Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mark Twain Reviews: The Familiars and Twenty Gold Falcons

I finished the last two Mark Twain Readers Award nominees, you guys! Now I can vary my reading for a bit! I must say, though, that while I'm glad to be able to pick up some other books for the next few weeks, this batch of a dozen titles is really great--there's something for every older elementary reader.

The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson is the story of Aldwyn, a stray alley cat who, through a series of evasive maneuvers and a bit of luck, finds himself chosen as the familiar of a young wizard. Despite his total lack of magical ability, Aldwyn has quite a bit of skill--which comes in handy when it appears the sorceress queen of the land has taken a turn toward evil. After the three young wizards whom they accompany are kidnapped, Aldwyn and his new friends go on an adventure of their own in order to rescue the children. And hopefully they'll thwart some evil along the way. This story is fast-paced, has characters with strong personalities, and takes place in a world ready for an imaginative reader. I'll be recommending this title to readers who enjoy fantasy, adventure, and animal tales.

Twenty Gold Falcons by Amy Gordon follows Aiden Farmer, who after the death of her father has recently relocated from her farm in Minnesota to the city in which her mother grew up. Aiden isn't a huge fan of this move--she's met some bratty kids at her private school, her mother seems too occupied with returning to her previous city life, and she misses the comforts of her familiar farm life. Everyone at the Ingle Building is friendly to her, though, and soon she finds out about some gold coins--twenty gold falcons--that are likely still hidden in its walls. Aiden thinks that finding the coins can allow her to buy back her farm, so she enlists the help of a classmate and a cousin to try to discover their secret hiding place. Along the way, she makes a few friends, gets into a few sticky situations, and learns a lot more about herself and her family than she could have expected. This book would be great for readers who don't quite feel like they fit in, as Aiden thoughtfully narrates how she feels about being in a new place where she feels alone. I'll be recommending Twenty Gold Falcons to readers who enjoy a bit of mystery as well as those who are looking for a soft-spoken character to relate to.

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