Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Some Very Messy Medieval Magic

McKenzie, C.L. (2018). Some Very Messy Medieval Magic (Pete and Weasel Series, #3). Pikeville, NC. Dancing Lemur Press, LLC.

Middle Grade / Fantasy / Adventure

Print ISBN 9781939844460
EBook ISBN 9781939844477
Page Count: 178
Price: $13.95 print
Publish Date: 5-15-18
6x9 Trade paperback

Book Blurb: Pete must take the place of a medieval page or history will be forever altered. Sent to 1173 England with his best friend and alligator familiar, he needs to act when the critical event occurs. Pete soon realizes he’s in over his young wizard head. 

“A gripping adventure back in time, with action around every corner.” - Stephanie Robinson, author of The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow

“A great addition to middle school classrooms and libraries, as well as your own private library.” - Beverly Stowe McClure, award-winning author of stories for children and teens

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Also available from: Ingram, Follett Library Solutions, Publish Drive, and publisher direct. 

HALL WAYS REVIEW: Confession. I love reading books intended for the tween/middle grade audience.  It’s a safe place to read and a great place to experience all the feels, thrills, and chills that get young readers hooked on reading. My gut feeling has told me for a while now that C. Lee McKenzie is a writer who nails the middle grade book, but Some Very Messy Medieval Magic is the first book of hers I have read. I love when my instincts are correct.

Some Very Messy Medieval Magic is the third book in the Adventures of Pete and Weasel series, and it was non-stop fun and action. The book stands alone, and McKenzie does a great job of getting readers new to the series up-to-speed but also telling just enough to make us want to read the prior books to find out the details. CLEVER.

In addition to a fairly intricate plot, there are a lot of underlying themes going on to which readers of any age will relate, including friendship, loyalty, family, self-confidence, belonging, and grief. There are lessons to be learned here, subtly delivered without beating kids over the head to be kind, do the right thing, step-up, give that hug.

Included in Some Very Messy Medieval Magic is a rich cast of characters who bring the story to life – both in modern and historical times. The majority of the book takes place in the 1100s, and McKenzie weaves-in lots of details to give readers a peek into the times and again, subtly, teach a lesson or two. From the eccentric Dr. Wraith (I envisioned a Doc Brown/Back to the Future kinda guy), to the sneaky Egbert, each character is uniquely defined and memorable.

As Pete, Weasel, and a covey of witches and wizards work against the clock to save the world, there is also an element of mystery and some downright SPOOKY business going on around the Druids and Samhain. McKenzie’s descriptions put readers right in the middle of the place and time and will likely encourage kids to dig a little deeper and research on their own.

The writing is well-done with dialogue, both internal and between characters, that is natural and useful in moving the story along. The word choices are perfect with a mix of both easy and challenging words, most of which can be figured out contextually. There are scattered typos, which is to be expected in an ARC but also which I expect will be cleaned-up for the final copy.

I fully intend to go back and get caught up on this series – I am interested in learning more especially about what happened with Pete’s parents and how he came to know he had wizarding powers. I highly recommend librarians and teachers get this series on their shelves.  Some Very Messy Medieval Magic comes out May 15th, 2018, so it’s perfect timing for kids to fill that end of the school year lull or to put on that summer reading rotation.

Thank you to the author and Dancing Lemur Press for providing me a print ARC copy in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give. 

A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’m C. Lee McKenzie, a native Californian who grew up in a lot of different places. I returned to my home state where I live in the Santa Cruz Mountains with my family. I write most of the time, garden, hike, and practice yoga. I travel a lot because that’s how I learn new stuff, and it’s my way to jump-start stories.

In my young adult writing, I take on modern issues that today's teens face. My first young adult novel, Sliding on the Edge (2009) deals with cutting and suicide. My second, The Princess of Las Pulgas (2010), is a story about a family that loses everything and has to rebuild their lives. Double Negative (2014) focuses on literacy, and Sudden Secrets (2014) tackles bigotry and intolerance.

When I want to have fun, I write middle grade books. Alligators Overhead is my first published book for readers age 8-12. Book 2, The Great Time Lock Disaster, followed and now I have Book 3 Some Very Messy Medieval Magic. Writing the adventures of Pete and Weasel has entertained me no end. I enjoyed them so much that I came up with Sign of the Green Dragon—another adventure fantasy.  
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  1. I can't thank you enough for helping kickstart this latest book. I know how many books you have on your list to read and review, so this fabulous post is doubly appreciated.

    1. Absolutely my pleasure! Thank you so much for sharing your book with me.