We had two exciting middle grade novels for 8-12 year olds this month. Dominion is a new sci-fi series and The Sign of the Cat, a high seas adventure of bravery.
Dominion is Shane Arbuthnott’s debut novel. A fast-paced steam punk adventure that reminded me of Kenneth Oppel’s Airborn. Molly is a highly skilled engineer on her family’s airship; the Legerdemain, which sails in the skies above the New World, in the British Dominion of Terra Nova. Their business is to capture spirits which are used to power the airships. Molly isn’t supposed to speak to the spirits for fear of manipulation but she does and she begins to question everything that she has been raised to believe. Her quest to reveal the truth is dangerous and makes for a very exciting read. In this new world, it was refreshing to see that women are equals. In fact the reader will only assume that Molly is a girl by her name. Dominion’s sequel will be published next year. Shane Arbuthnott is a stay-at-home dad of three from Guelph, Ontario. He was kind enough to write our readers an exclusive letter, which is included in this month’s box.
The Sign of the Cat by Lynne Jonell is an adventurous, swashbuckling tale of courage, friendship and cats. Duncan has led a very sheltered life on the island of Dulle in the Kingdom of Arvidia. He has the unusual ability to speak cat because the old cat that lived in his house took the time to teach him when he was young. Duncan is a very smart boy but for some reason his mother doesn’t want him to do his best or draw attention to himself. He even has to wear a hat with earflaps that covers his dark red hair and he isn’t allowed to go down to the wharf when a new ship arrives from Capital City. And now at 11 years old, he is beginning to question everything. In addition to his own questions, the King of Arvidia is very ill, his daughter Princess Lydia is missing and kittens are disappearing. The well respected Earl of Merrick’s ship arrives at the wharf and Duncan is invited to come on board. The earl takes a shine to Duncan and offers him a position as a ship’s boy. He immediately turns him down knowing that his mother won’t like it. Before Duncan knows what’s happened, he is kidnapped and the ship sails away from Dulle. I loved this story of Duncan’s journey, discovering who he really is and his chance to become a hero. Lynn Jonell has written over 15 books for children and received a number of awards and honours. In addition to teaching writing, she is a mother of two boys and lives in Plymouth, Minnesota.