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Children's Lit Middle Grade Reads Weekly Reviews

Curse of the Night Witch (Emblem Island #1) by Alex Aster

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Title:Curse of the Night Witch
Author: Alex Aster
Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers
Publishing Date: June 9, 2020
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In the spirit of Percy Jackson, this epic fantasy adventure novel had me turning the pages as fast as I could! Emblem Island is a place of magic, but none like we have read about before. And when a young boy wishes for a future different that what he has been given, he ends up cursed along with his best friend, and a girl from his class. They must break the curse by finding the Night Witch.

What I found the most lovable about this trio is that they reminded me so much of Harry, Ron and Hermione from the Harry Potter franchise. Tor, born with the leadership emblem, is our fearless hero, his best friend, Engle, is the lovable side kick, and Melda, is witty, brave, and sometimes annoying, but overall a wonderful friend to have by Tor’s side. This type of trio is often found in epic fantasies and is one of my favorite parts of the structure of these types of middle grade literature.

The most frustrating part was the ending… WHAT A CLIFF HANGER! I cannot wait to see what happens in book 2! I highly recommend this to fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, For readers ages 9- 14, and for anyone who needs a little magic and a little adventure in their lives.

Categories
Children's Lit Middle Grade Reads Weekly Reviews

Charlie Hernandez and the League of Shadows: Book Review

Title: Charlie Hernandez and the League of Shadows
Author: Ryan Calejo
Publishing Date: October 23, 2018
Publisher: Aladdin
Genre: MG Fantasy
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Charlie Hernandez is one of the many books that are being released into the shadow of the Percy Jackson saga. This one centers Mexican and Latin mythology and a young boy who doesn’t know how to deal with the mysterious circumstances surrounding his parent’s disappearance. Sound familiar? Charlie Hernandez is a fresh take on the same tired storyline.

Charlie Hernandez and the League of Shadows begins right after the disappearance of Charlie’s parents and the burning of his home. Charlie is now in foster care with an elderly woman who likes to collect dolls. He goes to school where he has his two best friends. One morning he wakes up with feathers covering his arms. He does his best to hide his winged arms by running to the lost and found and throwing on a purple sparkly ski jacket. Charlie seems to draw more attention to himself by doing this including the eyes of his crush who also happens to be popular and the head of the school newspaper.

Violet and Charlie start digging to figure out what is happening to him and end up discovering that all the myths and legends that Charlie’s grandmother told him were true. Nothing is as it seems.

While this book was very similar to the mythology stories that have come before it in a lot of senses, there was some things that still made this book fun. Charlie doesn’t seem like a likely hero, he pairs up with a pretty, smart girl to save the world, and he gets into a lot of funny situations – none of this is new to the mythology books. However, not having his friends in on the action and having his parents completely missing is a new element to this story as well as bringing the action from the mythological world into the real world right away whereas in other stories there seems to be a divide at first that then seeps into the real world.

I did enjoy this story and some of the metaphors the author uses are hilarious. If you are a fan of Percy Jackson or similar stories, I do think this would be enjoyable for you. I also think this is a little more relatable to kids and students of a Hispanic or Latin heritage. This book is appropriate for ages 11+ with some minor language.