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Published: Sunday, 11/15/2009

Children will enjoy tales of fairies, magic

This is one in a series of monthly reviews of books for young people written by four area teachers of children's literature. Today's reviews are by Melissa Cain of the University of Findlay.

This has been a good year for books about fairies and other magical creatures, which should please children of all ages.

WINGS. By Aprilynne Pike. Harper Teen. $16.99.

What would you do if you suddenly sprouted wings? That is the plight of 15-year-old Laurel. While she struggles to keep her wings hidden, Laurel deals with trying to fit into high school, her growing fondness for a classmate, her father's hospitalization from a mysterious illness, and a strange man who wants to buy her family's land. The land holds the key to the secrets of Laurel's past.

FAERY REBELS: SPELL HUNTER. By R. J. Anderson. HarperCollins. $16.99.

Knife is a fiercely independent hunter who lives in the Oak, the home of a hidden fairy realm. Something terrible has happened to her people. Their magic is deteriorating and they have become mindlessly obedient to the Faery Queen. Knife does the unthinkable in her attempts to help her people-she befriends a human, a disabled young man. Through their relationship, he heals as well.

THE RUNAWAY DRAGON. By Kate Combs. Farrar, Strauss and Giroux. $16.99.

In this sequel to The Runaway Princess, Princess Meg and her friends go on a quest to find Laddy, Meg's runaway dragon. The story has as many plot twists as there are creatures in the enchanted forest Meg and her friends travel through, all inspired by the author's love of fairy tales. Children should enjoy the action, adventure, magical creatures and objects, enchantments, and spells gone right (and humorously wrong).

FANTASY CHRONICLES: FAIRIES AND ELVES, by Shannon Knudson, and WIZARDS AND WITCHES by Ann Kerns. Lerner. $9.99 each.

These engaging books trace beliefs about fantasy creatures from their origins in the pre-science history of humans to their incarnations in books, movies, and video games today. Each book also tells how those beliefs became part of various cultures. Illustrations are photographs of classical artwork about the creatures, pictures from related books and movies, and even prank photographs some people once insisted were true.

THE SECRET HISTORY OF MERMAIDS AND CREATURES OF THE DEEP. Written by Ari Berk; illustrated by Wayne Anderson, Gary Chalk, Matt Dangler, and Virginia Lee. Candlewick Press. $16.99.

This book's premise is that the Order of the Golden Quill gathers and shares knowledge of "secret folk." In a previous book, the author, a professor at Central Michigan University, explored giants. This one examines merfolk. The book draws upon folklore and extends the information imaginatively. Paper flaps reveal details of lost undersea worlds, mermaid songs, and warnings and safeguards when dealing with merfolk.

THE BOOK OF GHOSTS. By Michael Hague and Devon Hague. HarperCollins. $19.99.

Michael Hague, collaborating with his son, Devon, adapted some of the world's best ghost stories for this collection. Authors Oscar Wilde, Louisa May Alcott, Edgar Allen Poe, H. G. Wells, and Washington Irving are represented. The adaptations stay true to the original versions. Full-color paintings are beautifully designed, but reflect the dark tone of these horrific and spine-tingling tales. Warning: not for bedtime reading!

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