Set during the Great Depression, this tale of magic and family tension will delight young readers.
Twelve-year-old Simon and his family are having a difficult time recovering from the death of Simon’s mother. Simon bickers with his older brother and worries about his father, the town pharmacist who has taken to drink, while Simon’s best friend Paul struggles to please his fire-and-brimstone minister father. Beginning as a realistic examination of Depression-era life, the story takes a mystical turn when, in a dream, Simon meets his long-dead uncle â€œSmokey Joe,” a wandering hobo magician of whom Simon’s father disapproved. Smokey Joe’s old trunk lies forgotten in Simon’s attic. When he opens it, he finds 12 glowing stones so powerful that they attract an evil wizard determined to steal them. With help from the magic stones, Gypsies and Smokey Joe’s old friend, a colorful and clever hobo, Simon fights back. The prose and dialogue flow easily, and the author draws varied, vivid and believable characters. A bit of awkward, unnecessary detail and a few abrupt point-of-view transitions interfere with the suspense, but the entertaining story overcomes these minor flaws.
Imaginative and full of adventure, The Trunk should find an appreciative audience. (Fiction. YA)