The Center for Children's Books


Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Judging a Book by Its Cover: Covers with Deadly Weapons - July 2014

Selected and annotated by Alice Mitchell


Aguirre, Ann. Enclave. Feiwel, 2011. 259p. Gr. 6-8.
Deuce has waited her whole life to become a huntress in her underground society, fending off dangerous monsters called Freaks.  When that time comes, Deuce is paired with Fade, a boy who doesn’t like taking orders, but they are soon both exiled from their relatively safe home and forced aboveground where they are prey to the sun, Freaks, and gangs of other humans.

Card, Orson Scott. Pathfinder. Simon Pulse, 2010. 657p. Gr. 7-10.
Growing up behind a wall and sheltered by his father, Rigg was protected but knew very little of the larger world.  His father kept secrets about Rigg’s destiny and urged him not to tell anyone about his ability to see the path of one’s past.  One day, Rigg decides to push past the wall and realizes that he can do more than see people’s pasts—he can change them.

Card, Orson Scott. Ruins. Simon Pulse, 2012. 530p. Gr. 7–10.
Rigg had hoped that crossing the Wall would lead his friends to safety.  Guided by a robot, they attempt to figure out the secret to fixing their world divided into nineteen parts by Walls before a new group of human settlers arrives and destroys everything.

Castor, H. M. VIII. Simon, 2013. 415p. Gr. 7-10.
The opulence of Henry VIII’s childhood is accompanied by his mother’s anxiety about her husband’s throne in this novel.  Henry believes that he is preordained to become king and waits until his time to rule arrives.  Once crowned king, Henry approaches every task as a step towards gaining an heir, a development for his empire, or a challenge from Satan himself.

Coakley, Lena. Witchlanders. Atheneum, 2011. 400p. Gr. 7–10.
Every year, Ryder’s village gives a tithe to a coven of witches who claim to predict the future and protect the Witchlands from their old enemy, the Baen.  Though skeptical that the witches accomplish anything, Ryder still fights to protect his village from the Baen.  He achieves a tenuous peace with Falpian, a young Baen whom he meets at the border, where they are caught on opposite sides of an impending war.

Gee, Maurice. Salt. Orca, 2009. 264p. Gr. 9 up.
Born into poverty with the skill to talk to animals, Hari feels a deep hatred for the Company, which enslaves his people, including his father who has just been taken to Deep Salt, the deadliest mine owned by the Company.  He meets Pearl, a daughter of a Company elite, and together—using their ability to communicate telepathically—they journey to rescue Hari’s father and discover the mystery behind Deep Salt.

Lo, Malinda. Huntress. Little, 2011. 371p. Gr. 9–12.
In this prequel to Lo’s Ash, Kaede and Taisin are brought together to restore balance in the human kingdom.  With Taisin’s magical talents and Kaede’s skills, the two women protect the Prince on his journey to Tanlili in the realm of the Fairy Queen.  They must reconcile their growing feelings for one another with Taisin’s goals to become a sage and Kaede’s need to move beyond herself to save the kingdom.

Marchetta, Melina. Finnikin of the Rock. Candlewick, 2010. 399p. Gr. 9 up.
Ten years ago, the royal family was slaughtered and Finnikin’s land was sundered in half, leaving half of the population wandering in exile and the other trapped by a curse in the kingdom of Lumatere.  Finnikin meets Evanjalin, who claims that her dreams hold the key to breaking the curse, finding the lost heir to the crown, and rebuilding the kingdom.

Marchetta, Melina. Froi of the Exiles. Candlewick, 2012. 593p. Gr. 9 up.
Three years after helping the rightful queen reclaim the throne of Lumatere, Froi has developed into a strong warrior.  He is sent to Charyn on a mission to assassinate their king, the one responsible for the curse upon Lumatere.  A shaky political struggle and Froi’s attraction to Quintana, the Charyn princess, leave him questioning his oaths and identity, putting everyone he loves in danger.

Marchetta, Melina. Quintana of Charyn. Candlewick, 2013. 516p. Gr. 9 up.
After the cliffhanger ending of Froi of the Exiles, Quintana escapes from an attack by the usurper of her throne, retreating to the outskirts of Lumatere to give birth to Froi’s child, the prophesied king who will break the curse on Charyn.  As Froi develops an army to support Quintana’s right to rule, Finnikin urges him to return to Lumatere and forget Charyn, as well as Quintana.

May, Elizabeth. The Falconer. Chronicle, 2014. [378p]. Gr. 7-10.
Aileana has spent the last year training as an assassin, hunting and killing faeries to avenge her mother’s death.  Balancing a life as a debutante in 1844 Edinburgh and her destiny as a Falconer, one of the last guardians of the human race, is difficult enough.  So when she hears news that a particularly malicious faerie is building an army, she must rely on her partner, Kiaran, to help her find a way to save the human world.

Peterfreund, Diana. Rampant. HarperTeen, 2009. 402p. Gr. 7-12.
Astrid’s mother kept telling her that their family belongs to a legacy of unicorn hunters, but Astrid didn’t believe it until a unicorn interrupted a date.  She meets other virginal female descendants of Alexander the Great at a nunnery in Rome, where they must teach themselves the skills necessary to protect the world from the demonic horn-wielders.

Pierce, Tamora. Battle Magic. Scholastic, 2013. 440p. Gr. 8-12.
Young plant-mage Briar journeys to Yanjing to visit the gardens of the emperor with his teacher Rosethorn and apprentice Evvy, where they realize the true nature of the emperor’s cruelty.  The three mages escape to warn the God-King of Gyongxe of Yanjing’s impending invasion into the mountainous country.

Sedgwick, Marcus. Midwinterblood. Roaring Brook, 2013. 262p. Gr. 9-12.
Merle and Eric have lived multiple lifetimes apart, constantly being pulled back together on a remote Scandinavian island that seems to hold answers to their cycle of reincarnation.  This collection of seven short stories depicts each lifetime, including the original sacrifice that started their journey.  In this book inspired by a painting by Swedish artist Carl Larsson, each lifetime finds Eric and Merle in different relationships, and each story generates new theories about their journey.

Somper, Justin. Allies & Assassins. Little, 2014. 479p. Gr. 8-10.
Sixteen year-old Jared did not think his time to rule would come so quickly, but the assassination of his older brother leaves him in charge of the kingdom, assisted by his mother and a large council.  When his brother’s wife and lover are attacked, Jared starts an investigation with Asta, the apprentice to a member of the council.

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