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Stanford Apseloff

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I grew up with an identical twin, so from day one, my world was surreal. Perhaps that's why I like Salvador Dali, Michael Cheval, and J.R.R. Tolkien. My parents were both English professors, and our modest home had books everywhere. We had an old TV that competed, but my parents made sure the books won.

As an adult, I combined my passion for surreal art with my love of fantasy, and wrote The Third Syzygy. This young-adult fantasy is an inspirational story unlike any I had ever read. As one reviewer describes it: “This novel opens up so much room for imagination . . . formed such a strong bridge between dreams, magic, and reality that I found myself re-reading several passages just to grasp the sudden depth of meaning and linger in the waves of parallels and metaphors.”

THE THIRD SYZYGY Cover
CHILDREN'S & TEEN

THE THIRD SYZYGY

BY Stanford Apseloff • POSTED ON Oct. 31, 2019

In this YA fantasy adventure, a girl’s visit to an art museum takes her into a magical land where she’s at the center of an ancient prophecy and mission.

Laney, a high schooler, is at the art museum doing research when she slips into a closed gallery to see an exhibition of surreal paintings by real-life artist (and the book’s illustrator) Michael Cheval. She begins to feel dizzy, the absurdist images spinning, when someone shouts “Get out!” Stumbling through the emergency exit, Laney finds herself lost in another world, a snowy forest. She eventually ends up in a cottage, where a woman greets her: “I am Shaka, the Guardian of Tarzetta Trail, the heir of the arrows, the dreamer of dreams.” Laney’s arrival has been prophesied, it seems; she is the foretold “Sorceress from the West.” Evil has come to Shaka’s land in the form of poisonous black fogs and marauding wolves. It’s Laney’s destiny to restore peace by journeying to a clearing in the West Woods in time for the syzygy, or solar eclipse, “the magical time when anything is possible!” Shaka accompanies Laney, giving her some magical gifts to help the quest. Along their journey, the party meets friends and foes, encountering dangers and setbacks. Laney also learns more about how the black fogs arose from “greed and folly” and how to harness her powers, facing tests in Shaka’s world—and her own. Apseloff (Michael Cheval’s Magic, 2019, etc.) offers a heroine who’s initially apathetic but is challenged by circumstances to find inner qualities of courage, determination, and faith in destiny. The odyssey is varied nicely by side adventures, such as escaping a deadly ravine and crossing an ice-bound river. Linking the fantasy quest to a frightening and all-too-plausible, real-world situation is a smart move, deepening the resolution. The author has a good ear for fantasy diction, which helps create an appropriate sense of otherness for Shaka’s land. The attractive, accomplished black-and-white illustrations are well integrated with the storytelling, with Cheval’s (Michael Cheval’s Magic, 2019, etc.) lovely crosshatching and draftsmanship lending reality to the surreal.

A fine example of the quest story, beautifully illustrated.

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-936772-22-3

Page count: 216pp

Publisher: Ohio Distinctive Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

ADDITIONAL WORKS AVAILABLE

African Animals Alphabet Book

African Animals Alphabet Book features vibrant photos of favorite and exotic African animals accompanied by alphabet rhymes. This fun, educational book won the eLit Electronic Book Awards Gold Medal in two categories: "Children's Books (7 & Under)" and "Fine and Performing Arts" and was the winner of the 2011 International Book Awards competition in the Children's Picture Book: Hardcover Non-Fiction category.

Imagine a Bird

Imagination and photography combine to form this unique book destined to be a favorite for children and parents. Award-winning children's author and photographer, Stanford Apseloff, captures the behavior and personalities of beautiful and unusual species of birds. Delightful imagery and rhymes bring the photographs to life, and each page becomes a visit to a different corner of the world—everywhere from North and South America to Africa, New Zealand, and Antarctica. And at every opportunity, Apseloff prods the imagination. At times comical and whimsical, yet informative throughout, this book is a delight for anyone who enjoys the beauty of nature and photography.

Imagine a Butterfly

Explore the world of butterflies through the eyes of a child and the lens of an award-winning wildlife photographer. Imagination and photography combine to form this unique book destined to be a favorite for children and parents.
ISBN: 978-1-936772-24-7

Imagine a Puffin

Explore the whimsical world of puffins as seen through the lens of an award-winning wildlife photographer and children's author. Imagination and photography combine to form this unique book destined to be a favorite for children and parents.

Michael Cheval's Dreams

Michael Cheval is not merely an artist--he paints dreams. Michael Cheval's Dreams includes some of his finest paintings, and the explanations are fascinating. This is the first book ever approved by the artist for both image quality and explanations of the art. Michael Cheval's Dreams is itself a work of art.
Published: Jan. 1, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-936772-15-5

Michael Cheval's Magic

Is there any magic that can retain its mystery even when you see all there is to see?--yes, the magical artwork of Michael Cheval. Experience it yourself with Michael Cheval's Magic, a finely crafted book of art that features 70 of Cheval's finest paintings.