Monday, December 20, 2010

Half Upon a Time by James Riley

OK - so Jack's father disappeared in the whole Giant and the Beanstalk incident and everyone keeps pushing him to go rescue a princess, but Jack thinks maybe this whole fairy tale thing is not for him. He's not real handy with a sword and he always messes up all the "rescue the princess" simulations his teachers assign to him.

And then - bam - a princess falls out of the sky. Her name is May and she doesn't believe she's a princess. However Jack and all the guys in the village know she is, because she's wearing a T-shirt that says "punk princess." She is in trouble though - and Jack figures it out. The Wicked Queen has kidnapped her grandmother and a huntsman is chasing her.

Half Upon a Time is a hysterical, fractured fairy tale! You can read the first chapter online here.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

Joey is a big, beautiful red-bay horse with four white stockings and white cross right on his forehead. Albert's father bought him as a six-month-old foal. Joey was very frightened when he went to is new home, but he found a lifelong friend in Albert. Over the next few years they both grew up working hard on their small English farm, happy and devoted to each other despite the occasional anger-filled rages of Albert's father.

And then, World War I began in Europe. Without Albert's knowledge, his father sold Joey to the British Army where he would become the trusted cavalry horse of Captain Nicholls. Albert was heart-broken but he swore that when he was old enough he would enlist and find Joey so that he could bring him home again.

War Horse is a very emotional and powerful story. We see the terror and death that war brings, all through the eyes of Joey. We also see the good and brave people he meets after the death of Captain Nicholls. Joey eventually finds himself captured by the Germans, where he spends long dangerous days hauling carts of wounded soldiers and artillery guns. Joey wonders if he will ever see Albert again.

War Horse is a book in the excellent tradition of Black Beauty and other classic animal stories. The book has been adapted as a play in London and Steven Spielberg is currently filming the story as well. Enjoy the book now - I promise you will shed a few tears of both joy and sorrow.