Media Reviews: Fantasy and Sci-Fi Books for Preschoolers to Teens

These recommendations from the Columbus Metropolitan Library include fiction and nonfiction titles, plus an overview of the Duolingo ABC app.

Gabby Rigol
The Anti-Book

Magic Candies

By Heena Baek, Sophie Bowman (translation)

This charming book tells the story of Tong Tong, a lonely boy who loves playing with marbles. While shopping at a local store, Tong Tong comes across a bag of magical candies. As he eats them, he begins to hear the inner voices of the people and objects around him. Paired with stunning visuals, Tong Tong’s journey is a lesson in perspective, with a beautiful reminder that sometimes we forget about our own inner voices, too. FOR AGES 4-8

Everything Awesome About Space and Other Galactic Facts

By Mike Lowery

This nonfiction graphic novel has an exciting energy that’s hard not to love. Vibrant illustrations accompany facts in a range of font sizes that lend well to varying reading levels. Starting with the question, “What is space?” this book packs in a vast amount of information without feeling overwhelming; even the biggest space enthusiasts are sure to learn from it. And to top it all off, Lowery includes drawing tutorials and delightfully cheesy space jokes. FOR AGES 7-10

Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls

By Kaela Rivera

Cece Rios should not be fascinated by the criaturas roaming the desert outside her town. You see, only brujas can control criaturas, and that magic is forbidden. But when her sister is kidnapped by a powerful dark criatura, Cece knows that becoming a bruja is the only way to rescue her. With the help on an unlikely ally, Cece’s adventure shows the power in trying to understand those who are different. Her world is interwoven with Latinx folklore and mythology and, luckily for readers, will be continued because this is the first book in a new series. FOR AGES 8-12

The Anti-Book

By Raphael Simon

Do you ever wish everyone would go away? Mickey does. So when an ad poses this question, Mickey orders an Anti-Book right away. Soon Mickey finds himself alone in an anti-world, where everything and everyone he knows is now a dark, twisted version of themselves. Reminiscent of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, this story will take readers on a fantastical ride as Mickey tries not just to get his world back, but to finally feel like he belongs in it. FOR AGES 8-12

Once Upon a Broken Heart

By Stephanie Garber

The first in a much-anticipated spinoff series, this book welcomes us back to the enchanting world of Caraval. You don’t need to read that original series to understand this one, but fair warning: It does contain spoilers. This is the story of Evangeline Fox, who makes a deal with Jacks, the wicked and immortal Prince of Hearts. She needs his help to stop her true love, Luc, from marrying her stepsister—Luc must be cursed if he’s marrying anyone but Evangeline, right? But dealing with immortals is a dangerous game, and Evangeline quickly learns that her fairytale ending might not be what Jacks has in mind after all. FOR TEENS

Duolingo ABC

Try This App

Duolingo ABC

This free app’s bite-size lessons work intuitively to gradually build important Ready for Kindergarten skills without overwhelming or frustrating new readers. The lessons feel like games, but are brilliantly designed to ensure that learners can’t just memorize patterns to get through them. They use a variety of reinforcement techniques, which is crucial since children need to see things in multiple contexts to really understand them, and the app sets kids up for success by focusing on one letter at a time. And the best part—it’s completely free, with no ads. FOR AGES 3 AND OLDER

Gabby Rigol is an information services specialist at the Franklinton branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.