From School Library Journal
Grade 4–8—Little do Bea and her family know what they're in for when they win "the trip of a lifetime" to Bell Hoot. While on their way to their destination, Bea's brother mysteriously disappears. As they search for Theo in Bell Hoot, they learn that the Ledbetters, an outcast clan, want to find him just as much as they do. It seems that it's their turn to foster the eldest son of a newly arrived family. But Bea doesn't think that is such a great idea, so it's a race to find who's holding Theo captive and why. Berkeley has created an alternative world that buzzes with excitement. Bell Hoot, while small enough for everyone to know everyone else, is expansive enough to house numerous secrets and hiding places. While the setup raises a lot of unanswered questions, and the story's foundation lacks a firm basis, the quirky characters mature throughout the novel and learn to find their own gifts while coming to value one another. Bea learns that she's important and has a voice, and that she has a special talent, which is instrumental in rescuing Theo. Hidden Boy
will appeal to imaginative readers and will lead them to want to know more about these unusual people.—Delia Carruthers, Roxbury Public Library, Succasunna, NJ
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The Flint family, believing they’ve won a vacation in a lottery none of them remembers entering, are instead transported—with their neglected neighbor, Phoebe—to a magical and preposterously confusing land. At the center of the tale is Bea, a gritty girl determined to find her little brother, Theo, who seems to have disappeared as the magic tour bus entered Bell Hoot. To do so, she must mount a fight against warring clans, learn the language of honeybees, and dream about another mysterious boy named Ike. Her parents help by reading and making tattoos. Berkeley’s arch writing and his characters’ hilarious, pathos-inspiring temperaments and abilities make this magical stew both compelling and delightful. His jokes are within the grasp of a third-grader but will also delight adults reading this aloud to children. The world-building is just right for the target readers, who will definitely want more from the Bell Hoot Fables series. Grades 3-6. --Francisca Goldsmith