Young Reader in the Making

Young Reader in the Making

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Book 186: The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester

The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester, by Barbara O'Connor, Square Fish 2010.  Upper Elementary.

The first thing you notice about The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester is the artwork on the front cover:  It is beautiful, stunning, intriguing and a bit funny, and you have to wonder just what kind of a book would be between those covers.  Then you notice that it is a Barbara O'Connor book, and, if you're me or anyone who has ever read a Barbara O'Connor book, you know that it is a book that you will want to read.

Barbara O'Connor can tell epic (using that word properly) tales in less than 200 double-spaced pages.  She can create four distinct personalities in the four distinct children in single sentences or even single phrases, and she can work that same magic for the four main adult characters.  Not only that, the setting of her books is more than just a location; it, too, becomes a character, and the where becomes as important as the who, the what, the why and the how.  Even the frog in The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester has a voice, one that grows stronger as the frog croaks less.

As a struggling writer, I would read anything that Barbara O'Connor writes -- and I probably do.  If broken down by their elements, her books would make an excellent study on how to write a children's book.  And if broken down, they would still be fun to read.

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