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The Wolf Hour by Sara Lewis Holmes (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Wednesday, Aug 23, 2017 at 10:34am

Magia wants to be a woodcutter. Woodcutters have to wear ugly red hats and walk the deep parts of Puczcza (the forest) alone. Now you are probably thinking, seriously why would any sensible person want to be a wood cutter in that forest? It's a wolf infested forest, a place where people can go crazy and where anyone can be swallowed whole? Yes, Magia has her heart set on it, but her mother wants her to sing in the great halls of Biatowieza instead. Since her parents won't let her enter Puczcza, she makes a red hat of her own and sneaks into the forest to be a woodcutter. As she walks deeper into the forest she spots a wolf pup beside the trail. But, as she turns around to go back to the path she can't see the path at all! Will she find her way out, or will she be lost in Puczcza forever? Read The Wolf Hour to find out!

- Jubilee, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

The Wolf Hour will be available September 26.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up Kids

Swing It, Sunny by Jennifer L Holm & Matthew Holm (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Tuesday, Aug 22, 2017 at 5:52pm

Sunny is an eleven year old girl who lives in Pennsylvania. She has just started middle school and her life is pretty normal except for the fact that her older brother goes to a boarding school and Sunny has also been getting allergies lately. What is she going to do? She has her best friend, Deb and she makes friends with a girl named Neela who just moved to Pennsylvania. Through all of it, they both help Sunny swing back.

I really recommend this book. It was awesome.

- Eden, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Swing It, Sunny will be available September 12.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up Kids

Zinnia and the Bees by Danielle Davis & Laura K Horton (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Monday, Aug 21, 2017 at 3:45pm

Zinnia is having possibly the worst day of her life. First, she gets detention on the last day of school for yarn bombing a statue of her school mascot, then when she gets home she finds out that her brother, who is also her best friend, is missing. When she's on her way back from the ice cream shop Scoops, a hive of bees decide to nest in Zinnia's hair!! Zinnia tries to find her brother and get the bees out of her hair at the same time. She has no luck in both of them. While she is searching for her brother and trying to get the bees out of her hair, Zinnia makes a new friend who also happens to be visiting her neighbour for the summer. Together they try to think of a way to get the bees out of her hair. Will Zinnia ever get the bees out of her hair? Will she be able to find her brother! Find out by reading Zinnia and the Bees!

In this book I liked how Zinnia was really determined on finding her brother and how she thought up a solution of how to get rid of her bees without hurting them. I also liked now Zinnia had a really good relationship with her brother and how even if it was hard for Zinnia that her brother was gone and that she had bees in her hair, she handled it well. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

- Jiyoo, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up Kids

The Dollmaker of Krakow by R M Romero (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Saturday, Aug 19, 2017 at 5:01pm

Karolina is a living doll whose king and queen have been overthrown. But when a strange wind spirits her away from the Land of the Dolls, she finds herself in Kraków, Poland, in the company of the Dollmaker, a man with an unusual power and a marked past. The Dollmaker has learned to keep to himself, but Karolina’s courageous and compassionate manner lead him to smile and to even befriend a violin-playing father and his daughter—that is, once the Dollmaker gets over the shock of realizing a doll is speaking to him. But their newfound happiness is dashed when Nazi soldiers descend upon Poland. Karolina and the Dollmaker quickly realize that their Jewish friends are in grave danger, and they are determined to help save them, no matter what the risks.

What a debut novel. This evocative gem is beautifully written, it felt like I was reading something along the line of a fairy tale. But for something that targets middle grade readers, it packs quite an emotional punch. The Dollmaker of Krakow is about the Holocaust, you see. And the author does not shy away from painting this horror from what it truly was. From the get go, we are introduced to Karolina. Her beloved Land of Dolls is being taken over by the rats. These creatures, like the Nazis are fed up with greed and thought for destruction. With the help of a friendly wind, Karolina escapes and soon finds herself in the shop of a Dollmaker in Krakow. The two becomes fast friends. This book alternates between Krakow and what happened in the Land of Dolls, the reader like me can't help but see the similarity in the two. Romero does a wonderful job in that regard, for what better way to explain the horror of the Holocaust to a younger audience?

The Dollmaker is such a precious character. He has the biggest of heart and fearless in what he does. The bond he has with not just Karolina, but with the violinist father and his daughter is so heartwarming to read about. My heart broke for them. Through these characters, you will learn about the power of love, hopes and dreams. Perhaps the existence of a bit of magic as well. I recommend this book to everyone, it is definitely a must read. I'm literally at a loss for words when it comes to the impact that this book has on me, so it's better if you journey through it yourself. What more, there are some beautiful illustrations inside as well. Read this stunning masterpiece, share it, and don't forget to have a few tissues handy when you do. I give it a 5/5 stars.

- Phuong, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

The Dollmaker of Krakow will be available September 12.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up Kids

Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Friday, Aug 18, 2017 at 3:48pm

The year is 1818, and 16-year-old Annis Whitworth has just learned that her father is dead and all his money is missing. And so, of course, she decides to become a spy so following in his footsteps to unmask his killer makes perfect sense. Alas, it does not make sense to England’s current spymasters—not even when Annis reveals that she has the rare magical ability to sew glamours: garments that can disguise the wearer completely. And so she crafts a new double life for herself. Miss Annis Whitworth will appear to live a quiet life in a country cottage with her aunt, and Annis-in-disguise as Madame Martine, glamour artist, will open a magical dressmaking shop. That way she can maintain her social standing, and, in her spare time, follow the coded clues her father left behind and unmask his killer.

I have a soft sport for Regency novels and ladies who rise above social's standard to define their own. For a book that promises all of those things plus magic and murder, I thought this would be my cup of tea. Unfortunately, it wasn't. Everything falls short. There's a murder, and magic is showcased, but I felt none of it was developed properly. The murder is in the background most of the time, the magic especially needed more explanation. The fact that this is the 1800s and no one freaks out about the existence of magic is unreasonable, let alone how Annis, who has been sewing for years, doesn't discover she can sew glamour until the "incident" takes place. A bit of a dive into the magic system could definitely smooth out these wrinkles.

Annis herself is a typical heroine. So typical in fact that she doesn't stand out. Sure, she is witty and smart. But her action makes her come off as naive and reckless instead. The lady just doesn't think about her course of action, and Annis's development (if she has any) certainly doesn't fix that. I found myself wanting to see more of the maid than our heroine herself. One good thing about this book is the nonexistence of romance/love interest. From start to finish, this story is strictly about woman empowerment. The writing in this is not heavy for a period novel, for all the issues that it has, I flew through it quickly. For this reason, Murder, Magic and What We Wore can be a good introduction to the genre of historical fiction for those who are still on the fence about them. Otherwise, those who are familiar with it, I suggest you move on to read better things. 2.5/5 Stars.

- Phuong, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Murder, Magic and What We Wore will be available September 19.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up Kids
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