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Problem Solving Knights of the Square Table

Knights of the Square Table: Book 1

Written by Teri Kanefield

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Six precocious teenagers from different backgrounds share one thing in common; they are all members of the San Francisco All Star Chess Club. The ninth graders are on the way home from Germany after a sixth place finish in an international competition when their plane goes down due to an avionics failure. They land on a remote island in the North Atlantic in the subarctic. More than sixty passengers face freezing conditions and lack of food supplies to survive. These six teens take charge and prevent disorder, using their multiple talents to create a source of heat, trap food in the ice, and calm the fears of panicked passengers. They even figure out a way to handle Veronica, a kleptomaniac who keeps stealing food from the other passengers. Thanks to their efforts, the survivors are eventually rescued.

But the story does not end there. These six friends gather together to figure out a solution to a nuclear missile crisis. When an Asian dictatorship threatens to fire a nuclear missile, the teens figure out a way to break into that country’s computer system and bribe them into entering peace negotiations to save face. I am sure the world is in for lots more from these indomitable teens in the next two books of the trilogy. This series is targeted for ages nine and older. While the inevitability of the solutions seems too simplistic in some instances, the characters are well-developed, each having strengths and flaws. Middle grade and young adult readers will find much in common with them. Plot is fast paced and I felt compelled to keep reading. Recommended for readers who enjoy adventure stories with clever protagonists and plots containing thought provoking issues.

Barbara Ann Mojica,

LittleMissHistory.com

Subways to Scotland

The Camelot Kids: Part One

Written by Ben Zackheim

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First book in a new middle grade series that mixes medieval history, knights, castles, adventure and coming of age with a modern twist. Protagonist Simon Sharp is a fourteen year old who becomes an orphan at the age of twelve when his archaeologist parents die in an airplane crash over Scotland. Simon finds himself in a New York City orphanage and foster care. He is clever, smart and streetwise, though he is bullied by Brad. When strangers ask how his parents died, he replies, “King Arthur killed them.” Their lifelong mission had been to find Camelot.

Simon’s unlucky situation becomes more mysterious, when he gets a letter from an uncle in Scotland who claims that he has just found out about the accident and will assume responsibility for Simon. The boy is soon on a plane to Scotland and a new life in a mysterious castle. Though he now attends a private school, the bullying situation is the same. Simon will discover hidden passages and meet mysterious creatures like gargoyles, trolls, and magicians. Who are they and what is his connection to them?

This book of slightly less than one hundred pages has charming black and white illustrations that add to the depth of the characters and setting of the tale. The writing of the plot is well-executed and the characters are interesting and endearing. Zackheim seems to have found the right combination of modern day grit and medieval fantasy in setting the right tone for the series. I think tweens and teens will want to get involved with this story. I know that many adults like me have fond memories of Camelot.

Barbara Ann Mojica, Author

LittleMissHistory.com