Climb or Die: A Test of Survival

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

climb

Book: Climb or Die: A Test of Survival

Author: Edward Myers

Cover Illustrator: Joe Burleson

Publisher: Montemayor Press, republished 2016

ISBN-13: 978-0786800261 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0786800267 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-1932727128 Paperback

ISBN-10: 1932727124 Paperback

Language level: 3

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 10 – 14

Rating: **** 4 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

Myers, Edward.  Climb or Die: A Test of Survival (Published in 1994 by Hyperion Books for Children, 114 Fifth Ave., New York City, NY  10011).  Fourteen year old Danielle Darcy, her thirteen year old brother Jake, and their parents, Phil and Jeannine, had recently moved from New Jersey to Colorado for Mr. Darcy’s new job as a construction foreman for a petrochemical company in Denver.  During the summer Danielle took a two-week Mountain Mastery course.  While the family is driving in their Blazer through the Rockies toward their cabin, a sudden early October blizzard causes a back-road car accident on a snowy mountain pass in which both their father and mother are seriously injured.  The athletic Danielle and brainy Jake must set out together to find help.

However, the most obvious option of walking twenty miles through deep snow back to the freeway is too long, so the teens decide instead to make a bolder move by climbing Mt. Remington that Jake says is nearby and has a manned weather station at its summit.   As the two head upward, Danielle and Jake soon realize that they’ve taken an all-or-nothing gamble and must climb or die.  Will they make it to the top?  Is the manned weather station really there?  And what happens to their mother and father?  There is much to be admired in this exciting adventure story of survival.

Danielle the jock shows great courage and strength with her knowledge of mountain climbing.  Jake the nerd demonstrates remarkable ingenuity and problem-solving skills as he uses a smattering of tools from his dad’s toolbox to aid their climb.  And setting aside their usual sibling rivalries, the two come to appreciate and trust one another as they learn how to work together to survive.   Unfortunately the tale is marred by a little bit of unnecessary but almost “required” bad language which many modern writers of children’s books apparently feel that they just must include to make them “realistic.”  Mr. Darcy uses the “d” word, and even thirteen year old Jake asks his sister, “What in the ‘h’ are ‘biners?”  That may not seem like much to many, but it is enough to be annoying.  Otherwise, I would give it five stars.

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Winky Solves a Mystery

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winky

Book: Winky Solves a Mystery

Author: Ken Anderson

Publisher: Kessinger Publishing LLC, republished 2010

ISBN-13: 978-1168770950 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 1168770955 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-1163191231 Paperback

ISBN-10: 116319123X Paperback

Language level: 1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 9-14

Rating: ***** 5 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

Anderson, Ken.  Winky Solves a Mystery (Published in 1948 by Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI).  Young Warren Wilcox, known as Winky, lives on a ranch near the town of Foothills, CO, with his mother, his Grandpa and Grandma Wilcox, his pet bull dog Boston, his pony Mustang, and his grandfather’s two farm hands Panhandle and Red.  Winky’s dad works for the government in South America.  His best friend at school is Bobby Anker, but his favorite person on the ranch is Panhandle.  One morning, he sees a khaki colored bag on Panhandle’s table.  It is full of money and has the name of Albert Morgan, a wealthy neighbor rancher, on it.  Later that day, Winky learns that Mr. Morgan’s safe deposit at the Foothills Bank was robbed.  Then he finds that Panhandle has left for Denver after receiving a letter from a friend begging for money.

Did Panhandle rob the bank?  Where did the money in the bag come from?  Why did Panhandle really leave, and will he ever return?  What should Winky do?  Author Ken Anderson was first a minister with the Evangelical Free Church in Minnesota and Nebraska. Then he became involved in the newly formed Youth For Christ and served as their first full-time Magazine Editor. Next he became connected to a fledgling organization called Baptista Films, where he wrote and then directed his first film drama. Later he launched Gospel Films where over 200 Christian films have been produced since then, including original dramas for many foreign countries.  Also Ken began a writing career that spanned seven decades, with 77 books published, at least one per decade, and nineteen books alone published in the 40’s.

     Winky Solves a Mystery is a fun and exciting story for middle grade and early teen readers that emphasizes Biblical principles.  The conclusion says, “Being a Christian did help people live honest lives.  Winky believed that more than ever, now!”  There is nothing objectionable.  It is the kind of tale that I dearly loved to read when I was a boy.  I found my copy at a used book store.  There are ten books in the “Winky Series,” of which it is the fourth.  The first three are Winky Lost in the Rockies, Winky Mountain Detective, and Winky Meets the Gypsies.  The subsequent titles are Winky Meets the Mysterious Stranger, Winky and the Ghost Lion, Winky Captures the Cattle Rustlers, Winky and the Enchanted Forest, Winky and the Short Wave Radio, and Winky’s Big Surprise.

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Out of Life’s Darkest Hour: In Poetry and Prose

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sullivan

Book: Out of Life’s Darkest Hour: In Poetry and Prose

Author: Brian V. Sullivan

Cover Illustrator: T. Sean Sullivan

Publisher:  So and So Printing, 2019

ISBN-13: 978-1081064518

ISBN-10: 108106451X

Language level: 1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Teens and adults

Rating: ***** 5 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars =NOT RECOMMENDED)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

Sullivan, Brian V.  Out of Life’s Darkest Hour: In Poetry and Prose (Published in 2019 by So and So Printing, 146 Mill St., Springville, NY  14141).  I have known author Brian Sullivan for over forty years.  He is a gospel preacher in Canada who has also done much preaching in the United States.  It was probably in the mid 1970s when I first met him at a lectureship conducted by the Thayer St. Church of Christ in Akron, OH.  I first remember hearing him preach in a gospel meeting at nearby Tallmadge, OH, in September of 1977.  After that, our paths would cross from time to time.  In August of 1993, I was invited to participate in a lectureship at Wellandport, Ontario, Canada, where Brian was located at the time.  Though we did not stay with Brian and his family, we did get to meet his lovely wife Laverna.  Then in April of 2004, Brian spoke in a gospel meeting at Affton, MO, where I was then located.  Laverna came with him, and they stayed with us.  We really came to know and appreciate them both during that week.

On April 20, 2014, Laverna Sullivan passed away very suddenly at the age of 66 on a Sunday afternoon.  In addition to being a preacher, Brian is also a poet.  Out of Life’s Darkest Hour is a collection of poems which Brian wrote from 2014 to 2019 to chronicle his grief over that tragic loss and his recovery from it through trust in God.  It not only stands as a loving tribute to his wonderful wife but also is designed to provide some measure of strength and comfort to those who are in similar circumstances.  Each poem is accompanied by an essay which describes the experience which prompted it and a word of encouragement to others who are mourning the loss of a dear loved one.  Brian writes, “Losing a spouse or loved one opens a new realization. This is my real journey through loss, grief, and eventual rebuilding. There is light at the end of the tunnel of darkness, and hope beyond what appears to be over-whelming sadness when death calls….Please join with me in discovering the steps toward my new normal and the healing that must be achieved.”

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On My Honor

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honor

Book: On My Honor

Author: Marion Dane Bauer

Cover Illustrator: Matthew Archambault

Publisher: Clarion Books, reissued 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1627652858 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 162765285X Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0547722405 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0547722400 Paperback

Language level: 3

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 9 – 12

Rating: *** 3 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

Bauer, Marion Dane.  On My Honor (published in 1986 by Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA; republished in 1987 by Yearling Books, an imprint of Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc., 1540 Broadway, New York City, NY  10036).  Twelve year old Joel Bates lives near Starved Rock State Park in northern Illinois with his parents and four year old younger brother Bobby.  His best friend Tommy Zabrinsky, also twelve years old, lives right across the street with his parents and three older brothers. Tony is a daredevil. It was his idea to make the long bike ride out to Starved Rock to climb the bluffs.  Mr. Bates extends his permission and asks Joel to give his honor that he will not go anywhere except the park.  But then it was also Tony’s idea to stop along the way for a swim in the dangerous Vermillion River.  They had no permission for this.  While swimming, Tony disappears.  Joel hunts and hunts for Tony but can’t find him.  What happens to Tony?  How will people react when they find out?  And why does Joel feel so much guilt?

This 1987 Newbery Honor Book has a couple of curse words which seem almost requisite today to be considered for the award.  There are two ways of looking at the story.  Some view it as a thought-provoking, heart-wrenching tale of a childhood tragedy that impacts, forever, the lives of two families with a deep message concerning unintentional consequences and not giving in to pressure from peers to do something wrong, as well as a powerful lesson of what being “on one’s honor” means.  Others use such words as dark, disturbing, violent, depressing, and even morbid to describe it, saying that it focuses too much on sadness and grief, death and depression, rather than celebrating positive ideals.  One even wrote, “As the father of a son who died through the negligence of other young people, I can definitely say this book is at best confusing to young and old alike, and at worst a tool to desensitize a generation to the dystopia our society has become.”

You can take your pick.  I do not mind good books that help children cope with the subject of death.  I have read several such children’s stories from the early twentieth and even late nineteenth centuries.  While they certainly have their share of sadness and tears, they usually come from a Biblical worldview and offer some sense of hopefulness.  On My Honor doesn’t really have that.  At the end, when Joel asks his dad if he believes in heaven and thinks that Tony is there, all Mr. Bates can say is, “I don’t suppose anybody knows what happens after.”  Another critic asked, “Why would a society want such to move into the minds of our children? They need books that let children enjoy their time as children.”  The best summary comes from a professional reviewer who noted, “This novel offers a harsh lesson about the high price of disobedience and lying. It also demonstrates the power that some kids hold over their peers.”

Posted in general youth fiction, Newbery Honor Books, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Guests

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guests

Book: Guests

Author: Michael Dorris

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion Books for Children, reissued 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0786820368 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0786820365 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0786813568 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0786813563 Paperback

Language level: 1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 10 – 14

Rating: **** 4 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

Dorris, Michael.  Guests (Published in 1994 by Hyperion Books for Children, 114 Fifth Ave., New York City, NY  10011).  Moss is an immature young Algonquin Native American boy-man, still in that awkward stage between childhood and warrior status, who lives in a village in what is today Massachusetts with his father and mother and near his grandparents.  All his older siblings have died.  While his father is getting ready for some “Guests” at their autumn feast whose skin, clothing, language, and customs are completely alien to all he has experienced.  Moss breaks a wampum belt that has a story behind it and he must replace the broken story with a new one.  Why, as each group is wary of the other, do the Natives invite the interlopers to the harvest feast? Simple, as Moss’s father explains, “Because. They. Are. Hungry.”  The boy resents his family’s, and indeed the entire village’s, obligation to entertain guests and longs to embark on his own Away Time; i.e., a vision quest/rite of passage.   Frustrated by adult ways and his parents’ puzzling behavior, he enters the forest in search of meaning.

While there, he discovers an unusual girl named Trouble his same age from his village, who is also seeking solace from nature and respite from her own family, and a talking porcupine, each of whom teaches him different aspects about the outside world and thus helps to change him from a selfish little boy to a more sensitive young man.  Can the two lonely, misunderstood preteens find their respective ways back home?   How does Moss interpret and follow the advice from a matronly porcupine?  And what happens to Trouble?  Guests is a story about the struggle of a boy and girl with the problems of growing up during the time of the first Thanksgiving, but the feelings expressed are universal regardless of time or place.  Moss says, “Half the time people treat me as though I’m younger than I am and the other half they want me to be older.”

Despite the fact that this short tale does not have much action and adventure, it is remarkably well told, instantly capturing the reader’s interest, and Moss learns some important lessons that critical day of the unwanted guests, such as the importance of hospitality, the need for maturity of heart and mind, and the value of a caring family. Also, the grouchy old porcupine tells him, “You are who you are,” thus teaching him that he should be himself.  Hence, it is a beautifully written work with offerings of lovingly administered wisdom in small, easily palatable bits that children will love.  In addition, this multi-level book contains some Indian tales in between the events which are very interesting.

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Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey Across the Life Line

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unplanned

Book: Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey Across the Life Line

Author: Abby Johnson, with Cindy Lambert

Cover Image: Jason Pearson

Publisher: Tyndale Momentum,   enlarged edition 2019

ISBN-13: 978-1414396545

ISBN-10: 1414396546

Related website(s): http://www.abbyjohnson.org (author)

Language level: 1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Teens and adults

Rating: ***** 5 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

Johnson, Abby, with Lambert, CindyUnplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line (Published in 2010 by Tyndale House Publishers Inc.; republished in 2014 by Ignatius Press). Abby Johnson reveals her full story how she joined Planned Parenthood as a college student to help women in crisis and rose through the ranks to become a clinic director in her hometown of Bryan, TX.  However, after participating in an actual abortion procedure for the first time, she quit her job in October, 2009, and walked down the street to join the Coalition for Life, becoming a national news story. What happened in that clinic to cause this Planned Parenthood leader and Employee of the Year to take such drastic action? And how did Planned Parenthood react to her abrupt departure?

Earlier this year, a friend of ours loaned us his copy of the 2019 movie Unplanned which is based on Abby’s account.  The film was so moving that I just had to read the book, which is a heart-stopping personal drama of life-and-death encounters, a courtroom battle, and spiritual transformation.  Abby’s unique vantage point from both sides of the abortion clinic property line fence shines light and compassion into the personal and political controversy that surrounds this issue. I agree with the observation that for anyone who cares about the life-versus-rights debate and helping women who face crisis pregnancies, Unplanned is a must-read.

As you can imagine, the pro-abortion (euphemistically called “pro-choice”) crowd hates it.  Wikipedia says that the movie “is based on the disputed memoir Unplanned by Abby Johnson,” citing an article for Bazaar (a leftist publication) by Jennifer Wright entitled “Why the Abortion Movie Unplanned Is Factually Incorrect” (4-16-2019). Of course, to the Left, calling something “disputed’’ automatically implies that it is wrong, but in reality whenever they say that something is “Factually Incorrect,” it just means that they disagree with it.  There’s no reason to doubt that Abby Johnson saw what she saw and heard what she heard.  One critic of the book wrote, “The majority of women who have had abortions do not regret them, so that is another lie they tell you. I knew plenty of them who did and there is no regret.”  Neither Abby Johnson nor anyone else for that matter claims that that all or even most women who have had abortions regret them.  Recently the mainstream media have treated us to a veritable parade of women, including several celebrities, who are openly proud of their abortions.  But there are many, many, many women who do regret having had them.  I know because I’ve read their stories and heard their testimonies.   Unplanned simply seeks to tell the truth and set the record straight.

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A String in the Harp

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string

Book: A String in the Harp

Author: Nancy Bond

Cover Illustrator: Maureen Hyde

Publisher: Aladdin, reprinted 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0689500367 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 068950036X Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-1416927716 Paperback

ISBN-10: 1416927719 Paperback

Language level: 3

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 10 – 14

Rating: *** 3 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com

Website: https://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com

Bond, Nancy.  A String in the Harp (Published in 1976 by Atheneum, New York City, NY; re published in 1987 by Puffin Books, an imprint of Penguin Books USA Inc., a division of the Penguin Group, 375 Hudson St., New York City, NY  10014).  Following the tragic death of his wife Anne in an accident, professor David Morgan of Amherst, MA, accepts a year’s teaching position at the University of Wales in Aberystwyth, taking two of his children, twelve year old Peter and ten year old Becky, with him but leaving fifteen year old Jen behind with his sister and her husband, the children’s Aunt Beth and Uncle Ted, for school.  When Jen flies to Wales to spend Christmas with her family, she finds her father preoccupied by his teaching.  Her sister seems to have acclimated but misses Jen terribly, while her brother, depressed and wanting only to go home, is alternately hostile and sullen.  Then Peter secretly tells Jen that he’s found a strange artifact, a harp key that takes him back into history and shows him pictures from the life of Taliesin, the great bard whose life in sixth-century Wales has been immortalized in legend. This seems to have brought him a sense of peace.

At first Jen doesn’t believe him, and she mentions it to a couple of people.  When the key’s existence and its strange properties become known to the wider world, the Morgans must act together against a rising threat to the key and to their family from someone who wants to take it away from them.  Can Mr. Morgan trust Peter to make the right decision?  How do Jen and Becky help him?  And what will happen to the key?  From a positive standpoint, a lot of information about Welsh geography, history, folklore, and culture are woven into the plot.  There is actually an interesting, if somewhat odd and even perhaps a little bizarre, story here that is well written, with good character development and a sustained sense of magic, but it is marred by bad language.  Mr. Morgan constantly uses the words “God” and “Lord” as interjections, and many of the characters seem to use the “d” and “h” words whenever they get angry or frustrated, including the kids, which is both annoying and disappointing.   However, we must remember that this 1977 Newbery Honor Book came after the 1960s when the American Library Association’s Newbery standard switched from truly good to merely relevant and to be considered for the award a book almost has to have some requisite cursing, swearing, or profanity in it.

In addition, some references to smoking cigarettes and drinking ale, sherry, beer, and wine occur.  Some people may not like the way that David Morgan parents his children, either at the beginning or at the end—or both.  One critic wrote, “The Biblical ideal of a family, in which parents love, lead and train their children, is entirely absent.”  Another moped and whined that “Someone is either moping or whining in literally every scene.“  However, a proponent of the book noted, “It is possible to care about each character, even those whose motives or actions seem off kilter. The three children and their father are coping with the sudden loss of their mother/wife in an auto accident….Plus, everyone in the family learns to cope with, lean on and make changes in their family dynamic without the mother/wife.”  And a professional reviewer said, “Far more than you’ll find in most fantasy books, Bond focuses heavily on human relationships.”  To sum it up, there were parts of the tale that I liked and parts that I did not care for.

Posted in fantasy, Newbery Honor Books, Uncategorized | Leave a comment