Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Review - The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester by Barbara O'Connor (3/5 stars)

The Fantastic Secret of Owen JesterReading level: Middle Grade
Genre: Adventure
Size: 176 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: March 6, 2007
ISBN-13:  978-0374368500
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Amazon Vine
Rating: 3/5 stars

I got a copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program.  It looked like a fun little read.  It ended up being okay but was a bit simpler and less wondrous than I was hoping for.

Owen Jester lives in a house with his parents, grandfather, and housekeeper.  No one does much with him and he is left mainly to his own devices; he has two friends he hangs out with and there is a girl who bothers them from time to time.  Most of the book is spent dealing with Owen's struggles about whether or not he should keep this magnificent frog he caught or release him.  The other parts of the book deal with Owen and his friends trying to find something that fell off of a train in the middle of the night.

The story is well-written and paced well enough.  It teaches about responsibility, a little about ecology, and about friendship.  Honestly I thought it was a bit boring, but a younger reader might find it to be more interesting.

Owen's parents aren't really more than place-holders and his friends aren't that well-developed as characters either.  The highlights of the story are definitely Owen himself and the girl that shadows Owen and his friends.

Overall a simple story that is well written and tells of a boy's summer adventures.  An okay read, but nothing very wondrous or fantastic here.  I thought it was a bit boring and that the characters were underdeveloped.  Younger readers might find the story more intriguing.  Personally I would recommend "The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate" or "The Year Money Grew on Trees", as better stories about middle grade kids spending their summers in interesting ways and learning interesting things.

The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester

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