An intriguing premise, but one that fails to develop.

TRUTH SEEKERS

THE PRINCESS AND THE DOOR

Two friends embark on a make-believe adventure that turns real in this first book in Thomson’s (Truth Seekers: Be Strong and Courageous, 2015, etc.) middle-grade Christian-fiction series.

One afternoon, best friends Isabella Johnson and Josie Springwood decide to play “imagine if” and make up a story that incorporates the key that Isabella wears on a necklace. It’s the only thing that Isabella has left of her mother, who disappeared five years before. The girls use the key on an old stone door and, to their surprise, it fits perfectly. Passing through the door transports the girls into a beautiful forest, and they quickly realize that their game has led them to another world. Then a band of men capture them, and the youngsters soon learn of the troubles of the land, involving the evil King Ahaza and the beloved queen he captured. It also becomes clear that there may be more to Isabella than she knows, and that the girls’ arrival could herald a change, both for the new world and for Isabella’s broken family. Thomson’s book has a promising premise and starts off strong. Unfortunately, the author doesn’t smoothly develop either the story or the characters. Instead, the narrator frequently tells readers that characters suddenly know the truth of something (“somehow she knew this boy was trustworthy”; “One thing I know is that you are your mother and father’s daughter”). Isabella starts as a shaken, confused, and unsure girl whose prayers lead to sudden, unexplained knowledge, including her solid determination that she’s a “servant-princess” who will lead the people against the evil king. The author overuses divine inspiration as both a reaction and solution to nearly every situation, resulting in a story with little suspense. Ultimately, there isn’t much in this book that will capture readers’ imaginations beyond the initial setup, as they learn relatively little new information about the characters as the story goes on.

An intriguing premise, but one that fails to develop.

Pub Date: July 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-62839-189-3

Page Count: 60

Publisher: Xulon Press

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

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MORNING GIRL

Like the quiet lap of waves on the sand, the alternating introspections of two Bahamian island children in 1492. Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are very different: she loves the hush of pre-dawn while he revels in night skies, noise, wind. In many ways they are antagonists, each too young and subjective to understand the other's perspective—in contrast to their mother's appreciation for her brother. In the course of these taut chapters concerning such pivotal events as their mother's losing a child, the arrival of a hurricane, or Star Boy's earning the right to his adult name, they grow closer. In the last, Morning Girl greets— with cordial innocence—a boat full of visitors, unaware that her beautifully balanced and textured life is about to be catalogued as ``very poor in everything,'' her island conquered by Europeans. This paradise is so intensely and believably imagined that the epilogue, quoted from Columbus's diary, sickens with its ominous significance. Subtly, Dorris draws parallels between the timeless chafings of sibs set on changing each other's temperaments and the intrusions of states questing new territory. Saddening, compelling—a novel to be cherished for its compassion and humanity. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-284-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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