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by Dare DeLano

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 2014
Publisher: Pink Chicken Press

Two children find themselves in the world of The Odyssey, charged with helping Odysseus get home in order to do the same for themselves.

DeLano’s debut is the first in the Book Keeper series, middle-grade readers centered on the magical book collection of Liz and Charlie’s eccentric aunt Gertrude. Aunt Gertrude’s visits are always an exciting event for the two children, but this time she has brought with her a large library of books, with strict instructions for the children not to open them. Charlie, the younger of the two, of course immediately opens The Odyssey, and the two children suddenly find themselves in a doorway covered in ivy. Homer appears and informs them that they’re now part of the escapade and can only go home when they reach the end, meaning they have to help make sure Odysseus arrives home safely. Once they meet Odysseus and his men, who perceive them as helpers sent from the gods, the story begins in earnest. The children and Odysseus (whom Charlie calls “Odus” because he can’t pronounce Odysseus) face the Cyclops, the Lotus Eaters, the Sirens and finally the suitors who have been pursuing Odysseus’ wife, Penelope, since he has been gone. The book is well-written and laced with memorable lines; e.g., “It was a north wind that blew Aunt Gertrude into town. At least that was how it seemed, for on the night she arrived at Liz’s house, there was blue lightning in the sky and the wind howled fiercely against the shutters.” It’s also well-paced, and the children blend seamlessly into the classic tale while still retaining their own concerns and initiatives. They help where they are needed without overwhelming the original plot or engaging in unrealistic heroics. Liz and Charlie are fun, relatable main characters with a goal many children will understand: Get home and enjoy the adventure along the way. The novel also serves as an appealing, kid-friendly introduction to The Odyssey or a fun way to dive deeper into familiar stories. Gertrude’s book collection promises more adventures to come and more classics for the two children to explore, with child readers right beside them.

Aunt Gertrude’s library promises a great series to come.