A Hero for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi

I was intrigued by The Search for WondLa by its unique combination of illustrations and story.  I have a hard time resisting well packaged books that offer creative art and imaginative story lines.

So of course when a sequel came out and I had to keep reading.

… Before the end of The Search for WondLa, Eva Nine had never seen another human, but after a human boy named Hailey rescues her along with her companions, she couldn’t be happier. Eva thinks she has everything she’s ever dreamed of, especially when Hailey brings her and her friends to the colony of New Attica, where humans of all shapes and sizes live in apparent peace and harmony.

But all is not idyllic in New Attica, and Eva Nine soon realizes that something sinister is going on—and if she doesn’t stop it, it could mean the end of everything and everyone on planet Orbona …

This second book in the series, A Hero for WondLa, brings all that was well done about the first and adds in more details and more depth to the characters. DiTerlizzi continues his wonderful world building and adds in a real sense of danger and menace to this book in the form of the humans Eva Nine finally meets.

Like all good world builders, DiTerlizzi has created a world filled with interesting creatures and cultures that seem to have ancient and complex histories behind them. And just when you begin to think the story might be simple he adds in a twist or a layer of complexity. And yet there is a simplicity and beauty to the story that makes it a real joy to read.

For those who read the first book this is an obvious must read. If you haven’t yet read WondLa I highly recommend it before starting the second book.

The only problem? Now the wait for the third book begins …

My Favorite Reads of 2011

I wasn’t able to post thoughts on the books I read in 2011 by the end of the year so I am doing it this week.  I noted the general statistics yesterday and today want to tackle my favorite reads.  Like last year, I am going to break in out into categories.

Young Adult Fiction

A large chunk of my reading this year was YA (30 of 79 books were roughly in this category) so I had a lot of books to chose from in 2011. So here are ten of my favorites in no particular order:

  1. Cover of "The Wednesday Wars"

    Cover of The Wednesday Wars

    I am going to cheat a little and put two books by Gary D. Schmidt on the list, Okay or Now and The Wednesday Wars.  “Great stories, great characters, imaginative settings and clear writing make these two books great reads. I highly recommend them.”

  2. I am also going to put N.D. Wilson here because I can’t choose just one of his wonderful books I read this year: The Dragon’s Tooth (start of the new Ashtown Burials series) and the entire 100 Cupboards series)  “… if you like large, complex and imaginative fantasy series this one is a must read.”
  3. Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby “Kirby weaves a great tale. There is historical detail, psychological insight, mystery, intrigue and more.”
  4. Skellig by David Almond “It is a simple and yet powerful story of friendship, family, compassion and faith.”
  5. The Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi “The world DiTerlizzi has created is captivating and mysterious enough that you want to keep reading; not just to see the next illustration but to dig a little deeper into the mystery.”

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The Wyrm King (Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles) by Holly Block and Tony DiTerlizzi

This has turned into YA fiction week here at CM.  So we might as well keep things going with another illustrated chapter book.  The Wyrm King is the final book in the Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles which appropriately enough followed The Spiderwick Chronicles.

Here is a video trailer to pique your interest:

For those of you more literal and less visual here is the blurb:

In the final installment of Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles, Nick and Laurie had thought they solved their giant problems when they drove all the giants into the sea. But now, the Grace kids have come back to tell them they may have more trouble coming their way!

It turns out the giants control the population of Hydra, a dragon like creature that is creating sinkholes all over Florida. But with the mermaids refusing to return the giants to the shore, the nixie’s still missing and the threat of a destroyed Florida drawing closer, the kids have to take matters in their own hands.

Will Nick and Laurie be able to stop the destruction they unwittingly caused? Can a new giant hunter help save the day? Can Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide help them out of this or are they on their own?

My quick take: for the intended audience (ages 9-12) this final installment is an action packed conclusion to a fun series.  For me, however, the series had run its course and I no longer looked forward to each new book with such anticipation.  So while The Wyrm King was well done it lacked some of the magic of the earlier series.

A bit more below.

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