Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Braden Bell

Warm up your credit cards, or start counting out the Benjamins, because you're going to want to buy both of Braden Bell's magical books. The Kindling, his first YA masterpiece, is matched and perhaps surpassed by its sequel, Penumbras. These are more than great reads folks.

Middle School Magic: Penumbras, the velocious, magical sequel to Braden Bell’s highly successful, "The Kindling," enchants readers while matching that middle-grade gem spell-for-spell, situation-for-situation, and theme-for-theme.

The struggle to hold darkness at bay has matured Conner Dell, sister Lexa, and his secret love, Melanie, and Penumbra's tone reflects the consequences facing off against the forces of evil has had on these Tween-aged magis. Their previous battles have made the trio stronger and more skillful magi, but Connor in particular learns that sparring with dark forces has consequences that can tarnish even the purest of hearts, pulling even the best of friends apart.

Bell, a Ph.D author/educator knows his audience and their world, and once again, he delivers a stellar read that hits all the right buttons. Bell’s books have depth. On the surface, they are fun, smart, action-packed reads written with a masterful pen that merges crisp middle-school-ish dialogue with sizzling action that pops. Bell doesn’t dummy-down to his readers. These books contain smart vocabulary, and better yet, each page and subplot invites readers to dig deeper, to think, and to explore critical values such as loyalty, faith, honesty, trust, and love.

Adults will enjoy these books as much as their youth, but more importantly, though their youth may not be off chasing Darkhands, Bell’s characterizations of these young heroes remind parents that their middle grade youth are daily engaged in battles of their own.

Penumbras definitely entertains, and makes a great chapter-a-night family read, but it offers much more to savvy families. Before it’s public release, critics already nominated Penumbras for a coveted Whitney Award. I highly recommend it as a pick read of 2013.


  1. Laurie, thank you so much for your review! I saw it on Goodreads, but somehow missed it on your blog.