OK, guys, I must admit that I have been more than a little surprised at how much I'm enjoying Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. There is a lot going on--Hagrid's disappearance and return, the Sytherin and Gryffindor Quidditch match, attack by a giant snake, Dolores Umbridge snooping into everything--that makes this book a lot more exciting than the first four. And there's a sense of danger lurking throughout the book that keeps me on the edge of my seat and wondering what will happen next. Plus there a lot of questions like, "What's up with Harry's scar?" and "Why is Dumbledore being so silent to Harry?" and "What is You-Know-Who looking for?" that keeps me reading to find answers. Yep, this book has been so good that I've been ripping through the pages. Last week I had gotten to page 227 and today I'm at p. 547, which means I've read 320 pages since last week! I would normally say that you may all gasp in amazement now at my MANLY feat of determination and persistence but reading this book has been so much fun that it hasn't been a chore. Besides, I still have 233 pages left to go. Maybe i could finish by next weekend!
But you don't want to hear only about me and that one book. I've got three other things I meant to tell you about before I got caught up in Hogwart's world. The first is Guardians of the Gryphon's Claw by Todd Calgi Gallicano. It's a fantasy set in modern day California that ends up going all over the known world and into the mythical world--which, apparently, is next to us all the time but we don't see it! Young Sam London is your typical kid. He goes to school every day, lives at home with his mom and doesn't think there's anything special about him. But he has an extensive collection of books about mythical animals, which will soon serve him well because he's about to encounter that world. He keeps having dreams about a powerful gryphon and, through a plan involving a tour group of seniors and their bus, gets to meet the gryphon. Something big and dangerous is happening in the mythical world but neither one knows what it is. When Sam goes back to the bus and it explodes, his adventures begin! Along the way you'll meet a troll who likes breakfast at IHOP, the US Dept. of Mythical Wildlife and the remarkable Guardians. This is a good solid fantasy adventure and if you like fantasy (or even if you don't) this would be a good choice. It won't make you forget Harry Potter or Percy Jackson or Lord of the Rings but it is a good story with humor, action and (what is really great) mythical beasts from mythologies all over the world. Plus, the author lives just north of Charlotte!
The second book is The Winged Girl of Knossos by Erick Berry. I first heard about this book about 10 years ago from a fellow blogger, Betsy Bird, who said Percy Jackson fans should know about it. That's a good idea in some ways because this book gives a good glimpse into that ancient world and into the Daedalus story. It turns out that Daedalus had a daughter named Inas and she likes to do adventurous things like diving for sponges or practicing the dangerous sport of bull leaping. She also likes to try out her father's latest inventions, pair of wings that could make people soar like birds. She has to do it in secret, however, because the superstitious people of her island of Crete would not understand and create trouble for her and Daedalus. She will need all her adventurous skills and her wings for a daring rescue at the end of the book! I really enjoyed this book. Historical fiction, like fantasy, is a great way to walk around in another world for a while. There's good adventure here but the book's pace is slower than Percy Jackson. If you're expecting slam-bang, thrill-a-minute action like you'd get from the PJ books, you'd be disappointed but if you like a good solid story with a thrilling ending and a fascinating chance to see the ancient world through the eyes of someone who lived in it, this is for you!
I saved the best for last. Do you remember when I started listening to The Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry? Well, I finished it yesterday and, man, was it ever FUN!!! I don't know how Dave Barry does it but he manages to make you both grip your seat in suspense and laugh out loud--often at the same time!
There is danger and suspense aplenty but there is also loads of the goofball humor that guys love so much and Dave Barry understands so well. I won't try to summarize the story here (too many turns in the plot) but let me tell you it involves potential terrorists, kidnappings and frozen pizza, missiles flying from the White House lawn, box lunches, Homer Simpson burps, purple Crocs---and the President of the United States! Oh, wow, guys---I could talk about this audiobook all day but, to keep from writing 20 more pages, let just tell you that you need to listen to this! Actor Todd Haberkorn does a perfect job getting all the voices right and wringing the maximum suspense and fall-on-the-floor humor out of every situation. Are you going on spring break soon, guys? Take this with you! Or are you staying home? Listen to it in the car as you're driven around. Even if you listen to it going back and forth to school, I can guarantee that you (and the adults driving you) will have the best car trip ever!