Written by A.L. Tait and published in 2014 by Hachette Australia (first American edition published in 2017 by EDC Publishing); Race to the End of the World, book one in The Mapmaker Chronicles, is a rip-roaring sea adventure with stowaways, hostile natives, sword fights, unknown sea monsters, maps, secrets, and vicious storms. This book would fall under the fantasy genre.
Quinn is a famer’s boy content with his life and his home. But when he is chosen by the King’s servant to join a special school for mapmakers, he gets thrown into a whirlwind of excitement and danger. Three captains are chosen to set off on a journey across the world; the first one who brings back a complete map of the earth will win a grand prize and live comfortably for the rest of his days. But most people believe that the earth is flat and that there are huge fire-breathing monsters waiting to gobble up ships who venture too close to the edge of the sea. Yet at the King’s command; Quinn and former slave Zain with a scruffy band of castoffs and runaways are to be one of the chosen crews on this dangerous voyage. Will they be able to survive the perils of the sea, weather, and attacks from the other competition? And will Quinn be able to hide his enormous secret from the others until he reaches home? Who will be the first back to the King with a competed map?
I would highly recommend this book for ages 10+. It is an exciting read with plenty of action and seafaring adventure. The well written dialogue, fight scenes, and memorable characters will be sure to delight readers from 10-14. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Written by Deborah Hopkinson and published by Random House Books in 2013; The Great Trouble is a fast-paced street story styled like a Dickens novel and filled with mystery and adventure in 1950s London. It follows the true story of Doctor John Snow and his relentless battle against the Blue Death (nowadays known as cholera) as told from the perspective of a 12-year-old boy, Eel. This well-written novel would fall under the historical fiction genre.
Eel works hard as a mudlark by night and early morning and a messenger boy by day. When he’s framed for theft there’s only one person who can prove his innocence; Mr. Griggs the tailor. But Mr. Griggs is very ill; and by the time it’s discovered that he has the deadly cholera it’s already too late. The feared Blue Death has spread. Will Dr. Snow find the source of the disease before more lives are lost? Will Eel be able to prove his innocence? And who is the dangerous man who is stalking him?
I would highly recommend this book for ages 12+. It is well written and engaging; and filled with excellent historical facts. There are one or two more mature elements that may confuse younger readers; and some mild violence. The dialogue and details are unique but expertly done. All in all; 4 out of 5 stars.
Written by #1 New York Times bestselling author Erin Hunter and published in 2003 by HarperCollins; Into The Wild-book one in the famed Warriors Series-is an intriguing story about the four cat clans and their brave warriors; and how a housecat named Rusty may just be the bravest warrior of them all. This book would fall under the animal fantasy genre.
Having been raised by humans (or twolegs, as the clans call them), Rusty isn’t really warrior material. But when Bluestar, leader of the Thunderclan, chooses him as her apprentice; Rusty jumps at the opportunity to prove himself worthy to be a warrior cat. However, his training proves harder than he anticipated; with jeers and snide remarks by the other Thunderclan cats about his housecat heritage, as well as repeated attacks by the ever-growing Shadowclan. Will Thunderclan be strong enough to defend their territory against the ruthless Shadowclan? Are there traitors within Thunderclan? And will Rusty prove himself to the clans as a warrior worthy of recognition?
I recommend Into the Wild for ages 10+. It’s an easy to read story rich with intrigue and mythology. The dialogue and details are well written, and the characters are fun and dynamic. There is some violence to look out for; as well as some mysticism which might prove to be confusing for less mature readers. All in all; 2.5 out of 5 stars.