The List by Patricia Forde

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From the Publisher: “Fahrenheit 451 meets The Giver for tweens in this gripping story about the power of words and the dangers of censorship.

“In the city of Ark, speech is constrained to five hundred sanctioned words. Speak outside the approved lexicon and face banishment. The exceptions are the Wordsmith and his apprentice Letta, the keepers and archivists of all language in their post-apocalyptic, neo-medieval world.

“On the death of her master, Letta is suddenly promoted to Wordsmith, charged with collecting and saving words. But when she uncovers a sinister plan to suppress language and rob Ark’s citizens of their power of speech, she realizes that it’s up to her to save not only words, but culture itself.”

While The List by Patricia Forde is categorized as a middle grade dystopian novel, I found it to be so much more than that. It is a compelling statement on the power of words to condemn, to incite, to change, to hurt, to heal, to love. Words are one thing that make us human, but they can also be used in horribly inhuman ways. Words can create, and they can destroy. And, as this story points out, if you can control someone’s words, you can control them. When we are not allowed to speak out, we can’t speak up for ourselves. And if we can’t speak up for ourselves, who will?

This is a lesson that young people desperately need: it’s the old “give them an inch, they’ll take a mile” idea. When you give up a freedom (the freedom of speech, in this case), you give those in power permission to take more and more away from you (usually in the guise of protecting you from harm) until you have no freedom left. And this story highlights that idea in a way that young people can understand and maybe even empathize with in some ways. It would be a terrific story to use in a middle grade classroom. I can only imagine the discussions it could spark.

I did enjoy reading The List and would recommend it to tweens and teens, not for its dystopian elements (which were nothing super extraordinary, but were decently well written), but for the greater lessons to be gleaned from its words.

The List will be released in America in August 2017.

 

Many thanks to Sourcebook Jabberwocky and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

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The Goblin Crown by Robert Hewitt Wolfe

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From the book: “Billy Smith is having a rough first day of high school. The new kid at exclusive Francis Drake Prep, Billy embarrasses himself in front of fiery, beautiful Lexi Aquino. He makes an instant enemy in Kurt Novac, the school’s surly star quarterback. Then suddenly Billy, Lexi, and Kurt are mysteriously transported to an underworld teeming with goblins, strange animal hybrids, and powerful magic–the fact that they’re stuck there is probably Billy’s fault, too. With help from an unlikely goblin leader named Hop, the teens soon discover that goblins can be both fierce and friendly, with their own rich language, culture, and history–a history that foretells of a human arriving to claim the Goblin Crown and lead them to victory against the deadly, invading Hanorians.

“Could Billy–anxious, awkward Billy–be the mythical Goblin King? Could saving the goblin race be his destiny and the key to getting him, Lexi, and Kurt back home?”

Reminiscent of Collins’ Gregor the Overlander series or Nix’s Keys to the Kingdom series, The Goblin Crown is a not-quite-traditional coming-of-age story filled with everything from glowing crowns to ridable bats. (And, seriously, who hasn’t wanted to ride a bat?)

The range of ethnicities and personality types – some bits are slightly stereotypical, yet others at least crack, if not break the mold – should appeal to a broad range of youth. It’s a fun fantasy tale, but there are some intense scenes and rather serious emotional issues that the characters work through making for a wealth of teachable moments peppered throughout the story that would make this an interesting book to use in a middle-grade classroom.

The Goblin Crown, the first in a series about Billy Smith and the Goblins, will be released on November 15th.

I received an advanced copy from Turner Publishing for review purposes I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂