A hero’s tale set in an alternate world.
Living on a tiny island in an unnamed world that is an archipelago in space instead of an ocean, Gemma and her younger brother Martin have seen only two other people for the majority of their lives—their 120-year-old great-great-great aunt Peggy and her nearest neighbor. That is, until Peggy decides she has taught them everything she knows and it is time to take them to boarding school on City Island—a long and potentially dangerous journey. The three set out in Peggy’s sky-runner and encounter along the way various folks who just so happen to bear caricatural resemblances to modern-day types, whether it be the Toll Troll, the rabid, red- and blue-clad soccer fans, or the heartbreaking child soldier. Each encounter adds to the education of Gemma and Martin and possibly to that of readers as well. The adventure is narrated in turn by Peggy, Gemma and Martin, and each is pitch-perfect in its respective age and outlook. Never confusing or overbearing, the story mixes adventure with commentary—but so skillfully and humorously done that it rarely seems didactic. The cover, alas, does not do this book justice.
Wise and wonderful, this is the archetypal Hero’s Journey laced with gentle satire. (Adventure. 10-14)