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Welcome to Mabel's Fables Bookstore!

Friday, March 30, 2012

The False Prince (Loretta)

Title: The False Prince (March 2012) (Book 1 in the Ascendance Trilogy)
Author: Jennifer A. Nielson (USA)
Age group in store: 12

Briefly, it's about:

In the mythical country of Carthya, Sage is a 14-year-old orphan whose life will be changed forever when he meets a nobleman named Connor. War is brewing in the land and Connor has a plan to set a new king on the throne. To carry out his plan, Connor has recruited three orphan boys (including Sage). Sage can see that Connor is not to be trusted, but his life depends on playing the part Connor has set for him. That is, unless Sage can learn to turn the game to his advantage…..

Loretta's rave:

I was into the story from the start. It's full of action and danger right from the get-go. Sage is an intriguing character with a mind of his own. He's smart and seems to have a plan for every twist that Connor throws at him. I really like the idea of the story and think it will be a hit.

It's perfect for:
Fans of The Seeing Stone by Kevin Crossley-Holland, fans of the Thief of Eddis series by Megan Whelan Turner, fans of Mimus by Lilli Thal, future fans of A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin

# of stars: ***1/2

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wonder (Melissa)

Title: Wonder (March 2012)
Author: R J Palacio (USA)
Age group in store: 11

Briefly, it's about:
August was born with a severe facial deformity, and up to this point he has been home-schooled by his mother. But as fifth grade approaches, August’s parents decide it’s time for him to start trying to live a more "normal life" by enrolling in the local private school. What follows is a delightful and poignant account of his experience. Alternating perspectives between August, his sister Via, his friends, and even his sister's new boyfriend, Wonder entangles the complexity of the human experience with the simplicity of childhood.

Melissa's rave:
Though I am not usually drawn to stories about middle school misadventures, Wonder completely charmed me. August's strength of character, his vulnerability, his grace, his sense of humour, and his capacity to love were just wonderful to read about and I ate up every word. A delightful cast of supporting characters add warmth and colour to August's story, and they all felt so alive to me, so real. August's struggle with the emotional, physical, and mental repercussions of his physical appearance add depth and complexity to a story that may otherwise be a typical account of life in middle school. The emotional arc of the story is that much stronger because of the underlying threats of alienation and rejection that face August and his family on a day-to-day basis. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever felt like they don't quite fit. 
It's perfect for: Fans of Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, fans of The Misfits by James Howe, fans of A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass, fans of Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick
# of stars:****

Friday, March 23, 2012

Playground (Allison)

Title: Playground (Nov. 2011)
Author: 50 Cent (USA)
Age group in store: 14+

Briefly, it's about:
Ever since he beat up his former best friend on the playground with a sock full of batteries, Butterball's life has gotten a little more complicated. The school is forcing him to attend therapy sessions with a second-rate social worker who's constantly trying to con him into sharing his feelings, and his mom has grounded him for life, asking her uptight friend Evelyn to keep an eye on Butterball while she's at work. On the upside, the coolest guys in the grade have started treating him with respect. Even his dad manages to take time away from his new girlfriend to praise Butterball’s new-found self-assertiveness. But Butterball didn't beat up Maurice just to prove he could. He did it for a reason -- a reason that he'll never admit to Liz, his mom, his dad, or himself.

Allison's rave:
To my surprise, 50 Cent’s debut book is a thoughtfully told story about bullying from the bully's perspective. Butterball has a lot on his plate for a 13-year-old: a mother who works and studies all the time, a father who's too busy chasing women to bother with him, a new school in a new town that seems void of potential friends. These factors alone would be a fair -- if predictable -- explanation for his sudden descent into aggression. But there's more to the story. This book actually delves into LGBTQ (lesbian/gay/bi/trans/queer) issues that I didn't really see coming and the portrayal of a middle-schooler's baffled and angry first reaction to difference is pretty sensitive. After offering its example of how a generally good kid can become a violent bully, the book ends up providing a model of how he might be redeemed. In a culture where bullying is currently considered an epidemic, this kind of straightforward atonement story could be a useful antidote in the classroom. It ultimately stresses the importance of communication in resolving conflict, which, though not exactly a new concept, is one that bears a lot of repeating.

It's perfect for:
Fans of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, fans of Hail Caesar by Thu Huong Ha, fans of Catch by Will Leitch, fans of Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have by Allen Zadoff, fans of Blink & Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones.

# of stars: ****

And guess what?: Playground is one of our featured Razorbill titles, so it's 20% off all month!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Time Snatchers (Will)

Title: Time Snatchers (March 2012)
Author: Richard Ungar (Canada)
Age group in store: Eleven


Briefly, it's about:
Caleb is a Time Snatcher. That is to say, he belongs to a small and secretive organization of thieves that travel through time stealing precious historical objects for their ultra-rich clientele. The organization is run under the strict rule of Uncle, who raises each of his thieves from a very young age, telling them they're orphans. They know no other way of life, and there is no quitting. Caleb wishes for a normal life, and when he sees a young boy abducted from a loving family and taken into a time thief boot camp, his own origins are called into question. But when his employer can follow him anywhere and anytime, escape is very difficult.

Will's rave:
Ungar has written a very compelling and exciting adventure. The story happens in many different times and places, each presented vividly. Each time-travel segment is exciting in a new and different way, and the larger plot is delicately woven into each theft mission. Excellent settings bring colour and variety to the plot.
The characters are complicated and interesting, with new qualities and perspectives coming to light for every scene they're in. Especially well-written is Uncle, whose vicious rationality has all the charm of a good James Bond villain. The plot clips along very quickly and clearly. It was a quick read, and relatively light; a great read for action/adventure fans.

It's perfect for: 
Fans of the Alex Rider books by Anthony Horowitz,  the Conspiracy 365 series by Gabrielle Lord, fans of the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer, fans of the Boy Sherlock Holmes series by Shane Peacock, fans of Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan, fans of the The 39 Clues series

And guess what!? Richard Ungar began his career writing for children at Mabel's Fables! Richard is a graduate of the George Brown Writing for Children class, held in our upstairs storytime room. Congratulations Richard!

# of stars: ****1/2

Friday, March 16, 2012

Karma (Melissa)

Title: Karma (January 2012)
Author: Cathy Ostlere (Canada!)
Age group in store: 14+

Briefly, it's about:

Maya is on her way to India. Her mother has recently taken her own life, and Maya and her father are returning to their native India to scatter her ashes in the soil she loved so dearly. Shortly after their arrival India's prime minister, Indira Ghandi, is brutally murdered by her Sikh bodyguards. Cultural and religious differences flare, and the country is consumed by violent civil strife. Separated from her Sikh father in the fighting, Maya escapes to the train station in hopes that her father will find her there. In the journey that follows, Maya faces past and present horrors that will test her abilities to heal and forgive, as well as her ability to survive.

Melissa's rave:
I was spellbound by this exotic tale of love, loss, and healing. Told completely in free verse poetry and diary entries, Maya's story gripped me from beginning to end. I was at first captivated by the internal cultural clash in Maya's own personal identity. Her father was Sikh and her mother Hindu. They wed against their families' wishes and moved themselves all the way to rural Manitoba (Canada) in the hopes that a fresh land would provide them with a fresh start and more freedom. Sadly, as the only Indian family in rural Manitoba, they struggle to fit in until Maya's mother's desperate desire to return to their warm and familiar home leads her to take her own life.
        Maya's journey to India, and her experiences while there are harrowing, but I was fascinated by the presentation of a culture and country so vastly different from my own. When the trauma becomes too much for Maya, her narrative is picked up by the goofy, charming, off-kilter voice of Sandeep, who slowly coaxes Maya back to herself through love--subtle, powerful, and heartwarming. This is a story of what is lost that can be found, what is damaged that can be healed, and that love, no matter how unlikely, continues to amaze in its power to transform.

It's perfect for:

# of stars: ****

Good to know: Karma is published by Razorbill, who's books are currently being featured at our store! Check out our Mt. Pleasant window display to see all the featured titles, which will be 20% off until the end of April! Also, check out razorbill.ca for more info on Razorbill books, as well as lots of great discussion groups and forums about young adult literature!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Friends with Boys (Michelle)

Title: Friends with Boys (Feb. 2012)
Author: Faith Erin Hicks (Canada!)
Age group in store: 14+ (and Sr. Graphic)

Briefly, it's about:

Maggie is the youngest of four siblings and has been home-schooled her whole life. Now she is going to experience her first day in a public high school. She is incredibly nervous and shy, but quickly finds herself friends with a punk brother and sister duo who carry some heavy emotional baggage. This book is an introduction to Maggie's first major life changes and explores the relationships between her and her brothers, her and her father, her and her new friends and, surprisingly, her and a ghost. That’s right, Maggie has been haunted by a voiceless ghost from the local cemetery since she was seven years old.

Michelle's rave:

I really like this book! It’s a graphic novel that started as a web comic and is a super fast read. The illustration is all black and white and kind of Hope Larson/Bryan Lee O’Malley-ish…I love the exploration of relationships and how there’s so much mystery surrounding these characters. Much of the back story isn’t explored yet, and I’m hoping this is a series. It was funny and a little heart wrenching at times. There was a quirkiness and whimsy about it that really grabbed me. I also enjoyed the mystery around the ghost and her eventual connection to a little bit of Canadian history and the war of 1812!

It's perfect for:

Graphic novel fans! Fans of Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge, the Scott Pilgrim series by Bryan Lee O'Malley, younger fans of Jellaby and Jellaby, Monster in the City by Kean Soo and of To Timbuktu: Nine Countries, Two People, One True Story by Casey Scieszka and Steven Weinberg,  fans of Lure by Deborah Kerbel or The Dead Kid Detective Agency by Evan Munday.
 
# of stars: ***1/2