Monday, April 18, 2016

Baba Yaga's Assistant by Marika McCoola

Baba Yaga's Assistant 
by Marika McCoola
illustrated by Emily Carroll
132 pages
Candlewick Press
August 2015
Book Jacket Summary
Must have skills in hauling, obeying orders, cooking, and cleaning. Magical talent a bonus. Must be good with heights. Enter Baba Yaga's house to apply.

Most children think twice before braving a haunted wood filled with terrifying beasties to match wits with a witch, but not Masha. Her beloved grandma taught her many things: that stories are useful, that magic is fickle, and that nothing is too difficult or too dirty to clean. The fearsome witch of folklore needs an assistant, and Masha needs an adventure. She may be clever enough to enter Baba Yaga's house on chicken legs, but within its walls, deceit is the rule. To earn her place, Masha must pass a series of tests, outfox a territorial bear, and make dinner for her host. No easy task, with children on the menu!  

My Thoughts
Baba Yaga is such an interesting fairy tale character. She lives in a house with chicken legs, eats naughty children, and has many strange pets. I have read a few stories that featured her and I like the challenges she give her characters. This graphic novel puts a twist on the story because Masha already knows the stories and is more prepared when meeting Baba Yaga. In fact, she searches Baba Yaga out to become her assistant because she feels unwelcome at home. She is placed through some of the same tests her gandmother went through many years ago but with a twist.

The element of family is a strong theme through the story with the strong bond between Masha and her grandmother but a broke one between Masha and her father. It is her father's remarriage and seemingly disregard for her that pushes her out of the house and looking for Baba Yaga. It is dealt with in a good manner and I did not feel like it was very rushed. I wish there was a little more time spent with Masha and her father but is does have a satisfying conclusion.

This graphic novel is illustrated is blues and purples. I love the cover with Baba Yaga grinning manically. I enjoyed this one and I wonder why I left it on my shelf for so long! This is a great addition to the graphic novel shelf either in your home or gracing the library shelves. 

Book Pairings
Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch 
Foiled by Jane Yolen


Friday, April 15, 2016

Cogling by Jordan Elizabeth

by Jordan Elizabeth
285 pages
Curiosity Quills Press  
January 2016

Book Jacket Summary
When fifteen-year-old Edna Mather tears an expensive and unfamiliar pocket watch off her little brother's neck, he crumbles into a pile of cogs right before her eyes. Horrified, Edna flees for help, but encounters Ike, a thief who attempts to steal the watch before he realizes what it is: a device to power Coglings—clockwork changelings left in place of stolen children who have been forced to work in factories.

Desperate to rescue her brother, Edna sets off across the kingdom to the hags' swamp, with Ike in tow. There, they learn Coglings are also replacing nobility so the hags can stage a rebellion and rule over humanity. Edna and Ike must stop the revolt, but the populace believes hags are helpful godmothers and healers. No one wants to believe a lowly servant and a thief, especially when Ike has secrets that label them both as traitors.

Together, Edna and Ike must make the kingdom trust them or stop the hags themselves, even if Ike is forced to embrace his dark heritage and Edna must surrender her family.
My Thoughts
I have always loved a good Steampunk novel and Cogling is a good edition to the genre. Edna is a hard working maid that needs her income to help her family survive. When her brother is changed out for a Cogling she risks everything to go and find him. Ike is a thief who has a vendetta against the hags and is willing to help Edna get her brother back. I really like these two characters and their chemistry. Edna is not sure of Ike at first but trusts that he wants to prove that the hags are swapping out children. It is a simple story that follows all the basic plot points of a fantasy novel but I thought it was a fun read. The reader can read between the lines and figure out Ike's secrets early on but it is interesting to feel Edna's reaction to them. There is also the spoiled girl that Edna works for who is dragged into the story. I do like that she retains her snobbish ways throughout the story but also grows as a character. 
This is a by the numbers fantasy with lots of Steampunk elements thrown in for good measure. I did enjoy the story and tweens should get a kick out of it. Buy the Kindle version when it goes on sale.

Book Pairings
Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1) by Cassandra Clare  
Airborn (Matt Cruse, #1) by Kenneth Oppel
Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1) by Gail Carriger

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