Is storytelling always this pervasive in fantasy literature, or is it just my reading lately? I'm musing on what a research question about the function of storytelling and/or portrayal of storytellers in fantasy might become....
The Castle Corona by Sharon Creech
A fun and funny fantasy about 2 children who find a mysterious royal pouch, and are eventually taken to the Castle to be the king's tasters (in case of poisoning). This has Creech's characteristic light and quirky feel, which is nicely suited to the fairy-tale setting. The only hiccup comes at the end of the book, which felt precisely one chapter too long. But otherwise, it was a fine read, and features a Wordsmith who is the castle's designated storyteller. He weaves tales out of the elements that his royal audience chooses for each evening.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
is really about The Receiver, Jonas, whose whole world changes when he is assigned to apprentice with the elder that he will come to know at The Giver. This was a smash hit when it came out, dystopian in a way that really resonated with young readers, perhaps because the book is set in a repressive society where adults keep the truth of such matters as "releasing" people from the community well-hidden from child eyes. Story and history feature prominently.
The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World by E. L. Konigsburg
It's another mixed-up tale from Konigsberg, this one set between the worlds of a young newcomer to the town of Malo, Florida, one Amadeo Kaplan. Amadeo befriends William Wilcox, and the two become engaged in a mystery when Amadeo helps William and his mother with the arrangement for his eccentric neighbor's estate sale. The neighbor, Mrs. Zender, is self-centered and obnoxious, which makes her fascinating to the polite Amadeo. In a refreshing turn, she is not redeemed in the end, and the tangled matter of the provenance of a certain piece of art in her collection leads the young protagonist all the way back to Nazi Germany. If it sounds contrived that all these pieces should wrap up so neatly, that's because it feels contrived at points. However, it's Konigsburg's style to mix things up, and if the sorting out is a bit stretched, it's still a fun tale.
Does Snogging Count as Kissing by Helen Salter
If you like the other snogging books (Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging) you'll like this one as well, which is chick-lit light for the middle-school set. It can be a little depressing to remember exactly how middle-school really was, and Salter's writing is so accurate as to be uncomfortable. However, it's also smart and funny, as we follow Holly from her boyless existence to a newfound maturity, courtesy of a few well-timed snogging sessions.