Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor Rick Riordan’s The Hammer of Thor is the second book in his Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series. After saving the world, sixteen year old Magnus Chase and his friends are thrown headlong into another adventure orchestrated by the god of mischief,…

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This storyline of the series, which focuses on the now mortal god Apollo, is great in theory, but the first book is lackluster and inappropriate for younger readers. The Trials of Apollo Book 1: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan. Disney-Hyperion, 2016, 376 pages Reading Level: Middle Grades, 10-12 Recommended for: ages 12-15 Apollo’s pride…

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One of the high school classes I teach is devoted to helping students become discerning readers. Modern young adult fiction can be a minefield of conflicting worldviews, confusing messages, and the subtle (or not so subtle) push for readers to blindly accept the stories they read with little or no hesitation. We spend a good…

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As a teacher, I’ve had various conversations with parents about how to get their children engaged in reading.  The flip side of that conversation comes when a student is interested in reading, but won’t venture outside a specific genre. Now, at first, this might not seem like a concern. If the student is reading, isn’t…

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Five years ago I picked up a middle grade fantasy book called The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan and was hooked by the end of the first page. For those unfamiliar with Riordan’s work,his first series, “Percy Jackson and the Olympians,” follows a middle school student, Percy, who discovers he’s a Greek demigod, and that…

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Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George. Bloomsbury USA Childrens, 2009. 352 pages Reading Level: Young Adult, ages 12-15 Recommended for: Ages 16-up Bottom Line: A problematic retelling of a Nordic fairy tale “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” which explores the story of a nameless young woman and an ice bear…

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Dragons at Crumbling Castle: And Other Tales by Terry Pratchett, illustrated by Mark Beech. Clarion, 2015. 352 pages Reading Level: Upper Elementary and Middle Grades, Ages 9-12 Recommended For: Ages 10-13 Bottom Line: A collection of fantasy short stories that invites readers to look at the world from different perspectives. Pratchett’s writing invites readers to…

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