New books await grade-school kids

In the stacks

Posted: Sunday, November 07, 2004

New chapter books for grade school readers are appearing daily at the Juneau Public Libraries!

"Unexpected Magic," by Diana Wynne Jones: Fans of Jones will be happy to find three new stories never before published in this collection of 15 shorts plus a novella. Fantasy readers new to Jones will be delighted to discover stories about drawings that come to life, a writer's character that infiltrates her computer and takes over the writer's life, a veterinarian called on to take care of a werewolf, and a walking stick named Carruthers.

"North," by Donna Jo Napoli: Alvin may be small for a 12-year-old, but he's not stupid or cowardly. And when his overprotective mother decides he needs someone to walk him to school, it is one restriction too many and he decides to run away to the Arctic with the money he's saved for a mountain bike. Why the Arctic? His hero is Matthew Henson, a black adventurer and co-discoverer of the North Pole, that's why. Alvin makes his way to the Canadian north with lots of luck and help along the way, and lives a season with a trapper, discovering the fierce beauty of the land that Henson wrote about, before returning home buoyed by self-confidence earned the hard way.

"Troll Fell," by Katherine Langrish: Standing at his father's funeral pyre, Peer suddenly sees a monstrous figure coming out of the dark. It is his Uncle Baldur, come to bring Peer home with him to the mill in Trollsvik. But Uncle Baldur and his brother Grim are greedy and have a plan to sell Peer to the trolls as a slave. With the help of the ill-treated house-elf Nithling, Granny Green-teeth, and Peer's new friend Hilde, the brothers get what they deserve in the end. Clever and creepy, this fairy-tale-style story will keep you reading till the end.

"The Fire-Eaters," by David Almond: Almond, known for his atmospheric and unusual stories, doesn't disappoint here. It's the 1960s and the Cuban Missile crisis is right around the corner, but Bobby doesn't know anything about it yet. Growing up in rural England, he's more concerned with staying in school so he won't have to haul coal for a living than with current affairs. He's worried about his dad, angry about beatings in school, entranced by his father's friend the Fire-Eater, and curious about the new kid in town.

"Never Mind!" by Avi and Rachel Vail: Edward and Meg are twins, but no one would ever guess it. Meg is tall, blonde, and the perfect high-achiever who wants to be president someday. Edward's idol is Bill Gates and his teacher had to card him to make sure he was old enough for seventh grade. When Meg is invited to join the High Achiever's Club at her elite school, Edward decides it's time to take her down a peg. But his machinations play right into her plans, with hysterical results.

Placing a hold on our material is easy: call the Juneau Public Library at 586-5249, or, if you have Internet access, your library card, and a PIN, you may place your own holds by going to our Web site ( and looking at our catalog. Placing holds on items featured in In the Stacks is now even easier! The new columns are hyperlinked to the catalog: Simply look up the column on our Web site, click on the title you want, and you will be ready to place a hold.

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