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The Language of Spells : (Fantasy Middle Grade Novel, Magic and Wizard Book for Middle School Kids)
by Garret Weyr and Katie Harnett




Overview -
Grisha is a dragon in a world that's forgotten how to see him. Maggie is a unusual child who thinks she's perfectly ordinary. They're an unlikely duo--but magic, like friendship, is funny. Sometimes it chooses those who might not look so likely. And magic has chosen Grisha and Maggie to solve the darkest mystery in Vienna. Decades ago, when World War II broke out, someone decided that there were too many dragons for all of them to be free. As they investigate, Grisha and Maggie ask the question everyone's forgotten: Where have the missing dragons gone? And is there a way to save them? At once richly magical and tragically historical, The Language of Spells is a novel full of adventure about remembering old stories, forging new ones, and the transformative power of friendship.

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More About The Language of Spells by Garret Weyr; Katie Harnett

 
 
 

Overview

Grisha is a dragon in a world that's forgotten how to see him. Maggie is a unusual child who thinks she's perfectly ordinary. They're an unlikely duo--but magic, like friendship, is funny. Sometimes it chooses those who might not look so likely. And magic has chosen Grisha and Maggie to solve the darkest mystery in Vienna. Decades ago, when World War II broke out, someone decided that there were too many dragons for all of them to be free. As they investigate, Grisha and Maggie ask the question everyone's forgotten: Where have the missing dragons gone? And is there a way to save them? At once richly magical and tragically historical, The Language of Spells is a novel full of adventure about remembering old stories, forging new ones, and the transformative power of friendship.

 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781452159584
  • ISBN-10: 1452159580
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books
  • Publish Date: June 2018
  • Page Count: 256
  • Reading Level: Ages 10-14
  • Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.25 pounds


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BookPage Reviews

Summer fantasies to keep young readers flipping pages

Sweeping fantasies are this year’s biggest trend in children’s and teen literature—think breathtaking action, complex world building, magical abilities and bands of young heroes who must save the day.

Like any great high fantasy should, Jaleigh Johnson’s The Door to the Lost opens with a series of maps depicting the land of Talhaven and the grand city of Regara, where “magic is dying,” only to be found in the abilities of 327 seemingly orphaned children who have been mysteriously jettisoned from their magic-filled homeland known as Vora.

A young girl known as Rook happens to be one of these magical refugees, and she and her friend Drift survive in Regara by offering their magical skills on a sort of black market. Rook’s particular talent is creating doors—she simply draws a rectangle with a piece of chalk and channels thoughts of her destination in order to open a portal. But one client’s door goes horribly wrong, and Rook lets in a giant Fox, whom she discovers is actually a shape-shifting boy from a snow-filled world. Can Rook and Drift get Fox back home again when they’re not even sure how to get there?

Johnson’s spell-casting cast of young heroes will entertain and endear, and their sweet adventure will help young readers grasp some key details of the refugee crisis in a way that never feels ham-fisted.

MAGIC OF FRIENDSHIP
The latest middle grade novel from Printz Honor-winning author Garret Weyr, The Language of Spells, is an extraordinary tale that meshes real historical events with a winning cast of magical creatures.

As this magic-filled journey begins in 1803, we meet a young dragon known as Grisha in the Black Forest. He’s young and carefree and enjoys eating acorns and playing by the stream—until one day, a heartless sorcerer imprisons him in a teapot. Grisha’s teapot is sold to the highest bidder, and for hundreds of years, he silently observes the world as it changes around him. When his enchantment is finally broken, he’s reunited with a group of dragons in Vienna during World War II. But the lives of the once mighty dragons are now controlled by the Department of Extinct Exotics, an organization that refuses to allow them to return to the forest and instead assigns them strict jobs and curfews. On a night off in a hotel bar, Grisha meets a human girl named Maggie, and the two forge a sweet and powerful friendship built on empathy and honesty. Soon, the two join forces to face their fears and investigate what happened to the city’s missing dragons.

Katie Harnett’s black-and-white illustrations kick off each chapter and add to the classic European fairy-tale atmosphere, and Weyr’s allegorical tale never glosses over a heart-rending detail or passes up a chance for a gorgeous turn of phrase, making this an ideal read-aloud that fantasy lovers of all ages can enjoy.

EPIC TRAGEDY
Puccini’s opera Turandot is based on a Persian fairy tale about a princess who challenges her suitors to solve three riddles in order to win her hand. If they fail, they will be executed. As one would expect from an opera written in 1924 set in the “mystical East,” there isn’t much historical accuracy to be found—but the original fairy tale was inspired by a Mongol warrior woman named Khutulun, who declared she would only marry a man who could beat her in a wrestling match. It is within this Mongol Empire that author Megan Bannen sets her retelling of Turandot, The Bird and the Blade (Balzer + Bray, $17.99, 432 pages, ISBN 9780062674159, ages 13 and up).

Slave girl Jinghua is on the run with deposed Mongol Khan Timur and his kindhearted son Khalaf. Timur wants to raise an army to take back his lands. Khalaf wants to marry the princess Turandokht by solving her riddles and, as her husband, restore his father to power. Jinghua, who thinks both plans are idiotic, is hilariously blunt about her chances of surviving either of them, but less open about her growing feelings for Khalaf.

Bannen plays with time in her YA debut, beginning with the trio’s arrival at Turandokht’s palace and then flashing back to their dangerous journey there. The awkward attraction between Jinghua and Khalaf, plus Timur’s caustic sarcasm, makes this novel surprisingly funny. But after Bannen reveals the utter devastation behind one character’s self-deprecating facade, it’s a relentless rush to the finale as Jinghua tries to save Khalaf.

Bannen’s prose grows ever more lyrical, soaring to match her ambition as The Bird and the Blade arrives at an unforgettable climax.

LOST GIRLS
For some reason, there are an awful lot of new YA novels in which women are endangered or oppressed. Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart is one of the most compelling of the bunch.

Serina Tessaro and her sister, Nomi, travel to the capital city of Bellaqua where Serina will compete for a chance to become one of the Heir’s Graces. Banghart doesn’t spell it out all at once, but Graces are essentially glorified concubines who represent the ideal subservient woman. The sisters are shocked when rebellious Nomi is chosen, and soon Serina takes the fall for one of Nomi’s crimes and is sent to Mount Ruin, a prison island.

Nomi’s storyline has the romantic entanglements and sparkling settings common to YA fantasy, but Banghart presents both with queasy suspicion. The beautiful rooms and pretty gowns of the Graces are mere decoration for another type of prison, and it is impossible to fall in love with a man who might see you as a possession or a tool.

Meanwhile, the all-female prisoners of Mount Ruin are forced to fight for rations, and Serina’s lifelong training to become a Grace surprisingly helps her excel in her new environment. As she begins to enjoy the camaraderie and mentorship of other women for the first time in her life, Serina’s feminine ideal quickly transforms from elegant consort to ferocious warrior. After all, in a society that constrains women at every turn, both roles offer a way to survive.

 

This article was originally published in the July 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 

BAM Customer Reviews