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The Secret Life of Owen Skye Hardcover – October, 2002


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-6-With a zany style and deep insight into the secret lives of boys, Cumyn tells a series of connected stories about young Owen Skye and his two brothers, Andy and Leonard. Their adventures are, by turns, funny, frightening, and genuinely dangerous. All are fully engaging, although at times readers might wonder where reality stops and fantasy begins. Are there really aliens that can be contacted by radio from Dead Man's Hill? Does the Bog Man really suck out the juice from cattle? Is their archenemy the giant squid doing more evil deeds? But beyond the supernatural, Owen is bewildered by ordinary things, including his sudden attraction to Sylvia, which leads to a Valentine's Day fiasco and a visit to the dreaded principal. The boys have hilarious conversations about many subjects, including God: "Well, if God is everywhere, then he must be in toilet paper too! And cheese broccoli soup." Cumyn's prose is lively and liberally sprinkled with sparkling turns of phrase: "On that march home the cold slipped inside the boys' snowsuits and drained away all their heat like a plug had been pulled from the bathtub." The characters are fresh and genuinely fascinating, from Owen's clueless parents and his strange but wise Uncle Lorne, who lives in the dank basement, to kindly Nurse Debbie and others who enter the lives of these unruly siblings. This book is very funny, and it would be a splendid read-aloud or read-alone choice.
Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Groundwood Books (October 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0888995067
  • ISBN-13: 978-0888995063
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,253,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By C. J. Black on December 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Author Alan Cumyn, in his debut writing for children, returns in "The Secret Life Of Owen Skye" to the theme of the 1980s when so many movies like "Stand By Me" nostalgically celebrated the charm of the antics and fantasies of boyhood. I applaud him for doing so--let no critic complain he has chosen overused material. It is a worthy one to celebrate and to give a fresh opportunity for today's children to find relish and bemusement.
Writing in the 3rd person--novel to me for this theme--Cumyn shares the story of three brothers of grade school age living in a snaringly appealing, rustic setting with an eccentric family. The"remembrances" are so quaint that as an adult you readily suspect Cumyn is at least sharing bits of his own boyhood with embellishment. But this author knows his audience. Keeping outside of the story allows him to be adept with minimizing description, word choice, and to focus instead on event. I judge his writing to begin to be accessible to children who are fluent at the 4th grade level. And the audience will easily include that stereotypical boy who prefers information over fiction--he'll devour the antics in this story hook, line, and sinker. Brothers like Owen are ones you want as your "buds."
Two features of Cumyn's writing show keen craftsmanship. One is that the brothers' perspectives of the world seem strikingly age appropriate. The other is that Cumyn constantly returns with a flashbacks to past episodes as a memory to revere with action in the present. In the last chapter, Cumin weaves a fast forward of the entire book, which together with tenderly bringing to conclusion Owen's infatuation for classmate Sylvia, leaves you smiling--wanting to shout, "YES!
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By Pamela Livingston on February 25, 2015
Format: Paperback
Owen Skye is the kid you want your own kids to bring home. This is a rare book for boys which honors their feelings along with their adventures. Funny, honest, and easy to relate to for the third to fifth grade reader, poignant for the adult reader, this is a series that makes a wonderful gift.
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