Book Review: The Book of Story Beginnings by Kristin Kladstrup

18 Sep

ImageWhen Lucy and her parents move to Iowa, she gets wrapped up in a century-old mystery. Her father’s uncle vanished from this very house when he was fourteen years old, and his sister claimed to have seen him sailing away on a giant sea. But that’s impossible, because the house is surrounded by boring fields and dirt roads–or is it? As Lucy dives into Oscar’s old notebooks, she doesn’t believe that he simply ran away. And when she writes a simple sentence in The Book of Story Beginnings, she learns rather quickly that magical things can happen.

First, the Book of Story Beginnings turns her father into a magician. Then, her father turns himself into a bird. And a magical potion turns the pet cat into a boy–Oscar! Together, Lucy and Oscar must travel to Cat and Bird Island to rescue her father from the palace filled with birds. Along the way, they meet a king who turned his people into cats, a pirate captain and her crew of orphans, and a queen who loves birds too much. But when they finally reach their destination, will there be enough potion left to turn her father back into a man? And how on earth will they get home?

This was an incredibly fun middle grade read along the lines of the Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke. Just about any book that has characters walking into stories they’ve read or written has my seal of approval, and this one was wonderfully executed. It’s certainly a fun read that will appeal more to younger readers in search of a new adventure, but the humorous tone of it all wasn’t lost on this 20-something, either. This is one of those books that I’d like to put aside to read aloud to my future children.

The characters didn’t have the kind of depth that you might find in novels in the YA section, but I didn’t feel like it took away from my reading experience. Both Lucy and Oscar were likable, considerate, and relatively mature in the decisions they had to make–such as deciding whether or not to mess with time travel–even if they didn’t always think things through (like turning someone into a bird in the midst of a pack of cats). I felt like the maturity and somewhat bumbling decision-making evened out rather nicely, making the characters believable enough, while still allowing them to relate to the target audience.

The land of Cat and Bird Island was something out of a storybook–because it was. There isn’t much depth here, either, but then the world only had a few sentences to work with before it spawned everything. The reader learns just enough to get them through the plot, so no huge developments here, but the whole book was well-written and you do have to keep in mind that it’s meant to be a fun, entertaining children’s story.

Older readers might not get as much enjoyment out of this book as younger ones, but for younger readers it’s one of the better-written books for the age group. Nothing’s too simple, but it’s not too complicated either. Like I said, definitely one I’ll be reading aloud to future children, and one I’d put in the hands of any young reader I come across.

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One Response to “Book Review: The Book of Story Beginnings by Kristin Kladstrup”

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  1. 2013: A Year of Reading in Review | More Than One Page - December 26, 2013

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