Reading Level: Children’s/Middle Grade
Length: 272 pages
Publisher: Capstone Young Readers
Release Date: January 1, 2014
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: eGalley from NetGalley.com
Rating: 3/5 stars
I got a copy of this book to review through NetGalley. Originally it was put in with the graphic novels there, which this is not a graphic novel. It ended up being an okay middle grade read with some excellent artwork throughout.
Cecilia Undergarment is a unique girl who lives in a unique balloon shaped house. Oh, and she can talk to animals. When she sees that her neighbors dog is incredibly unhappy she is determined to rescue the dog. When she rescues the dog some unfortunate events occur that lead to her balloon bedroom floating away into Northwood. In Northwood Cecilia finds a strangely primitive community of people led by an unlikely king. Many of the people are people who have disappeared from town. Cecilia is determined to return home, but once you enter Northwood…you never leave.
This book had some good points. The way the narration is done is very snarky and funny…somewhat similar to A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz in tone. Some of the stuff in Cecila’s life is quirky to the point of craziness….her balloon house and the way it floats away, her name, these things were highly amusing and made me laugh.
There is some wonderful artwork throughout the book that I really enjoyed and I liked the way the book was laid out.
However I had some problems with the story. It was very simplistic and incredibly contrived. Cecilia ends up in Northwood and tries to rally the troops to leave.
Would all these people really just hang out in a forest forever slaving away? Would all of them really follow a king who seems to be stuck in the 1970’s? The King is a major jerk and very mean and what would these people tolerate that? Also would black lions really thrive in a forest like this? Supposedly the black lions are the reason people can’t leave…
And then of course, Cecilia, ends up being a descendant of the original castle owner…like we didn’t see that coming….
There isn’t a ton of magic in the story; mostly magical realism. Almost everything that happens in here has a normal (if not plausible) explanation. The only really “magical” element is Cecilia’s ability to understand animals.
I don’t know, the book is okay and the story is okay, I just found myself a bit disappointed at the end of it all. It was too simplistic, too contrived, and just not all that interesting of a story. Younger readers will probably enjoy it a bit more.
Overall an okay read. The illustrations are well done and the humor throughout is entertaining. The story itself is pretty simple and predictable. Some of the things in here are a bit too over the top and I didn’t really enjoy the characters all that much. This is a quick read and when I was done I kind just felt like “Eh, okay that’s over with”. I wouldn’t really recommend this book, there are a ton of better middle grade fantasy reads out there. Check out the Spiderwick Chronicles for a easy middle grade read with great illustration and an excellent story and characters.
This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
– 150+ Reading Challenge