly she turns the key and enters a world she could never have imagined. With a heartwarming introduction by Sophie Dahl, The Secret Garden is one of the twenty best-loved classic stories being launched in the Puffin Classics series in March 2015.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Summary from the publisher:
An epic fantasy about a young girl raised by a witch, a swamp monster, and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon who must unlock the powerful magic buried deep inside her.

Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and deliver them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule–but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her–even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.


Review:
Barnhill begins The Girl Who Drank the Moon with characters separate from the main story, where a child asks her mother to tell her stories. The mother and child reappear intermittently throughout the book, adding to the reader's understanding of how the legends and views of the Protectorate have come to be. This familial pair helps set the stage for the following action or guides the reader into understanding the "how"s and "why"s of such actions. 

Barnhill's world building is phenomenal. Sorrow is a presence in the Protectorate, its absence is pronounced in the Free Cities, and it has a tendency to be a gnat humming in the ear of those in Xan's glade. Barnhill writes a world where possibility, good and bad, is tangible at every turn.

There is much good humor and joy found in the book. Glerk and Fyrian's interactions with the child Luna often caused me to laugh out loud. It is a true coming of age story, and not just for Luna. There are many moments in the story where characters, as Dumbledore says, must choose between what is right and what is easy. It is a story of how we both are, and are not, a product of our environment. It is a story of the bonds that draw family, friends, and communities together. And it is a story of great love and great courage, especially when the Tiger is on the prowl and all that they know and love is at stake.

A fun and fast-paced read, Barnhill's book is for middle grade readers who love magic, mythical creatures, and strong female characters.