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Archive for the ‘Kids Books’ Category

Do you love Minnesota? Especially the mighty Mississippi? Have you ever heard of Blue Wing Minnesota? Probably not since it is a fictional setting in a great book called Horns and Wrinkles written by Joe Helgerson.

Helgerson grew up in southern Minnesota and uses places and ideas from his childhood to create a fantastical story with trolls and fairies and spells. Beautiful illustrations by Nicoletta Ceccoli bring the lying cricket and boy that grows a horn to life.

Claire is busy. Not only is she trying to find a stone feather to turn her Grandpa back from stone and help her bully cousin get rid of his horn by doing a genuine act of kindness (which she doesn’t think he is capable of) but now she is helping 3 river trolls. The trolls are cursed. “If a river troll doesn’t bring Bodacious Deepthink a shooting star before his firstborn is hatched, he gets turned into a human.” Claire isn’t even sure if she thinks that is much of a curse in the first place.

While at the end of the book it does suggest a drive down highway 61 to a fictional city you will not find, I wouldn’t let that stop you from taking a real drive down highway 61 to cities like Red Wing, Wabasha and Winona. Skip your weekend trip to Duluth and turn south this time. Not only are there beautiful bluffs for hiking, piers into Lake Pepin (the widest part of the Mississippi) and an eagle center but after reading the book you can also keep an eye out for blue wing fairies and river trolls and maybe a store with a door that reads:

Coins, Gems, Runestones,
Riddles & Other Imponderables
Wing Repair on Occasion
.

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Studying ancient Egypt or just planning on going to the Science Museum of Minnesota’s King Tut exhibit? Casting the Gods Adrift is a great historical fiction book about the brief period in ancient Egypt when King Tut’s father broke with the polytheistic religious beliefs long held by the Egyptian people and declared that only Aten, the sun god, would be worshipped. This monotheistic system caused much turmoil and was replaced again by the old religion when King Tut came to power. Intended for younger readers, this novel is a quick but exciting read.

The author does an excellent job describing the ancient Egyptian landscape, animals, beliefs and customs. Historical fiction is special because while the story can be completely made up and the characters can seem modern and relatable to the reader, the small elements of scene description, common practices or even musical instruments teach aspects of history that might otherwise be overlooked.

A famous sculpture of the bust of Queen Nefertiti bears the artist’s name who turns into the main character of this story. Using this one bit of historical information, the author creates a life and story full of both historical facts and imaginative drama.

The author, Geradline McCaughrean describes her many novels as “something for everyone, you see, my dear young, not-so-young, eccentric, middle-of-the-road, poetical, sad, cheerful, timid or reckless reader. All they have in common is that they all contain words. If you are allergic to words, you’d best not open the covers.”

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