“War World Part 1”
Jo’nn and Superman are captured and secreted away to War World, a planet meant for the gladiators of a dozen worlds to face off for the entertainment of a wild crowd. Hawkgirl and Green Lantern are on their way to help. But will a world with no jobs, no food, and no morals let the Justice League take their distractions away?
This episode straddles a line between dark (battles t the death, government manipulations of the populace) and more kid-oriented (cut away scenes, only a token amount of blood). It leaves the viewer feeling like the writers are taking them seriously, willing to include adult themes without going for cheap gross outs, or distracting from the serious of the themes with lurid battles. These are the kind of stories that stick with viewers for a long time.
“The Eve Party Nightmare – And so the Curtain Rises?”
As the celebration of the anniversary of the school’s founding begins Death the Kid is both worried and irritated with his father. He has found out that the school is built on a sleeping kishin, and Medusa’s plot is to wake it. Lord Death doesn’t seem to be taking the threat seriously, though the other teachers are. Stein and Sid have a plan.
Stein confronts Medusa with his knowledge of her and speculates on her plan directly to her face. Meanwhile Sid turns up just in time to free Maka, Soul, Death the Kid, Black Star, Tsubaki, and the Thompson sisters from the trap Medusa has Free put on the party, leaving them and Professor Stein as the only ones free to stop Medusa and her minions from waking the ancient kishin trapped under the academy.
This is the first real episode where we see all the players on the field at the same time and where the first big plot is exposed.
Candlewick Press, 2006
High school English teachers will cheer to see this accessible, visually attractive retelling of Beowulf by the British Children’s Laureate, Michael Morpurgo. The language used in translations and retellings is often a barrier preventing teens from experiencing the impact of the dramatic battles between heroes and monsters. While Morpurgo’s writing does still use challenging vocabulary, it is told more as a narrative story than as a long poem, and Morpurgo’s fine storytelling, accompanied by vivid color illustrations, will be a more comfortable way for most readers to engage with the text.
I was surprised to discover the many references to Christianity in the story, because the title character certainly isn’t turning the other cheek! If violent struggles to the death with cannibalistic monsters, evil sea-hags, and death-dragons are your cup of tea, you’ll want to spend some time revisiting the story of Beowulf as retold here. Collection promotion note: This book is considered nonfiction and falls into the 820s. Pairing it with fiction with similar themes could encourage its checkout. Highly recommended for middle and high school library media centers and for young adult collections in public libraries.
Contains: Violence, gore, cannibalism, decapitation, references to Christianity.
Sterling Publishing, 2006
This book is a good introduction for the reader getting ready to take on the intricacies of language in the writing of Edgar Allan Poe. The book starts with a brief biography of the author and then leads the reader through five of Poe’s most famous short stories. Each of the stories is preceded by a short summary that ends by asking the reader an open ended question about the text. The words in each story remain entirely Poe’s- there is no abridgment- but words that may be challenging to the reader are listed in the corner of each page with a short definition, meaning the reader can continue to “flow” with the text rather than having to stop and look up every unknown word. Unfortunately, the words needing definition are not identified within the story, and a reader unaware of the feature might fail to take advantage of it.
As with many books aimed at reluctant readers, the book is visually attractive and designed with plenty of white space. The illustrations by Gerard DuBois are appropriately creepy in nature, with his murky oils creating an atmosphere of depression, fear, and madness. While not a textbook, there is certainly a place in the classroom for a book like this one. It’s a far cry from the permabound anthology with its tiny print and nonexistent margins that I used in school. And anyone who chances to come across this on their own may find themselves intrigued enough to explore further the works of this master of mystery and terror. Recommended for public library young adult collections and highly recommended for school library media centers in middle and high schools.
Contains: live burials, madness, murder, alcoholic drinking, plague and pestilence, revenge.
“Legend of the Holy Sword 2 – Wanna Go Drinking, Gambling, and Playing?”
We had a few serious issues, and some good questions, so now it’s back to the silliness with an Excalibur episode. Ox, top in the class, hunts down Excalibur, and we all know how that will end.
Excalibur is ridiculous. This episode is annoying. And it bears no relevance to the series plots. It’s okay to skip this one. I not only give you permission, I encourage it.
Maud Flynn is a troublemaking, unattractive, orphan: the girl most unlikely to be adopted. However, she is the perfect choice for Hyacinth Hawthorne and her elderly sisters. The charismatic Hyacinth convinces Maud to play the part of a ghostly “secret child.” The sisters, posing as psychic mediums able to bring a dead child back to communicate with her wealthy mother, need Maud to carry out their fraud. As Maud studies the life and personality of the girl she will impersonate, she begins to dream of the girl and her death and even meets the girl’s mother. Maud’s experiences make her question the sisters’ motives and affection for her. When the séance intended to convince the dead girl’s mother ends with a disastrous fire, Maud is left behind, and nearly burns to death, Her escape reveals the truth, but as an adopted child, Maud is returned to her legal guardians, and her future does not look to be a pleasant one.
Schlitz creates an ominous atmosphere, descriptive of places, visions, and events, which reaches its creepiest and most terrifying in the final séance. But it is the skillful characterization that makes the book. Maud changes from defiant and unhappy, into a girl eager for the sisters’ love, finally becoming a sympathetic, resourceful, and clear-minded character. Hyacinth is almost sociopathic, mercilessly and even gleefully manipulating people to achieve status and wealth. But Schlitz’s triumph is that her characters cannot be contained neatly. They are too “messy,” and their unpredictability lends them believability. Highly recommended for upper elementary and teen readers looking for a good ghost story.
Contains: horrific events
Review by Francesca the Librarian
Penguin Group 2007
Available: New and Used
Morgan’s quest to learn more about her family, especially her mother, continues in Blood Witch. Now that Morgan has the Book of Shadows, she is able to read the words her mother wrote As Morgan continues to practice magick, other blood witches, threatened by her power strengthen their coven to work against her. Blood Witch is just as enveloping as the others, and leaves you wanting to find out what comes next. However, this one had an intriguing darkness to it that the others did not.
Contains: Some language, references to Wicca, witchcraft
“Fierce Battle Aboard the Ghost Ship – The Hell inside My Head?”
Crona is one of the more powerful villains of this series. Of ambivalent gender, they are the child of a witch and has been corrupted from the beginning of life to strive to be a kishin. Crona is clearly suffering an extensive list of mental issues, constantly exacerbated by being soul-linked to Ragnarok, a demon sword who is a massive bully and who suppresses Crona’s will with his own.
Meanwhile Maka goes in for a check up because during the fight with the immortal demon werewolf she coughed up black blood. Medusa is pleased to find that Soul’s black blood infection has passed to Maka through their soul resonance. She gives Maka pills to increase the black blood’s effects.
Maka isn’t without allies. The school’s teachers have become wise to the presence of a witch in the school and are trying to foil her plan. If they can figure it out.
Penguin Group, 2007
Available: New and Used
In a very short period of time, Morgan Rowland has lost her best friend, gained a boyfriend, and discovered that she is a blood witch. Does that means her parents and sister are blood witches as well, or is there more to her mystery? As Morgan uncovers family secrets, she realizes the only person she can count on is Cal. Another gripping tale from Cate Tiernan, this book flows from the previous book, Book of Shadows, and the story continues in Blood Witch, also published this year. Impatient readers won’t have to wait long to find out what happens next to Morgan and Cal.
Contains: Some language, references to Wicca, witchcraft.
Review by Kate-Lynn Williams
Olive and her friends are finally getting some answers from Killer Croc when Batman busts up the party. Olive tries to defend Croc from Batman, meanwhile Batman tries to cut Croc out of the picture permanently. A who’s who evil, rescuer situation is complicated by the fact that Olive knows it was Batman that tore her family apart, jailing her mother in Arkham and sentencing her to Gotham Academy. Apparently the Dark Knight is 1) no hero in Olive’s eyes, but is instead a family destroyer and 2) is still entirely too interested in Olive and what genetics she may have inherited from her mother. How far will he take his interest? Well this is Batman and Obsession we’re talking about, so, probably way too far.