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Publisher: The Bowen Press, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers,
Material: hard cover
Summary: Mom has plans for the summer. And thanks to (distant) Uncle Gideon, so do Lucinda and Tyler Jenkins. Great Uncle Gideon runs Ordinary Farm, a place the children quickly learn, is far from ordinary! Livestock include dragons and unicorns, among other beasts. Most of the staff also seem to have mysterious histories. Surrounded by mystery, magic, and an uncle who is keeping secrets, Lucinda and Tyler want to know more. Before long, they learn that Uncle Gideon is facing threats that could jeopardize this very magical place. In this fantasy story, two boys discover that their undles farm is less than ordinary.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 11 and up
Interest Level: 10 and up
Reading Level: 5.6
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: Mrs. Needle almost scared me away from the book. Then, after Mom annoyed me, I had settled into expecting stereotypical characters and sequences of events. Once I got on the train with Lucinda and Tyler, however, I was ready to race into summer. The book was not, and it took a while to get through all of the setting-the-stage details about characters, their roles, and various places about the farm. At about the halfway mark, the adventure begins and the pace picks up. Once that happens, the story improves significantly and by the end, I was ready to find the next book.
Pros: Just like Lucinda and Tyler, you'll be spending an adventurous summer on a magical farm.
Cons: At the beginning of the book, Mrs. Needle crushes a bird's egg in her hand. It is a bit startling and could worry some children. Readers may be deterred by all of the background information. Others will be confused trying to visualize the farm and its buildings. A map of the property, possibly including a broader map of Standard Valley would help, as would character bios and illustrations.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. It is an imaginative, fun adventure but not one suited to all audiences.
Educational Themes: There is a lot of detail about Ordinary Farm and its characters. Because no maps or illustrations are provided, encourage readers to draw them.
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.