A Fantasy for Everyone: New Books for Older Readers

SnickerA Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
Felicity Pickle and her always wandering mother return to mom’s childhood hometown, Midnight Gulch. The town once filled with magic – shadows that danced and music that could cure all ills, but jealousy and a curse have torn all that away. Felicity, however, has her own magic. She is a word collector and sees words everywhere – above people’s heads, tucked into crevices – and she writes down the poetry she sees in the world. The nomadic life she and her mother have lead made it hard for her to make friends, and even harder to share the words she loves with the world. This sweet story is full of magic, friendship, and poetry with a bit of Southern whimsy and charm. (ages 8-12)

secretsSecrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier by Ying Chang Compestine & Vinson Compestine
What starts out as a story of a young son of a struggling archaeologist during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, turns into a historical fantasy as an unearthed terra-cotta soldier comes to life. Ying hates living in this small town in Xian, far from the city he grew up in. His teacher berates him for being from an intellectual family, he misses his recently deceased mother, and now his father is in danger of losing his governmental funding. When three farmers bring in a terra-cotta statue they unearthed, Ying is surprised to find that the statue comes to life in his home! The soldier tells his story of the time of Emperor Qin, when the Great Wall was built to keep out the Mongol hordes, and the two attempt to protect the great tomb from the greedy farmers and the local bureaucrats. The authors, a mother and son team, have mixed a fantasy story with photos of the real terra-cotta soldiers as well as historical information from both the Cultural Revolution and the Qin Dynasty. Add in the wonderfully gory details of fighting the Mongols and you have a terrific read. (ages 9-12)

timmyTimmy Failure: Now Look What You’ve Done by Stephen Pastis
Timmy Failure, CEO of Total Failure, Inc., the greatest detective agency town and possibly the country, has a new case to solve. With the help of his (possibly imaginary but definitely lazy) pet polar bear Total, he will enter the school competition to find the stolen globe, win $500, and be set for life. If only he can get his application in on time. With illustrations throughout, similar to Diary of a Wimpy Kid, this will appeal to youngsters and older kids alike, and more sophisticated readers will pick up on the depths of the story behind Timmy’s bravado. (ages 7-14)

NightingalesNest_CatalogNightingale’s Nest by Nikki Loftin
Little John is having a tough time since his sister died, working with his hard-drinking father and avoiding his always-crying mother. Then he meets Gayle, a mysterious wisp of a girl who sings like a bird (a nightingale, as a matter of fact) and whose songs seem magical. He couldn’t protect his little sister, but maybe he can help Gayle, who is in a bad situation of her own with her foster family. This story of magical realism, of betrayal and healing, is told with such grace and beauty that readers will remember it for quite a long time. (ages 8-12)