Original Story “Grandfather’s Box”

Here’s another short story!

Grandfather’s Box

by Phoebe Eckstein


Magic streamed from the box, like long white ribbons unraveling. Amazed, Arthur watched as a fantastical world appeared before him. There was a castle floating in the middle of the room, sized for people no bigger than his palm. It had small cobble stone walls and covered with bright green walls. Arthur reached out to touch it, but it wasn’t solid like stone. It sort of felt like jelly.

Small people also were emerging from the box and gliding toward Arthur. Within a moment, floating around Arthur were miniature royalty, wizards, families, children, and animals.  The people were dressed for summer, with dresses, short-sleeves and shorts. They were walking through the air on small yellow cobble stone paths that floated on nothing. Tiny buildings of all kinds – shops, houses, mills, and other structures – also drifted at the end of the paths. The people chatted with each other as they strolled in and out of shops, and waved to Arthur. It looked like a whole village had been shrunk and was now hovering right in front of him. But the most wonderful thing was not the people, or the floating castle, or the bright colors. Instead of birds flying through the sky, there were tiny dragons of all colors flittering over the floating village. They looked like miniature lizards with wings and flying in circles and spirals, chasing each other, and thoroughly enjoying themselves. Their scales shimmered like precious gems.

When his grandfather had told him there might be something interesting in the old, wooden box, Arthur had never imagined anything quite like this. At nine years old, he had already stopped believed in magic. Well, until now. But, he still couldn’t believe it.

As he gazed in amazement at the people, dragons, and structures floating in front of his eyes, a princess slowly stepped forward, or rather floated from the castle toward him and stopped a mere few inches in front of his nose, which almost caused him to cross his eyes. She had a red and pink gown and long flowing brown hair. Her cheeks were rosy red and her eyes were as green as the grass outside.

“I am Princess Alessandria, and this is my world. These are our people, and this is our home.”

Before she could continue, an overjoyed fairy with shining white hair, blue tipped white wings, and a star-tipped wand flew up toward Arthur and circled around his face.

She tapped Arthur on the nose with her wand, and then chuckled.

“I am the fairy godmother. This box contains our land and many, many others.”

Even though they all so were small, Arthur couldn’t understand how their village, much less many lands, could fit inside the box. “I guess its magic,” he thought to himself.

The Princess smiled and then continued.  “We came to greet you. Because you opened our box, it is now your duty to protect it. We will trust in you, and hope you will protect us from all dangers, as many have done before you. But now, we must return so we can go on with” she hesitated, “our lives. I do hope you understand.”

Before Arthur could try to figure out what she meant, all the tiny people waved and called their good-byes. Even the tiny dragons seemed to wave as they turned toward the box. Then, as swiftly as they had come out, all the yellow cobble stone paths twisted and turned towards the box, and everyone, including the animals and dragons, raced down the paths, closely followed by their little shops and houses, and the castle.

As they disappeared from sight, Arthur’s eyes widened and he quickly closed the wooden lid once the last bit of enchantment disappeared. He then hurriedly pattered down the stairs to the kitchen where his grandfather was making tea.

“Well, did you find anything interesting? Exciting? Maybe magical?” his grandfather inquired with a twinkle in his eyes.

“Oh, Grandpa!” Arthur set the box on the table, and ran to embrace him.

“Ah yes, when I was a boy I would peak into the box quite often,” his grandfather said as he patted Arthur on the head. “Just think, a whole other world in the palm of our hands.”  Then, as the lines grew taut across his forehead, he looked squarely into Arthur’s face and said sternly, “But, we must be very careful. They are now your responsibility. Do you understand?”

Arthur nodded nervously not quite sure what his grandfather meant.

Then, as if someone had pulled a light switch, the kettle on the stove whistled and his grandfather’s expression instantly returned to its normal cheeriness. “Ah, there we go,” said his grandfather as he turned around. “My tea is ready.”  And he went to tend to the kettle.

Arthur sat down at the table and gazed at the box. There really was magic in the world, he thought. Just the thought of it all made him smile.


Review of “Jack Blank: The Accidental Hero (book 1)”

Jack Blank: The Accidental Hero (book 1)aav
By Matt Myklusch
Published by Aladdin
496 pages

A young orphan, hidden powers, good versus evil, and a special school. Sounds like Harry Potter? Well, it’s not. It has some of the same elements as Harry’s story, but it has an original plot and characters. This book has super heroes and evil robo-zombies from outer-space, and is about a young boy’s adventures on an extraordinary island.

When the story begins Jack lives in an orphanage. He likes to read comic books because they allow him to escape from his dreary life. Comic books, however, aren’t allowed at the orphanage because “These ridiculous magazines poisoning your brain with nonsense. Childish nonsense,” according to Ms. Theedwheck, one of the orphanage caretakers.One day, a rather unexpected visitor arrives at the orphanage. Jack soon finds himself on remarkable island where super heroes from his comic books live in real life! Jack’s unexpected escape to the Imagine Nation is beyond anything he could have dreamed of at the orphanage.

But not everything is perfect. Jack soon learns that he might be an evil robot himself! Although he’s pretty sure that he’s not evil, not everyone believes him. And, the possibility of being an evil robot attracts lots of unwanted attention, especially when the Imagine Nation press portrays him as a spy for the evil robo-zombies who have previously tried to take over the world. To make matters worse, he seems to have made enemies with a very important man who probably wants to kill him.

Overall, this a pretty good book, however the beginning chapters are poorly written. They are very childish, and had my brother not told me to keep going, I do not think I would have read on. Part of the reason the beginning is childish is the names the author gives to some of the places. For example, the island is called “Imagine Nation,” and the orphanage where Jack lives at the start of the story is called “St. Barnaby’s Home for the Hopeless, Abandoned, Forgotten, and Lost.” These names made it hard to take the story seriously at times. In addition, some of the characters who are supposed to be mean are exaggerated, but without an explanation for why they are as cruel as they are. Also, the fact that Jack once took a test for possible career jobs at orphanage and got “Toothbrush Cleaner” is just too silly. However, after the first few chapters, the writing gets much better, and I enjoyed the rest of the book.

This is the first book in a great trilogy. The two other books are just as existing and adventurous as this one (without the silliness of the first few chapters in this book).

Over all, I think this is a great book for kids who enjoy fantasy ages 9-12.


Original Story “Antarctica”


This is another excerpt from the book I am working on. I  posted my the first excerpt in June here.



By Phoebe Eckstein

With the help of their dragons, Olivia, Sophie, and Ezra had just “jumped” again across thousands of miles. And now, they were in Antarctica on their quest to find Xcalabi’s secret base. Xcalabi, an evil magician, was planning a war to destroy Khaliyah. With the help of an old friend, the kids had learned the location of the base. Xcalabai may have made a mistake by not protecting his base against intrusion by kids. Now they were off to find it, without adult permission.

As they landed their dragons onto the icy ground, Olivia took in the sight, and the cold. It was freezing! Colder than she had ever thought cold could be. When she looked around, everything was white. It seemed to go on forever. There might have been mountains in the distance, but everything blended in like an endless fog.

Olivia was glad for the magical clothes that they had smartly brought with them on the quest. They radiated heat and helped take the bite out of the frigid air. Unfortunately, though, they didn’t fully cover her ears and nose, which felt like frozen popsicles.

Olivia looked down at the map they had spread out on Hale’s vast back as the dragon’s warm breath steamed around them.

“Where are we?” she asked sniffling. “Antarctica!” Ezra yelled over the freezing wind.

“I mean, where are we on the map?” she hollered back, emphasizing “we”.

Ezra looked around and pointed to a number of red and blue metal structures off in the distance. “That could be one of the research bases that we learned about. Maybe Halley or Neumayer or Belgrino,” he said.

Bel-gra-no.” Sophie corrected Ezra, as she shifted her backpack. “Belgrano’s is supposted to be mostly red. And from the pictures of the bases we found, I think this one’s Halley,” she added. Olivia nodded her agreement while clutching her arms closely to stay warm.

The three children climbed back onto their dragons and flew slowly toward the base, careful not to be seen. When they got close, Olivia told Sophie and Ezra to wait for her and flew Hale upwards a few thousand feet.

She looked down at the ground so far away. For a second, she thought how awful it would be to fall from this height. But she quickly cleared her head and looked at the scenery below. The shore of the Weddle Sea was to her right; the landmass that was Antarctica was to her left. In the far distance, in between the snowy gusts of wind, she could just make out a mountain range. She then had Hale fly back down to Sophie and Ezra who were waiting patiently on their dragons, Neva and Inferno.

“The Weddle Sea is over there,” she said pointing northward. ”So, we should go…that way,” Olivia said and pointed forwards and a little left.

After an hour and a half of flying through the bitter cold, the mountain range slowly came into view. It was hard to tell the snow-covered mountains from the white blanket around them, but Olivia could tell from the shadows among the folds and crevasses of the mountains.

“The Shackleton Mountains,” Ezra said with some doubt in his voice. “At least, I hope so,” he added quietly. “So, we should follow the range toward the South ‘till we get near the end.”

Ezra had quieted down considerably from his usual excitable self. The long trip and the cold seemed to have sapped his energy.

A half an hour later, they reached the last large peak in the range. They descended to the ground and began searching on foot for the entrance to Xcalabi’s secret lair. They walked around the area for hours, but found nothing. By then, night had fallen and the cold was so bitter it hurt to breath.

“I’m hungry, guys. When can we eat?” asked Ezra for the eleventh time.

“Maybe we should set up camp and rest, and then decide what to do,” Sophie suggested.

Olivia agreed. They got out the tent and stared at the pile of fabric and metal sticks.

“Is there an instruction manual?” Sophie asked.

“What’s that?” Olivia asked and bent down to examine it. It was a small yellow tab with the words “PULL ME” printed out.

“This seems a little like Wonderland.” She observed.

“Well, pull it!” Sophie said, as she knelt down to do it herself.

Like any good magic tent, it instantly sprang up. It was a metallic silver color that seemed to glow. Other than the glowing silver, Olivia thought it looked like any other non-magical triangular tent.

Olivia and the others crawled inside. There was a small booklet in the middle of the floor. Sophie knelt down and picked it up.

Quickly leafing through it, she exclaimed “Hey. This tent is pretty cool. It automatically stays at 70 degrees inside, And get this! Its walls are super strong and sturdy and can stand up against high winds, hail, calder showers, and charging herds of rhinos!” Sophie looked around and saw Olivia’s and Ezra’s doubtful stares. “No. Really! It says so right here!” she cried out. Then, more thoughtfully, she said, “I wonder what calder showers are.”

Olivia opened the magical freezer-backpacks and brought out some sort of frozen, purple-ish vegetable for Inferno to instantly heat up. Or set on fire.

Once they put the small fire out, Sophie declared that dinner was ready.

“Ok, well, what should we do now?” Sophie asked, as they ate.

I think we should just go home,” Ezra said sounding dejected. He had barely touched his dinner and was absentmindedly moving his food from one side of the plate to the other. “I don’t think we’re going to find the stupid entrance.”

“We can’t go back now,” Olivia said adamantly. “Not after all we did to get here.”

“But Kaivan never told us where to look!” exclaimed Ezra. “All he said was that the entrance was at the end of the range at the base of a big mountain with a pointed top. But he never told us exactly where!”

Ezra got up from the floor and started pacing across the tent. “The end of the Shackleton Range is huge! We don’t know where to look! It could be anywhere around here!” Ezra said, his voice rising in pitch.

“Ezra! Calm down! Please,” Sophie responded nervously, not knowing what to do.

“But, there’s no way we’ll find the entrance, Sophie!” Ezra pleaded. ”We should just go home,” he insisted. “It’s not worth it! I’m cold, and this whole quest thing is pointless!” he yelled. He then added quietly “I wish Mom was here. And Dad.”

“Ezra! Calm down now!” Sophie insisted.

“No! I’m done with this whole thing!” Ezra yelled, and ran outside of the tent.

Olivia and Sophie could hear Ezra yelling outside running around the tent.  Olivia looked at Sophie and gulped. Sophie sighed and put her face in her hands. A few seconds later, they heard a rumbling slowly growing in strength.

“What’s that?” Sophie asked with concern in her voice. “I don’t know,” Olivia answered as they both stood up. As the rumbling increased, it also sounded as if it was getting closer and closer. Then Ezra yelled, “Sophie, Olivia! Get out!!!”

“What?” Sophie asked as she looked toward the entrance of the tent. At that moment, Ezra flew into the tent and tumbled to the ground.

“Guys! It’s an avalanche! We’ve got to get out of here right now!” But before they could even move to leave, snow followed Ezra through the doorway, and they heard something smash into their tent.


Review of “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
By Ransom Riggs
Published by Quirk Books
352 pages

This book is what I would call fantasy and adventure. It’s a bit like the X-mencomic book and movie series because it’s about people born with unique abilities, who live in a special school, and who have to fight against others with similar abilities. But it’s different because the heroes of the story are teenagers, there’s a whole lot of time travel involved, and most of all, the public doesn’t know anything about the characters’ peculiar abilities. Also, every day at the children’s home is the same day: Sept 3, 1943. It’s the same twenty four hours over and over again; never September 4, never the 5th. Oh, and by the way, on September 3, 1943 the Germans bombed the island where they live.

Jacob Portman is the main character of the story. He is a typical sixteen-year-old teenager; there’s nothing about him that makes him stand out against most of his peers. When I think about it now, his character is rather wooden. But when I read the book, he didn’t seem that way at all. I know that doesn’t make sense. It’s as if his environment and everything that happens to him gave him a personality. But, he’s also the narrator and the focus of the story.

Then there’s Miss Peregrine. She is the headmistress of the children’s home. She reminds me a bit of Ms. McGonagall from the Harry Potter series. They’re both strict but kind, always know what’s right, and act like caring aunts to the children. There are also other important characters in the story, with many with neat abilities, but you’ll need to read it to learn about them.

I really like this book because the plot, which is basically good versus evil, is not too complicated or too simple and moves forwards at a steady pace. The writing in the story is very descriptive, and works well with the pictures. The pictures, like the one on the cover, are old black and white photographs that actually inspired the book. The author explained at the end of the story that he likes to collect old photographs, especially ones that are unusual, and then created a story around his favorites. The photos all have an aspect to them that’s not exactly menacing, but not friendly, and are perfect for this story (you can check out some of his other photos on his website (scroll down to the “found photographs”); these aren’t digitally altered like those in the book, but are still strange and interesting).

After I read the book, I saw the movie, which recently came out.  I was expecting the movie to follow the book more closely than it actually did. While there are basic similarities between the two, the movie actually tells a rather different story. Some of the differences bothered me a bit, especially when two main characters were swapped around. But otherwise, the movie is well done.

I really enjoyed this adventure, and recommend it to anyone aged 12+ who likes unusual adventure stories. By-the-way, this book is the first in a series of three books.



Review of “The Tale of Despereaux”

The Tale of Despereaux9780763680893_p0_v2_s192x300
By Kate DiCamillo
Published by Candlewick Press
272 pages

This is an adventure story about a mouse who tries to save a princess from a rat who wants revenge for a broken heart. It also involves a poor servant girl who wants to be treated like a princess, and a rat who doesn’t like being a rat. Sound complicated? Not really.

The book is separated into four parts. The first tells the story of Despereaux, our petit mouse hero; the second about Roscuro, the revenge-seeking-rat who doesn’t like being a rat; the third is about the servant girl, Miggery Sow; and the forth part brings them all together.

Despereaux is a mouse who lives in the mouse city below the castle ground. But Despereaux isn’t your typical castle mouse. He refuses to scurry, eat paper, collect crumbs and stay away from humans like the other ordinary mice. Instead, Despereaux is adventurous, reads story books instead of eating them, doesn’t care about crumbs, and talks to people. In fact, he falls in love with a princess named Pea.  And for all this, Despereaux gets in real trouble with the rest of the mice community. They send him to the dungeon! Soon he learns that the princess is in trouble, and like a tiny knight in with a shining needle, he’s off to save her. I like Despereaux because he really cares about the princess, and is a brave little hero. Although the dungeon is dark and full of large, dangerous rats, he overcomes his fears and goes to save the princess.

The second main character in the story is Roscuro, Despereaux’s nemesis. He’s a rat who lives in the dungeon who, unlike other rats, likes the light. But, when he ventures upstairs out of the darkened dungeon to find the light, he causes a huge soup fiasco (yes, soup fiasco) that leaves him bitter and vengeful.

Then there’s Miggery Sow, a former farmer’s slave. She now works as a servant girl at the castle. Roscuro uses her as part of his plan for revenge, but she’s not a bad person. She’s just not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Finally, we have Pea, the beautiful princess who is full of qualities like compassion, empathy, and many other traits that most fairytale royalties have.  It sort of makes her character seem a bit too perfect. But she is important to the story.

I liked this story because of its sense of danger and adventure, yet it still is narrated with a soft, sometime humorous voice.

The tale of Despereaux is also a cute animated 2008 movie with Emma Watson and Robbie Coltrane. I enjoyed the movie, but it added, took out, and changed some of the minor and major details.

This is a great book for kids who like fairytales and adventures ages 8-11.


Review of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts 1 & 2”

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts 1 & 2cc
By J.K Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic inc.
308 pages

Harry Potter has been one of the world’s most favorite wizards since 1997, along with his friends, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and many others. From daily magic classes at a school for witchcraft and wizardry, to confronting the world’s most dangerous wizard, the trio’s many adventures have captivated fans for nearly three decades.

I personally have loved Harry’s world since I first began reading the Harry Potter series at age seven. When I heard that a sequel was being published, I begged my mom to make sure I could get a copy the minute it was released. We arrived at the bookstore at 8pm, long before the book’s midnight release, where they had prepared for the crowd with crafts and games. And, when I got The Cursed Child in my hands, I stayed up half the night and read it all! It was absolutely worth it!

So what’s the book about? Well, nineteen years after Deathly Hollows, Harry is now an Auror (a dark wizard catcher), Ron runs a joke shop, Hermione is none other than Minister of Magic, and the next generation of witches and wizards are students at our beloved Hogwarts, School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!

The book, however, is not really about Harry. It’s more about Albus Potter and his struggle to live up to a family legacy he never asked for. As you may remember from the Deathly Hollows epilogue, Albus is Harry and Ginny’s second of three children. He and Harry have a hard time getting along and differences of opinions often lead to arguments. And, whenever Harry tries to fix things, things seem to get worse.

Despite being the son of the world’s most famous wizard (or, maybe because of it), fitting in and having friends at Hogwarts isn’t easy for Albus. His best friend Scorpius Malfoy doesn’t have many friends either. Albus’s family isn’t very comfortable about the friendship, as the Potters and the Malfoys were enemies as students at Hogwarts and during the war.

Because of a popular rumor, Scorpius is constantly accused of being Voldemort’s son. Albus and Scorpius don’t know it yet, but Voldemort’s real child might be on a quest to bring him back. Soon, the duo find themselves on a wild adventure traveling through time, learning how the smallest changes years in the past can ripple into big changes in the future. And when Albus and Scorpius try to go back again to fix their mistakes, it only gets worse.  It’s like the butterfly effect – one small change twenty years ago, can have unimaginable consequences today. This is actually one of the things I really loved about the story line.

This book is not written in the form of a novel like the other seven Harry Potter books. Instead, it is a play script published in book form. So, there are parts where you have to pay very close attention to every word to understand what is happening, while in other sections there is a lot of excess dialogue. Sometimes when they speak it is hard to understand what is happening, because there is no narrative voice to describe the actions. I think the story line seems more complicated as a play script because of all the talking. I would have preferred that the book had not been written as a script, because there are lots of places where helpful descriptions could have been added if it were a novel.

Two more things to note. First, if you are concerned about the violence or darkness in the story, don’t worry. It is no more violent or dark than the first Harry Potter book – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Second, there are multiple sections in the story that incorporate plots from the earlier Harry Potter books. You may not understand some of the references if you haven’t read at least the first four books in the series.

Overall, this is a thrilling look at a new generation of witches and wizards, plots and adventures, and friendships in the wizarding world. This book is for everyone 9 years and up, all the way to the oldest adults who love Harry Potter’s magical world.


Review of “Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer”

Theodore Boone 1# – Kid Lawyer
By John Grisham
Published by Hodder & Stoughton
288 pages

This book is about a kid who wants to be a lawyer and a murder trial that’s full of twists and turns. It’s a story that revolves around the judicial system and about how lawyers and judges work.

Thirteen-year-old Theodore Boone’s parents are lawyers and own a law firm in the town of Strattenburg. Theodore spends lots of his time at the Strattenburg courthouse. He knows every police officer, judge, and bailiff in town. He already knows a lot about the law and sometimes even helps his classmates with legal questions. Someday, Theo wants to become a great lawyer or judge, like Judge Gantry, one of the characters in the book. But, for now, he likes to say he has his own office at the law firm, which is really an unused closet that he uses to do his homework in.

As the book begins, there is a big trial in town. Pete Duffy is being tried for murder. But no one actually saw the murder happen. Theo finds himself becoming involved in the case when he discovers that someone he knows has proof that Duffy committed the crime. The problem is that the witness is afraid to speak to the police because he is an illegal immigrant.

This is a really interesting story because even though Theo isn’t old enough to be a real lawyer, it doesn’t stop him from acting like one. For example, when one of his classmate’s dog runs away and is held at the pound, Theodore helps her get the dog back at the animal court. Also, when another classmate is worried because his parents are behind on their mortgage and the bank is threating to take the house, Theo explains to him about bankruptcy (that’s a court process that helps people and businesses get rid of their debts and repay their creditors).

Theodore was exciting, but he wasn’t a very complex character. I liked that he wanted to be a lawyer, but I wish he had had more of a personality. He wasn’t wooden, but the author could have told us more of what Theo was thinking (in the next book in the series, Theo’s character gets more developed).

There are six books in the Theodore Boone series.

By-the-way, the Theodore Boone website has lots of fun information about the legal system, weird laws, videos, and lots of other material.

Over all, I think this is a great book for all kids ages 9-13.


Original Story “The Council Meeting”


This is another one of my original short stories. In fact, it’s part of a book I’m working on.


The Council Meeting

By Phoebe Eckstein

Olivia and Sophie watched secretly from behind the banister at the top of the stairs. Down below, members of the council of Eres had just assembled in Sophie’s living room, actually her parents’, for an urgently called meeting.

“Yesterday, after the… incident I started gathering all of the information I could about the base,” said Kaivan, the oldest member of the council. “And knowing Xcalabi, I’m quite positive that he enchanted it so no one can enter uninvited.”

“So, you’re saying, no one can go into Xcalabi’s base undetected? We can’t send anyone in to learn what he’s doing?” Ms. Loretta asked exasperatedly.

“Well, I‘ve sent magical scouts to the base, and it turns out that his spell does not prevent everyone from going into the base.” Kaivan said, emphasizing the word everyone. “You see, I believe it only prevents adults, at least, adults from Kaliyah.” Then, as an afterthought, he added, “Though, I’m still not sure about adults from Earth,” as he slowly rubbed his right earlobe and looked off into space.

“Where is the base, anyways?” Ms. Loretta asked with a bit of apprehensive curiosity.

“Well, I’ve located it in Antarctica, near the south end of the Shackleton Range.” Kaivan answered absentmindedly, still rubbing his ear and thinking about sending adults from Earth. “This time of year it should be around 35 degrees below zero. Really quite cold! And snowy, I think. Or is it hail? You know, it might be a mix of both. I wonder how Xcalabi heats up his base. Magic or geothermal? I’m guessing—”

“Uh, excuse me Kaivan. You mean to say that we could send a child into the base?” Mr. Paxon interrupted curiously.

“Nej. Untinkable! Sendeeng a child on such a dangorous meeshon.” Absolute not!” Mrs. Kato scolded with her thick, authoritative accent.

“I was just kidding.” Mr. Paxon responded softly, although no one seemed to hear him.

“Actually, Paxon has the right idea. Sending a child might be the only way.” Kaivan said thoughtfully.

“Und you too? Vee are NOT sendeeng a child on this meeshon!” Mrs. Kato scolded, outraged and gripping the armrests of her chair as if trying to squeeze the last drop of water from a rock.

“We were only considering the idea, Madam Kato.” Kaivan said calmly.

“And you vill do no more zen conseeder it. I vill not allow it to happen!” Mrs. Kato exclaimed, her eyes nearly bulging from their sockets.

“And so it won’t.” Mr. Paxon muttered. “Meeting concluded.” He announced abruptly.

“Vat? You colled a meeting yust to deescuss sendeeng a child to Xcalabi’s base?” Mrs. Kato asked, outraged.

“Madam Kato, please.” Kaivan said calmly.

Mrs. Kato pursed her lips, but didn’t say anything.

As the council members slow rose and left Sophie’s house, Olivia and Sophie watched nervously from above. Everyone seemed tense, even scared.

Kaivan opened the door, then turned to thank Sophie’s parents. As he turned back toward the door, he quickly glanced in Sophie and Olivia’s direction and winked before slipping away.

Olivia looked at Sophie. Did Kaivan know they had spied on the council? Did he really just wink at them?

As they quietly snuck back to Sophie’s room, Sophie said eagerly, “That was a short meeting. But anyways, do want to go?”

“Go? Where?” Olivia asked.

“The circus!” Sophie said sarcastically. “No, Antarctica. You heard what Kaivan said. Only a kid could do it.”

“You’re not seriously considering this, right?” Olivia asked slowly.

“Yes, I am!” Sophie said stubbornly, slightly raising her voice.

“First of all, it’s dangerous,” Olivia said. “second, we could get in to big trouble, third, we could get hurt, fourth, Antarctica is a long way away, fifth, Kaivan said you could freeze to death, sixth—.”

“—In other words, it’ll be risky. But, you know that old saying, ‘What’s life without risk’?” Sophie asked.

“Yes, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean confronting the most dangerous magician in history.” Olivia countered.

“Well, you don’t have to go.” Sophie said tauntingly. “And, ask anyone I know. I am very stubborn.”

Olivia stared at her. She had no doubt that Sophie was stubborn. But, it couldn’t really happen. Right? Her parents would never in a million years agree to such an adventure. Then again, it could be an incredible quest.

“Well, if you’re going alone, then I guess I have to go with you.” Olivia said slowly.

“Oh, goody!” Sophie exclaimed and hugged her friend, lifting her off the floor.

At that second, the door opened. Ezra, Sophie’s younger brother, walked into the room.

“I want to go with you.” He said with a bit of a whine.

“What? We’re not going anywhere.” Sophie said sounding annoyed.

“Yes you are! You were just talking about it. I heard you,” Ezra said accusingly.

“Oh, Ezra, just leave us alone!” Sophie exclaimed.

“But I wanna go with you!” He insisted.

“No means no!” Sophie said.

“Well, I’ll tell dad, I’ll tell mama” He sang, looking quite smug.

“Well, maybe we should let him,” Olivia whispered into Sophie’s ear. “If he tells on us, well, then… I mean, If we go, that is.” Olivia continued whispering.

“Oh, we’re going.” Sophie grinned.

“Okay, fine, Ezra, you can come.” Sophie announced with a sigh.

“Awesome!” Ezra exclaimed. “We’re going to Antarctica! We’re going to Antarctica!” He sang as he jumped around the room.

“Ezra! Shush!” Sophie demanded. “Mom and dad will hear you.”

“When do we leave?” he asked, quiet once more.

“First thing tomorrow morning.” Sophie announced.

Olivia shook her head, and wondered what had she gotten herself into.


Review of “Janitors, Book 1”

JanitorsJanitors, Book 1
By Tyler Whitesides
Published by Shadow Mountain
288 pages

This book is about two kids who get mixed up in a world of magic and school janitors, two things that normally don’t go together. Spencer lives an average 6th grade life.

One day, after an incident involving a bully drawing on his face and a bottle of magic soap, he starts seeing weird insect-like creatures roaming the school. He soon realizes that the only other people who can see them are the school janitors. The problem is that nobody believes him, except for Daisy, one of his classmates. Soon after, Spencer and Daisy get recruited by the Bureau of Educational Maintenance to return a magical object that the janitors at their school took from the BEM. The BEM is a government agency in charge of all public school janitors, and for making sure the janitors stop the insect creatures. But Spencer and Daisy soon find out that the BEM hasn’t told them quite everything.

Spencer is an earnest student who wants to learn, even if he falls asleep in algebra class. Many times throughout the book, he acts more mature than a typical 6th grader would. For example, he is always worrying about germs and washing hands, when most kids couldn’t care less.

Daisy is very different from Spencer. At the beginning of the book Daisy is very naïve, even gullible. I think the author exaggerated her gullibility too much that it was hard to believe. For example, she didn’t know what algebra was, so one of the other kids told her it was a sea creature with tentacles. And she believed him! Even though Spencer is the main character his personality in a little wooden, while Daisy’s personality is more developed.

One of the things I liked about this book, is that even though it’s a fantasy story, Spencer still has regular 6th grade problems. He still worries about bullies and not embarrassing himself. Although this is a fantasy story, there still is quite a bit of reality.

This is the first book in a series of five. I think the other books in the series have very funny names, like ‘Strike of the Sweepers’, and ‘Heroes of the Dustbin’.

I think boys and girls who like fantasy story ages 9-12 will enjoy this book.


Original Story “A New Home for Cookie”


Hi everyone! This month, instead of a book review, I have something different! I have an original short story! I decided to change it up because I thought it would be fun. So here it is!

A New Home for Cookie

By Phoebe Eckstein

W-w-where am I? It looks like a big shelf, but not like the one in Lidia’s room. How did I get here? It’s kind of cramped with toys, furniture, and- and all sorts of pots and pans. It’s really dusty. What is it all doing here? And why am I here? I was in a bag, and then I was suddenly here. Oh, Lidia! I miss you so much!

I remember when I first came to you. You were four years old. I was your new best friend, fresh from the toy store. You so loved my short, furry chocolate brown fur, big black eyes, and chubby face. I guess I still look pretty much the same, except for my left ear, which Mama sewed back on after the cat tried to play with me. You always took such great care of me. Now I also have that sky blue ribbon that you gave me all those years ago around my neck. Hanging from my ribbon is the small cardboard tag that says ‘COOKIE’. You wrote that in your best handwriting when you were six. Oh, I miss you Lidia …

We had so much fun playing together, and you always took me everywhere with you. Do you remember the times we made pillow forts on the couch? I was Captain Cookie and you were Marshall Lidia. We had to protect the fort from the evil Sorcerer Whiskers and the dangerous Pirate Coco. I know I was such a lucky bear to have someone like you, someone who cared for me so well. But what happened? It was soon after your fourteenth birthday, I remember you and Mama talking about me going to Charity. But, you never told me who Charity was. Will she come to get me?

Oh, wait! Someone’s coming. He doesn’t look like Papa. Papa always wore ironed collared shirts. This man is wearing an old gray T-shirt. Maybe he’s Charity? He’s picking me up! Wait, what happened? I can’t see! Oh no! I’m in a bag again. I don’t think I like bags very much.

I wonder where we’re going? Oh, what’s going to happen to me?  Where is Charity taking me? I hope I’m going back to Lidia. I miss her so much. Why did she send me to Charity? Did I do something wrong? Oh Lidia…

Hey, we stopped! What’s going on? Where am I? Look! There’s a tiny tear in the bag. I can see a room. I think it’s a little house. There’s a small bed in the living room, next to the kitchen. But there’s not much furniture here. It looks as if there’s only one window.

Someone’s saying something. They’re yelling for someone called Alison to look in a bag. Oh my! I hear running footsteps. Someone’s lifting me out of the bag. Ah! It’s a little girl, about the same age as Lidia was when I came to her. But she doesn’t look like Lidia. She has shiny, dark brown ringlets, much darker than Lidia’s hair, big brown eyes, and a cute button nose. She is wearing a simple lilac dress that doesn’t look like anything Lidia would have worn. But I like it. And look! She has dimples! I love dimples!

Oh! She squealed just like Lidia did when I first came to her. She must be Charity. She’s hugging me tight. It feels so good to be hugged again.

Wait! Someone just told Alison to go play outside. Maybe this girl isn’t Charity. This must be Alison! Well, that’s okay. I know I’m going to like my new home.

But I wonder what happened to Charity?