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Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth Paperback – August 8, 2011
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I had never heard of this author before this story. It definitely won't be the last time. This is a book that I will proudly display on my shelves at school. Young and old alike will find something to love about this book.
Twelve years. This number plays a significant role in the book. Twelve years ago, Bart's Screw was discovered. Twelve years ago, Cal was born. Twelve years ago, two brothers' lives changed. Twelves years into the future (aka. present day), Cal is in an orphanage in the middle of the Earth, and he spies on Mr. E. early in the mornings. The switching perspectives develops the backstory of the novel while furthering the plot. These shifts take place just as you reach the climax in one story, leaving you hanging until the last few pages of the book when it all comes together.
Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth brings to you a child's worst fears (cue: evil teacher, bad cafeteria food, and oversized bullies). On the brighter side, it expresses the importance of speaking out and being yourself. It tells of relationships: friend-friend, student-mentor, and child-parent. It brings to you the best friend who isn't afraid to tell you off and who is too smart for her own good, the quirky teacher who has a big heart under his scary exterior, and the no-good father who's never been around but who also has a story to tell.
This book would make a good novel for a middle-grade reader book club. It has the bad and the funny of tween life and will entertain readers while keeping them engrossed in life at the center of the Earth. At the same time, it instigates the reader to raise questions such as the justice of judging people based on looks, how the city of Robert came to be forgotten, and the role that Mr E. plays in Calvin's lives. There are more thought-provoking questions provided in the back of the book that will generate great discussions.
five year old Calvin Comet Cobble is transferred to Hidden Shores Orphanage. for the next seven years, Calvin's daily existence is routine - escaping the Principal's wrath, eating the worst cafeteria food, attending classes and being bullied. early one morning, his life starts to get interesting when he discovers the groundskeeper skipping stones across Lake Arctic. before embarking on an amazing journey to the center of the earth, i oblige you fellow readers to suspend your disbelief and to heed the writer's advice that "all will be set straight in good time." aside from Calvin's point of view, other voices and stories speak across different time periods which may or may not be confusing to some but then each one matters and always remember that as you read "all will be set straight in good time."
Calvin, the protagonist, is a very endearing character. he does everything he can in order not to be noticed like the other kids but his untamed and flaming red hair always gets in the way. he is a good person at heart but the world seems to be against him for some reason so much so that his mantra for such a young age is "it was out of his control." how can one not help but feel strongly for this lonely little guy.
the teachers at the Orphanage are a colorful group of individuals with strange and funny idiosyncracies. the cooks, the Principal, Mr. E and some of Calvin's peers are wonderfully fleshed out as well. even the worldbuilding was fantastic!
Calvin's story is more than just an incredible foray deep into the earth's mantle. it is a boy's adventure in his search for love, identity, understanding and a place in this world. moreover, it is about growing up and taking a stand.
i love everything about this book. author Andy Hueller has truly written an extraordinary story that middle grade readers and adults will both enjoy. this book was fun to read and is a keeper for me!
Disclosure of Material Connection: i received an eARC of Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth from Cedar Fort through NetGalley.com i did not receive any payment in exchange for this review nor was i obligated to write a positive one. all opinions expressed here are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of this review. this disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.