Happy Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, everyone! I had planned to write a review of the first book in The Wingfeather Saga, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, for you all today. But it seemed a bit redundant for me to review it when the series' biggest fan lives in the next bedroom over from mine. So please welcome back my fifteen-year-old daughter, Lucy, to introduce you to her newest obsession.
When people ask me about The Wingfeather Saga, I usually say something along the lines of ‘The Wingfeather Saga is a four book series by singer and songwriter Andrew Peterson. It focuses on Janner Igiby, a bookish twelve-year-old boy who lives in the world of Aerwiar. Nine years before, the vicious Fangs of Dang, a race of snakey, lizardy beings, took over most of Aerwiar, from the beautiful Shining Isle of Anneira, to the entire continent of Scree, which is where the Igiby family lives, in the town of Glipwood. But, despite living under the scaly thumb of the Fangs (and through them, a darker, nameless evil, named Gnag the Nameless), Janner, along with his brother, Tink, and his sister, Leeli, live fairly happy lives… as long as they don’t have any weapons (including garden tools), or stay out after dark, or complain too loudly about the smelly Fangs.’ At that point, I pant heavily.
Assuming that you are one of those listeners who is begging me to continue, I will take a deep breath, and go on. 'As revealed secrets and increasing danger take the Igibys across Scree and beyond, they each must learn to trust each other— and themselves. With delightfully funny companions, such as Peet the Sock Man and the bookseller Oskar N. Reteep, and with the love and support of their mother, Nia, and their grandfather, Podo (a retired pirate!), can the Igibys resist the Fangs' attempts to steal the mysterious lost Jewels of Anneira and avoid the many dangerous creatures in Aerwiar?'*
*such as Quill Diggles (spiky!), Horned Hounds (sharp teeth!), and Toothy Cows (also have sharp teeth! Beware!)
The Wingfeather Saga has rocketed to one of the top five spots in my ‘favorite book series list,’ and I’m fairly certain it’s going to stay there for a while, if not for life. It’s a wonderful series for children (and adults) who love The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter. I love the humor, and I love the world building. I’d recommend this series to anyone who has started to read novels (or listen to them! There are audiobooks!). All my younger siblings, down to my seven-year-old brother, have been going through the series, and loving it! We also have been loving the new animated series of Wingfeather from Angel studios. Oh, and the soundtrack! And the poems! And the companion books!
‘Beware the Toothy Cow!’
Feel free to leave a comment with any questions, and I'll tell you more! It was hard to narrow it down to just this much. :)
For more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday reviews, check out Always in the Middle!
Happy [it's still] Easter! I have a lovely product to recommend to you all today: The You Are Loved gift set from Warner Press. I was sent a copy to review, but am more than happy to spread the word about this lovely set, which includes a reflection journal and a stack of cards comprised of an affirmation on one side and a corresponding scripture passage on the reverse.
Look how beautiful these cards are! Honestly, they came at just the right time—not that there's a bad time to be reminded of God's love!—because the last week of Lent was full of challenges and necessitated continual reminders of truth.
I often tell my kids (taking a hint from Gary D. Schmidt's Pay Attention, Carter Jones), "Remember who you are…and remember whose you are." Scripture is full, of course, of God's words of love to us: that we are beautiful in his sight, that we are never alone, that we are loved, that we are His. These cards are perfect for moments when we need to remind ourselves or those in our lives of these ever-new truths.
I tucked a card into each of my children's Easter baskets this year, hand-selected for whichever reminder I thought they most needed right now. They'd be perfect to slip into a birthday card or package or lunch box, one at a time, but with the journal they make a lovely gift set that would be ideal for Mother's Day or even a Bridal or Baby shower gift.
For me, the cards are the heart of this gift set, and the journal is a cherry on top. My only complaint, if you will, is that I'd have preferred a smaller journal size (I'm pretty picky about this, though). It was a standard 8.5 x 11, but a half size journal always feels less intimidating to me.
For the months of April and May, you can purchase this collection for 30% off using the code BLOG30; check it out at this link:
By popular demand! Mainly the demand of my own children. :) Today I'm reviewing the new graphic novel by Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle See Nutter, Squished. Because it's about a large family (not a blended family, but several siblings with the same parents), of course I had to read this as soon as I could! I read with some trepidation, as the description (below) sounded somewhat negative about big family life, but overall I loved this!
From the publisher:
Eleven-year-old Avery Lee loves living in Hickory Valley, Maryland. She loves her neighborhood, school, and the end-of-summer fair she always goes to with her two best friends. But she's tired of feeling squished by her six siblings! They're noisy and chaotic and the younger kids love her a little too much. All Avery wants is her own room -- her own space to be alone and make art. So she's furious when Theo, her grumpy older brother, gets his own room instead, and her wild baby brother, Max, moves into the room she already shares with her clinging sister Pearl! Avery hatches a plan to finally get her own room, all while trying to get Max to sleep at night, navigating changes in her friendships, and working on an art entry for the fair. And when Avery finds out that her family might move across the country, things get even more complicated.
Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter have once again teamed up to tell a funny, heartfelt, and charming story of family, friendship, and growing up.
While Squished didn't shy away from some of the hard parts of big family life, it did an excellent job of showing how much joy and love and growth and companionship can be squished into life right alongside the squabbling and jealousy and bedroom sharing.
My three oldest kids all read this as well, and I was surprised that they didn't like it as much as I did. My 11-year-old wondered why Avery cared so much about having her own room (she, perhaps, related more to Avery's younger sister who always wanted someone else around). My teens thought it strange that Avery's friends would tease her about her family size. I realized that my children, with their support system comprised of so many other big families, don't think of us as anything strange. Their homeschooled peers don't fall into teasing about family the way school children can be more likely to. This is all a bit different from my own childhood, where my family of five children was often looked at askance. The themes of moving away and starting a new life in a new state also felt (sometimes painfully!) familiar. So I suppose it makes sense that we'd feel differently about this story, with so many different parallels to our own lives. And even where we disagreed, we absolutely loved talking about it!
Bottom line: we all recommend this graphic novel, whether for large families looking to see themselves in a story, or those curious what big family life might look like. My favorite part was seeing the way all the children worked as a team to take care of the most important thing in their life: their family. The Lees were loving, supportive, creative, and just very normal, and I really appreciated seeing that!
For more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday recommendations, check out Always in the Middle!
I'm not sure what happened from 2020-2023 (is anyone?), but clearly my head wasn't screwed on straight, because I missed that my favorite living British author had not one, but two new books released. The advantage of this was that suddenly, just when I needed a pick-me-up, I had an amazing book to read, all at the ready! If you've been following the saga of The Hough Children Get Sick Once Again, you'll know just how valuable that pick-me-up was... After all, there's nothing like a new book to help you feel better about cancelling all plans for two weeks while your children catch and recover from a stomach bug.
Frank Cottrell-Boyce is my favorite living British author for good reason. His books are all laugh out loud funny, true. And they're paced to perfection, yes. But what really stands out is the juxtaposition of humor and gut-wrenching pathos. The pathos is all the more effective because of the humor it's sandwiched between...which means I can rarely get through a Cottrell-Boyce novel with a dry eye. Certain ones (Millions and Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth) leave me absolutely bawling. And it's no mere writer's trick. It's the deep truths about human nature that he tucks into rollicking adventures like treasures for you to find.
Speaking of treasures... Noah's Gold. :) Here's the publisher's description:
Being the smallest doesn't stop you having the biggest ideas.
Eleven-year old Noah sneaks along on his big sister's geography field trip. Everything goes wrong! Six kids are marooned on an uninhabited island. Their teacher has vanished. They're hungry. Their phones don't work and Noah has broken the internet. There's no way of contacting home . . . Disaster!
Until Noah discovers a treasure map and the gang goes in search of gold.
I love a good kids-on-an-island story. What made this stand apart (besides the aforementioned humor and pathos), is the recurring question of what role our phones and technology should play in our lives. It's never answered for you, and even the characters likely have mixed feelings. But the question is there for you to ponder and consider on your own.
Have any of you read this one yet? I'd love to hear your thoughts...and then I need to go get my hands on Cottrell-Boyce's other book (Runaway Robot) that I missed...!
For more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday recommendations, check out Always in the Middle!
Hi! I'm Faith. I blog about books and creativity, family and faith. Welcome!