Next Author: Cressida Cowell
Previous Author: Mary Elizabeth Counselman

Bruce Coville

Bruce Coville(1950- )
Bruce Coville writes fantasy, science fiction, and horror for children. He writes the well-known Alien series (e.g., My Teacher is an Alien). He also writes a series of re-tellings of William Shakespeare’s plays for  kids. Bruce Coville’s books are availabe in audio formats. Learn more at his website.

The Monster’s Ring: A quick and breezy Halloween tale

The Monster’s Ring by Bruce Coville

Note: This book is titled Russell Troy, Monster Boy in some markets.

For kids that are too young for the complexity of the HARRY POTTER series, and yet still interested in fantasy stories, Bruce Coville's MAGIC SHOP books might be the thing to hook them up with. Five in total, each one revolves around a simple premise: a young child with the usual kid problems (home trouble, bullies, crushes, angry teachers, etc) stumble across Mr Elives' Magic Shop, and leaves with an unusual purchase which initially creates more trouble for them, but ultimately teaches them important lessons.

They've recently been reissued with new cover art by Read More

Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher: Great for younger readers

Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville

For kids who are too young for the complex Harry Potter series, and yet interested in fantasy stories, then Bruce Coville's Magic Shop books might be the thing to hook them up with. Each book is based on a basic premise: a young child with the usual kid problems (home trouble, bullies, crushes, angry teachers, etc) stumble across Mr Elives' Magic Shop, and leave with an unusual purchase that creates more trouble for them, but ultimately teaches them important lessons.

In this case, Jeremy Thatcher escapes two bullies, the resentful nature of his art teacher and the unwanted affections of Mary Lou by ducking into the Magic Shop, where Mr Elives gruffly allows him to take home a strange glistening sphere with a sheet of mysterious instructi... Read More

Jennifer Murdley’s Toad: Perhaps the best of the Magic Shop books

Jennifer Murdley's Toad by Bruce Coville

This may well be my favourite of the MAGIC SHOP books, a series of standalone stories that feature a young boy or girl entering Mr Elives' Magic Shop and leaving with a strange artefact of some kind — one which will have taught them an important life-lesson by the end of the book (though not before causing them a heap of trouble in the interim).

Perhaps the best thing about the series is that each book is surprisingly different in tone. For instance, Russell Troy, Monster Boy (published in the US as The Monster’s Ring) was a comedy/horror, whilst Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher was a coming-of-age tale about a boy and his magical pet. In con... Read More

Into the Land of Unicorns: Not rainbows and candy-floss

Into the Land of Unicorns by Bruce Coville

The wanderer is weary...

I had just finished reading THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy and was in search of something lighter to read — and what could be lighter than a book about unicorns, right? Well, Into the Land of the Unicorns is squarely aimed at a seven-to-ten year old reading range, but it manages to have a certain level of depth and darkness that certainly elevates it above the usual "rainbows and candy-floss" favour that usually surrounds the subject of unicorns.

Bruce Coville is a prolific children's author, perhaps best known for his MAGIC SHOP books and MY TEACHER IS AN ALIEN series. With THE UNICORN CHRONICLES he turns to the subject of unicorns (duh) in crafting a four-part story about a young girl and her adventures in ... Read More

Song of the Wanderer: Doesn’t talk down

Song of the Wanderer by Bruce Coville

I have promises to keep, and wounds to heal...

This is the second book in THE UNICORN CHRONICLES, a four part series by children's author Bruce Coville, which also includes a short story to be found in the unicorn-themed anthology A Glory of Unicorns. In the first instalment, Into the Land of the Unicorns, Cara Hunter was transported via an amulet into Luster, the world into which unicorns fled when Earth became too unsafe for them to inhabit. Due to a tragic misunderstanding centuries ago, the Hunter family has made it their legacy to hunt down and destroy all the unicorns. Cara's long-lost father is among them, and so Cara has a very personal stake in her desire to protect the unicorns from all those who wish them harm.

Entrusted with the task of returning to Earth and rescuing her g... Read More

Dark Whispers: A solid continuation of Cara’s adventures in Luster

Dark Whispers by Bruce Coville

The third book in THE UNICORN CHRONICLES by Bruce Coville continues Cara Hunter’s journey through the land of Luster as she attempts to find a way to defend the unicorn population from an ancient feud involving her own family members. After discovering her heritage as the descendant of a woman who is cursed with eternal life due to the unicorn horn trapped within her heart (and therefore determined to drive them to extinction), Cara agrees to a mission given to her by the Queen of the Unicorns. In the Unicorn Chronicles there is a prophecy that states: “In the darkest hour, of their darkest day, the unicorns must face, their own darkness,” as well as a few veiled clues to something called the Whisperer. Cara’s task is to seek out the centaur king in the hopes that he has more information about what all this means.

There are other subplots going on at the same... Read More

A Glory of Unicorns: Not quite what the introduction promises

A Glory of Unicorns by Bruce Coville

Bruce Coville (the compiler and editor of this anthology) promised in his introduction no sappy unicorns, tells us that unicorn love is hard and demanding, and unicorns themselves neither safe nor sweet. However, four stories into this book I found that was exactly what the book was delivering — sweet, dreamy, dear little unicorns. Contradicting his own words Coville brings us the story of 'The Guardian of Memory' in which unicorns have names such as 'Arabella Skydancer' and 'Manda Seafoam' and are entirely domesticated, speaking unicorns. Likewise, nearly every other author in this book seems to have no knowledge of true unicorn lore — that these incredibly shy creatures, who dwelt in the Garden of Eden, could only possibly be approached by a pure virgin maiden and even then never ridden. Many of the stories have unicorns as tame, human-loving creatures, and one... Read More

The Last Hunt: A fitting end to the Unicorn Chronicles

The Last Hunt by Bruce Coville

The fourth and final book in Bruce Coville’s THE UNICORN CHRONICLES  was published nearly twenty years after the first came out, and it appears that Coville sought to make up for this delay by making The Last Hunt more than six times thicker than Into the Land of Unicorns.

It’s impossible to start The Last Hunt without having the first three already read, as the story dives straight into the action with no preamble. At the end of Dark Whispers the world of Luster was torn asunder in order to provide passage for Beloved, a woman kept alive by the shard of unicorn horn in her heart who is determined to destroy all the creatures that she believes are responsible for her prolonged (and painful) existence. She arrives in Luster with an army of Hunters and a collect... Read More

The Dragon of Doom: An hour’s worth of delightful entertainment

The Dragon of Doom by Bruce Coville

When Moongobble the magician moves to town, Edward is eager to become his new apprentice. It turns out, though, that Moongobble isn’t much of a magician after all — every time he tries a spell, he ends up turning something into cheese. In fact, he’s about to lose his authority to practice magic if he can’t prove himself proficient by completing three difficult tasks. The first task is to steal some special acorns from the Dragon of Doom, so Moongobble and Edward set off with Urk, the pessimistic talking toad, and the Rusty Knight, who’s nearly deaf, to find the dragon’s cave.

This short children’s novel provided my girls and me with an hour’s worth of delightful entertainment. We listened to the charming version produced by Full Cast Audio. (It was available for free download from our library’... Read More

The Weeping Werewolf: The perfect way to spend an hour with a child

The Weeping Werewolf by Bruce Coville

Moongobble has been assigned his second task to prove he should be a magician: he must get a bottle of tears from the dreaded Weeping Werewolf who lives alone in the forest. Fortunately, Edward, Urk the toad, the Rusty Knight, and Fireball the Dragon are willing to help. When they find the Weeping Werewolf, everyone is in for a big surprise!

This charming little series of short children’s novels, beautifully narrated and enhanced with cute sound effects by Full Cast Audio is the perfect way to spend an hour with a child on a Sunday afternoon. My daughters and I have enjoyed them immensely.

The Weeping Werewolf has some repetitive parts which remind children about the characters and the events so far, but the story moves quickly and comes to a sweet ending that will b... Read More

The Evil Elves: Beautifully illustrated, great on audio

The Evil Elves by Bruce Coville

Moongobble has successfully (sort of) completed two of his three tasks to prove that he deserves to be a magician. His third task is to retrieve a jewel called The Queen’s Belly Button, which has the power to turn its owner evil, from the elves who stole it. The elves, who used to be peaceful creatures, have been badly influenced by the Belly Button and they do not want to give it back.

Edward et al. once again set out with Moongobble to help him get the jewel. It’s obvious by now that Moongobble always needs help because every time he attempts a magic spell, he is still turning things into cheese. Will Moongobble, Edward, and the rest of the gang be able to resist the temptation of the Queen’s Belly Button?

Again, there’s some repetitiveness as the reader is re-oriented to Bruce Coville’s world, and the same pattern is followed exactly, but this is... Read More

The Mischief Monster: Read this one in print

The Mischief Monster by Bruce Coville

The Mischief Monster is the fourth book in Bruce Coville’s delightful MOONGOBBLE AND ME series for ages 9-12. I’ve been listening to this series of short books on audio with my girls who are 6 and 9 years old. Each book is about an hour long and dramatized by Full Cast Audio, which means there’s a cast of readers playing parts rather than just one narrator.

In The Mischief Monster, Edward, Moongobble, and their friends try to return a mischievous monster princess named Snelly to her home in Monster Mountain. As usual, there’s a surprise twist at the end. The plot of The Mischief Monster is cute and funny (especially when Urk the toad gets turned into a fluffy pink kitty). My girls loved the story.

Though I’ve been recommending Full Cast Audio’s versions so far, I can’t do... Read More

Why You Should Read… Bruce Coville

Beth Johnson Sonderby brings us this week's Why You Should Read... On the face of it, Beth has written a love letter to Bruce Coville but, honestly, this is really an essay on why we should all read -- enjoy!

I’d like to share a story with you. It’s a rather personal story, but I want to share it anyway. Because I think sometimes we forget what an amazing thing it is, that unique bond between writer and reader, between reader and story. We invest a lot of time in reading because we enjoy, because it’s entertaining and because, sometimes, we find something that means more to us than we ever imagined it could.

My story begins when I was nine. Now that I’m twenty-four, it’s easier to say this: When I was nine, my father committed suicide. It was, as you can imagine, a tumultuous time for me. My father and I tended to knock... Read More

More children’s speculative fiction by Bruce Coville

Bruce Coville’s Chamber of Horrors — (1985) Ages 9-12. Publisher: Trusted by her fascinating Aunt Zenobia to care for an ancient amulet, Marilyn Sparks is transported to a demonic world in which she must fight an ancient curse, a tragic demon, and a thousand-year-old blood war.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsfantasy and science fiction book reviews

Nina Tanleven — (1987-2011) Ages 9-12. Publisher: The Stage is Set… For a Ghostly Scene! For sixth-grader Nina Tanleven, trying out for a part in a play is pretty scary. But nothing can compare to seeing a ghost, a woman in white, sitting in the audience! Nina senses that she has nothing to fear from this apparition, but she is intrigued. Nina learns that fifty years ago, a beautiful actress was murdered–on this very stage! According to legend, she has haunted the theater ever since…. Strange things begin to happen — scripts are ripped up, sets are knocked down, a costume is torn to pieces — and everyone thinks that the ghost wants to stop the show from going on. Everyone, that is, except for Nina and her best friend, Chris, who decide to do some ghost hunting of their own. But only the Woman in White can lead them to the answer!

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsfantasy and science fiction book reviewsfantasy and science fiction book reviewsfantasy and science fiction book reviews

Bruce Coville also wrote many stand-alone SFFs for kids, story collections, and these popular humorous science fiction series for children:

Find more by BRUCE COVILLE.