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Favorite Tales of Monsters and Trolls by George Jonsen

61datycw4glI have been spending time every night with my oldest daughter reading middle grade ARCs that I receive. I don’t want my twins to feel left out, so I have started reading Best Book Club Ever books with them every night.

Last night, my twins chose Favorite Tales of Monsters and Trolls. This was my husband’s book when he was a child, and I remember reading this one as well. This book was first published in 1977, and was adapted by George Jonsen and illustrated by John O’Brien.

Favorite Tales of Monsters and Trolls includes three folktales. Each of the stories is rather short, so the entire book can read in one sitting.

The first story is The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Three billy goat brothers are having a problem with a troll who lives under a bridge. They want to cross over to a greener pasture, but are blocked by a troll. As the first two goats cross, they tell the troll to wait for his older brother. When the biggest goat crosses, will he be scared by the troll or will he do what goats do best? Continue reading

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The Secrets of the Pied Piper: The Peddler’s Road by Matthew Cody

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher.

The story of the Pied Piper is a famous folktale. We know that the Piped Piper lured the children of Hamelin from their beds, and led them away. We know that they were never seen again, but we don’t know what happened to the children. In a new middle grade novel, author Matthew Cody explores this premise in The Secrets of the Pied Piper: The Peddler’s Road.

Max (short for Maxine) and Carter are two children living in the modern era. They are staying in Hamelin with their father, a folklorist. By the time they realize they are caught up in the Pied Piper story, they are whisked away and taken to the Summer Isle.

The original children of Hamelin have made their home on the Summer Isle. They are aware that they have been there for a long time, but they have no idea that they have been living there for 800 years. Their bodies have not aged, but they have lost their memories of their homes and their families.

They tell Carter and Max that life on the Summer Isle is not always idyllic, and that terrifying creatures come out at night, like the giant rats. They also tell Max and Carter that they believe that their arrival signals fulfillment of an ancient prophecy. The two modern children must set aside everything they have been told about magic not existing, and join their new friends on a quest to the other side of the Summer Isle. The journey is long and dangerous, but if Max and Carter ever want to get home, they need to search for the secrets of the island and its most famous resident.

Over the course of the story, Max and Carter must both search evaluate what they want from life. Max is brash and abrasive, and needs to learn to work with the other children. Carter wears a brace on his leg, and has always been more of an observer. But on the Summer Isle, the other children value his opinion. He has an opportunity to take on more of a leadership role, but he needs to believe in himself.

In addition to a village of ageless children, Cody has filled the island with all sorts of magical creatures. From the mischief of rats (the proper name for a group of rats) enmeshed in a power struggle, to the house on chicken legs owned by a witch, the island is teeming with magic. The children of New Hamelin (as they have named their village) have held their own for hundreds of years, but can they withstand this latest onslaught?

I would recommend The Peddler’s Road. This is the first installment of a planned trilogy called The Secrets of the Pied Piper. I knew this, but I was still a little surprised when the story ended so suddenly. Talk about a cliffhanger! This is a fun and original adventure story. There is plenty of excitement and some scariness, which makes this ideal middle grade fare. I am certainly excited for the next book in the series, and I suppose I will have to content myself with reading Matthew Cody’s other books in the meantime.

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Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim

I received this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My three girls love reading, so when I received the opportunity to read Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas. This is a picture book written by Natasha Yim and illustrated by Grace Zong.

Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas is a modern version of the classic fairytale Goldilocks that also incorporates elements of Chinese New Year celebrations. When Goldy is asked to go next door to take turnip cakes to the Chan family, she discovers that no one is at home. She helps herself to their congee (rice porridge), sits in their chairs, and sleeps in their beds. When the Chan family returns, they are surprised to discover that their house is in shambles, and even more surprised to find Goldy sleeping in Little Chan’s bed. Goldy runs away, but then she feels bad about what she has done. Goldy returns to the house, apologizes, and realizes that he has more in common with Little Chan than she thought she did. Continue reading