Welcome to the Children’s Christmas book fair with books for children up to the age of twelve years old. All of which would make great gifts.
The first book today is aimed at slightly older children towards 12 years old and is The Wizard, The Girl, and The Unicorn’s Horn: The Chronicles of Geo Book One by Kevin Cooper.
About the book
This is an epic fantasy tale that takes us to the land of Geo which is a relatively small island where farmers, simple village folk, goblins and trolls live in relative harmony.
The land is shepherded by a wizard whose main role is to keep the peace and harmony by travelling throughout the land every year resolving any developed disputes along the way.
Normally this is a relatively easy job for the wizard and no one even remembers him having to perform any magic or put spells on anyone or anything to keep the peace. But then one day, all the simple folk disappear and there is a shadow lurking over the last mountain.
What are the goblins and trolls going to do without people to trade with? What is lurking in the shadow over the last mountain? Who is the little girl that magically appears and what has the unicorn’s horn got to do with any of the goings on?
More importantly, will the wizard be able to defeat the shadow and get the simple folk back? In order to find out, one must read: The Wizard, The Girl and The Unicorn’s Horn.
One of the reviews for The Wizard, The Girl, and The Unicorn’s Horn: The Chronicles of Geo Book One
An ancient evil power is encroaching on the world of Geo, blanketing the land in shadow and stealing villagers. The story tracks the daring adventures of three groups, two off to destroy the shadow, and one simply trying to survive. They all ultimately come together for a final battle.
One narrative follows the wizard, the protector of Geo. He joins with some rambunctious goblins who lead him through the mountain’s tunnels to Land’s End, the barren home of the shadow and its packs of demon wargs (wolf-like creatures). At the same time, Elyysa, a young girl with a magical past, allies with Geo’s wise trolls who collect tolls at the many bridges. She too heads for Land’s End and carries with her a powerful unicorn horn. The third narrative focuses on the villagers who find themselves swept up by the shadow and stranded in a cave. They must make their way through dangerous passageways to the surface.
The story is simply told with a steady pace and vocabulary that a middle-grade student would be able to handle … but there is quite a bit of tragedy in the caves, including the deaths of children and families, and significant violence during the warg attacks. For these reasons, I’d steer this read to mature middle-graders, preteens, and young teenagers who enjoy a fantastical tale of adventure and can deal with the scary and sad moments. (My 7-year-old grandson couldn’t handle it, but grammy enjoyed it!)
Also suitable for children by Kevin Cooper
Now for another story for the upper age group of children about a young girl in faced with new adult responsibilities on the family farm during WWI – Elizabeth’s War by D.L. Finn
About the book
It’s April of 1917, and World War I has reached Elizabeth’s family on their wheat farm in North Dakota. Although the battles are being fought overseas, the war has affected her in ways she couldn’t have imagined. Elizabeth is thrust into a new role after her brother and father leave the farm to do their part in the war. And she’s only eleven years old!
Having almost died as a toddler, Elizabeth has been babied most of her life. Now she must learn to help out around the farm; cooking, cleaning, and tending to the garden and livestock. No longer can she run from her responsibilities, as she did when her horse Rosie was giving birth. There were complications during the delivery, and Elizabeth panicked and froze. The foal didn’t make it.
Elizabeth faces her biggest challenge yet as a huge Christmas Eve snowstorm rages outside, cutting her family off from any help; and her mother is about to have a baby! Her brother and sister are laid up with chicken pox. Does Elizabeth face her fears or run from them? Can she help her family, who need her more now than ever? Or will she retreat like she did when Rosie needed her?
One of the five star reviews for the book on Goodreads
Elizabeth’s War by D.L. Finn is the fourth book I’ve read by this author who writes in diverse styles – short stories, poetry and memoirs, and now, this children’s book in the historical fiction genre.
Elizabeth is eleven years old in 1917 and lives a protected life on her parents’ farm – she almost died as a three-year old – thus her parents and even her siblings dote on her, and she does not seem to be given any real responsibilities even though farm life at the time would have dictated differently. Her mother and older sister, Pearl, protect her and make excuses for her. All this change once her father and eldest brother join the war, and suddenly, Elizabeth has to face a few challenging situations over the next year and a half. She learns to cook, knit and catch a baby (all very hilariously told by the author), and she also deals with the loss of a good friend.
Plusses for me: The author shows the reader much – not just telling a story – inviting readers into Elizabeth’s world with good scene setting and dialogue combination, creating a living-in-the-moment scenario. I love natural and fluent dialogue supported by good scene setting, i.e. showing, making the characters alive and thus involving the reader emotionally. I love this writing style where becoming part of the story and living in the moment, enhance reading pleasure. Dialogue throughout is natural and fluent, and looking from a Middle Grade reader’s point of view, language is easy to follow, but still suitable for older ones who prefer clean uncluttered stories.Historical fiction for children – not an easy genre to execute successfully – is challenging in that it is difficult to know how much background fact is needed without boring them with information overload while setting the different scenes. In my opinion, the author did an excellent job.
Other children’s books by D.L. Finn
The next novel for older children is Mrs. Murray’s Ghost ((The Piccadilly Street Series Book 1) by Emily-Jane Hills Orford.
About the book
It’s 1967 and Mary’s family has moved into a huge Victorian mansion. She loves her gigantic new house, especially her room. But then she begins to meet the house’s other residents. Mrs. Murray was murdered in Mary’s new house. At first she tries to scare the new residents away, but there seems to be a force connecting the ghost to Mary. Even the stranded Brownies, the little people who live between the walls, feel that connection. When Mary becomes deathly ill, the Brownies and the ghost team up to try to rescue her, only to encounter a witch and her evil dragons and minions. Time is running out. They must rescue Mary from a fever-induced dream world before she is trapped there forever.
One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads
“A day without reading is like a day without sunshine.” A children’s novel, Mrs. Murray’s Ghost is a story of family secrets, mystery, magical Brownies (who live in the walls), and a ghost who tries to run off tenants who move into the Victorian house on Piccadilly Street. The author, Emily-Jane Hills Orford, has created a well-paced, well written novel that is the first in a series for young readers. A story that takes place in the late 60s, a time when families still gathered around the dinner table and Grandma came to help whenever a child fell ill.
Mrs. Murray’s Ghost touches on bullying, family, friendship and the supernatural without scaring a child to where they would be afraid of sleeping alone in their rooms. The family suspects the house they have just moved in is haunted—but they are not afraid. They seem to take it in stride as lights are turned on and off and cabinet doors slam shut. Mary, the ten-year old of the family, suddenly becomes deathly ill. While her temperature rises, and she tries fitfully to rest, she is trapped in a nightmare, and the Brownies who occupy her home enter her dream world. Also making an entrance into Mary’s dream state is Mrs. Murray the ghost who walks the hallways of Mary’s home haunting those who live there. While in Mary’s dream, Mrs. Murray explains she was murdered in this very house by a gunshot wound many years before.
A well written novel, one which is sure to entertain your young readers.
Other books in the series
Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have found some gifts to share.. thanks Sally.