Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan

If you’ve ever wanted to read a classic book but can’t stand the long-winded scientific descriptions, there’s nothing like a modern retelling, preferably YA, to give it an inclusive and action-packed second life. In this case, middle-grade urban fantasy powerhouse Rick Riordan has written Daughter of the Deep as a skillful homage to Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Welcome to Harding-Pencroft School, the science and technology high school that trains some of the world’s best scientists, diplomats, code-crackers, and naval warriors. It’s divided into four “houses” or focuses of study: House Dolphin, communication and cryptology experts; House Shark, warriors and leaders; House Cephalopod, engineers and innovators, and House Orca, experts in medicine, psychology, and memory. Ana Dakkar is a freshman in House Dolphin, about to undergo her end-of-year trials to determine if she has what it takes to continue her program. Harding-Pencroft is her only home after her parents died two years ago, leaving herself and her brother Dev, a House Shark senior, orphaned. Unfortunately, her trials do not go as planned as she and the rest of the freshman class witness a tragedy that plunges them all into a race for their lives – and for a once in a lifetime treasure. It turns out that they and their rival school, Land Institute, have been in a years-long cold war over the legacy of Captain Nemo (as made famous in Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues under the Sea) who, as it turns out, may not have been so fictional after all…

Rick Riordan fans will love his signature quirky, inclusive, tight-knit friend group that makes up the main cast of characters, and Star Trek fans will love their journey into the unknown under a tightly regimented chain of command. I loved how much of an homage it was to Jules Verne’s original, while at the same time adding a more modern perspective – including greater diversity and a more thoughtful engagement with mental health, trauma, and grief. In my opinion, Rick Riordan does a good job balancing exciting action and character development with a deeper message about the importance of science and oceanography.

If you like exciting adventures, undersea exploration, and compelling characters, or you still love Percy Jackson, you won’t want to miss this book.

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman

guest post from Georgann

Libraries and fairy-tale magic! What a combination! A sort of a cross between The Librarian movies and mish-mash of fairy tales, The Grimm Legacy has a flavor all of its own which left me hoping for more!

Elizabeth, our reminiscent-of-Cinderella heroine, is lonely at her new school. She does a kind deed for a stranger and is noticed by her social studies teacher. He recommends her for a job at the New York Circulating Material Repository. What is the New York Circulating Material Library, you may ask? Elizabeth had to ask too. This particular library checks out all sorts of unusual objects, from clarinets to coronets, from chess sets to tea sets, and from doublets to fondue pots. And, the New York Circulating Material Library has some very special collections, including the Grimm Collection, which, believe it or not, contains actual magical items featured in a wide variety of tales! And the magic really works!

As it turns out, Elizabeth’s new job is full of adventure and unusual experiences. Plus, she makes new friends and finds a place for herself. I enjoyed this book from start to finish. The characters were likable. The fantasy was fun and intriguing. There were some exciting moments and some mystery.

I wonder just what all might be available in our Special Collections. Hmmm……