Children's Book ReviewsPage Two of Two
The Sphere of Secrets by Catherine FisherGreenwillow Books, March, 2005
Hardcover, 384 pages
Ages 10 and up
In the first book in the series, The Oracle Betrayed, readers met Mirany, a young woman who helped ensure the boy Alexos was named Archon (the person who carries the God inside him), after much trial, tribulation and adventure. Mirany is one of the Nine Priestesses who care for the Archon, and are held in high regard in an ancient kingdom that will remind readers of ancient Egypt. But even though the correct boy has been named Oracle, the corrupt General Argelin and Hermia, the Speaker-for-the-God, are conspiring to make sure that the God is silenced so they can gain absolute power for themselves. The country still suffers from drought, so Alexos sets out on a quest to the Well of Songs to right a past wrong and make the rains come again. With Alexos are the scribe Seth, the alcoholic musician Oblek and the mysterious tomb raider known only as the Jackal. Meanwhile, Mirany stays in the besieged City and is surrounded by intrigue and danger.
This is the second book in The Oracle Prophecies series, which began with The Oracle Betrayed. Catherine Fisher, the author of Snow-Walker, excels at creating unusual worlds peopled with fascinating characters and a magical atmoshpere. The Two Lands is a mysterious place, filled with danger, excitement, magic and myth. The brisk action shifts back and forth between the questing party and Mirany's adventures in the City, and it is a credit to Ms. Fisher that both stories are equally compelling. Mirany is an especially engaging heroine whom readers will happily follow to her next adventure.
Sleepy ABC by Margaret Wise Brown, Illustrations by Esphyr SlobodkinaHarperCollins, 2005
Hardcover, 564 pages
Ages 3 to 7
Sleepy ABC is the perfect book for bedtime. Kids will love the cute and colorful drawings that go perfectly with Margaret Wise Brown's lyrical writing. The illustrations show animals and children getting ready for bed. Sleepy, sighing kittens; lambs closing their eyes, stars in the night sky and a boy kissing his mother goodnight all project the idea of a good night's sleep. And if your child can stay up long enough, the book goes from A to Z, ending with "Z is for Zipper. Now zip into bed, not another peep. Go to Sleep."
Tiger (Five Ancestors Book 1) by Jeff StoneRandom House, March, 2005
Hardcover, 196 pages
Ages 9 and up
In 17th century China, five orphans have grown up at the Cangzhen Temple, raised and trained by the Shaolin monks and the Grandmaster himself. Each of the young boys has exceptional gifts for their age. Each is already a master of one style of animal kung fu: that of the tiger, the monkey, the crane, the snake and the dragon. Tragedy comes to the Temple when a former student Ying, a master of the eagle style of kung fu, has sold out to the Emperor in order to become a wealthy general. Ying and his army slaughter everyone at the Temple except the five boys, whom the Grandmaster has made promise to run away. One of the boys, Yu, named in Cantonese after the tiger, manages to save the priceless dragon scrolls before he flees the Temple. Hu has many adventures and learns more about himself and the Grandmaster's cryptic last words about the boys' origins. Yu, who like a tiger is by turns violent, thoughtful and playful, eventually meets up with Malao (Monkey) whose adventures will be chronicled in the next book in this well-written, fast-paced and very entertaining adventure series.
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