adventure, fantasy, tween

Time Tracers: The Stolen Summers


Authors: Annabeth Bondor-Stone & Connor White
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Fantasy / Middle-grade
ISBN: 978-0-06-267142-4
Pages: 256
Price: $16.99

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Taj can hardly wait for the bell to ring, signalling the end of the school year and the beginning of summer. He has a plan to make sure he and his friends have the best summer ever. So he’s in total shock when he wakes up the following morning and it’s the first day of school. How did he lose a whole summer? When he meets his friends that morning, they are in even worse shape than him, as they struggle to get a grip on what’s happened.

Soon, an unexpected encounter with a time tracer explains the problem. Their summers have all been stolen! Now it’s up to Taj, along with his team of Eon and Syd, to track down the summers and restore them before it’s to late. If they’re unsuccessful in their mission, it could mean doom for everyone he holds dear. But the evil person behind the thefts knows Taj is after them, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to stop him.

The Time Tracers is action-packed, and kids will eagerly keep turning the pages to find out what happens next. Gross bug-like creatures are splattered at every encounter, and there is chaos and destruction everywhere. This is a fun read for everyone, but boys will especially love Taj’s great adventure. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, fantasy

Shanlia & the Magic Pixie Dust


Author: Joanne Lécuyer
Illustrator: David Girard
Publisher: Topsy Books
Genre: Children / Fantasy
ISBN: 978-1-927353-12-7
Pages: 99
Price: $14.99 (Canadian)

Buy it at Topsy Books Website

Shanlia is an inchberry fairy living near the magical Ennyar Forest. When Grandmother Ishella sends her on a mission through the forest to deliver a message, she’s beside herself with excitement, and immediately summons her friends to accompany her. Along the way, they discover a mysterious pouch, which Shanlia feels she must return to its proper owner. Despite her friends’ warnings, she opens it and finds herself under a pixie dust spell.

In order to reverse the spell, she must find the originators and ask to be restored to normal. But pixies aren’t very cooperative, and things will not go as easily as she would like. Good thing Shanlia is resourceful and able to turn a bad situation into good.

Shanlia’s curiosity and desire to do the right thing when she finds the pouch get her into serious trouble. But rather than falling into despair, she immediately sets out to fix the situation. And even when things seem hopeless, Shanlia never gives up. Instead, she keeps a positive attitude and makes some new friends. Shanlia & the Magic Pixie Dust is an uplifting story with a great role model for kids.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Bergers Book Reviews spent some time chatting with Joanne Lécuyer. Please be sure to read what she has to say!

children, fantasy

My Friend Merlin

My Friend Merlin
Author: Joanne Lécuyer
Illustrator: Rich Lauzon
Publisher: Topsy Books
Genre: Children / Fantasy
ISBN: 978-1-927353-44-8
Pages: 121
Price: $14.99

Author’s website
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Merlin needs to speak to Prince Arthur regarding King Uther’s decree against magic, since he knows Arthur will listen to reason. So when Merlin sees him passing by, alone, he intercepts him. As they journey together through the kingdom, Merlin shows Arthur a little about magic and introduces him to a dragon.

The dragon’s sister needs to be rescued, and Merlin invites Arthur to accompany him. But in the process, he will need to use magic. When Arthur sees how magic can be used for good, he knows he’ll need to confront his father. But will Arthur, Merlin, and the other magical folks suffer as a result?

My Friend Merlin introduces the friendship between Arthur and Merlin, as they work to change the fate of magic in the kingdom. This fun and lighthearted fantasy will entertain kids while introducing them to Arthurian legend.

Bergers Book Reviews spent some time chatting with Joanne Lécuyer. Please be sure to read what she has to say!

Reviewer: Alice Berger

fantasy, tween

Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions: Gorilla Tactics

Gorilla Tactics
Author: Sheila Grau
Illustrator: Joe Sutphin
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Genre: Fantasy / Middle-grade
ISBN: 978-1-4197-1371-2
Pages: 304
Price: $14.95

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Runt Higgins needs to know where he came from when he was dropped at Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions. He’s been cursed to die on his sixteenth birthday and needs to find out how to break the curse. One of his professors has been searching for the Great Library, and now Runt knows where he may find some answers. But Runt isn’t the only one who wants access to this mysterious place.

Dr. Critchlore is being threatened with a minion school takeover, so he devises a scheme to foil this dastardly plan. He decides to hold a fashion show, throwing the school into chaos for two weeks. At every attempt to do the right thing, Runt finds himself in trouble in his classes, with his classmates, and with his headmaster, as the clock continues to tick on the curse. Will Runt save the school and himself before time runs out?

Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions is similar to Hogwarts, but with monsters training to serve Evil Overlords instead of wizards learning to manage their powers. Ogres, giants, imps, and zombies, as well as other living and undead beings populate this unique university, where being evil is not only good – it’s expected. Runt and his friends are really cool characters with lots of personality, and kids will relate well to them. I absolutely loved this book, and I can’t wait for the next book in this series.

fantasy, tween

The Crystal Navigator

>The Crystal Navigator
Author: Nancy Kunhardt Lodge
Publisher: Wilwahren Press
Genre: Fantasy
ISBN: 978-0-9960885-3-4
Pages: 200
Price: $21.99

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Lucy Nightingale has had an awful experience giving an oral report, and now she’s facing an even more difficult assignment. She needs to study five paintings and discover something unique about the personalities of the artists. After consulting with her best friend, Sam, she decides to contact her Wise One for help. She’s surprised to find out his name is Wilbur, and he’s a Corgi dog.

Wilbur has a magical adventure in store for Lucy, and they set out for a trip back in time. Wilbur wants Lucy to meet the artists themselves and talk with them about their paintings. Soon they’re visiting Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Jacopo Pontormo, and Vincent van Gogh. But their trip through time is fraught with danger when the crystal navigator develops a virus, and they end up in some unexpected places. As Wilbur’s strength fades along with the navigator, Lucy has to rely on her own wits and resourcefulness to get home safely.

The Crystal Navigator is a sweet fantasy about a girl who calls on her own imagination to take her to new places. Lucy doesn’t know that she has the power to control her own destiny until she returns and realizes what she’s been able to accomplish. Kids will cheer for her efforts and wish her well on her journey.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

fantasy, tween

Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions

Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions
Author: Sheila Grau
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Genre: Fantasy / Middle-grade
ISBN: 978-1-4197-1370-5
Pages: 288
Price: $15.95

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Runt Higgins is a third-year student at Dr. Critchlore’s school for minions, and the runt of the litter – of werewolves. Trouble is, he hasn’t morphed since he was seven, and he has no memory of the event. Dr. Critchlore’s school is in desperate trouble, and Runt believes someone is attempting sabotage against it. Unfortunately, there are several likely suspects, since quite a few people at the school have a reason to dislike Dr. Critchlore.

Runt is a nice guy who absolutely loves the school, and he will do anything he can to save it. Putting aside his own Junior Henchman aspirations, he risks everything to try to prevent destructive attempts on the school, along with his loyal friends. But Runt’s attempts end up causing him grief, as he gets into trouble over and over again, causing him to believe he must be cursed.

Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions is similar to Hogwarts, but with monsters training to serve Evil Overlords instead of wizards learning to manage their powers. Ogres, giants, imps, and zombies, as well as other living and undead beings populate this unique university, where being evil is not only good – it’s expected. Runt and his friends are really cool characters with lots of personality, and kids will relate well to them. I absolutely loved this book, and I can’t wait for the sequel.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

fantasy, tween

The Entirely True Story of the Unbelievable FIB

The Entirely True Story of the Unbelievable FIB
Author: Adam Shaughnessy
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Genre: Middle-grade / Fantasy
ISBN: 978-1-61620-498-3
Pages: 272
Price: $16.95

Author’s website
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Prudence Potts finds a mysterious note in her room one morning. The daughter of a deceased police detective, Prudence loves mysteries, and is curious about the message it contains. That same day, she meets a mysterious man named Mister Fox in the Winterhaven House Norse museum. And as punishment for various misdeeds against her dour teacher, she is assigned to read a Norse legend with her new classmate, ABE.

What could any of these events have to do with each other? Well, as it turns out, plenty! There are strange things happening in town, and Prudence, ABE, and Mister Fox find themselves right in the middle of them. Although Prudence and ABE don’t quite know what they’re dealing with, they will need to save everyone from an outside force that threatens them. But is Mister Fox friend or foe?

It’s impossible to say very much about this fantastical weaving of Norse mythology with the real world, without giving too much away. The Entirely True Story of the Unbelievable FIB is reminiscent of classics I enjoyed by Roald Dahl when I was a child. I highly recommend it, and look forward to reading more of this new series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger