Monday, September 20, 2010

It all started with a buzzing sound...

Falling InMaddie and I recently read Falling In by Frances O'Roark Dowell, another book I received from Amazon Vine. And it turned out to be a very cute little book. I notice, however, that online descriptions are referring to it as a "fantasy" book, but don't be misled by that. When I think of "fantasy" novels I think of elves and fairies and magical creatures, but other than an initial similarity to "Alice-in-Wonderland," there wasn't much "fantasy" to it.

Isabelle Bean is one of those girls who seems to be in her own little world. She's in sixth grade and has no real friends since the other girls find her a bit odd. So, she's not entirely surprised when she opens a closet and falls through into another world, kind of like Alice, but without all the annoying characters. In the other world she finds all the children on the run from a witch. But instead of joining them on their trek to the safe camps, she sets out to find the witch. After all, what could be more interesting than meeting a witch, even if she does eat children?

The writing style is perhaps the best part of this charming little book - very confidential and "story-telling"-like, with frequent interruptions and asides to explain and develop the story line - making it a lot of fun to read aloud. But the characters are likeable and endearing as well: the quirky misfit Isabelle; the solid and down-to-earth Hen; and the kindly old herb woman Grete. The language feels a bit advanced (more on a level for 11 year old Kate, who also enjoyed it) and I occasionally had to stop and explain what was happening (I'd say grades 4-6 appropriate, but I almost think I appreciated the "story-telling" style more than the girls did). The story gets a bit tense with realistic dangers that kept us from wanting to put it down, but it's become one of Maddie's favorite books!

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