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Searched for books featuring:

  • Gifted Protagonist

AND Vocabulary age =
  • Children 12 and up

50 books met your specifications:

TitleAuthorConceptual difficulty ageVocabulary difficulty ageGenreYear of publication

I, RobotIsaac AsimovChildren 8 and upChildren 12 and upScience fiction1950
 One of the milestones of science fiction. The three rules of robotics are still relevant today.

Elegance of the HedgehogMuriel BarberySophisticated readersChildren 12 and upfiction 
 This book is remarkable, in that with every page I read, I was more captivated.

For one thing, the author tells the story in a very interesting way: The story is narrated by two very different, but also very similar, characters. One is a 12 year old genius and the other is a 50-something year old concierge in the fancy hotel she lives in.

So that's cool, but the writing style is what really got to me. Barbery gets very deep into some philosophical questions, that at many points I found confusing at first, but once I got into my "elegance of the hedgehog mood", I really enjoyed it.

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Great and Terrible Beauty, A (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy)Libba BrayChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upfiction2003
 This a spooky book about a girl with powers she doesn't understand. As she tries to survive in a "we shall civilize your daughters" kind of school, she makes friends with her enemies and brings them in on her secret.

I was always on the edge of my seat with this book, because even if no magic was happening, or she wasn't being chased by a monster, the social conflicts of teenage girls can seem terrifying sometimes.


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Ender's GameOrson Scott CardSophisticated readersChildren 12 and upScience fiction1977
 Story of a boy who is raised (some would say, manipulated) to use his gifts to save humanity, and the thanks he gets. Easy to read, but not appropriate for young readers.
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Ender's ShadowOrson Scott CardSophisticated readersChildren 12 and upScience fiction1999
 Story of one of Ender's soldiers, a boy who is bred with gifts to help save humanity, and the price he pays for having those gifts. None of the Ender books are great literature, but they resonate with gifted readers. This one may be even better than Ender's Game. Easy to read, but not appropriate for young readers.
  In context....

First Meetings : In the EnderverseOrson Scott CardSophisticated readersChildren 12 and upScience fiction2003
  Prequels to the Ender stories; includes the original novella which grew to become Ender's Game. Fans of Ender's Game will like these.
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GracelingKristin CashoreSophisticated readersChildren 12 and upfiction2009
 This is a super fast-paced, easy read, which was great since that was what I had expected. The book is about a girl, Katsa, who is "graced", gifted with a special talent that no-one else has... She basically has to save the world, and on the way lots of other exciting things happen too.
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Song of the LarkWilla CatherChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upFiction1915
 I am always blown away when a novel that is nearly 100 years old speaks to me as compellingly as Song of the Lark did. The story of Thea Kronborg, one of many children in a family
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An American ChildhoodAnnie DillardChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upnon-fiction1988
 Annie Dillard aims her clear scientist's eyes and the evocative Voice of the Pilgrim At Tinker Creek at the lives of upper class families with children in Pittsburgh, PA in the fifties. She reveals a great deal about Pittsburgh; and just about nothing about herself.
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Skin Hunger (A Resurrection of Magic, Book 1)Kathleen DueyChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upfiction2007
 Okay, I picked this book off the shelf because I thought it was funny to name a book "skin hunger". You can't really judge a book by its name.

The book is not about people eating each other, but two separate story-lines. One is about a girl named Sadima who can hear the thoughts of animals. The other is about a boy named Hahp sent to a gruesome magical academy. The only thing the plots share in common is a man named Somas, who owns Sadima's kind-of boyfriend, and lets Hahp's friends die of starvation.


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Count of Monte Cristo,TheAlexandre DumasChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upFiction1844
 Gifted guy takes his devastating revenge.
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Goddess of The Night (Daughters of the Moon, Book 1)Lynne EwingChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upScience fiction2000
 Very quick.

Unrealistic and puts the "high-school-girls-should-just-go-around-trying-to-get-a-boyfriend" spin on life. It's about this girl named Jennifer who discovers that she can turn invisible because she is a goddess.


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Into the Dark Fire, (Daughters of the Moon, Book 2) Lynne EwingChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upScience fiction2000
 This is the second in a series. This "goddess" can read people's minds. She is chosen by the evil shadow king to become evil, but fights it off.
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Surely You're Joking Mr. FeynmanRichard FeynmanSophisticated readersChildren 12 and upNon-fiction, autobiography1985
 First volume in inspiring autobiography of physicist (and all-around extremely intelligent and charming guy), Richard Feynman.
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InkheartCornelia FunkeChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upfiction2003
 No doubt most authors of fiction hope to evoke worlds using words alone. But what if it were possible for certain readers to actually cause people and objects to transition between fictional worlds and our world, just by reading aloud?
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InkSpellCornelia FunkeChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upfiction2005
 No doubt most authors of fiction hope to evoke worlds using words alone. But what if it were possible for certain readers to actually cause people and objects to transition between fictional worlds and our world, just by reading aloud?

This is book two of what is promised to be a trilogy.

If anything, my 11 yr. old and I liked this book even more than its predecessor, InkHeart. And, as an added bonus, InkSpell provides a touching and believable portrayal of a pair of pre-adolescents who are just about certain they are in love.

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Goose Girl, TheShannon HaleChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upfiction, science fiction 
 This book is based on the Grimm's fairy tale about a princess who was betrayed by her maid and forced to be a goose girl. In the fairy tale, in the end the maid gets killed in a coffin filled with nails as revenge... I don't know why, but i expected the author to write an alternate ending to this story.
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Stravaganza: City of MasksMary HoffmanChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upfiction2002
 City of Masks is about a teenaged girl named Arianna who lives in 16th century Talia, who wants nothing more than to be a mandolier, and a boy named Lucian, who lives in 21st century England, and has an incurable case of cancer.

As Lucian suffers, his dad gives him a beautiful notebook from what seems to be very early Italy. When he fell asleep one night holding the notebook in his hand, he finds himself in 16th century Italy (Talia).

There he meets Arianna, and learns that how he got there was by what the experts call stravagation (which is how he was transferred from his world to this new one). So quite suddenly he is thrown into living two lives, one as a sick kid in modern England during the day, and the other as a perfectly healthy young man in Talia.

I recommend this exciting, kind of mysterious book for people who like fantasy and books that you don't want to put down.

City of Stars is an amazing book, the first in a series of 3. It is so wonderful for many reasons, one of which is that this book surprises you, (in a good way). While you're reading it's hard to guess what is going to happen, until it does, or nearly until it does. 
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Man Who Loved Only Numbers, The : The Story of Paul Erdos and the Search for Mathematical TruthPaul HoffmanSophisticated readersChildren 12 and upNon-fiction, biography1998
 Biography of the brilliant mathematician, Paul Erdos. Inspiring because this extremely odd guy, who spoke in code and could not perform the normal functions most other human beings usually have to do (such as pay bills and cash checks), found ways to mentor promising young mathematicians and revolutionize mathematical thinking.
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Letters From RapunzelSara Lewis HolmesChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upfiction2007
 Abandoned by her parents (her father, a long-time sufferer from chronic depression has disappeared; her mother is just not around), constrained by overly restrictive homework assignments that she can't or won't complete, condemned to spend long, long hours in detention, terrified that now that she has been identified as gifted, she will be forced to hang out with the nerds in the gifted pull-out class, Candace frantically tries to metaphorically grow hair long enough to provide an escape.

While not a fairy tale in the ordinary sense, Letters From Rapunzel brilliantly demonstrates the power of those ancient stories to help us understand our seemingly mundane lives.


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Dawn Palace,TheH. M. HooverChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upFiction1988
 De-mythologization (probably not a word, huh?) of the story of Medea, including the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece, from Medea's point of view.
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Fire and HemlockDiana Wynne JonesChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upfiction1985
 There are just a few authors that my 12 year old and I trust implicitly.

After having raced through umpteen of her novels, we placed Diana Wynne Jones in that category. Sure, The Magicians of Caprona was kind of stupid.... But if you locked us in a library, with a short deadline in which to emerge with a book we were willing to read, it might very well be one by Diana Wynne Jones.

Fire and Hemlock is quite a bit different from other Jones' novels. For one thing, it is SPOOKY. It is, in fact, so intense, so spooky that if my daughter and I hadn't trusted Jones as much as we did, we would never have finished reading this story.

On the other hand, many of the characters do resemble other Jones characters we've met in her other stories. For one thing, every young woman of child-bearing age is at the very least utterly self-involved and uncaring about her children.


  In context....

Dark Lord of DerkholmDiana Wynne JonesChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upfiction1998
 "The cool thing about Diana Wynne Jones is that we've read many of her books, but her stories are all very different. She doesn't repeat herself. This one goes from amazing to intense, maybe it's even a little too intense," says my 13 yr. old.

As you can tell, we here are huge fans of Diana Wynne Jones. We admire the magical worlds she creates and her characters -- human, wizard, and fantastical -- captivate us. We find the plots of her stories unpredictable but plausible, at least in the magical environments in which they take place.

Dark Lord of Derkholm is about a planet that is used as a playground by a imperial power, in the person of one "Mr. Chesney". The inhabitants are compelled to stage elaborate wargames, games in which they and the tourists who pay to join them risk losing lives, families, and livelihoods. (Lest this be thought of as a metaphor for the American adventure in Iraq, please note that this story was written back in 1998, before our Mr. Cheney lead us there.)

I have a friend whose brilliant son graduated from college and then promptly enlisted in the military. "Maybe I won't get sent to Iraq," he told her. "Yeah, and why are they teaching you Arabic?" she asked him. There are young people who need to truly understand how terrible war can be. And maybe we should try to communicate this to them before they are old enough to sign on the dotted line of that enlistment contract.

But what about the kids who have already drunk the Kool-Aid? Those who know that war is not a game. Do they need to know that mercenaries sometimes rape innocent children? That sometimes heroes die in battle? That those who sponsor the wars often profit vastly from the carnage? Maybe not. But I think I'd have been happier if my friend's son had thought about these things before he enlisted.
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Deep SecretDiana Wynne JonesChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upfiction1999
 We here are huge fans of Diana Wynne Jones. We admire the magical worlds she creates and her characters -- human, wizard, and fantastical -- captivate us. We find the plots of her stories unpredictable but plausible, at least in the magical environments in which they take place. One of the coolest things about her stories is that although the plot of each of her novels is really unique, characters and laws of magic overlap in intriguing ways in the many worlds described in her many stories.

We enjoyed reading Deep Secret, mostly because we became interested in Nick Mallory, who is a protagonist in another of Jones' many novels, The Merlin Conspiracy. However, it is not one of our favorite Diana Wynne Jones books.

For one thing, Deep Secret seems to mostly target adults, perhaps because it seems to be Diana Wynne Jones' tribute to science fiction conventions. The plot -- regarding a Magid (a powerful wizard whose undercover job is to keep magic under control in some sector of the multiverse) in search of a student -- is certainly compelling for certain young readers. But Jones unnecessarily throws in words (such as "orgy") that young readers are likely to ask their parents about.

Anyway, Nick is a nice, seemingly ordinary teenage boy with a witch (in all senses of that word) for a mother and a touching relationship with his ne'er-do-well cousin Maree. When my daughter and I first "met" him in The Merlin Conspiracy, he was looking for someone to train him to control his wizardly gifts. In Deep Secret, Nick seems not to be consciously aware that he needs training.

We enjoyed learning more about Nick and Maree and the Magid Rupert Venables and many magical creatures, including some fascinating centaurs and phantasmagorical chicks, but might not have found ourselves so riveted if we were not already familiar with many other stories in the Diana Wynne Jones opus.
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Harmonic FeedbackTara Kelly Sophisticated readersChildren 12 and upfiction2010
 I really liked this book: it's told from the perspective of a girl diagnosed with Asperger's and ADHD.

Her biggest challenge in the book was realizing that the labels "normal" and "abnormal" are nothing more than labels, and that nobody is the same, so "normal" is subjective.


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Among SchoolchildrenTracy KidderSophisticated readersChildren 12 and upNon-fiction1990
 My first comment on this book read: "So far I am really captivated by this book, which is interesting because I didn't really expect to like it so much..."

This feeling lasted for the entire book. The writing style pulled me in so much that the story didn't even matter, although it is really cool as well. Kidder basically shadowed a fifth grade class in a poor, rundown, public school for an entire school year and wrote about the experience.


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Is God a Mathematician?Mario LivioSophisticated readersChildren 12 and upNon-fiction, biography2009
 I never thought I'd get my fill of non-fiction books about mathematicians. And this is not really a bad one. Maybe it was the silly title and the author's transition from that religious question to the more chicken-and-egg question: Do humans invent mathematics or do they discover mathematical principles?
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Giver, The Lois LowryChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upScience fiction1994
 A boy bred with gifts for a special purpose and how he discharges his responsibilities. Easy to read, but not appropriate for young readers. Newbery Medal winner. See: A meditation on The Giver.
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Gathering BlueLois LowryChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upScience fiction, girl heroine2000
 Gathering Blue is a companion novel to The Giver, kind of like next-door-Dystopias. But this one is about a girl born with gifts, not engineered to have them.
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Mango-Shaped Space, AWendy MassChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upfiction 
 I loved this book. It is about this girl named Mia who has this syndrome called synesthesia. Some different parts than usual are connected in her brain, so that letters and sounds have colors (this is real!) Her cat's name is Mango. In the book she learns that she is the "weird" one in her school and has to deal with it, because at first she thinks she's crazy.
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1776David McCulloughChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upnon-fiction 
 Sometimes, I'll be reading a novel and get to some worrisome plot twist. The characters I've come to love are in jeopardy, and -- the tension is too great for me. I put the book down and call someone I trust who can reassure me that I should keep on reading anyway. Sometimes, they don't reassure me. "Yeah, that book is simply not worth the time." So then I go read something else.

When I chose to read 1776, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to have to worry about the plot. After all, here we all are seven years after 9-11. Or, most of us at least...

Obviously, I remembered that there had been an American Revolution, which was a war. And that people fought and died to create our nation. But the number 1776 had always had very positive associations for me. Declaration of Independence. "Give me liberty or give me death." Etc. etc.

I tried to persuade my very sensitive 13 year old to read 1776 with me. "I think it might be pretty depressing," she said. She was right. Depressing. Harrowing in fact. But well worth reading.

And come to think of it, on this the seventh anniversary of 9-11, I'm not actually certain that the American Story has a happy ending. That we are actively dealing with the very Real Problems we Americans face. Reality is harrowing. Still. And needs to be faced even when there is a woman who shoots moose from airplanes and arbitrarily fires those who cross her running for election as vice president of the United States.
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Beautiful Mind, A: The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash Sylvia NasarFor grown-ups Children 12 and upNon-fiction, biography1998
 Biography of the brilliant mathematician, John Nash.
"How could you, a mathematician, believe that extraterrestrials were sending you messages?" the visitor from Harvard asked the West Virginian with the movie-star looks and Olympian manner.

"Because the ideas I had about supernatural beings came to me the same way my mathematical ideas did," came the answer. "So I took them seriously."

In this workmanlike biography of the brilliant mathematician John Nash, Sylvia Nasar, a journalist, describes Nash's pioneering early mathematical discoveries, his decent into madness, and his eventual recovery and receipt of a Nobel Prize in Economics.
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Chosen, TheChaim PotokSophisticated readersChildren 12 and upFiction1967
 WAS:Orthodox Jewish boy trying to decide what to be when he grows up.

Flippant. Flippant. And, entirely unfair to this book.

It is the middle of World War II and most citizens of the US are still unaware of what is happening to the Jews of Europe. Reuven Malther, an Orthodox Jew, is severely injured in a baseball game by a ball pitched by Danny Saunders, a Hasidic (much more fundamentalist) Jew. They become friends and as a result they, and we, learn a great deal about the different styles of parenting, religious observation, and reactions to the formation of the state of Israel, among believers in different branches of Judaism.

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HogfatherTerry PratchettChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upfiction 
 Really cool book about a conspiracy to kill the Hogfather, who is like Santa Claus in Terry Pratchett's Discworld.

Death's granddaughter Susan, along with a toothfairy and the oh-god of hangovers have to save the world.


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Equal Rites (Discworld #3)Terry PratchettChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upfiction 
 As usual with Pratchett, this book is witty, often downright, funny, but it also has to do with real life problems.

The plot follows a girl who wants (and is destined) to be a wizard, but is not allowed to be because she is a girl. Wizarding is OBVIOUSLY only for boys.

But as little kids do, she doesn't really understand the situation and so proves that she CAN be whatever she wants.

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Color of Magic, The (Discworld #1)Terry PratchettChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upfiction2000
 This was Pratchett's first Discworld book and it's one I have tried to read several times before without successfully finishing it. This past spring, it was just about all-Pratchett-all-the-time for my 14 yr. old and me. After reading and just really loving Nation, I decided to try this one one more time.

My least favorite aspects of Discworld are the elephant-riding-the-turtle parts (its creation myth). And in the first books of this series, that seems to be given a great deal of attention.

Which is why The Color of Magic is still not my favorite of Pratchett's many novels. On the other hand, this is the book in which the walking/attack-dog suitcase debuts, as does Pratchett's very special Death. Funny, scary, absolutely real if mythological, these are arche-typ-ical Pratchett creations.
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Going PostalTerry PratchettChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upfiction2004
 This book is super satirical, funny, and enjoyable. The main character is an ex-thief who ends up working in the government as the Postmaster.

I just love how Pratchett mercilessly mocks how stupid and horrible people can be, and still makes this into a great book, and is able to slip in some big moral problems.

Very enjoyable if you love highly satirical, sarcastic, and just plain WEIRD.

-- Fizzy


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Fountainhead, TheAyn RandChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upFiction1946
 At one point, I actually believed that Ayn Rand had overreacted and that most people respect and understand that they need intelligent, capable people around them.

Read The Fountainhead; Atlas Shrugged is identical except that it's much longer.


Atlas Shrugged Ayn RandChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upFiction1957
 Not well written, which is not exactly beside the point, given the topic.
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King Must Die,TheMary RenaultChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upFiction1958
 De-mythologization (probably not a word, huh) of the story of Theseus and the Minotaur.

In this version, Theseus expresses his wonder at the radically different ways of life in the patriarchal Greek world in which he grew up and the matriarchal Minoan lands he comes to rule.



Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5) J K (Joanne Kathleen) RowlingChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upfiction2003
 I think this is my favorite of the Harry Potter series so far, but also my least favorite in some ways: Harry, Ron, and Hermione have definitely grown up a lot between books four and five, but they do it in a somewhat annoying fashion.
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My Brain Is Open: The Mathematical Journeys of Paul ErdosBruce SchechterSophisticated readersChildren 12 and upNon-fiction, biography2000
 Biography of the brilliant mathematician, Paul Erdos. Inspiring because this extremely odd guy, who spoke in code and could not perform the normal functions most other human beings usually have to do (such as pay bills and cash checks), found ways to mentor promising young mathematicians and revolutionize mathematical thinking.
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Below the RootZilpha Keatly SnyderSophisticated readersChildren 12 and upDystopian/religious1975
 Issues sometimes arise for gifted readers who become infatuated with books written by authors who write for both adults and children and/or with books that are in series that are unevenly targeted. Below the Root, which is a book my 9 yr. old adored, is a prime example.

Because she reacts very poorly to unhappy endings, we had decided to recommend against her reading certain novels. So, for example, after significant discussion, we decided that Lois Lowry's The Giver was too intense for her, for now at least.

But she had loved Zilpha Keatley Snyder's The Egypt Game, and the illustration (by Alton Raible) on the back cover of Below the Root made us yearn to read the book, even though our resident teenager warned against it.

So we decided to read Below the Root together.


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Galileo's DaughterDava SobelChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upNon-fiction1999
 The story of Galileo's daughter, Sister Maria Celeste, is mostly peripheral to the story of Galileo himself, in this non-fictional biography. Along with interesting details about what life was like for the illegitimate daughter of a famous scientist in the late 16th century, the book also concentrates on the Catholic Church's determined and successful attempt to get Galileo to renounce his conclusion that the earth revolves around the sun and not vice versa.
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Agony and the Ecstasy, The: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo Irving StoneSophisticated readersChildren 12 and upFiction, biography1961
 Reading this novelized biography of Michelangelo just now, after so recently reading the non-fictionalized Dancing To the Precipice was probably a mistake.

I did read The Agony and the Ecstasy to the end and found it mostly interesting, but -- so many unexplained wars, duplicate names, minor characters, changes of venue. Seems to me if you are going to fictionalize, you might want to streamline. If there are three characters named Ludovico, maybe rename one to be Vico?

I did learn a lot of facts, or at least I think they were facts, about Michelangelo's life and the history of the Papacy and the Italian city states. What I did not learn, and missed, was a bit more of an explanation about why this talented, obsessed artist allowed himself to be so taken advantage of? And why did the patrons who claimed to admire him so much abuse his gifts rather than help nurture them? I understand that they might need to use their enormous wealth to pay their armies, but -- Why the law suits? Why did so many popes ask the impossible when they clearly wanted Michelangelo to do great work for them?
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Amulet of Samarkand, The (Book One of the Bartimaeus Trilogy)Jonathan StroudChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upfiction2003
 CAUTION:

This wonderful trilogy features characters with whom the reader will fall in love, and significant violence that has predictable consequences. Please, before recommending this first volume to a sensitive young reader, either read the whole trilogy or read our reviews of book two and, especially, book 3.

Sardonic musings of a demon summoned by an academically under-challenged 12 year old apprentice wizard.
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Golem's Eye, The (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 2) Jonathan StroudChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upfiction2004
 Sardonic musings of a demon summoned by a very young, but now, successful, wizard.

Bartimaeus Book Two: The Golem's Eye is a very good book, but before you read it you should read Bartimaeus, Book One: The Amulet of Samarkand, because things in Book Two will make much more sense that way.

This book switches perspective between three very different characters:
  • Kitty the feisty commoner,
  • Bartimaeus the sardonic djinni, and
  • Nathaniel (John Mandrake) the annoying magician.
My favorite character is Bartimaeus, because he gives you footnotes to explain stuff better, tell us his very personal thoughts, and talks very funnily.

-- Fizzy, age 11

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Ptolemy's Gate (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 3) Jonathan StroudChildren 12 and upChildren 12 and upfiction2005
 Sardonic musings of a demon summoned by a very young, but now, successful, wizard.

Book review: Part 1

Spoiler alert

I hate spoilers. However, I wish I had known more about the third volume in this trilogy before my daughter and I started reading the first one. (This would not have been possible when we started the first volume, because the third volume had not yet been released.)

That being said, I highly recommend all the books in the trilogy and I am glad that my daughter and I read them together.

This review is being presented in multiple parts; each part may provide additional information that, taken together, might give away some of the plot twists of Volume 3.

On the other hand, those helping highly sensitive readers select books might want to read through all the parts of this review before recommending books in this trilogy to them ...

Book review: Part 2

My 11 year old really loved these books. But they are a bit of a departure for her -- there's real murder and mayhem in them, which, until recently, she would not have tolerated.

As in previous volumes in the Trilogy, this book switches perspective between three very different characters:

  • Feisty Kitty is one of the commoners who are mistreated by the ruling elites and the demons they employ and are devastated by the economy and grief that result from the incessant wars the elites wage on foreign shores. She realizes that she must do something. But how much can one person do and can she live with the devastating consequences of her actions on her friends and colleagues?
  • Bartimaeus the sardonic djinni, who stands back and makes sarcastic comments about the other characters and the plot, even when he's right in the middle of it all, and
  • Nathaniel (John Mandrake) the gifted but annoying magician who has been co-opted by an Evil government because of his great intellectual abilities. Most of the time, the djinni has to obey the boy's commands, and a lot of the humor/sarcasm comes in when the djinni explains to the reader how morally compromised the boy is becoming. (And, to his credit, the djinni doesn't hesitate to tell the boy either, not that the boy listens most of the time.)
There is a complex relationship between these books and slavery too. The djinni is a slave, and even though he respects the good qualities of his boy master, he also hates having to obey his commands. Most of the time, the djinni makes this clear. But he's sometimes more supportive of his master than I think an average slave might actually be.

In Ptolemy's Gate, Bartimaeus also develops a touching relationship with Kitty and an awareness of kinship with the commoners whom most djinn scorn if they consider them at all. So much for cooperation between oppressed masses.

 
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Journey To the Centre of the EarthJules VerneChildren 8 and upChildren 12 and upfiction1864
 A perfect novel for science geeks of all ages.

Brilliant geologist and his apprentice/nephew discover, de-crypt, and then, with their imperturbable guide Hans, follow the directions in a Renaissance manuscript that describes how they can travel to the center of the Earth.

My 12 year old warns that the "old-fashioned" language might be off-putting to some, but that the story is so involving that it pulls you along. For young readers, you might want to start by reading the story aloud, or listening to the audio book.

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Book Thief, TheMarkus ZusakSophisticated readersChildren 12 and upFiction2007
 Good book. About a girl during the Holocaust, but on the side we don't usually hear: She is German, but suffering as well. In the very beginning of the book Liesel's brother dies, and she is shipped off to live with "scary" foster parents. And by the middle her family is trying to keep a Jew hidden, and still "Heil Hitler" everyone they see.
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