After hearing numerous students gush about Shannon Messenger’s middle grade series The Keeper of the Lost Cities, I finally have read the first book myself. It lives up to their hype. Sophie makes a likable, admirable, and relatable protagonist. An encounter at a museum leads her to discover her identity as an elf, and the story follows her adjustment to a new world, family, and friends. Though she feels like an outsider at her new school as much as she did at her human one, she embraces her abilities and explores their potential. Vaguely reminiscent of Harry Potter, I find this a brighter alternative. Messenger achieves a great balance between world building and character development, and I find myself tearing through the pages. I’ve acquired the next installment already and happily reported to my students I enjoyed it (and thanked them for the recommendation).
William Goldman’s classic fantasy adventure The Princess Bride provided the perfect escape for my Valentine season reading. It may do the same for COVID-19 social distancing too. Westley the farm boy and Buttercup the belle of the farm fall in love despite their odds. Though distanced for a time, they reunite when Westley rescues Buttercup from a kidnapping. Together and apart they face numerous foes, providing plenty of humor along the way. Full of comical quotes, Goldman lends a satirical voice to his story. It has delightful love quotes too, such as Westley saying, “Do I love you? My God, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches.” Westley’s quest to marry Buttercup and the friends they gain along the way have you rooting for each person’s goal. This story has a perfect balance of romance and action that may suit many for a date night to discuss the book or watch the movie.