Review: Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher

obsidian mirror

Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher

The author of Incarceron has returned with the start of another series.  This is the story of Jake whose father has disappeared.  Jake knows his father is dead and blames one person, Venn, the idiosyncratic wealthy man who was his father’s best friend and is Jake’s godfather.  So Jake gets himself expelled from his posh Swiss boarding school and sent back to Venn’s home in England.  When he gets there, he learns about the mirror that allows people to travel through time.  He also finds out that his father is not dead, but lost in time.  At Venn’s house, others are arriving.  There is a girl from the future with a tie to the mirror, a man from the past who used to own the mirror before it was stolen from him, and a boy tied to the Faerie World and living long past he should have died.  All of them have purposes for the mirror, but not everyone will succeed in their dreams.

Fisher is a consummate world builder.  Here she has created a decaying but splendid abbey that is located on the border of a vast woods.  It is a lonely and wild place, perfect for experiments with time since it seems to be timeless itself.  Readers are also invited into a faerie world and on journeys through time where honest depictions of the past offer real insight into places like Victorian England.  The mirror is the hub of this complex book, with everyone’s lives revolving around controlling and using it. 

Fisher also excels at creating complex characters and she has several in this book.  Jake himself is not completely likeable except in his devotion to his father.  Everyone has their own personal agendas and reasons for acting.  Because she creates characters who have an opportunity to really show how complex they are, the book does slow at times.  Yet it is this attention to detail and character that makes her books so intriguingly rich.

Get this in the hands of teens who loved Incarceron.  They will enjoy the twists of time travel and revel in the striking characters and vibrant world building.  Appropriate for ages 13-16.

Reviewed from ARC received from Dial Books.

Review: Round Is a Tortilla by Roseanne Greenfield Thong

round is a tortilla

Round Is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Greenfield Thong, illustrated by John Parra

Explore shapes with two young members of a Mexican-American family.  The book begins with circles as they are seen in nests, bells, and food.  Readers will also get to find squares, rectangles, triangles, ovals, and stars.  Spanish words are sprinkled throughout the book and engagingly explained within the context.  There is also a glossary at the end of the book to help.  This is an engaging look at shapes with a charming Mexican vibe.

Done in rhyming couplets, the book has a strong lilting rhythm and reads aloud easily.  The writing is strong and never suffers from the structure of the rhymes.  Thong invites us into their home where we are made to feel welcome throughout the book.  It is a warmly written book about shapes that has an additional dimension with the Spanish words.

Parra’s illustrations have a wonderful texture to them, often looking like traditional art and aging painted walls.  They add even more warmth and character to this already rich book.

This is an enjoyable and simple look at shapes and Spanish that invites the reader to learn and to try new words.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.

This Week’s Tweets and Pins

Here are the links I shared on my Twitter and Pinterest accounts this week that you might find interesting:

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

5 Tips For Getting Children Excited About Reading | Edudemic http://bit.ly/X1BMWT

Abrams Announces Wimpy Kid #8 http://buff.ly/10FRoz4

BBC News – Children should be allowed to get bored, expert says http://buff.ly/11rFaZI

Creating a Common Language for Cross-Cultural Kid’s Book Collaboration | Publishing Perspectives http://buff.ly/15OwZYc

"Identifying exactly why a particular book is successful is hard but some of it is about the universality of a theme."http://buff.ly/11DwVdf

The It-Doesn’t-Matter Suit: Sylvia Plath’s Lovely, Little-Known Vintage Children’s Book | Brain Pickings http://buff.ly/11MhmA5

Tony Ross: My favourite children’s books – Telegraph http://buff.ly/10F8DR8

EBOOKS

Accidental Discovery by Ursula Le Guin – on one important way print is different than digital | Book View Cafe Blog http://buff.ly/11DxTWW

Penguin Lifts Library Ebook Purchase Embargo – The Digital Shift http://buff.ly/YhKEay

LIBRARIES

"Do you see why I love teachers and librarians so much?" Post at #nerdybookclub will make your day. http://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/2013/03/24/the-great-inbe-tween-by-lindsey-leavitt/ …

Gray owl adopts library – The Bozeman Daily Chronicle: Dailyfeatures http://buff.ly/10n5rti

Library of Congress digs into 170 billion tweets – http://buff.ly/10BhZ0m

Putting Libraries on the National Stage | District Dispatch http://buff.ly/10tUSVs

Ten Easy Pieces on the Profession of Librarianship | Peer to Peer Review http://buff.ly/XvuTsP

Toronto gets its first ever tool library http://buff.ly/YdErwe

What could a library do with a gigabit Internet connection? – Boing Boing http://buff.ly/11OaS3G

PUBLISHERS

Chronicle Books Named Best Children’s Publisher of the Year – GalleyCat http://buff.ly/160Ur4A

Does Piracy Impact Sales? Not How You Might Think! | American Libraries Magazine http://buff.ly/11qZ8DY

TECHNOLOGY

BBC News – Privacy ‘impossible’ with Google Glass warn campaigners http://buff.ly/14shHwh

Google’s Google problem | The Economist http://buff.ly/Zgut8U

Internet Access for All: A New Program Targets Low-Income Students | MindShift http://buff.ly/10n7lu4

Is Pheed the next big social media "thing"? – http://buff.ly/11qhzJ7

Presefy Lets You Control Presentations With Your Phone, No Software Required | TechCrunch http://bit.ly/16SBhkJ

Thanks Google Keep! EverNote sees uptick in downloads, usage — Tech News and Analysis http://buff.ly/15Jwj6i

Tumblr Now Hosts Over 100 Million Blogs http://on.mash.to/YevTVQ

TEEN READS

Ally Condie Lands Deal for Two New Novels – GalleyCat http://buff.ly/11DwO1a

First Theatrical Poster for Ender’s Game Revealed! | http://buff.ly/Ydfl0s

I wish I had teachers like @yaloveblog in high school. Check out this awesome idea for literacy lockers she had http://bit.ly/YpBxGV

Kate Winslet joins upcoming young adult film Divergent | Reuters http://buff.ly/10F8WeN

Neil Gaiman & Marvel Back Together; Bounty Hunter Angela Returns For ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ http://buff.ly/11qofH7

What Makes a Good YA Coming-Out Novel? – The Horn Book http://buff.ly/YiadIp