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“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
Publisher: HarperTeen, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2011
Material: hard cover
Summary: Elodie dreams of being an actor. Her parents dream that she will become a skilled weaver or tradeswoman. Achieving either of those dreams means leaving home to work as an apprentice. On the ferry to Two Castles, she befriends a woman who warns her about Count Monty Um (the ogre), tells her that being an acting apprentice is no longer free,and explains what life is like in Two Castles. Then gives her a cat for good luck.
Elodie decides the woman is being melodramatic and she is not deterred from her goal. At least not until the cat runs away, a shopkeeper steals what little money she has, and she is left to work for Meenore, the city's dragon magician. Elodie thinks her luck has change when she gets the role of a lifetime - helping catch a murderer! This is a middle grade fairy tale / fantasy story.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, read aloud book, independent reading
Recommended Age: read together: 9 & Up; read yourself: 10 and up
Interest Level: 9 to 12
Reading Level: 4.3
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: This was a lot of fun to read! There were plenty of twists to keep you reading. Every time I thought I figured out the culprit, new information changed my opinion. The "happily ever after" is not a complete surprise, but the humor and adventure along the way made it satisfying.
Pros: Plenty of action fills this fairy tale who-dunnit.
Cons: The cover! This is a book that boys AND girls would enjoy, but the cover makes it look like a girl book.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a very enjoyable read, but not one that you'd go back to.
Educational Themes: There are several ways to enjoy this book beyond just fun reading. The story has elements of other fairy tales - older readers might be prompted to find them. This would make a good book club selection and discussion could focus on several themes: bravery, integrity, judging others, fairness, and lying to one's parents.
Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.