- Age Range: 8 - 11 years
- Grade Level: 3 - 7
- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (June 23, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316370789
- ISBN-13: 978-0316370783
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,820,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Woundabout Hardcover – June 23, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—After their parents' recent death, siblings Connor and Cordelia as well as Kip, their pet capybara, must leave their home to live with their Aunt Marigold. They know little about their aunt because she always lived so far away in a strange town called Woundabout. The children soon discover that Woundabout is a place ruled by the Mayor, a man who rejects questions, values routine above all else, and detests change. Connor and Cordelia are the only children in town, and though some people are happy to see them, many are distraught by their presence. They soon stumble upon a boy, not from the town, who informs them that he stole something of the Mayor's but has now lost it and needs their help. Connor and Cordelia find this missing item and discover that it does amazing things—whether the Mayor and Woundabout are ready for it or not. The setting takes some getting used to, as do the characters, who lack individual personalities apart from having unique interests and hobbies. Some secondary characters seem thrown in and do little to enrich the narrative. The story itself is original, and though the pacing starts out slowly, once invested, readers will speed through to the end. Black-and-white interior illustrations enhance the tale and add overall appeal. A generous font size and ample images may make this an option for some reluctant readers. VERDICT This is a touching story about the importance of change despite the hardships of life.—Kristyn Dorfman, The Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn, NY
About the Author
Lev Rosen is the elder brother and the author of two books for older readers: All Men of Genius and Depth. All Men of Genius was an Amazon best of the month and on several best of year lists.
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So why did I put "middle grade" in quotes? Because the author really talks down to the reader. I would not call this middle grade at all. It is definitely more suited for a younger audience, one where a parent reads a chapter per night while tucking their youngster into bed. The language and the concepts are simplistic. The story is more of a fairy tale than anything else. The horrific loss of the children's parents is glossed over in a single sentence. (Sadly, almost all the capybaras died too. Great, don't just stop with the people, kill off the animals too.)
The story is apparently about two children who are adopted by a gay couple. That's fine but since it isn't the norm, especially in a book like this, it needs to be explained a little bit. The only indications we get of this is that the children refer to two people called "Dad" and "Pop." I was confused by this, initially thinking that "Pop" might be a grandfather since people of different cultures often use different names for grandparents. Actually, at first I thought it was a typo. Anyway, the point is that some small amount of explanation is necessary. I'm not saying the author should explain about how two men can be parents, I'm just saying that somewhere they should mention that the two parents were men.
Second best part: The illustrations.
Worst part: There is so much redundancy, it was hard to get past the repeated names. It will say 'Conner and Cordelia did this,' instead of 'The children' or 'the kids.' This is an issue for me because I was reading it to my kids at bedtime last night. Reading the characters' names over and over again felt like I couldn't just get on with it and get through the story. It was so boring.
I read 3 chapters, and the 6 interesting tidbits of info I noticed were:
1) Their parents (yes, two dads) died in an explosion
2) The butler at their aunt's home is described as 'neutral.'
3) The town of Woundabout is not shown on Connor's smartphone map.
4) The butler appears in various rooms,but neither child can remember seeing him enter, or can remember how long he had been standing/sitting there.
5) The butler says Woundabout is a very special place. But you get the description of old buildings, no trace of another living being, and darkness with rain when the children first arrive.
I mean no disrespect to the authors, but the actual writing is poor. I say kudos to anyone who has the courage to write and illustrate a book. Formulating ideas and creating characters with a plot intriguing enough to make a person want to buy it at a glance -- is a triumph. I was very intrigued. But I did not read it word for word to my kids because I would have lost my voice reading 'Conner and Cordelia' again and again and again. You also have to read 'Aunt Marigold' again and again and again. Why not just say 'their aunt' or 'Auntie' or 'Aunt M' because those are only 2 syllables instead of 4 each time. I just got tired out reading the names. The part about Connor looking at his smartphone is so redundant. It says, more or less, he was looking at his smartphone apps, then he looked at his sister, then he looked back at his smartphone app, then he looked at his sister, then he looked at his smartphone GPS, then he looked at his sister's photo album. Just too much time and too many sentences are spent on describing this boring detail. And why not say 'phone' instead of 'smartphone,' after it has been said the first time?
Luckily, the Capybara's name is short, and the butler's name is short. I won't give their names away as a spoiler.
I'm not sure I'll read the rest of this book.
I think I will, because I want to know why Woundabout is a very special town.
The 2 stars are for the cover art, back cover description, and the title.