“How to Catch a Bogle” by Catherine Jinks

The Plot in 5 Sentences or Less:  Alfred Bunce and his apprentice Birdie work in Victorian era London as boglers, a kind of early ghostbusters that traps and kills nasty monsters and demons that haunt the dark places in cities and eat children.  Their boggling business runs smoothly enough until the high class folklorist Miss Eames begins following them on their appointments and makes the recommendation that Birdie, for her safety, should not be used as bogle bait.  Also, the local pick pocket madam Sarah Pickles importunes Alfred to investigate the cause of some of her boys going missing.  Helping Sarah will take Alfred, Birdie, and Miss Eames on the most dangerous bogling mission yet.

My Take:  This was an excellent read, not so much for the page turning action, but rather for the evocation of Victorian era England.  Jinks has a knack for picking up the dialect of high and low class society and bringing them all to life.  Readers will learn about lusherys, mudlarks, and a dozen other things that are foreign to 21st century America.  Any teen interested in reading about catching nasty beasties on the dark streets of bygone London should read this book.

One Interesting Note About the Author:  On her website, Catherine says that she became a writer because she like reading so much.  A sequel to “How To Catch A Bogle” is due out next year!

The Other Felix by Keir Graff

  Do you ever have nightmares?  Felix has nightmares every night.  They are always the same.  He is in a wooded area strewn with boulders and stone steps.   At some point a huge monster shows up and gives chase to him through the dark forest.

Things aren’t necessarily better in the real world either.  He often hears his parents arguing over the status of his father’s job.  The project that his dad is working on isn’t going well and he may lose his job and they would have to move to another city.

There’s also a new boy in school named Chase.  He is big and gruff and it isn’t long before Felix watches him steal a class calculator.  That same calculator later shows up in Felix’s backpack and the teacher understandably blames Felix for the theft.

With all of this stress, his dreams at night are only getting weirder.  In the dreamland of the monsters, he meets his doppelganger.  This “Other Felix,” as he calls him, looks just like him, except he is dirtier, has survival skills and knows how to scare off the monsters.  Because of this, he enjoys the Other Felix’s company and learns a lot from him.

But the relationship between the two Felixes begins to shift over time.  As the real Felix begins to spend more time in the dreamland, the Other Felix loses his power over the monsters.  He also grows increasingly surly as he hears more about the real Felix’s life at home with his family.  The Other Felix knows that he will never enjoy such comforts and only have a life spent in the woods with the monsters.

Can Felix reconcile his real world and dreamland problems?  Can he find a way to deal with the bully at school?

I enjoyed this book because it tackles typical Juvenile Fiction themes without being sentimental or maudlin.  I was mostly captured by the relationships between the two Felixes and how they struggled to defeat the dreamland monsters.

I recommend for ages 8-10.