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"For the first time in the [26-year]history of the survey—conducted five times since 1982—the overall adult literary r... More

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Author: Peter de Witt

Illustrator: Mark Stefanowicz, cover

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Publisher: DNA Press,

Material: paperback

Summary: Three 13-year-old friends, Doug, Skip (a girl), and Pierce discover they have special “gifts” that endow them with unique magical powers. While swimming in Toaster Pond, they are transported through a portal that takes them to the mysterious Sanger Castle. Lord of the Manor, Sir Henry Eisenhut, has a plan to send the trio on a mission to Shadow Forest to find the Gem of Gicalma and return it to Sanger Castle. None of the many prior attempts to retrieve the Gem have been successful. Trolls, gnomes, giants, snakes, and prehistoric birds protect Ludicrous Zwevil, the evil mistress of Shadow Forest. Will the trio succeed? Their lives are on the line. This is a fantasy adventure for teens.

Type of Reading: family reading, independent reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 13; read yourself: 10 to 13

Interest Level: 8 to 13

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: It takes the reader several chapters to wade through the preliminary stuff. In the end, though, the story is a wholesome adventure in which the characters demonstrate friendship, commitment, service to others, perseverance, and self-sacrifice.

Pros: The audience for this fantasy will enjoy the story and relate well to the three friends and enjoy the adventures they experience.

Cons: The opening chapters are disconnected and hard to follow. In them, the author attempts to provide background and introduces three generations of families whose children and grandchildren become the major characters in this story. Once the scene is set, the story unfolds and the readers are rewarded with a wholesome and enjoyable adventure.

Borrow or Buy: Buy. This is a worthwhile and enjoyable book that will be especially appreciated by young teens who are into fantasy and magic. It is most likely to be found on the bookshelf in his or her bedroom, lop-eared from trips to grandma’s or the beach.

If You Liked This Book, Try: RAIRARUBIA (The Rairarubia Tales, Book 1)   THE BONES ON BLACK SPRUCE MOUNTAIN   CONOR AND THE CROSSWORLDS; BOOK 1: Breaking the Barrier

Educational Themes: This is a teen fantasy/adventure. It is an enjoyable story and might serve as a valuable resource in discussions of friendship.

Literary Categories: Fiction - fantasy, adventure, magic, middle grade

Date(s) Reviewed: June 2007

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