Off the Shelf - Blog
The Screaming Staircase, by Jonathan Stroud, is set in a modern day London where ghosts stalk the night, and only children and teenagers can see them clearly. Our heroes Anthony Lockwood, Lucy Carlyle, and George Cubbins run a psychic detection agency. That is, they hunt and destroy ghosts. But unlike most other agencies, they don't have any adult supervisors. Since adults can't see or hear ghosts very well, Lockwood thinks they just get in the way. Lucy tends to agree, given her unpleasant past. George hates everyone equally.
We meet Lucy and Lockwood as they prepare to banish what they think is a routine ghost. The ghost, and the case itself, prove too hot to handle, and Lucy and Lockwood barely escape. Unfortunately, the Lockwood and Co. Psychic Detection Agnecy finds itself in some trouble with the law, and Lucy, Lockwood, and George are forced to take on a dangerous case in one of the most haunted houses in England. The last team that tried to clear the historic mansion of ghosts died; every last one of them.
I enjoyed all the action and adventure, as well as the smart mouth comedy in the face of creepy, deadly ghosts. Hope you will too!
The psychological impact of 9/11 still resonates today. Terrorism continues to disturb the world we live in. Everyone is affected by the memory. Those too young to remember soon learn about it as they get older. The following story begins five years after a fictional terrorist attack at a popular gathering place.
Jaime was 5 years old when his sister is killed. My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher takes place in London. Now 10 years old, Jaime has vague memories of the sister that died. Both parents remind him often of the tragedy and they do not understand why he is not grieving.
Jaime's viewpoint is very straightforward and often humorous. Both characters have issues as they try to navigate day to day life five years after the horrific attack. Jaime's sister Jasmine does remember her twin, Rose, who died in the attack. Even though Jasmine has her own problems, she tries to provide some stability for Jaime. She cooks and makes calls to school as best she can. Jaime does not dare tell his father he has a new friend at school. Sunya is Muslim.
Jaime and his sister continue to fend for themselves as their parents grieve. Amidst the sadness there is hope but no easy solutions for this family, which makes this story real. There are humorous moments but the ending is not nice and tidy, although it is as good as it gets for this family.
Despite being a wanna-be princess and the daughter of a witch, Sophie and Agatha are best friends. But when they're taken to the School For Good and Evil, Agatha is enrolled in the Good School and Sophie in the Evil School! Is this a horrible mistake or is Agatha really Good and Sophie really Evil? Or is this part of another plot entirely?
To complicate matters, there's a handsome prince, and fairy godmothers and villains as teachers, scheming classmates, and the School Master - a mysterious figure in a silver mask. And while Agatha just wants to go home, she's going to learn a lot about friendship, love, good, and evil along the way.
The second book in the series is less about Good and Evil and more about Girls and Boys. Here, once again, what you think you know will be turned on its head. These books aren't about right and wrong, but instead about the ideas behind how we think of Good and Evil and Girls and Boys. Which sounds like a lot of thinking, but don't worry, there's plenty of sword fights, magic spells, and twists and turns in these books to keep it interesting!
~ Book Ninja
P.S. Universal Pictures might make a trilogy of films about these books and the third one in the series that's being written right now! So read them now before the movie comes out!
Free Stuff to Do
Chess is for all ages in this free 9 Queens tournament series. Mini-tournaments prepare you to compete in the Championship Tournament on April 25, 2015.
Teens, middle school and high school age, enter your original artwork by September 26.
What questions would you ask your favorite author? Find out what local teens asked some of their favorite authors.
What's good to read? Find out right here with the results of the YALSA Top Ten teen favorites.