Annette Laing's The Snipesville Chronicles
Wolf Hollow
Fiction , Historical , Middle Grade / March 20, 2018

In western Pennsylvania during WWII, there was an area in between farmlands called Wolf Hollow. The name, coined several generations back, originated from the story of a great wolf purge in which Annabelle McBride’s grandfather participated and related to her years later. There were many old secrets in the woods, and for as long as she could remember, a man named Toby had walked the grounds continually. He lived in an old shack behind an abandoned, burned house. Toby was a quiet and mysterious WWI veteran, and Annabelle’s family took pity on him, leaving him provisions at times in an old crate, and even allowing him to use their camera. Everything changed for Annabelle the year she was turning twelve. Betty Glengarry, a mean-spirited bully, came to stay with her grandparents not far from the McBride farm, and immediately chose Annabelle as her target on the walk to and from school. As events escalated, Toby eventually came under Betty’s radar and she shifted her focus to him, knowing Annabelle’s fondness for the gentle wanderer. This is the story of the residual effects of war, the harmfulness of bullying, and several different types of prejudices. Annabelle makes an admirable character, as…

Where the Broken Heart Still Beats
Fiction , Historical , Middle Grade / March 19, 2018

Nine-year-old Cynthia Ann Parker’s family had been settled in Texas for two years when their home was raided by Comanche Indians. She and her siblings were carried away, separated and sent to live among the tribe. Adopted by a stern and mostly unkindly couple, she worked hard and eventually became a credit to her new family. She forgot not only the English language, but also her previous life and the violent murder of her loved ones and abuse of her early days in the camp. She married well and produced three children. Twenty-five years after her abduction, the Indian camp was in turn raided, and the Parker family was ready to welcome her home with open arms, along with her one-year-old daughter. But Naduah, as she was now known, did not want live with the strange white people. She had forgotten everything about her early life and felt she had been ripped from her true family. Her strange behavior and stubbornness to let go of her Indian ways caused most of her family to scorn her. Shuffled through three different households, escape was never far from her mind. Told in the viewpoint of Cynthia Ann and her young cousin Lucy…

Audacity Jones to the Rescue
Fiction , Historical , Middle Grade / March 18, 2018

Audacity Jones is an 11-year-old orphan living at Miss Maisie’s School for Wayward Girls in Swayzee, Indiana. She’s not really wayward, but then none of the girls are. It’s a peculiar place, but to Audie, it is home. That is, until one day a certain Commodore Crutchfield, one of the establishment’s benefactors, needs a girl for a mission. Audie, looking for adventure, volunteers with alacrity and is headed out in one of the newfangled automobiles—all the way to Washington D.C. and the White House. President Taft is hosting a New Year’s Day event, in which the “mission” is centered. Audie, however, has misgivings about the secretive plan and isn’t sure if she should trust the kindly, but distracted Commodore, his seemingly shady driver, or any of the other characters that figure into the situation. When the time comes for Audie’s involvement in the scheme, things go awry, and she must find a way to stop a plot she’s uncovered. First in a new series, this children’s chapter book features a spunky, though very polite young sleuth whose biggest strength is knowledge—a theme made clear to readers. Friendship is also a highlighted subject that will resonate with young readers. An entirely…

One Way or Another
Fiction , Historical , Middle Grade , Timeslip / March 18, 2018

The conclusion to Annette Laing’s time-travel young adult series (Don’t Know Where, Don’t Know When, A Different Day, a Different Destiny, Look Ahead, Look Back) One Way or Another explores racial tensions and class bias in both present day and the early 20th century. Hannah, Alex, and Brandon are each sent on a separate mission that will connect all of their previous adventures and bring closure to their tumultuous wanderings. Hannah, pining for her WWII era friends, Verity and Eric, and her mother-figure, Mrs. Devenish, discovers her ability to initiate time travel, and happily finds herself back in Balesworth, England, but in a different decade from her last visit. After things go awry, she finally settles in 1905, taking a housemaid position with the young Mrs. Devenish, who is, at the time, an unmarried suffragist with family troubles. It’s up to Hannah to figure out the purpose and resolution of her task. Meanwhile, Brandon awakens in 1906 Snipesville–a year he refers to as We Don’t Talk About That–and experiences first hand just how badly the African American community was treated under Jim Crow. Alex, who had begun in England with Hannah, joins Brandon in Georgia, yet because of societal rules,…

Courage & Defiance
Middle Grade , Non-Fiction / March 18, 2018

“Only a drop in the ocean, that’s what they say. Well now, the ocean consists of drops.” – Mogens Fog An emotionally affecting story based on a collection of survivors’ memoirs, this WWII account focuses on the resistance efforts in Denmark during the five years of German occupation. Readers are immediately drawn in with riveting action from the Danish spies and saboteurs—ordinary men and women who, instead of meekly surrendering their freedom and watching their fellow countrymen in danger, chose to covertly help the official resistance organizations by destroying German machinery and weaponry, disrupting their supply lines and secretly transporting the Jewish population to nearby neutral Sweden. At a great risk to their own lives—and in fact many of the Danes featured were eventually sent to concentration camps—these men and women were brave, admirable heroes of WWII and humbly represent the spirit of the Danish people in a time of great deprivation and strife. Courage & Defiance easily garners interest in its subject, giving supporting information on the causes of the war succinctly, and age appropriate descriptions of Hitler’s rise without overwhelming details. Headings include a date, relevant quote or newspaper headline, and there are captioned photos throughout. A vocabulary…

Twelve Minutes to Midnight
Fiction , Historical , Middle Grade / March 18, 2018

London, England 1899. Penelope Tredwell is the orphaned thirteen-year-old owner of the magazine The Penny Dreadful, in which she writes under the wildly popular pen name Montgomery Flinch. This story takes readers to Bedlam, London’s institution for the mentally ill, where the patients have suddenly become frenzied at 11:48 PM every night, furiously writing indecipherable messages in a trance-like state. Penelope and Monty, the actor she employs to publicly portray Montgomery Flinch, are summoned by the Physician Superintendent of the Bethlem Hospital with the hope that England’s most famous horror and mystery writer has any clues as to the causes of the strange occurrences. Penelope’s path takes her through the streets of London to the Museum of Natural History, and a connection with its widowed benefactress, Lady Cambridge, drawls her into a web of danger that borders on the unbelievable. The fate of the future of the entire world depends on Penelope’s wits and ability to solve the outlandish mystery. It is fitting that I finished up this story on New Year’s Eve, as the story itself culminates on December 31, 1899–the dawning of a new century. While the scientific and supernatural details of the story may have some level…

The Black Crow Conspiracy
Fiction , Historical , Middle Grade / March 18, 2018

An action-packed and engaging read from start to finish, this is the third of an early Edwardian era trilogy featuring a young girl who happens to be a celebrated author of horror for the magazine Penny Dreadful. Fifteen-year-old Penelope Tredwell, however, hides behind the pen name of Montgomery Flinch and masquerades as his niece, employing a clever actor to play the part in public. In this latest adventure, Penelope has been suffering from writer’s block for many months and comes up with the idea of a contest in which her readers send in their own story plots. Among the many entries, she discovers one intriguing tale that is signed only with the drawing of a black crow. Once her version of The Thief That Wasn’t There is printed, she finds herself and her friends in trouble with a detective from New Scotland Yard for a crime that had been committed exactly as described by the illustrious Montgomery Flinch—the theft of the crown jewels just weeks before the new king’s coronation. With a scientific twist and a plot involving the royal family, the story may seem a bit far-fetched, but moves along quickly with humor and wit. The characters each have…

The Lacemaker and the Princess
Fiction , Historical , Middle Grade / March 18, 2018

Isabelle, a lacemaker’s daughter, lives a poor and somewhat miserable life until, delivering lace to a noble at the palace, she is noticed by the queen, Marie Antoinette. It just so happened that Madame Royale, Therese, was in need of a playmate that day — and this Isabelle became, permanently. Isabelle’s brother, George, is a groom in the stable of the Marquis de Lafayette, who was noted for his devotion to the cause of liberty, having fought in the American Revolution. Though Lafayette wishes to protect the king from harm, he is also the head of the newly formed National Assembly, which is giving voice to the common people. George is soon leaning toward the new government and joins the National Guard, but not before warning his sister of the dangers of befriending the royal family. Throughout this story, the author cleverly brings into play a view of both sides of the revolution. Isabelle is torn between her family and the princess, and it takes much for her to see the situation on both sides. For example, another of Therese’s companions has a sickly mother, who is very poor and dies in a cold, dirty shack. Isabelle is aghast that…