My favorite of the 2015 Indian Paintbrush Nominees, Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby (Lexile: 670; Interest Level: Grades 3-6), is the story of Solveig, second daughter of a Viking king. She, her siblings, and several house servants and guards are sent to a hidden steaden, or fortress, between mountains and a frozen sea for the winter while her father is at war with another king. As the waters freeze them in, it becomes clear that there is a traitor in their midst. Someone is working for the enemy king. No one seems to know who to trust, but they must all trust each other in order to survive. During this time, Solveig becomes friends with the skald, or storyteller, who begins to teach her his craft. Can the siblings make good choices of whom to trust? Can the storytelling Solveig is learning really provide her with the power to save her friends and family?
This is an amazing mystery tale with many twists and turns as you wonder if each character is the one to fear, and it incorporates Norse mythology, storytelling, and Viking heroism in a very interesting way. Readers who enjoy reading the mythology stories of Rick Riordan may find this book interesting, as will those who enjoy a good mystery on a cold day. (324 pages)
Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan (Lexile: 710; Interest Level: Grades 5-8) is the second book in the Kane Chronicles series, involving Egyptian mythology. Carter and Sadie Kane have barely escaped the troubles of the Red Pyramid and begun their official training in their newly discovered powers, when chaos threatens to break loose again. Seriously, Apophis, the god of chaos, is threatening to escape his prison, and if the Kanes don't stop him in 3 days, chaos will erupt all over the world. In order to prevent Apophis's escape, the children will need to revive the sun god Ra, which sure won't be as easy as it sounds, especially since no one knows where Ra is. And, to make things more difficult, the kids are on their own. How will the find Ra, and will they find him in time? And if they do find him, will he help?
Told in the same style as the first, alternating narration between Sadie and Carter, "as recorded and sent to Rick Riordan to transcribe," this story is full of adventure, mythology, and symbolism. The battle scenes are great, and the rush to save the world was thrilling, but the side story of the relationship between Carter and Zia seemed a little strange. Readers who enjoy Rick Riordan's other books, and Egyptian mythology will enjoy this one as well. (452 pages)
One of the reasons I became an elementary school librarian is so I can read children's books.