Wednesday, April 26, 2017

BOOK SPOTLIGHT w/ INTERVIEW: Double or Nothing with the Two and Only Kelly Twins by Johanna Hurwitz

ABOUT THE BOOK

What's the same about identical twins -- and what's different? Sleepovers, poetry projects, and new haircuts are in play as seven-year-old Arlene and Ilene start coming into their own.
Arlene and Ilene love so many things about being identical twins. They like sharing a room, sharing friends, and wearing matching outfits. But they're in different classes at school, and one twin has a scar that the other one doesn't. One morning, their friends Monty and Joey point out a new difference that takes the sisters by surprise and gets them thinking: if they are identical twins, why are there differences between them at all? Their tongues must be the same, so why do they like different kinds of ice cream? Why does Arlene wear pink nail polish while Ilene thinks it's silly? Why is Ilene sleeping soundly when Arlene is awake, wondering how she can be sure that she is Arlene, not Ilene? Revisit the funny, lovable characters from The Two and Only Kelly Twins and take a peek at the wonders -- and puzzles -- of being an identical twin.

For REVIEW see HERE.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Johanna Hurwitz is a former children’s librarian and the award-winning author of more than seventy books for children, including The Two and Only Kelly Twins and four books about Arlene and Ilene’s friend Monty, who lives on their street. Ms. Hurwitz divides her time between Great Neck, New York, and Wilmington, Vermont. To learn more, and to download a free curriculum guide, visit her website: johannahurwitz.com.

Johanna Hurwitz’s lovely interview with the NYPL.

“These realistic predicaments with warm resolutions will fare well with the chapter-book set. Singletons' interest in twins will be piqued while multiples will find much to relate to.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“Accessible text and frequent illustrations make this a friendly pick for young readers tackling their first chapter books. Themes of identity and self-discovery join amiable characters reminiscent of Clementine, Ivy, and Bean, making this a solid addition to early chapter-book collections.”

INTERVIEW w/ THE AUTHOR--JOHANNA HURWITZ


*What did you enjoy most about writing a story about twins?

Although I was not a twin, nor ever gave birth to twins, suddenly by writing about Arlene and Ilene, I did indeed become their mother. I thought about what they might say and do together, how they would get along and how they might sometimes argue. In other words, they were just like all siblings with the added difference that they didn’t appear different at all.

*What do you enjoy/dislike the most about writing in general?

Just as reading books has expanded my world and allowed me to travel anywhere and in any time period, similarly I love writing because I enjoy the chance to do the same thing while sitting at my desk. Even writing fiction, authors do research to help fill in the blanks in their knowledge. I visited a llama farm when I wrote A LLAMA IN THE FAMILY, read old newspapers on microfilm when I wanted to know more about the tornado that my mother had lived through in Lorain, Ohio in 1924 when I wrote THE RABBI’S GIRLS, visited the Baseball Hall of Fame when I wrote BASEBALL FEVER. I’ve learned so much by writing fiction.

What do I dislike about writing? Sending off a completed story and discovering that an editor didn’t like my efforts.

*What advice would you give to a child wanting to be a writer?

The best advice I can give to a child wanting to be a writer is to read, read, read. All writers read a great deal. By reading one learns how to pace a story and make it interesting and exciting. The other piece of advice that I give children and adults too is to believe in oneself. Do you know how many times J.K. Rowling’s first book about Harry Potter was turned down?

*What do you enjoy reading?

I love to read novels, memoirs, books with humor, and books about travel. 

*What is something that most people don’t know about you?

I am still friends with the fourth grade classmate who illustrated my first “book.” Of course the book was never published because it really isn’t very good. But my friend Marilyn made wonderful pictures and I’ve kept the book all these years to prove to everyone that I started writing a very long time ago.  

GIVEAWAY

One lucky winner will receive both books featuring the Kelly twins--THE TWO AND ONLY KELLY TWINS and DOUBLE OR NOTHING WITH THE TWO AND ONLY KELLY TWINS (U.S. addresses), courtesy of Candlewick Press.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Share, Big Bear, Share! by Maureen Wright


ABOUT THE BOOK

Big Bear’s forest friends eye his berries hungrily, but he doesn’t notice as he digs into his delicious snack. When the old oak tree says, “Share, Big Bear, share,” he thinks the tree has said, “Hair, Big Bear, hair!” One comical scene follows another as Big Bear keeps misunderstanding the old oak tree’s message until things finally get sorted out. Whimsical illustrations highlight the humor in this gentle story about the importance of sharing something special with friends.

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR

WILL HILLENBRAND has written and/or illustrated over 60 books for young readers including Down by the Barn, Mother Goose Picture Puzzles and the Bear and Mole series. He has lived almost all of his life in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he grew up as the youngest of four boys. He now lives in Terrace Park and was recently honored as Author/Illustrator in Residence at Kent State University.

Information about his books, selected readings, art process videos and activity ideas can be viewed at www.willhillenbrand.com. Connect with Will at www.facebook.com/willhillenbrandbooks.

REVIEW


There was so much in this book that I could relate to, as could any parent or teacher who's had to remind a child to share.  Big Bear has a great big bucket of berries that he is very much enjoying.  But he doesn't notice that all his friends are interested in the berries also.  So the oak tree tells him to, "Share, Big Bear, Share".  Unfortunately, Bear misunderstands and thinks the tree said "Hair, Big Bear, Hair" so he fixes his hair.  This happens several times until the tree loses his patience (something any parent or teacher could relate to after having to repeat him/herself several times) and yells at Bear.  There are numerous themes in the book related to sharing, listening, patience, and friendship.  The adorable illustrations carry the day but the rhyming text works well too.

HELP BIG BEAR SHARE GAME

BOOK TRAILER


GIVEAWAY

1 print copy of Share, Big Bear, Share, courtesy of Two Lions
US addresses only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 24, 2017

MMGM: Magic in the City by Heather Dyer


ABOUT THE BOOK

Brothers Jake and Simon Grubb are not happy they have to leave their home in Canada to move in with their cousin Hannah and her family in England. But things get interesting for the boys when, on the way there, they encounter a retiring magician at a highway rest stop who presents them with three gifts he claims have magical properties: a carpet, a camera and a stopwatch. Unfortunately, the magician doesn't provide them with any instructions. So when the boys and Hannah find themselves being swept away on a wild adventure fueled by the magic in these curious objects, they have to learn as they go. But who cares when it's this exciting! Flying over London, traveling through time, meeting the queen --- what could possibly top this? Little do they know, there's something soon to come that will!

Award-winning author Heather Dyer weaves an enchanting spell with this well-crafted early chapter book. The point of view in the story shifts among all three children, allowing readers to get to know each of the likable characters well. The captivating idea of ordinary children being given the opportunity to use magic to create their own fun experience, particularly flying above London on a magic carpet, will be irresistible to children. With one suspenseful, action-packed scene after another, this is a quick-moving and gently humorous adventure story that's just right for beginning chapter book readers.


REVIEW

With fantasy becoming such a dominate genre in the last 20 years (Thanks Harry Potter!) there have been many books published in that genre with more coming out every year.  It also seems though that as more fantasy books have been published they have also gotten longer with many fantasy books becoming series.  Now I have nothing against series, in fact, I love series, they allow me to meet favorite characters again.  But for younger readers who aren't ready for big, long fantasy series there is a lot less to choose from.  That is why I'm delighted to highlight Magic in the City.  Not only is a stand alone novel, but it's an easy read with lots of action and interesting things going on.  This is a fantasy to hand to a reluctant reader.

The story focuses on Jake and Simon Grubb who have left their home in Canada to come stay with their cousin Hannah.  But neither of them is happy about leaving their home, father, and friends behind.  Things take a turn for the more interesting however when they meet a magician getting rid of his magical equipment.  They end up with a stopwatch, a camera, and a carpet, all of which the magician claims are magical.  When the claims turn out to be true, Jake, Simon, and Hannah end up on the adventure of a lifetime involving flying over the city of London, visiting Buckingham Palace, and traveling through time.  Unfortunately, like most adventures, things go wrong from the beginning and the children must find a way back to where they started before it's too late.

There is much here to enjoy as Hannah tries desperately to stop her cousins from getting into trouble (she fails).  The variety of adventures and the twist at the end make for an entertaining and quick read.

Friday, April 21, 2017

SERIES THURSDAY: Super Happy Party Bears #3, #4


ABOUT THE BOOK

The third book in a funny chapter book series filled with full color illustrations and adorable animals!

When Queen Beetrice and her beehive opens for business in the Grumpy Woods, the Super Happy Party Bears are excited--they LOVE honey! But the other Grumpy Woods residents are very unhappy with all the noisy buzzing going on, and they boycott the bees!

Too much sugar sends the bears into early hibernation and soon the woods are overflowing with uneaten honey. The townscritters need a fast solution to the sticky situation--and so they decide to throw an Un-Slumber Party to wake those bears up!

REVIEW

The Super Happy Party Bears are thrilled when they discover a hive of bees has moved into the Grumpy Woods and is happy to provide them with all the honey they could want.  Naturally, the rest of the residents of Grumpy Woods are NOT happy about the bees arrival.  They like their woods nice and grumpy the way they are, and they are most definitely NOT going to eat any honey, well, except maybe Squirrelly Sam.  At first as the bees business gets buzzing the bears are able to eat all the honey that is produced.  But eventually all the sugar sends them into an early hibernation, leaving Mayor Quill and the other residents of the Grumpy Woods with too much honey on their hands.  This third book in the series is as delightful as the first too.  The contrast between the grumpy residents and the Super Happy Party Bears is amusing and the bright colorful illustrations are very appealing.  This is a great series for young readers who are ready to move on to early chapter books.


ABOUT THE BOOK

The squirrels of the Grumpy Woods have finally finished gathering their nuts for winter, when the Super Happy Party Bears find their stash…and eat the whole thing. To make it up to them, the bears show the squirrels another hoard they’ve found—one that belongs to the chipmunks!

Suddenly, the bears' huge appetite has caused an all-out civil war between two rival nut hoarders: the Puffy Cheeks (the chipmunks) and the Twitchy Tails (the squirrels). Can the bears prevent the Grumpy Woods from getting too nutty?

REVIEW

What do you get when you have a bunch of happy-go-lucky bears who are more than willing to share what doesn't belong to them, a bunch of scared-y-cat squirrels, militant chipmunks, and the grumpy residents of Grumpy Woods?  Well, you end up with a RUMBLE (or NOT if Mayor Quill has his way, which he usually doesn't).  The chaos and confusion (not to mention secret hideouts and nut stashes) makes this an amusing book to read.  I had to wonder how things were going to turn out.  This is a fun series for young readers with bright, attractive illustrations that bring it all to life.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

PICTURE BOOK REVIEWS: Rain by Sam Usher/Rain! by Linda Ashman/Philp & Phoebe by Anne Brandt


ABOUT THE BOOK

Sam wants to go out but it's pouring with rain, so he and Grandpa decide to stay inside until the rain stops. Sam drinks hot chocolate and reads his books and dreams of adventures while Grandpa gets on with his important paperwork. Grandpa seems to have a VERY important letter to write. Then that very important letter has to be posted, despite the rain and floods. As they finally go outside, Sam and Grandpa have a magical adventure.
  
REVIEW

 A young boy wakes up to pouring rain, but unlike many people, he's thrilled as he thinks of all the adventures he can have in the rain.  But his grandfather is not so eager to go out in the rain so he asks Sam to wait and wait and wait.  After each time the grandfather asks Sam to wait the illustrator presents a full two-page spread.  And the reader gets to watch the water level rise in each of these two-page spreads.  When  Sam and his grandfather do finally go outside I admit I was a bit surprised at the result, especially as it's apparent that the street is flooded.  But needless to say, Sam gets his adventure after all.  Usher has created a wonderful ode to the wonders of a rain-drenched world.


ABOUT THE BOOK


One rainy day in the city, an eager little boy exclaims, “Rain!” Across town a grumpy man grumbles, “Rain.” In this endearing picture book, a rainy-day cityscape comes to life in vibrant, cut-paper-style artwork. The boy in his green frog hat splashes in puddles—“Hoppy, hoppy, hoppy!”—while the old man curses the “dang puddles.” Can the boy’s natural exuberance (and perhaps a cookie) cheer up the grouchy gentleman and turn the day around?

REVIEW

With a handful of words and some adorable illustrations, Ashman and Robinson have created a story about finding joy in the little things and sharing with those around you.  The story follows a grumpy old man who gets up and frowns his way out of the building and down the street to a cafe.  At the same time a young boy and his mother are also getting up and heading to that same cafe, where they meet the grumpy old man.  The boy finds joy jumping in the puddles and pretending to be a frog.  When they meet the grumpy old man grouches at the boy's offering of a cookie and a ribbit which leaves the boy grouchy, but only for a moment.  When the boy realizes the man left his hat behind, he takes it upon himself to return it.  Before he hands back the hat though, he puts it on and frowns, demonstrating for the man what he looks like to those around him.  The old man takes back his hat and then surprises the boy by pointing to his frog hat and trying it on.  This time when the boy offers him the cookie and a ribbit, it is gratefully accepted.  Robinson's illustrations are adorable as usual, as well as bright and colorful making a nice compliment to the spare text.


ABOUT THE BOOK

What older child hasn’t felt left out when a new baby arrives? Philip certainly does. His new sister Phoebe can barely say “ga-ga” yet everyone goes ga-ga over her. Philip, despite his superhero cape, feels alone. Finally, he devises a plan. Using a bit of magic and a lot of determination, he sneaks into her bedroom at night with the intention of changing her into something more manageable, more exciting, more fun. Except things don’t go exactly as planned.

REVIEW

Philip & Phoebe is a cute enough story, but it felt rather uneven to me.  Like many stories involving siblings, Philip resents the way everyone coos over his little sister and scolds him for similar behavior.  So one night, he tiptoes into Phoebe's room and wishes she were a horse, then an ice cream cone, and finally a red fire truck.  Naturally none of these wishes works out the way Philip wants them to and he ends up wishing Phoebe back. Unfortunately, this is not a particularly unusual story line, many picture books about siblings involve wishes and annoying little brothers or sisters, at the same time though it's a story line that many children can relate to easily. There really is no reason given for Philip's wishes coming true, although there is a falling star in one illustration.  

The illustrations are pretty cute and the one color works well in terms of appeal and contrast.  The book felt a little crowded though with the small size of the book, which also makes it hard to share with a large group.  The part where Philip turns Phoebe into an ice cream cone and licks her doesn't work for me very well, he licks her after all, plus the ice cream cone doesn't melt or get any smaller.  Magic doesn't always have to have rules for how it works in this sort of story though, I just didn't particularly care for the idea of turning a person into something to be eaten.  Also, the ending wasn't as clear cut as I would have liked it to be, Philip turns Phoebe back, not because he likes her, but simply because his wishes didn't work out.  Philip doesn't seem to appreciate Phoebe any more than he did before. 

In addition, the story starts in present tense and shifts to past tense which is a bit jarring.  I also didn't feel a lot of sympathy for Philip after seeing him tormenting a cat and pouting in his tree house. 
A cute book, but there are better ones out there.

Monday, April 17, 2017

BLOG TOUR: Henry and the Chalk Dragon by Jennifer Trafton


ABOUT THE BOOK

In the town of Squashbuckle, just about anything can happen, and when Henry Penwhistle draws a mighty Chalk Dragon on his door, the dragon does what Henry least expects--it runs away. Now Henry's art is out in the world for everyone to see, and it's causing trouble for him and his schoolmates Oscar and Jade. If they don't stop it, the entire town could be doomed! To vanquish the threat of a rampaging Chalk Dragon, Sir Henry Penwhistle, Knight of La Muncha Elementary School, is going to have to do more than just catch his art--he's going to have to let his imagination run wild. And THAT takes bravery.

Praise for HENRY AND THE CHALK DRAGON:

★“A delicious face-off between forces of conformity and creativity run amok, spiced with offbeat names as well as insights expressed with eloquent simplicity.” —Booklist (starred review)
★“A perfect title to hand to young readers looking for laughs along with a wild and crazy adventure.”
                                                                                —School Library Journal (starred review)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jennifer Trafton is the author of The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic (Dial, 2010) which received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal and was a nominee for Tennessee’s Volunteer State Book Award and the National Homeschool Book Award. Henry and the Chalk Dragon arose from her lifelong love of drawing and her personal quest for the courage to be an artist. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where, in addition to pursuing her love of art and illustration, she teaches writing classes, workshops, and summer camps in a variety of schools, libraries, and homeschool groups in the Nashville area, as well as online classes to kids around the world. To learn more, and to download free materials, visit jennifertrafton.com.

REVIEW

While Henry and the Chalk Dragon may not be the most polished book I've ever read, it was quite enjoyable.  Henry loves to draw, but like Dr. Seuss, he prefers to draw things from his imagination, which means they aren't quite realistic looking.  After Henry gets in trouble for not completing a picture for National Vegetable Week, he explains to his mother that he doesn't want to draw a plain bunny and veggies.  While in his room, he draws a fierce dragon on his bedroom door (which is covered with black chalk paint).  Afterwords his dragon leaps off the door and comes to life leading Henry and his friends on quite an adventure through Henry's house and indeed the school as well. In addition to trying to stop the dragon from destroying the school, Henry has to stop one of his drawings from coming to life in which his friend Oscar is eaten by a dinosaur (he drew this after they had a big fight).  The book is quite entertaining as long as you are willing to suspend disbelief and let your imagination soar, which I believe is exactly what the book intends to encourage.

GUEST POST


The Cauldron of Story and the Young Reader’s Bookshelf
by Jennifer Trafton

What’s in your story soup?

J. R. R. Tolkien, in a famous essay on fairy-stories, wrote about “the Pot of Soup, the Cauldron of Story” that has been boiling and stewing for centuries, with new bits continually added to it—bits like Cinderella, King Arthur, dragons, or the idea of love at first sight. These stories and characters and themes have simmered so long in our collective imaginations that they are a kind of inheritance, and into this great Cauldron we storytellers (the Cooks) dip our ladles and draw out the ingredients of new stories—which may themselves find their way back into the Pot to swirl and stew and to inspire future Cooks.

Tolkien’s picture was in my mind as I wrote about my main character, Henry Penwhistle, playing in his bedroom at the beginning of Henry and the Chalk Dragon: Waving his sword in sweeping circles, he whirled past the overflowing book chest with its stirred-up soup of favorite stories—stories about wild things and unlikely heroes, chocolate factories and tiny motorcycles, buried giants and mock turtles.” Henry’s imagination has been fed by stories from that Cauldron, and throughout his adventures it is clear that the stories he’s read have shaped his ideas about himself, about others, and about the art he makes. He’s a Cook dipping his spoon into the Soup and drawing out a story of his very own.

I’m not only a writer; I also teach creative writing to children, and both roles require me to be intimately acquainted with the marvelous, inherited soupiness of storytelling. When kids ask me how to become a writer, I say, “First, the best thing you can possibly do is to read. Read, read, read, read, read.” Finding those kids who’ve been raised on a hearty diet of books, who have drunk deeply of the Soup, is terribly exciting to me—because in them I see imaginations capable of creating poems and stories and art that have the power to shape other people’s view of themselves and the world—that could, in fact, become part of the ongoing inheritance that charms and challenges and enriches all of us.

Librarians, teachers, and parents who nurture a child’s love for reading aren’t just helping that one child succeed. They are, potentially, sending out into the world an imaginative Cook who can add his or her own stories to the great Cauldron that has been bubbling for centuries. They are stirring the Soup that will inspire future generations. And that is a high calling indeed.

Friday, April 14, 2017

FANTASTIC FRIDAY: Camp So-And-So by Mary McCoy


ABOUT THE BOOK

The letters went out in mid-February. Each letter invited its recipient to spend a week at Camp So-and-So, a lakeside retreat for girls nestled high in the Starveling Mountains. Each letter came with a glossy brochure with photographs of young women climbing rocks, performing Shakespearean theatre under the stars, and spiking volleyballs. Each letter was signed in ink by the famed and reclusive businessman and philanthropist, Inge F. Yancey IV.

By the end of the month, twenty-five applications had been completed, signed, and mailed to a post office box in an obscure Appalachian town.

Had any of these girls tried to follow the directions in the brochure and visit the camp for themselves on that day in February, they would have discovered that there was no such town and no such mountain and that no one within a fifty-mile radius had ever heard of Camp So-and-So.

REVIEW


I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this book, but the description rather intrigued me.  And the book certainly didn't disappoint in that regard.  The plotting here is masterful as the author tells the story through the eyes of an unknown narrator (unknown until the end that is) with plenty of side comments from said narrator that leave you wondering exactly who this person (?) is.  And that doesn't even count the five other story lines, one for each cabin of girls at the camp, each of which takes on a life of its own, until each of the individual story lines comes together at the end. 

With 25 girls as well as Tania and her minions who live at a leadership camp across from Camp So-and-So, not to mention Robin, the assistant camp director, as well as the mysterious Inge F. Yancey IV and the mysterious narrator, there are numerous characters to try to keep track of here.  Because of the large number of characters, all of whom play a significant part in the story, this book works best for more experienced readers who can manage to keep track of what happens to and with all the different characters, especially since some of the characters aren't even given names.

It's clear from relatively early in the story that there are some supernatural elements at play in the story.  This gives the story a rather creepy, mysterious atmosphere.  And the complicated collection of events and events makes the book one that is almost impossible to predict.  I can safely say that I've never read a book quite like this one.

In terms of content, there is some kissing (girl/girl, girl/boy) as well as a moderate amount of violence (several deaths and almost deaths occur).

All in all though this is a book to share with readers who enjoy the spooky, the odd, and the weird.  Even the ending isn't quite what one would expect.  This one could make for a pretty awesome book talk.



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Blaze of Embers by Cam Baity & Benny Zelkowicz

BLAZE OF EMBERS
The Third Book of Ore
by Cam Baity & Benny Zelkowicz

ABOUT THE BOOK

Phoebe Plumm and Micah Tanner are no longer the spoiled heiress and na├»ve servant boy who first stumbled upon the fiercely beautiful world of living metal known as Mehk. They have rallied to aid the mehkans and risked their lives fighting the relentless greed of the Foundry, a corporation that harvests the metal creatures to sell as products back home in Meridian. But the kids' mission to retrieve a mysterious relic ended in devastating tragedy and with Micah as a prisoner of the enemy. Shattered, he can only watch as an unthinkable new power rises in Mehk and international war erupts in Meridian. Trapped between the Foundry and this staggering mehkan threat, Micah has no choice but to work with dangerous humans and mehkans alike, each with their own agenda. As the path of destruction spreads and hope fades, Micah leads his unlikely allies in a desperate race back to Meridian, where the two worlds are about to clash. A terrible reckoning is underway, and this time, everything is at stake.

Missed The Foundry's Edge (The First Book Of Ore) or Waybound (The Second Book of Ore)? Found out more at http://www.booksofore.com.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Cam Baity is an Emmy Award winning animator, and his short films have screened around the world, including at Anima Mundi in Brazil and the BBC British Short Film Festival. His credits include major motion pictures like Team America: World Police and The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, and popular television shows such as Robot Chicken and Supermansion.

Benny Zelkowicz
 studied animation at CalArts and made the award winning film, The ErlKing. He directed and starred in the BBC/CBC animated series Lunar Jim, and worked on The LEGO Movie as well as several TV shows including Robot Chicken and Moral Orel



Twitter: @CamandBenny
Hashtag: #BooksOfOre

EXCERPT

The cords tying Micah to the back of the Cyclewynder were pulled so tight that his legs were numb, and the digital manacles biting into his bruised wrists felt icy in his lap. Goodwin wasn’t taking any chances this time, but it didn’t matter one bit. 

Micah had nowhere to run. 

And no will to try. 

His freckled face felt frostbitten, and he shivered uncontrollably. Though the Foundry workers had draped Micah in a foil thermal blanket, he was frozen from head to toes—especially toes. His boots were gone, and all he had on were his greasecovered overalls and dingy T-shirt. 

Sharp wheels carved the rough ground of the Coiling Furrows, their grating sound echoing off the curved walls of the impossible maze. Facing backward, Micah counted four Cyclewynders behind him, but he knew there were twice that many up ahead. The headlights of the Foundry convoy cut harsh beams through the gloom and threw twisty shadows everywhere. 

Flaring light revealed a limp form strapped to one of the Cyclewynders. He caught a glimpse of her dark, uneven hair fluttering in the wind. Micah had to look away. 

....

They were taking him in now to be questioned. Goodwin would ask about the Covenant and the Ona, ask what he and Phoebe were doing to help the mehkans. Micah wouldn’t say anything, no matter what they did to him. 

They couldn’t make him hurt more than this. Which meant the Occulyth would be safe. Micah hadn’t seen it anywhere in that chamber. Maybe—just maybe— Phoebe had managed to get it to the Ona. That was all that mattered. He told himself that, again and again. Whatever happened to him and Phoebe, saving Mehk was the most important thing. 

He desperately wanted to believe that. But he didn’t, not really. Micah couldn’t guess how long they had been puttering through these stupid passages. Star-streaked sky peeked in through irregular openings above. Those interconnected, vibrating stars had been the first thing Phoebe noticed when they stumbled into Mehk, the first sign that they were in a world stranger than anything they had ever imagined. Now those same stars danced on, oblivious to the life that had ended here below. 

At last, the Foundry convoy emerged from the Furrows and arrived at a bleak camp of pentagonal tents at the foot of a monstrous mountain range. Obscuring the peaks was the Shroud, a wall of fog that stretched up and out as far as the eye could see. Harsh floodlights and humming generators were huddled around a pair of Gyrojets, sleek multi-winged aircraft like raptors waiting for prey. The team of Cyclewynders parked alongside the tents. A couple of soldiers untied Micah from the vehicle and roughly dragged him to Goodwin, his toes barely scraping the ground. 

The Chairman looked like he had something to say. If this were an episode of Maddox, Micah’s favorite Televiewer show once upon a time, the hero would have a clever zinger ready to deploy. Or he would spit in the villain’s face before wiping out all the bad guys single-handedly. 

But Micah was not Maddox. He was just a boy—a helpless, broken boy, and weary beyond belief. So Micah did nothing. 

Excerpted from BLAZE OF EMBERS © Copyright 2017 by Cam Baity and Benny Zelkowicz. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

 
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