I am a lover of sci-fi/fantasy all the way from my head to my toes, and I have been on a long quest to find a compelling and fun story that I could use to entice my young sons into the world of fantasy as well. This is it! Little Orphan Anvil by Joseph Beekman fulfills all of my requirements for a great sci-fi/fantasy read and it well written for both adults and children alike.
The most important thing I look for is characters that I can believe in. While all of the main characters of this story are well written and believable, Sonny and his dog Ranger are a perfect pairing. They offer companionship and loyalty but more importantly, Ranger has a spark of special communication and understanding that he shares with Sonny. The sage old companion and inventor Will is a great mentor to this pair and what story wouldn't be complete without a heroic young girl? And of course, there is the star of the story, the little robot.
Besides the great characters, Beekman does a great job of keeping the story moving with action and adventure that never quits. Each scene is filled with great description and dialogue that doesn't waste time but moves the story along. As I read aloud to my oldest son he was held in thrall for long stretches (which is pretty amazing considering nothing holds him in his seat for long).
The only thing I would want to change is that the story seems to be over just as it gets started; however, I had the second novel ready to go and immediately jumped into the next story once I had finished Little Orphan Anvil. This is a story that leaves you wanting to know more and go on further adventures with the little group of friends.
I highly recommend this story to readers of all ages. In addition, it is written so that a reader doesn't have to be a fan of sci-fi/fantasy to enjoy it. The author recommended that it would be appropriate for children as young as 8, but my almost-five year old did enjoy many parts of it read aloud to him.