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Thieves of Weirdwood by William Shivering, aka Christian McKay Heidicker
Review by Lauren
Source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own
Official Summary (add to Goodreads): Twelve-year-old thieves Arthur and Wally are determined to steal their way up the ranks of the notorious Black Feathers gang. With loan sharks chasing after Arthur’s father and Wally’s brother’s hospital bill due, they’re in need of serious cash. Fast.
When Arthur spots some wealthy strangers exiting a seemingly deserted mansion, he smells an opportunity for a big score. Little do the boys realize, they’ve stumbled upon Weirdwood Manor, the headquarters of a magical order who protect the Balance between the Real and Imaginary worlds. When Kingsport is besieged by nightmarish creatures, it’s up to a pair of thieves to save their city. Filled with giant tentacle monsters and heroes literally ripped from the pages of adventure stories.
Review: I absolutely ADORED Thieves of Weirdwood. Seriously, this is such an amazing Middle Grade novel, and it’s one that I would recommend to older readers because it never really felt like it was written for a younger audience. This book follows Arthur and Wally, thieves of circumstance more than actual interest. They both need money, so they team up to rob an old mansion that looks derelict from the outside, but with a secret “entrance”, the two find that it’s full of gold and beautiful items to steal – and sell.
Of course, Weirdwood Manor is not your typical mansion. Here, the boys meet some very fascinating characters (including a young ghost who wants to know who her killed her, so she can finally move on). Most of the book is told from Wally’s point of view, but as the book continues, it alternates between Wally and Arthur a bit more. Wally is the more level-headed tween. He doesn’t want to steal, but he needs money for his brother (who lives in a mental hospital). Arthur needs money too, but he sees his life as more of an adventure and he wants to be like the Gentleman Thief in his favorite novels.
Thieves of Weirdwood is full of imagination, monstrous creatures, daring rescues and escapes, and some fantastic characters. Plus, the book has various black and white illustrations throughout that are just lovely! I am definitely ready for book no. 2!!!
The Amelia Six by Kristin L. Gray
Review by Lauren
source: copy from Simon Kids; all opinions are my own
Official Summary (add to Goodreads): Eleven-year-old Amelia Ashford—Millie to her friends (if she had any, that is)—doesn’t realize just how much adventure awaits her when she’s given the opportunity of a lifetime: to spend the night in Amelia Earhart’s childhood home with five other girls. Make that five strangers. But Millie’s mom is a pilot like the famous Amelia, and Millie would love to have something to write to her about…if only she had her address.
Once at Amelia’s house in Atchison, Kansas, Millie stumbles upon a display of Amelia’s famous flight goggles. She can’t believe her good luck, since they’re about to be relocated to a fancy museum in Washington, DC. But her luck changes quickly when the goggles disappear, and Millie was the last to see them. Soon, fingers are pointing in all directions, and someone falls strangely ill. Suddenly, a fun night of scavenger hunts and sweets takes a nosedive and the girls aren’t sure who to trust. With a blizzard raging outside and a house full of suspects, the girls have no choice but to band together. It’s up to the Amelia Six to find the culprit and return the goggles to their rightful place. Or the next body to collapse could be one of theirs.
Review: I didn’t know a whole lot about Amelia Earhart before reading this book – besides the most obvious, that she disappeared on one of her flights and was never seen again. In The Amelia Six, I got to know a lot more about the person Amelia was – and I love that! This is a fantastic middle grade mystery. It follows Millie, and five other girls, who have all won an overnight in Amelia Earhart’s childhood home. These are all fairly different girls – and I liked the diversity – but they are all connected by their love of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).
While the book is told in Millie’s POV, I really liked getting to know all the girls. You aren’t sure about some of them in the beginning but they all grow on you! As for the mystery, this is a fun one! I wouldn’t say it’s super difficult to figure out, though I wasn’t entirely sure who the culprit was myself as it could be a few different people. There is definitely a feeling of “who can you trust?” once Amelia’s goggles go missing, and I really enjoyed that! It was the six girls for themselves and they do an amazing job.
I don’t know if The Amelia Six will be a series, but I would happily go on more mystery adventures with these girls.