Curiosity House: The Shrunken Head by Lauren Oliver

Four children named Thomas, Max, Pippa, and Sam are “freaks”, so to say. They first lived in orphanages before they were transferred to Dumfrey’s Dime Museum. An amazonian shrunken head is put on display. Immediately following, a trail of murders ticks off. A newspaper man, Bill Evans, writes stories on these murders. As he closes in around the case, he too dies a frightful death. The children are the only ones who possess the powers to stop these murders. They have only a matter of time left to figure out who murdered these people before it was too late, or their loving caretaker would be killed. In the end, they find the person who committed the crime, but he got away. This book is filled with mystery and danger from cover to cover. I really enjoyed it.♣

Sword Song, by Rosemary Sutcliff

This is a book about a teenager, Bjarni, who gets kicked out of his viking tribe for killing a man of the White Christ (a monk). He is told he must stay outlaw for five years. Bjarni decides to join a tribe led by Onund Treefoot, a man with a stout oak leg. After two summers worth of seafaring, Bjarni’s new dog, named Hugin, almost gets killed, but doesn’t. Onud expels Bjarni from his tribe, and Bjarni, and Bjarni gives his service to Thorstein the Red, a man with flaming red hair. During his time with Thorstein’s tribe, Bjarni witnesses Thorstein’s death. Later that summer, Thorstein’s wife, the Lady Aud, gives Bjorni his sword-service back, and she gives him a new sword. Bjarni sets sail with an old friend who almost gets shipwrecked. Bjarni saves himself and meets a nice young lady whom he takes home and marries, for the five years of outlaw have passed.

This was a good book. I think others will like it, especially adventurous kids and those who like history.

The High King, by Lloyd Alexander

This book is about a boy named Taran who destroys evil magic. This time we meet Taran in Caer Dallben, receiving a warning message from Gwydion, saying that the power-sword Dyrnwyn is gone. Taran and everybody else in Caer Dallben, except for Dallben, round up a war-band. Taran, under the Banner of the White Pig, gets many common folk to join him. They journey to Caer Dathyl and do battle, but lose, destroying Caer Dathyl. Taran and his band of common folk delay the Cauldron-Born from coming ot Annuvin, but they don’t slow the Cauldron-Born enough. All would be a disaster if Taran had not found the sword Dyrnwyn and unsheathed it. Taran strikes down the Lord of Annuvin, then sets out to make the world better.

This was the fifth and last book in the Chronicles of Prydain series. I love it. It is good for all ages, but especially happy-yet-strange ending lovers.

Taran the Wanderer, by Lloyd Alexander

This book is about a boy named Taran who seeks his parents. We first meet Taran doing exactly what I told you: seeking his parents. However, Taran meets an evil wizard named Morda. Morda almost turns Taran into a worm, but Taran breaks Morda’s life. Doli of the Fair Folk meets them and tells Taran that when he blows on the battle horn, Fair Folk would come and help. They meet a troublesome group of warriors named Dorath and Co. Dorath is very hospitable and invites them to stay for the night. Unfortunately, Dorath steals Taran’s sword. Taran leaves their company in the heat of anger. He meets a poor and ill-minded shepherd in the mountains. Taran blows his horn when the shepherd is hanging between life and death, but still the shepherd dies. Taran moves on to a new family, drops them, and goes to the Free Commots. He finds three jobs in teh Commots, but none of them interest him, so he leaves. He eventually finds a lake that will show him who he really is, but Dorath destroys it. Taran learns something in this adventure.

I like book number four in the Chrnoicles of Prydain series just as much as the rest. Only one more book to go!

The Castle of Llyr, by Lloyd Alexander

This book is about a group of friends who meet extraordinary dangers. We first meet them walking through a large forest where they meet an unusual man who calls himself Prince Rhun. They ride his ship to Eilonwy’s first stopping, which may be her last. Magg, the chief steward, seems nice enough, but he’s not at all what he looks like. One night, Magg rouses Eilonwy and they ride off. Taran, Fflewdur Fflam, Gurgi, and Prince Rhun set out to find her. Once cheerful day, they travelers meet Llyan, an angry wildcat. They find Eilonwy’s magical Bauble, but fall into a hole, where a giant named Glew lives. Glew traps them, but they escape. They head to Caer Colur, Eilonwy’s home. Achren is there, and so is Eilonwy. Eilonwy, however, is under Achren’s control. Eilonwy destroys the Caer Colur and everyone almost drowns, but Llyan pulls all the good people, including Eilonwy, out of the sea. Llyan journeys back to Caer Dallben with Taran, Fflewdur, and Gurgi. Eilonwy hopes to see Taran again soon.

This, the third book in the Chronicles of Prydain series, is also an awesome book. I would recommend it to anyone who likes fantastic stories.

The Black Cauldron, by Lloyd Alexander

This book si about a group of friends who destroy Arawn’s greatest power, the Black Cauldron (a.k.a. The Black Crochan). We meet them first in Caer Dallben, while they are having a council. They speak of how they are going to get the Black Cauldron. By daybreak the next norming, they’re gone. Taran’s group of guards consists of Taran, Adaon, and Prince Ellidyr, son of Pen-Llarcau. That night, they take guard by the Dark Gate to the Annuvin. That very night, Eilonwy and Gurgi find them. Doli of the Fair Folk brings news that the Cauldron is not in the Annuvin. A crow they meet called Kau tells them that the witches Orddu, Orwen, and Orgoch own the Cauldron. They find the witches and trade Adaon’s brooch for the Cauldron. They are told that a live man must willingly jump in. The problem? That man dies. The evil traitor King Morgant kidnaps them, taking the Cauldron. Doli saves them and they start the battle. It was Ellidyr who paid the final price; he jumped in the Cauldron and destroyed it.

I like this book. It is the second in the Chronicles of Prydain.

The Book of Three, by Lloyd Alexander

This book is about a boy, Taran, who finds greatness. We first meet Taran in the small town of Caer Dallben. When Taran is watching the pig Hen Wen, she run away into the forest his elders told him never to go into. He follows Hen Wen, but doesn’t find her. He does find Prince Gwydion, though. They travel together on a white stallion named Melyngar. It is not long, however, until the Cauldron-Born, the soldiers of Arawn, King of the Annuvin, find them and take them to Spiral Castle, where an enchantress named Achren lives. She separates Taran and Gwydion, and Taran goes tot he dungeons. There, Taran meets a girl named Eilonwy. Eilonwy helps him and a bard named Fflewdur Fflam get out of Spiral Castle. On the way, Eilonwy takes the Sword of Dyrnwyn with her. As they travel closer to Caer Dathyl, they find a hungry wolfhound named Gurgi. As the four of them travel closer and closer to Caer Dathyl, Gurgi find Hen Wend, and finally Taran meets The Horned King, Arawn’s servant. Taran draws the Sword of Dyrnwyn, which explodes in a wave of fire, killing The Horned King.

I like this book. It is the first book in the Chronicles of Prydain series. I think that I’m going to read all of the books!

Time Cat By Lloyd Alexander

This is a fun, exciting, and adventurous book. Jason, a boy, and Gareth, a cat, go on nine fun adventures. They teach people how to treat cats, and, in return, those people teach them something about themselves. My favorite adventure is in Germany, in 1600.Everybody in the town they visit is superstitious about witches & demons. Jason and Gareth get arrested, but escape with the help of an old miller. Some of the adventures are hilarious, others are suspenseful or mysterious, and all of them are educational. Jason and Gareth are brave and daring. I love this book. I would recommend it to anybody, but young readers will especially like this book.

Calvin Ophoff

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. FrankWeiler

In this adventurous and daring book, two children, named Claudia and Jamie, run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Once there, they get mixed-up in doing research on a statue called Angel. They want to find out if Angel had been done by Michelangelo, a great Renaissance sculptor. They go see Mrs. Basil E. FrankWeiler, the person who sold Angel to the museum. The children tell Basil their story and she gives them permission to find the file about Angel. Claudia and Jamie find out about Angel, and Basil drives them home. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially young readers.

Calvin Ophoff

My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George (an essay)

My Side of the Mountain is an adventure story by Jean Craighead George. It is the story of Sam Gribley, a boy who runs away from home and spends a year living alone in the forest. He learns to live off the land and meets several friends while he is away.

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