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2006: What's New in Fiction?

Sundancer, by Shelley Peterson (Key Porter).

Special Review by Louise Nunn

The moment I flipped to the first page I was spellbound; caught in Sundancer's story. The story is about a girl who answers to the name of Bird. She can't speak (she chooses not to), but has the ability to speak to animals. When a wild stallion suddenly appears at Saddle Creek Farm, Bird tries to get through to him, but without success. She is determined, so she keeps trying. A few weeks later, Bird gets rewarded with a response from the wild chestnut she has named 'Sundancer'.

Unfortunately, almost right after Bird has bonded with Sundancer, they are told that Owens Stables (the place Sundancer came from) wants him back.

Join Bird as she strives for the freedom of this beloved horse, struggles through some family problems, and discovers that it's better to speak after all. Sundancer's author has also written three other amazing horse books.

Anyone, especially horse lovers, will love this book! It gives you so many emotions it's hard to put them all down. This is a phenomenal book -- and an inspiring author!

*** The Reviewer: Louise Nunn, age 11, starts grade 6 in September 2007. She is an avid reader.


A Very Fine Line, by Julie Johnston ($24.99, Tundra).

This is a story about 13-year old Rosalind who sometimes gets quite strong feelings that bad things are going to happen -- and the scary thing is they do. But her 'second sight' isn't very helpful because she doesn't know what the feelings mean. When she tells her mother about her experiences, mom doesn't seem to believe her, and doesn't want to talk about it. Or is mom keeping something from her? There are family secrets, questions to be answered, and a mystery about some other relatives. Much of the story is about family relationships and growing up. For readers aged 11 to 15.

The author: Julie Johnston is a Canadian author.

Jared Lester Fifth-Grade Jester, by Tanya Lloyd Kyl ($8.95, Annick Press).

Stories don't have to be serious, and this one isn't. This chapter book is about a boy with a dream -- he wants to become a court jester and do cool things like juggle and entertain people. But, in this day and age, there is no such profession. Yet Jared can still audition for the big school show. This means lots of practice. And who knows, maybe he'll get a chance to entertain the Queen when she visits! This is a fun read for kids aged 7 to 10.



The author: Tanya Lloyd Kyl is an author with a sense of humour.

Pirate's Passage, , by William Gilkerson ($25.95, Shambahala Publications ).

It's 1952 on the coast of Nova Scotia. There is a big storm that drives a small yacht and the mysterious Captain Charles Johnson to a small harbour next to an inn. A boy, Jim, and his mother run the inn, and let the captain stay as a guest until the weather is good again for sailing. Jim finds out the mysterious Captain knows an awful lot about pirates and treasure, but never reveals much about himself. There are lots of secrets to go around and things to make you wonder 'what if'. An intriguing read for people fond of historical fiction and who are curious about pirates through the ages. For readers aged 12 and up.

The author: William Gilkerson is an author who has studied pirates.

Bekka Cooper, by Tamora Pierce ($24.95, Scholastic).

Special Review by Jessica B-C, 18.

Tamora Pierce's latest Tortall novel continues to shine with her usual brilliance. Terrier is the story of Bekka Cooper, a 'Puppy' with the City Guard 'Dogs', and the ups and downs of living in the Lower City. Pierce manages to introduce a completely new set of characters (though you may be familiar with some of Bekka's descendants) while staying true to the realm she has created in the past. New and exciting, in a comfortable style, it is everything a fan could ask for, and is written in such a manner thats even those who've never heard of Ms. Pierce or Tortall, can read it and learn to love it just as much.

The author: Tamora Pierce has written numerous popular fantasy novels featuring strong female characters.

Casey at the Bat, by Ernest L. Thayer, illustrations by Joe Morse ($18.95, Kids Can Press).

This is part of the award-winning Visions in Poetry series published by Kids Can Press. It features a single famous, long poem that has had a strong impact in North American culture.

The poem, written in 1888 was about a baseball player, named Casey, who plays for a team called the Mudville 9. The story is about a game where everyone hopes Casey will hit the ball and get a homerun. The poem describes what happens while he is at bat. There is a lot of tension, and you don't really know what's going to happen until the end.

The iilustrations are powerful, intense, and a little depressing. This isn't a normal kids book, although that's what it's marketed as. In fact, the books in this entire series are more likely to appeal to teens who have a real interest in poetry, or to adults who want to collect poems in fancy, stylized books. Poetry-loving teens might call the books brilliant, most kids will say 'huh?' (Of course, there are always exceptions)

Younger kids won't relate to the dark, very stylized illustrations. These books would work mostly for readers aged 13 and up who enjoy serious poetry.

The author: Ernest L. Thayer was a famous American poet, 1863-1940.

The illustrator: Joe Morse has an active career as an illustrator, has had illustrations published in many magazines, and teaches at Sheridan College.