Monday, September 26, 2011

SPL Shelf Life [kids]

These reviews appeared in the Stratford Gazette on September 22nd. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

The Brimstone Key, by Derek Benz and J.S. Lewis, 369 pages.

In a previous series about the Grey Griffins, four regular kids from Avalon, Minnesota – Max, Natalia, Harley and Ernie - were trained to fight monsters and other forces of evil, working with the legendary Templar Knights.
In The Brimstone Key (Book One of a new series about the Grey Griffins,The Clockwork Chronicles) the four children attend the Iron Bridge Academy to learn more skills.
From their first day at the Academy, the four are immersed in an action-filled adventure when the malevolent Clockwork King, an avowed past enemy of the Templar Knights, returns to finish his malicious plan, which includes kidnapping some of the students at the school. Many of the students are changelings – humans who have at least one magical power, such as the ability to walk through walls or teleport themselves elsewhere, or even the power of hearing others’ unspoken thoughts. Their special abilities would undoubtedly be useful to the Clockwork King.
The Grey Griffins must use every ounce of their training and ingenuity to battle the Clockwork King’s terrifying six-armed ogres, clock-like robots and other monsters.
Young readers will be drawn into this action-filled story, set in a world which is both modern and magical, filled with beings such as pixies, leprechauns, faeries, gargoyles, monster serpents and ogres. (In fact, the world of the Grey Griffins bears various similarities to that of Harry Potter and Hogwarts.) The ending is a “cliff hanger”, so readers will likely want to read the sequel, entitled the Relic Hunters.
For those interested in reading the previous stories about Max, Natalia, Harley and Ernie, the first title of the Grey Griffins series is The Revenge of the Shadow King.
** Recommended for ages 9 to 13 years. 

The Last Synapsid, by Timothy Mason, 311 pages.

A second new story involving unusual, extraordinary creatures is Timothy Mason’s The Last Synapsid. Two prehistoric synapsids – one a gentle plant-eater, and the other a fierce flesh-eating gorgonopsid – are transported from the Permian Era to the small, isolated modern-day town of Faith, Colorado.
When twelve-year-old Rob and his best friend, Phoebe, learn that a neighbourhood pet has mysteriously disappeared in Faith, they are curious. Then another pet disappears, and another – and then a horse. Rob and Phoebe can’t believe the sheriff’s theory that a mountain lion or a coyote is responsible.
They decide to climb the mountain at the edge of town. There they meet the friendly synapsid, “Sid”, who has slipped through a hole in time to pursue the gorgonopsid, who refuses to return to the Permian Era. Of course, the gorgonopsid is responsible for the disappearance of the town’s animals.
Miraculously, Sid can speak their language, and he asks Rob and Phoebe for their help. It is vital that both creatures return to their own time. If they don’t, the whole course of history will change, and humankind will never evolve.
The involvement of a mysterious, sinister stranger, “Dr. Jenkins”, increases the suspense/danger content of this gripping time travel adventure/mystery story, which also manages to incorporate some fascinating science and history.

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