The winner of the five Cybils Middle Grade Fiction finalists is…. Kevin Gerrard – author, college professor, and a brave cat owner. In the past I’ve enjoyed his Diego’s Dragon series. Congratulations, Kevin! I will send out your winning package this week.
What a great lead-in to this week’s feature because I win giveaways sometimes too! In fact I did that with THE GOBLIN’S PUZZLE last December on Suzanne Warr’s blog, Tales from The Raven. She has great reviews and often adds thoughts from her opinionated cat, Apricot-kitty. Go check it out! But before you do here are my thoughts on THE GOBLIN’S PUZZLE:
The puzzle here is not one of numbers or pieces, instead it revolves around logic and word play. Andrew Chilton got the inspiration for this story from Monty Python, The Hobbit, and Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Pretty diverse group and so too is the main cast of characters pictured on the front cover.
Here we have Princess Alice, the goblin Mennofar, Oswald – father to Plain Alice, and slave boy – he never had a real name so he’s just called boy. The first third of the book bounces from one village to the next, from one character’s story to another. It’s all a bit scattered but be assured it comes together nicely and a heroic tale is born.
The witty dialog will have you smiling, though younger MG readers will likely not be in tune with the play on words. The sarcasm could very well sail over their heads. Most chapters are lengthy but frequent scene changes give you a chance to break away mid-chapter with no problem.
If you enjoy fairy tale like adventures with a dragon, an ogre, evil plots, and a charming cast of characters then you’ve found a home with THE GOBLIN’S PUZZLE.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2016 PAGE COUNT: 279
FULL PLOT (From AMAZON)
THE BOY is a nameless slave on a mission to uncover his true destiny.
THE GOBLIN holds all the answers, but he’s too tricky to be trusted.
PLAIN ALICE is a bookish peasant girl carried off by a confused dragon.
And PRINCESS ALICE is the lucky girl who wasn’t kidnapped.
All four are tangled up in a sinister plot to take over the kingdom, and together they must face kind monsters, a cruel magician, and dozens of deathly boring palace bureaucrats. They’re a ragtag bunch, but with strength, courage, and plenty of deductive reasoning, they just might outwit the villains and crack the goblin’s puzzle.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: THE GOBLIN’S PUZZLE by Andrew S. Chilton
- A great ending ties up any and all loose ends. It’s nice to close a book, satisfied with the time spent on the many sub-plots and feel like you weren’t cheated.
- Strong female and male characters. Plain Alice is smart and a great thinker. Boy is the kind of hero everyone can side with.
- The author adds an Afterword in the final pages to explain some of the logic behind the logic. ‘No one’ should miss this addition.
- At times the story is lighthearted, rather whimsical, but often there’s a touch of realism to remind the reader this time period was not for the faint of heart.
- This makes for good series potential. The characters are rich with more stories that could be told.
FAVORITE LINES: (From an exchange between Plain Alice and Ludwig the dragon)
Ludwig’s face sank. “Oh, but … but this is terrible,” he said. “I have kidnapped the wrong girl.”
“Think how I feel about it,” said Plain Alice.
Ludwig cocked his head. “I suppose that is a fair point,” he said. “Er, sorry.”
As a kid, he gobbled up fantasy novels and logic puzzles, and as an adult, he spent over ten years as a practicing lawyer before launching his career as a writer. He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. This is his first novel.
Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.
Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.