Magic in the Blood – still magic?

Magic in the Blood book coverMagic in the Blood is the second book in Devon Monk’s Allie Beckstrom series (after Magic to the Bone). This time around, there are ghosts causing trouble in Portland, OR and Allie keeps running into them as she tries to track down a couple missing girls for the police. Although this second installment in the series isn’t quite as engrossing as its predecessor, it’s still pretty good. Allie is an engaging main character and the ghosts she tangles with are pretty freaking creepy. The Portland, OR backdrop is well done and unique to the urban fantasy/paranormal genre. All in all, Magic in the Blood is well worth reading and it will leave you looking forward to book three, Magic in the Shadows, due out in November.

More Summer Staff Favorites for Children: Fantasy Chapter Books

elsie-piddockElsie Piddock Skips in Her Sleep by Eleanor Farjeon
Elsie Piddock was a born skipper from the age of three and, by the time she was seven, the fairies had heard of her.  They taught her the most fantastical skips anyone ever saw.  As Elsie grows older, her skipping is almost forgotten, becoming a local legend.   When trouble comes to her village, in the form of a greedy, factory-building Lord, it is ancient Elsie, picking up her skipping rope one last time, who comes to the rescue.  This is a sweet, magical story with a deeply satisfying ending, perfect for anyone who ever loved jumping rope!  ~ Christiane, Queen Anne

lilys-ghostLily’s Ghosts by Laura Ruby
Mystery, mirth, and a little mischief can be found in Uncle Wes’s summerhouse in Cape May, New Jersey, the latest in a series of places Lily and her mom find themselves living due to their lack of funds. The house is teeming with a variety of eccentric ghosts and it is up to 13-year-old Lily and her new friend, Vaz, to get to the bottom of why the ghosts are disgruntled and why there is jam in her shoes.  They need to solve the mystery before they become ghosts themselves.  ~ Joanna, Fremont

phantom-tollboothThe Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
When a mysterious tollbooth appears in Milo’s bedroom one afternoon, it is the perfect antidote to his boredom.  He pays the toll and hops in his toy car, entering a strange land where words take on their own reality.  After some adventures with his new pal, the dog, Tock, who has the body of a giant clock, Milo is off to the Mountains of Ignorance to rescue the twin princesses, Rhyme and Reason.  Great stuff for readers who enjoy wordplay and humor!  ~ Wally, West Seattle

trolls-eyeTroll’s Eye View:  A Book of Villainous Tales, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Do you know where the witch in Hansel and Gretel came from?  Have you met the boy who cried wolf?  Can Cinderella really be evil?  Find out in this creepy collection of twisted fairy tales!   ~ Wing-Sze Chung, Green Lake

Great Fantasy Audiobooks for the Road

Parents everywhere are looking for solutions to their annual summer dilemma…  “How do we find audiobooks that the entire family – adults included – can enjoy for that long car/airplane/boat trip?”  Here are a few suggestions that are guaranteed to entertain:

amulet-of-samarkand1 The Amulet of Samarkand, by Johnathan Stroud

Read by Simon Jones

CDJ St892A

Nathaniel, a magician’s apprentice, uses his power to enlist the djinni Bartimaeus to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from his enemy, Simon Lovelace. 

fairy-tale-detectives1 The Fairy-Tale Detectives, by Michael Buckley

Read by L. J. Ganser

CDJ B8567F

Orphans Sabrina and Daphne Grimm discover that they are descendants of the famous Brothers Grimm and are charged with detecting and solving all fairy-tale crimes. 

house-with-clock-in-its-walls1 The House with a Clock in Its Walls, by John Bellairs

Read by George Guidall

CDJ B4142H

A boy moves into his uncle’s mysterious mansion, where there is a hidden, magic clock in the walls, ticking off the minutes… Counting down the time to doomsday!

inkheart1 Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke

Read by Lynn Redgrave

CDJ F964i

Meggie’s father can “read” fictional characters to life.  When one of those characters abducts them and tries to force him to read an evil creature to life, Meggie must come to his rescue.   

lion-boy1 Lion Boy, by Zizou Corder

Read by Simon Jones

CDJ C8118L

In a London of the future, a boy who is able to communicate with cats escapes from a circus ship with a group of lions in an attempt to rescue his kidnapped parents.

over-sea-under-stone1 Over Sea, Under Stone, by Susan Cooper

Read by Alex Jennings

CDJ C7877D

Three children on holiday in England find an ancient manuscript and begin a dangerous quest to find King Arthur’s grail. 

ruins-of-gorlan1  The Ranger’s Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan, by John Flanagan

Read by John Keating

CDJ F6133R

Will has always wanted to train as a knight, but he is rejected because of his small size.  Instead, he is apprenticed as a Ranger to the mysterious Halt, the king’s master spy.  

bad-beginning1 A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning, by Lemony Snicket

Read by Tim Curry


The three Baudelaire children must depend on each other and their wits when the evil Count Olaf is appointed as their guardian.

skulduggery-pleasant1 Skulduggery Pleasant, by Derek Landy

Ready by Rupert Degas

CDJ L2399S

Stephanie Edgely inherits her mysterious uncle’s estate, along with a fire-throwing ace detective, who just happens to be a skeleton. 

wolf-brother1 Wolf Brother, by Michelle Paver

Read by Ian McKellen

CDJ P2886W

Tarak and his pack brother, Wolf, set out on a dangerous journey to destroy the demon-possessed bear that killed his father and threatens the clans of the ancient world.

Looking for ornery fae in the Tri-Cities

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs tells the story of Mercy Thompson, an auto-mechanic in the Tri-Cities who can turn into a coyote at will. Mercy’s world is full of ornery fae, egocentric werewolves, and quirky, creepy vampires, all more supernaturally powerful than her. If Mercy can keep her head down and her mouth shut, she just might keep out of the line of fire. The problem is Mercy’s never been very good at keeping her mouth shut.

moon-calledMoon Called is a unique addition to the urban-fantasy sub-genre for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is because the main character is an interesting, curious woman whose magical peculiarity is something readers haven’t seen before. Fans of the supernatural will like Mercy and empathize with her despite her tendency to cause her own troubles.

Look for the sequels: Blood Bound, Iron Kissed, and the fourth installment, Bone Crossed, where Mercy heads to Spokane to investigate a ghost. Patricia Briggs’ website also notes that she was recently in Seattle, doing her own investigation on where werewolves would hunt, for the follow-up to Cry Wolf.

Tiny people, big adventures

Sometimes, especially at night when the world is dark and quiet, I hear strange noises in my house. Rhythmic little taps that fade to nothing. The squeak of a cupboard opening in an empty room. A faint sound like distant voices coming from up near the eaves, where no human ought to be.

My first instinct is to blame the cats, who sneak off to make mischief when they think I’m not paying attention. Usually, I’m right. But when the weather is cold and the cats are curled up in their basket, my mind strays to more interesting conclusions. Maybe—just maybe—I had it right when I was ten and knew that secrets lurked beyond the bounds of our regular lives, discoverable only by people who believed they could exist. Maybe the noises I hear in my house share a common origin with lost socks, missing bobbins, and keys that are laid down in one spot and appear in another.

Maybe there really are tiny people living in the walls, just out of sight. Innovative little people facing challenges I can barely imagine in a world built to ten times their scale. Maybe these books contain more truth than we know!

The Borrowers by Mary Norton
This award-winning classic series features an innovative family of miniature people who live in the nooks and crannies of an old country house, “borrowing” necessities from the home’s human occupants and avoiding hazards such as cats. Written for children, this series is a charming read for folks of all ages. The library also owns movies starring the Borrowers.

The Littles by John Peterson
The Littles, like the Borrowers, are a family of tiny people who live in the walls and floor of a house owned by the Biggs, whose human son befriends them and guards the secret of their existence. While the Borrowers essentially look just like normal-sized people, the Littles have large ears, mouse tails, and prominent front teeth. Written in the late 1960s, nearly a decade after the first Borrowers book, the Littles appear in a series of children’s books, a television program and a feature film.

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
The Lilliputians Gulliver encounters in part one of his voyage around the world are six inches tall, like the Borrowers and the Littles, but rather than hiding in the shadows and playing second fiddle to humans they dominate their own realm and are capable of capturing and tormenting the normal-sized humans who fall into their midst. So loved that it has been continuously in print since 1726, Gulliver’s Travels may be the archetype of the miniature person story.

Mistress Masham’s Repose by T.H. White
Maria, a lonely young heiress, is shocked to discover a whole community of tiny people living in secret on an abandoned island in the neglected grounds of her family’s hereditary estate. Further investigation reveals them to be an exiled community from Gulliver’s Lilliput. Like any child who makes the acquaintance of tiny people, Maria instinctively understands that she must keep their existence a secret—but she is less clear about whether they deserve the respect and autonomy due ordinary people, or can be treated as roughly as she treats her toys. Trouble brews.

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
When her baby brother is stolen by evil fairies, a young girl enlists the help of the six inch tall, blue, warlike “Free Men” to steal him back. This is the second book in the author’s famous Disk World series. Other Disk World books that feature the Wee Free Men include A Hat Full of Sky and Wintersmith. (Readers for whom six inch people are too large to be interesting may also enjoy another book by the same author: The Carpet People, available through interlibrary loan. Here we have a tribal community led by a philosopher-shaman who live in the depths of a carpet under constant threat from a mysterious destructive force called “the fray.”)

Little (Grrl) Lost by Charles de Lint
Two teenage girls, one normal size (T.J.) and the other a feisty six inches tall (Elizabeth), find solace in each other’s friendship in this unusual coming-of-age story.

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynn Reid Banks
The plastic Indian and locking cupboard nine-year-old Omri receives as a birthday present prove much more interesting than he first realizes when he discovers not only the secret to bringing his tiny friend to life, but the Indian’s ability to slip over into a dangerous wild-western world when he is not in Omri’s room. The dramatic adventures of the indian, and his tiny friends and foes, unfold throughout the five books in this series.

Catkin by Antonia Barber
When a young human girl is captured by the Little People who live in a secret realm behind the hill, her palm-sized cat embarks on a heroic mission to get her back. If you enjoy the cadence and imagery of folktales, this story may especially appeal to you.

Hob and the Goblins by William Mayne
A British family moves into an old house in the country not knowing that a little house spirit named Hob lives under the stairs, or that their home contains a hidden door to the goblin world. The children of the family soon discover Hob and begin a series of adventures that extend through this book and on to a sequel.

The Minpins by Roald Dahl
Little Billy is tired of always doing as he’s told, so one day he ventures into the Forest of Sin, against his mother’s warning. A fire-breathing monster living in the forest chases the boy up a tree, where he discovers a whole community of matchstick-sized people called the minpins who also live in fear of the beast. Together, they hatch a plan to make the forest safe.