Author: Scott Westerfeld
Series: First of a trilogy (Leviathan, Behemoth, Goliath)

Age/Audience: YA – 7- 10th grade

Genre/Style: Alternate history

Read If You Like: WWI history, genetics, adventure/war stories, European history, women in science/engineering


In this alternate WWI Europe, the map is split between two groups. On one side is the Darwinist English who use modified animals as war machines, airships, and communication devices. On the other, the German Clankers whose iron machine based culture puts them at fundamental odds with the British: and both sides are itching for war. Caught in the middle is the young illegitimate Alek, son of Archduke Ferdinand. With his parents’ assassination Alek’s life is in danger, and with the help of trusted servants and a Stormwalker gun machine he hopes to survive the declaration of war by racing across Germany to neutral Switzerland.

Meanwhile Deryn can’t wait to join the battle. Disguising herself as a boy “Dylan” enlists in the British Airforce and joins the crew of Leviathan, a modified whale turned airship. Onboard Leviathan is Dr Nora Darwin Barlow, a scientist who promises British victory with her new secret weapon – but what is it?

As Europe is plunged into what would prove to be its bloodiest conflict what can be done to stop it? After Leviathan crash lands next to Alek’s Swiss safe-house, it seems the two cultures have more to learn from each other than they would ever admit, and it may be the key to saving not only their own lives, but all of Europe.


Bottom Line: Great read to create a bridge between fiction and non-fiction, really well paced, complex female characters (in the sciences and the military to boot!).

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Find It: https://www.worldcat.org/title/leviathan/oclc/290477162&referer=brief_results


Author: Kenneth Oppel
Series: Book one of the “Matt Cruse” books, followed by Skybreaker and Starclimber

Age/Audience: Middle readers , 5th – 8th grade

Genre/Style: Adventure

Read If You Like: Treasure Planet (film), high-sea adventures, pirates, quick reads


This steampunk-light novel is a page-to-page adventure. The book opens with 14 year-old Matt Cruse, the cabin boy on the Aurora, an airship lifted by hydrium – a gas lighter than hydrogen and able to carry a cruise-sized airship smoothly through the skies. The ship’s course is slightly diverted, though, when a damaged air-balloon is seen drifting in the sky. The crew of the Aurora rescues the balloon’s pilot, but he soon dies in their infirmary. Matt thinks little of it until one year later, when they take on the balloonist’s grand-daughter, Kate de Vries, as a first class passenger from Lion Gate City to Sydney, Australia. Kate is not onboard for a pleasure cruise, though. She is determined to finish her grandfather’s mission: to find a creature called “cloud cats” and restore her grandfather’s good name. Kate’s mission could prove problematic for Matt, as she has attempted to enlist him in helping her. Matt doesn’t need any trouble. Having been passed over for a promotion from cabin boy to sail maker he can’t afford any black marks on his record. But when the Aurora is forced to crash land on a remote island after damage she received in a pirate attack, it becomes harder for Matt to refuse Kate’s insistence to accompany her in her search of the island for the elusive cloud cats. The island, though, is small and unlucky- the Aurora isn’t the only shipwreck on the shores.


Bottom Line: Good for reluctant or romance/adventure dependent readers, too simple for advanced readers

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