Archive for Fantasy

Frogged

Written by Vivian Vande Velde

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Another unique and fun fairy tale from the princess of fractured tales, Vivian Vande Velde.  Princess Imogene is almost thirteen, a time when she should embrace her princess-ness and her princess duties.  But she is gangly where most princesses are beautiful, prone to clumsiness and loud outbursts.  As she studies the book, The Art of Being a Princess, she finds that she doesn’t seem to be the kind of princess who is ‘as good as she is beautiful.’  She tries very hard to be good, but she seems to be missing part of the formula.  Trying to escape reading the irritating book, Imogene walks to mill pond.  To her surprise, a frog talks to her.  He convinces her that he is a prince under a magic spell.  Trying to be kind and good, Imogene kisses him to remove the spell.  Too late, Imogene discovers that he has tricked her.  The spell jumps on her, the “prince” is really the wainwright’s son and the only way she can turn back into her human form is to get someone to kiss her.  She has a problem with this solution.  She simply can’t bring herself to trick someone else.  It is so un-princess-like.  So Imogene begins quite an adventure trying to find a way to remove the spell and hoping to get home in time for her birthday.  She becomes part of a traveling band of actors, some she wouldn’t mind turning into a frog, but she stays true to her good heart.  Still the road back to the castle is twisted and long (especially for a frog), but she finds her way home where family helps her find the perfect solution.

Imogene may not be a perfect princess, but she is one that young readers can understand.  She encounters quirky characters from farmers to actors to royalty, but she is always herself.  She talks a lot about not being perfect, but her moral compass is firm.  Lots of humor, interesting plot twists and surprises, this would make a great class read aloud.  Have the students make a chart of all the lies that are told to Imogene and her reaction to them as a literacy activity.

  • FroggedTITLE: Frogged
  • AUTHOR: Vivian Vande Velde
  • PUBLISHER: Harcourt
  • REVIEWER: Risa Brown
  • EDITION: Hardcover, 198 p.
  • ISBN: 978-0-547-94215-5
  • GENRE: Fantasy, adventure

 

Sir Gawain the True

Written by Gerald Morris
Illustrated by Aaron Renier

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An entertaining adaptation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, this is the second book in the Knight’s Tales series. In this story, King Arthur’s court is struggling with how to behave. They have skills like bashing each other with long pointy sticks called lances. But more and more the knights are expected to be polite. Being courteous is an idea that doesn’t make sense to the men of action. When Gawain rescues a woman from a dragon and boasts about his feat, he is confused by her irritation. Then, when King Arthur is also annoyed, Gawain begins to examine his behavior for ways he could have reacted differently. Then a green giant crashes King Arthur’s New Year’s Eve party, although he is polite about it, and offers a strange game. Trade blows with his axe. He will take the first axe-strike and Gawain will get his turn this time next year. Gawain accepts the challenge and promptly chops off the giant’s head. The giant simply picks up his head and says, “See you this time next year.” Through a series of unexpected meetings, Gawain is able to redeem himself with the lady he first offended and trick the giant while still honoring his word and learning a few manners along the way.

Told with humor that will appeal to young readers, the story is accessible and can even teach a thing or two about the value of courtesy and friendship without being preachy. The black and white drawings pick up the humor to illustrate the story with the same sassiness that is found in the text. This is a good class read aloud or appropriate for a fourth grader to read to a younger reading buddy. The plot twists and turns are well-laid out. A possible literacy activity would be to make a chart of turning points and then pose the question, “What would change if Gawain made a different decision?” Students could write their own discussion questions for this one because of the great discussion potential.

  • Sir GawainTITLE: Sir Gawain the True
  • AUTHOR: Gerald Morris
  • ILLUSTRATOR: Aaron Renier
  • PUBLISHER: Houghton Mifflin/Sandpiper
  • REVIEWER: Risa Brown
  • EDITION: Paperback, 118 p.
  • ISBN: 978-0-544-02264-5
  • GENRE: Adventure, Historical Fiction, Classic adaptations

Miss Sally Anne and the Panther

Written by Bobbie Miller
Illustrated by Megan Lloyd

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Miss Sally Ann can rope a hurricane and tie it to her spinning wheel. She can knit in one hand and bake buttermilk bread with the other. But her biggest challenge is to face Fireeyes, a huge panther determined to have Miss Sally Ann’s bear skin coat for his aching shoulders. While she gathers onions for her stew, he comes eye to eye with her. » Read more

Escape From Mercy Hall

Written by Garth Edwards
Illustrated by Max Stasyuk

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The world behind the hedge is a strange one and three friends must adapt quickly to save themselves from kidnapping or worse. When Milly decides to run away from Mercy Hall, an abusive orphanage, George and Sam know they must help her. As they meet next to the hedge, it opens and three figures in hooded, orange robes grab her and drag her through the opening. George and Sam surprise the kidnappers and fight them off. Before they can go back, the hedge closes. » Read more

Small and Tall Tales of Extinct Animals

Written by Damien Laverdunt
Illustrated by Hélène Rajcak

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This is an enticing mix of mythology and science to tell the history of many animals world-wide that are now extinct. Some of the animals died because of the encroachment of man, but for others there may be many reasons for their extinction. Weather, food and predators all play a part in the life and death of these animals. The book is divided by continents, with a map spread out over two-pages showing exactly where the natural habitats of these animals were. There are basic facts about their size, what they probably ate, where they lived and approximately when they became extinct. » Read more

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