Saturday, December 21, 2013

Last Days of 12 Authors of Christmas KidLit Giveaway!


Just a quick reminder there are only a couple of days left to get these amazing books FREE!
 
Need some suggestions? Julie-Ann Grasso's Cardamom series will appeal to kids of all ages (including the ones that haven't quite grown up yet!). Here are my reviews of the first two books in this exciting off-world fantasy for kids.
 
Escape from the Forbidden Planet: Meet Caramel Cinnamon, an elf who lives in Cardeville on the planet Cardamom. Caramel’s bad accident when she was little has left her with a gammy leg, but that doesn’t stop her doing all kinds of things an elf of her age would do—such as spending two weeks visiting her friend Jemm Jasmine in the tree canopy village and having loads of fun. But treachery and tragedy lie in store for the unsuspecting inhabitants of Cardamom. The villainous Alexander222, an off-world explorer, along with his sidekick clone, Lex, arrive from the
planet Isqwartz. His planet resource is crystal, but supplies are dwindling. They need a renewable resource to trade with other members of the Intergalactic Council. Cardamom is just perfect, especially when the properties of this amazing plant become evident. Alexander222 is desperate to impress the Clone Council and get back into favor. The elves are betrayed by someone close to them, and things turn ugly. Caramel’s grandparents (the King and Queen of Cardamom) are kidnapped and Caramel recognizes their attacker. Before she can make trouble for him, Alexander222 dumps Caramel and her parents on the forbidden planet (Earth) that the Alexanders desperately try to avoid after a bad incident there (Roswell!). Although Earth isn’t as technologically advanced as Cardamom, Caramel and her parents make plans to rescue the King and Queen … until things go horribly awry! Now it’s up to Caramel to do it all on her own, with some help from her new Earth friends.
This is an enchanting fantasy tale to delight readers of all ages. Cardamom’s elves are not your ordinary fairy-tale elves. Science and technology rub shoulders comfortably with a twist of fantasy in this magical world. These elves have telepathic skills as well as healing talents. Caramel is not just an elf, she’s a princess, and she rises to meet the responsibilities thrust upon her with new-found inner strength and determination. Author Julie Anne Grasso has woven a wonderful story with all the elements to intrigue young readers and keep them turning those pages. There’s danger, a test of our heroine’s courage and resourcefulness, intergalactic travel, super-science, geek talk, and a mission to accomplish. Caramel is a lovely, real character, and touches such as her limp emphasize the importance of believing in yourself and being … well, yourself! Family relationships and friendships are also precious to the elves. There are some humorous touches parents will enjoy such as references to modern culture. Mentions of delicious food abound and one wonders why the author did NOT include the recipe for sticky date and chocolate cake with caramel cardamom syrup. (Pass the pudding please!)
And the adventure continues in Return to Cardamom! Instead of life returning to sleepy normal on Cardamom, the planet is now experiencing loads of activity. Cardamom Crystal is in huge demand as a power source for intergalactic technology. Caramel develops her skills in tree tending and healer classes and is keen to get better at computer control. The dangers of Alexander222 are over … or are they? Disaster strikes when the entire cardamom crop drops before due
time, the plants are traumatized, and Caramel has to accompany her mother to the tree canopy to find out what is going on. If Cardamom does not meet its quota, Alexander222 and his sidekick Lex will put forward the new biosynthetic hybrid, Cardocryst, to the Intergalactic Council. This is something the inhabitants of Cardamom cannot afford to see happen because they will lose their livelihood.
Once at the tree canopy, Caramel discovers she has the ability to understand the plants and also to soothe them. She manages to encourage them to start producing a new crop. The planet might just make the quota after all, if the elves can keep the plants safe. Amazingly, the plants give her a clue: they were unable to smell the identity of the saboteur, meaning he or she is an elf!  Caramel’s ideas on what happened to the plants—Alexander 222 and her Aunt Isabel are at the bottom of this—are dismissed as conspiracy theories, but once her mom, Arianna, is kidnapped, it’s up to Caramel and her friends to save the day … again!
Author Julie Anne Grasso knows how to keep the action and the energy going as Caramel and her mates plot and then execute a rescue plan. In between all the Cardamom-based science and techno talk, are the real themes of life that readers are beginning to understand. Doing the right thing, being loyal to friends and family, trying even when you might not succeed, believing in yourself, and consciousness of environmental issues are themes that should be instilled in kids at an early age. Caramel’s courage and principles help young readers to understand what it means to jump into the fray and do your very best. Wonderful revelations at the end of the book restore Caramel’s (and readers) faith in justice and make for a beautiful ending. I loved the first two books and can’t wait to read what the author and Caramel have in store in the final installment of this captivating trilogy.
 
 


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