The Ring of Solomon
Let me just say it took me several tries to get going with this book. I picked it up back in January because it was on The Battle of the Kid's Book list and I wanted to read it in time for the contest. It was a slow start for me, though Bartimaeus is very funny and the footnotes are great. So I put it aside. Then work kind of exploded and I was super busy. I picked it up again in February but still couldn't finish it. Once the Battle started and Adam Rex picked The Ring over Sugar, and Patricia Reilly Giff picked it over The Odyssey, and finally Karen Cushman picked it over Trash to send it to the finals, I knew I had to try again.
So I did.
The Ring alternates between Bartimaeus, the djinni, and Asmira, the hereditary guard, and you know they are going to eventually find their way to each other. Barti is like, thousands of years old and would really like to just go home. But, you know, he's a demon and he was summoned so he can't just leave. So, he gets this job helping to build Solomon's temple. Well, he doesn't "get" it, he has to do it. And Solomon wants it done without magic. So, of course, he has to use magic, cause, that's how he is - snarky and always working at the very outer limits of obedience. Asmira, is almost his opposite. Her whole life has been dedicated to obeying Queen Sheba and she would give her life for the Queen. Which is kinda what she's doing because she's on a mission to kill Solomon.
I can see why the judges liked it. It's smart, funny, and you have to pay attention to it. I think I may re-visit the series this summer.