7-12, Books, Children, Hi-Lo

The Keepers: The Box and The Dragonfly by Ted Sanders Review

Series: The Keepers #1
Title: The Box and the Dragonfly
Author: Ted Sanders
Publisher: Harper Collins
Page #: 544
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Even before I had finished this guy I was handing it out to kids because I knew it was great.  If you have a child that really loves Harry Potter or fantastic worlds that are set within the real world this is definitely a series to check out.  The first two books in the series have been published and it is ongoing so if they like it there will be more books in the future.

This story follows two unlikely heros who are thrust into a world they didn’t know existed and it all starts with a warehouse full of stuff.  Aisles and aisles of boxes and bins filled with doodads and thingamabobs that to the untrained eye seem kitschy and out of place.  Both our protagonists have an affinity that has laid dormant in their genes which allows them to bond with one specific item in the warehouse.  Once bonded the item changes from a paperweight into a powerful magical item.  Each item is unique and each wielder is the only one able to use that particular item.

Little do the kids know that there are very powerful creatures who want to have all of these magic items to use as they see fit.  These creatures were once the makers of such items but have since lost the ability to do so.  They are trying to round up as many as possible to fortify their own power.  The kids will have to decide which side to fight for.  The side of humans who were given these gifts, or the side of the monsters who made them.

The first book is definitely a traditional set up.  We meet the cast of characters, learn how they got their items, what their items do, and get a taste of what the bad guys can do.  What stood out to me the most was definitely the world building.  Sanders has put in time and effort to create a history for the items in his world and to create rules for his magic that helps keep it in check.  I fell in love with the world long before I started to care for the characters and their individual plights.

It was fast paced and I didn’t mind that most of the book was learning about the world since it was such an interesting world to inhabit.  I definitely see the potential for these books to be great and I went and grabbed a copy of the second book and it is on my TBR for this year.  If you have a little one that likes action and adventure this is definitely a little known series to take a look at.  If they enjoy fantastic elements in a more believable and realistic world it is also a good one, as not everyone wants to deal with an entirely new world.

I will say that the bad guys here are a bit scary so it might be best to wait to read it until you are 10+, but it was not particularly challenging so if you have a brave 8 year old they would definitely be able to understand the book.  Perhaps it is one to read together, so that any scary moments can be discussed and snuggles can be used to build comfort.

The protagonists are both genders which I always appreciate.  While the main POV character is male (as is common for the genre) I actually felt the girl had more character to her.  She definitely had a bigger personality and it was their friendship that really held the story line together.  I believed that they trusted each other, while it started as simply discussing this weird thing they had in common, I saw their friendship grow and bloom over the course of the book.  It wasn’t instant friendship and I really appreciated that.

The other big thing that I loved was that they have families!  These weren’t orphans being signed up for a magic war with no one to miss or worry about them, they had parents who loved and cared for them siblings that counted on them.  Of course the very things they loved could also be used against them.  I hope that their families become a bigger part of the stories the more this series continues.  There is a lot that a family can do in the same way that freedom from the constraints of traditional family structures allows certain things, there is great power in having generations available as a resource.

This was one of the more interesting Middle Grade books I read last year, even though it took me the whole year to finish it.  I kept putting it down to read other pressing things (like books for my book club) but it was always by my bedside and I would read a bit here and there because it was so captivating.  I couldn’t just put it down and forget about it.

Do you guys have any suggestions for books that are similar to this one?  If so please leave them down below so that I can get myself a copy and read it to add to my repertoire of great Middle Grade Fantasy.  Along those lines, are there any stories you particularly want to hear me talk about?  I am always open to suggestions for things to look into.

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2-5, 3-6, Books, Children

5 Monster Picture Books for a Fun Halloween

For this week leading up to Halloween week I wanted to throw out some great spooky recommendations for kids.

I’m starting with the youngest and as they are meant for little kids these stories are not so scary, but star some of our favorite Halloween Horrors.

 

This one in particular is one of my favorites.  Monsters of all shapes and sizes are staples this time of year and many kids can relate to the fear of the monster under the bed.  This is a story of a young boy whose Monster is going to spend a week on vacation and he just can’t get to sleep without his monster’s usual slurps and groans.  He spends the week testing different Monsters but in the end, there is only one Monster for him.  If your kid is a Monster’s Inc fan, or is a little bit picky this story will definitely resonate with them.  We all know what it is like to feel like something isn’t right, we just might not realize that the thing that the knowledge of the thing that scares us is the thing  that makes us feel safest.

 

Some of you might recognize this author as  none other than the chronicler of A Series of Unfortunate Events.  Known for his melancholic nature it is surprising to read such an adorable story… even if it is about a dead fish.  Goldfish Ghost is the story of … well a goldfish ghost trying to find the right place for him.  He was lonely on the boys dresser and nobody seems to pay him much attention in the real world.  You follow along on his journey to find a friend and get to see our world from an incredibly unique perspective.  Definitely worth a read.

Zombies are a personal favorite this time of year.  I think I was a zombie of a ghoul at least three Halloweens in a row (but then again I was a fan of scary things at Halloween rather than Princesses, Witches, or Dolls.  I find this one super cute in general, but  if you have a kid who feels a little unique or left out.  When one little zombie wants a peanut butter & jelly sandwich … rather than brains. It shows how sticking to your opinions and being yourself is worth while.  Even old … zombies … can learn new tricks.

 

My little sister dressed as a black cat one year, and my family has always raised black cats so this one is a favorite just for that.  This is a story about fear, about overcoming fears and facing the world unafraid.  This is the story about someone who thinks he is brave, even when he isn’t and is brave even when he thinks he isn’t.  Cat owners will especially love this one, and the art style is very evocative and cute.  Always a plus.

I know monsters can feel like a boys club, I certainly felt that way as a child, even as a tom boy I was frustrated that the things I liked seemed to be marketed exclusively at boys.  Well, vampires have certainly become a beloved thing for young girls and this cute little one is no exception.  It is hard to be a ballerina when you are also a vampire.  Not all aspects of it match up with the vampire life style.  Following your dreams is important and so she pushes through.  Definitely a good choice for a little dancer or for a little darkling like myself.

Hopefully these guys sounded interesting.  There are scores more great spooky picture books out there.  Head to your local library and I’m sure the librarians will have some favorites for you to choose from.  There are always interesting new ones coming out as well so its worth a trip to the book store to see what  was released in that department as well.