Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.
Today, we're chasing away the end-of-weekend blues with a Children's Fiction selection that's set to hit shelves this week. It comes to us via Greenwillow Books and is the first installment in a brand new series from first time author Nicholas Gannon. If this is only the beginning, I can't WAIT to see what's in store for us in future installments! But I digress, it might be a bit more helpful if I actually share the book that I am excited about before the actual excitement. ^-^ Ladies and gents, explorers and adventurers of all ages, please join me in welcoming today's book of choice...
About the book...
Archer B. Helmsley certainly has THE DOLDRUMS. He has grown up in a house full of oddities and treasures collected by his famous explorer grandparents; a collection he wishes he could add to. But when Archer’s grandparents go missing on an iceberg, his mother—aware of his explorative “tendencies”—forbids him from leaving the house (except for school).
Yet Archer still longs for adventure. With his friends Adélaïde L. Belmont—who may have lost her leg in a crocodile attack—and Oliver J. Glub—who is always prepared for everything that could go wrong—Archer realizes what his first grand excursion should be: rescuing his grandparents from that iceberg in Antarctica.
And so together they make a plan. A plan to escape Archer’s home, to live a little, and to leave their eccentric town. It's a good plan. Well, it's not bad, anyway. Of course, nothing goes quite as they expect. But in the end, the truest adventure is friendship. And you don’t have to go all the way to Antarctica for that.
To me, it reads like a cross between A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (both of which are remarkable reads, so if you haven't sampled them and have not the foggiest notion of what I am referring to, feel free to educate yourself on them at your earliest convenience ^-^).
The story itself is curious. I mean, how else can you truly describe a story that introduces your lead character so simplistically and yet fully all at once? That's what I thought. Curious indeed. Archer is a wonderful lad simply wishing to break out of the box created for him by his parents to not only live a life of adventure but rescue those that saw fit for him to dream of it...his grandparents. The fact that they have been lost on an iceberg is no deterrent to him, in fact it allows the flames of hope to continue burning....and with good reason. They ARE adventurers and explorers themselves with mad skills that range from living on the back of an elephant to assisting a sea captain in need so well that he saw fit to grace them with his eye (yeah, I'll let you ponder that, but it's not gruesome like it sounds). How's a little (okay, HUGE) iceberg suppose to have taken them down? According to The Doldrums Press, easily...but don't believe EVERYTHING you read. Thus begins Archer's story, but it's certainly not how it ends.
Character wise, we have a lovely mix that starts with our leading lad, continues with his sidekick chum Oliver, and marches forward with Adelaide. Now, the middle was friends with the former not for adventure but companionship. Despite the fact that he found Archer rather odd, he was one of the few that would speak to him and tolerate his eccentricities, and thus a friendship was born. When push comes to shove though and the REAL quest is about to begin, his yellow belly may just prove too strong a pull...you'll just have to wait and see. As for latter soul mentioned, she's a ballerina without a stage. Put on the sidelines due to "mysterious circumstances" (of which we are privy but the same may not be so for her compadres), she's an open book on her here and now but the past is something she'd rather not get into. She's certainly had a rough road for such a young lady but it hasn't put a damper on her spirit which is as feisty and vibrant as ever. It makes for a very interesting addition to this little group of friends, sparking more forward motion than they probably would have achieved left to their own devices. Suffice it to say, I enjoyed the lot of them...even those you'd rather not meet face to face (aka Mrs Murkley...mostly).
The author takes his time allowing us to get to know each of the characters with a section for Archer and Oliver, one for Adelaide, and then finally the trio that they now are. The inclusion of artwork within its pages only adds to the majesty of the book's presentation. Seriously, the illustrations are beautiful and the color palette chosen matches the tone of the story (something that will make more sense as you read). It has elements of whimsy and seriousness, cause and effect, choice and consequence, with a healthy dose of adventure...just not in the way you might imagine. Confused? Don't be for it won't help your situation. The only way out of this quandary is to READ IT, then things will become crystal clear. Recommended read for adventure seekers of all experience levels. If you have an active imagination, and love stories about the things that really matter, this is definitely a tale for you.
About the author...
Nicholas Gannon studied art and design and held a number of odd jobs before becoming a full-time author. He has lived in Tennessee, Minnesota, and New York, including a brief residence at a tall, narrow brownstone in New York City that was the inspiration for 375 Willow Street. He now resides in Brooklyn. This is his first book.
Special thanks to Gina at HarperCollins Children's Books for the review copy. (THANKS!) For more information on this title, the author, or the publisher, feel free to click through the links provided above. This title is set to hit store and virtual shelves near you THIS TUESDAY (09/28/15) via Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, so be on the lookout or consider pre-ordering! You won't be disappointed.
Until next time...happy reading!