#Middlegrade #Fantasy My #Bookreview of The Magpie King by M J Fahy

The Magpie KingThe Magpie King by M.J. Fahy

3 stars

The Magpie King is a middle-grade fantasy tale aimed at readers aged between nine and thirteen years old.

Tatty Moon is a faerie who lives with her family in a willow tree in Little Upham. Her best friend is Will Patch, an elf. Together they have an adventure which involves evil birds, a faerie gone bad, and a queen who sends them on a quest.

The story has a mix of nature spirits and human adults in an old-fashioned style country setting. It included many ideas that were familiar to me, from classic children’s books: a fall down a hole, magic shrinking powder, a lightning bolt and a scar. I wondered if it may have been written with a specific set of readers in mind, maybe as an homage to those favourite stories. A nice idea, and, if so, it might be an idea to allude to this in an introduction. There is always a danger when including favourite elements from other works into your own that comparisons will be made by readers. If this has been done unintentionally, I would suggest the author modify some of the ideas.

This is a long story and has a lot of characters and secondary storylines. As such, I thought it may not suit some younger readers of the age group. In other areas, much of the dialogue is written using a regional dialect and, at times, dated jargon.  I think this was overdone; just a sprinkling would have been enough.

Feasibility even in fantasy is one of the areas of editing that needs consideration, as is awareness of one’s target audience.  One character rides a much loved Chopper bike. As these were popular in the 1970s (almost fifty years ago), I think the detail of the whole incident with the bike is going to be missed by today’s young reader.

Overall a story with some good elements, but perhaps could use with some slimming and a little more thought, particularly with the dialogue style.

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Book description

Tatty Moon must rid Little Upham of magpies, rampaging Gnomes, and the Queen’s ambitious nephew. Not easy when you’re only three-and-a-bit inches tall! Will anybody help? …Perhaps. (Book One in the Tatty Moon series.) A children’s fantasy story aimed at Middle Grade (9 years and upward) readers.

About the author

M.J. Fahy lives on the south coast of England and writes and illustrates middle grade fiction from a writing shed in her garden. She is married with two adult children, two dogs and a deaf cat.

M.J. Fahy

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #middlegrade Tokoyo, The Samurai’s Daughter by @faithljustice

Today’s team review is from Robbie, she blogs here https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Robbie has been reading Tokoyo, The Samurai’s Daughter by Faith L Justice


Tokoyo, The Samurai’s Daughter is set in Japan in AD 1319, the third year of Hojo Takatoki’s regency for Shogun Price Morikuni.

Tokoyo’s father is Tokoyo’s whole world. He is also Lord Oribe, the noble samurai, and Tokoyo is the samurai’s daughter. Tokoyo does not have a mother, she died giving birth to Tokoyo’s still-born brother when she was just a baby herself.

Born into a world of privilege, Tokoyo is very aware of the poorer circumstances of those in the village. One of her favourite past times is to dive with a group of female divers called the Ama, who are trained to dive for oysters at the bottom of the ocean. The book very quickly provides insight into Tokoyo’s character, which is determined and tenacious as well as kind and generous and sets the reader up for the story to come.

One morning, Tokoyo’s world is shattered. Her father is accused of cursing the most powerful man in Japan, Regent Hojo Takatoki, and is banished to the Oki Islands. His lands and fortune are forfeited. Tokoyo is barely able to say goodbye to her father and when she returns to her family home, she finds that she has been turned out without a penny. The only items she manages to salvage are some sensible clothes and a knife.

Tokoyo is convinced of her father’s innocence and sets off on a dangerous journey to join him in his banishment on the Oki Islands.

This is a story of rising above adversity and good conquering evil. The story also highlights how good deeds and kindness to others have a way of returning to the giver in a time of need.

I read this book with my son, Michael, aged eleven years old. While Michael loves to be read to, he is a reluctant reader himself. He loved this book so much that he actually read on ahead by himself which is very unusual.

Michael’s favourite part of the story was Tokoyo’s encounter with a water monster. Michael was very admiring of Tokoyo’s ability to hold her breath underwater for long periods and fighting skills.

Our rating for this book is five out of five stars and I would recommend it for readers, male and female, aged 10 years and upwards.

Book description

An adventurous girl!

Most noble-born girls of Tokoyo’s age learn to sing, paint, and write poetry.

Not Tokoyo.

She’s the daughter of a samurai in fourteenth century Japan, Tokoyo’s father trains her in the martial arts. When he is away, she escapes to the sea where she works with the Ama—a society of women and girls who dive in the deep waters for food and treasure. But disaster strikes her family. Can Tokoyo save her father using the lessons she learned and the skills she mastered to overcome corrupt officials, her own doubts, and a nasty sea demon?

About the author

Faith L. Justice is a science geek and history junkie who writes award-winning novels, short stories, and articles in her historic Brooklyn home. She’s published in venues such as Salon.com, Writer’s Digest, Strange Horizons, The Copperfield Review and Circles in the Hair.

You can read her stories, interviews with famous authors, and sample chapters of her novels at her website . Check out her blog for historical fiction book reviews, interviews with HF authors, “History in the News” roundups and giveaways.

Faith lives with her husband, daughter and the required gaggle of cats. For fun, she likes to dig in the dirt—her garden and various archaeological sites.

Faith L. Justice

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #MiddleGrade Garbage Collectors by @MikeGrabois #Shortstories

Today’s team review is from Brittany, she blogs here https://brittthereader.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Brittany has been reading, Garbage Collectors by Mike Grabois 


Garbage Collectors: Stories for Young Engineers is a middle grades book about kids who use their own ingenuity to solve problems and improve the world around them.

When I first saw the description for Garbage Collectors, I wanted to get a copy as soon as possible. Garbage Collectors is a collection of short stories about heroes and heroines who do not have anything extraordinary or magical happen to them, but they positively change the world around them by using their intellect.  As the author points out, the process of solving problems is not just a mental exercise.  It involves all of them. While solving problems, the characters experience “anger, happiness, sadness, ecstasy, amazement and more.”

The collection features six short stories that feature Jack and his cousins Alex and Ria.  The trio face realistic problems that they attempt to solve such as pollution, the impact of natural disasters, and even a creating a new science attraction for an amusement park. Throughout all the stories, the characters are positive role models who seek feedback on their ideas and willingly incorporate and build off of the input of their peers and mentors. Some of the characters struggle with the courage to voice their ideas for solutions. And the intelligent Jack sometimes thinks his friends are just using him for their own benefit. But ultimately teamwork wins out. They rely on one another for emotional and intellectual support to successfully impact their world.

I heartily recommend Garbage Collectors to any middle grades student for two reasons.  First, when I was a student, I didn’t have the faintest idea what an engineer did. Garbage Collectors provides clear examples of how science class can translate into action in the real word outside the classroom.  Second, even if the reader has little interest in engineering, the team dynamics in each story are surprisingly realistic and reflect issues that all types of professional and academic teams can relate to.

My one disappointment is that some character and setting descriptions Garbage Collectors are told rather than shown. Sometimes characters and settings are explained in general terms, or the details can get confusing. Some of the stories are stronger than others when it comes to character and setting descriptions, but overall a worthwhile read I highly recommend to middle grade students and teachers.

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

Book description

Jack Drozd thinks he’s an ordinary boy-but how come he and his friends get involved in crazy adventures? Could it be because they love mystery and suspense, the excitement of chasing ideas and are filled with a desire to figure things out? But their adventures don’t require travel to remote or dangerous places, or transformation into creatures with magical powers. All they have to do is… think like engineers. In each of these stories the kids encounter a problem, such as garbage in the middle of a pristine pond, a snowball fight or a flood that might damage their school. They don’t need to be special geniuses to solve these difficulties, just willing to think. This process, however, isn’t purely mental, it also engages all their emotions, anger, happiness, sadness, ecstasy, amazement and more. And even better, these stories also invite the reader to think about the method, find flaws in the presented solution or find a better answer.

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