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THE OTHER SIDE OF YORE

Author: J. Lyon Layden

Illustrator: Kenny Savage

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Publisher: Booklocker.com, Inc., ©2007

Material: paperback

Summary: Frawg Findig III is an herbalist who collects herbs, spores, spices, and plants. Once a year, he sails to Terramore to sell his herbs and spices to doctors, farmers, and fellow herbalists. This year, the dandelions and other important plants and herbs are disappearing and citizens of Terramore believe that Cobraxas, the powerful serpent leader of Mudgunkland, is the culprit. Frawg is chosen to lead a military expedition to get rid of the snakes. Can Frawg and his brave comrades meet the challenge? They are not experienced soldiers. What will happen to Terramore if they fail? Amphibians rule in this fantasy adventure for pre-teens.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, anytime reading, family reading, read aloud book, advanced reader

Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 10 to 12

Interest Level: 9 to 12

Age of Child: Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™

Young Reader Reaction: Although this story references to magic and sorcery, I found it a good read. It has an interesting storyline, told from the frog's perspective. The author invented terms like "frog hops" to indicate distance and insects are described as "tasty treats." Important messages are explained or implied in the story. For example, courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to control it. An implied message is that teamwork and strategy are crucial in winning a battle. What I didn’t like about the story was the use of magic. The use of blessed potions and invisibility cloaks makes the story more boring to read. It would be more exciting to read if the author could device a way for the central character to accomplish his mission without the aid of those items. GIven the simple language and illustrations to help readers visualize the story, I would recommend this book to children from 8 to 14 years of age.

Adult Reader Reaction: This book offers another variation on the Harry Potter theme, albeit with a conservation twist. While the fantasy is intriguing, the author risks losing the reader’s attention and engagement due to “adventure” over-kill.

Pros: The author gives teen readers an intriguing fantasy, as well as some sober reflections on the importance of preserving the environment natural and man-made.

Cons: Though Frawg and his associates successfully met the various challenges circumstances presented, there were too many such incidents.

Borrow or Buy: Definitely borrow from your school or public library. While it is an acceptable and enjoyable read it is one of hundreds of similar fantasy adventure stories.

If You Liked This Book, Try: THUNDER ON THE DESERT   PROFESSOR ANGELICUS VISITS THE BIG BLUE BALL   PING: A FROG IN SEARCH OF A NEW POND

Educational Themes: The main story is essentially a David-vs-Goliath tale. The subliminal plot focuses on natural habitat and the role all living creatures play in maintaining a sustainable environmental balance. There is a lot of material here for engaging readers on habitat, environmental issues, self-confidence, and creative problem solving.

Literary Categories: Fiction - fantasy, adventure, animal stories

Date(s) Reviewed: July 2007

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