BOOK REVIEW: THE STORY WEB

THE STORY WEB BY MEGAN FRAZER BLAKEMORE.

 

Once upon a time ….

…there was a story that stole my heart. It was a story that was filled with magic, mystery, and moral lessons that middle grade readers will love.

 

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The story is set in the small town of Independence, Maine, where everybody knows everybody, and Alice Dingwell is discovering that this is not necessarily a good thing. It’s already tough enough growing up, without having everything falling apart around you too.

 

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Alice feels invisible. Her former friends don’t want to hang around with her any more, she feels awkward around her best friend, Lewis, and nobody is talking about the bad thing that happened with her Dad. robin4-1

Alice adores her Dad. She used to live for his stories, how he made the world feel like such a magical place, how he wove tales that entranced her. He made life bigger, brighter and more beautiful. But now he has gone away, and nobody wants to talk about what happened; least of all, Alice.

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So Alice keeps her head down. She no longer wants to play Ice Hockey with the town team, even though she is a talented player. She’s too busy punishing herself for her Dad’s absence, even if it means hurting her best friend Lewis.

 

Lewis is confused. He has no idea why Alice has been cool with him. He blames himself. He thinks he could have been a better friend. But Lewis is patient and waits for Alice to figure out what she needs.

 

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Melanie, is also invisible. The niece of the strange woman who lives in what is known as ‘The Bird House’ to the locals, Melanie has a hard time making friends. The town rumor is that her Aunt is a Witch, just because she keeps herself to herself. And so, Melanie has no friends, and instead, focuses on her love of animals.When Lewis begins to hang out with her, Melanie is happy but reticent.

 

When Alice was young, she wandered into the forest and found a huge spiderweb. Her Dad explained that only certain people could see this gigantic web, and he called it the Story Web, explaining that each of the strands on the web were stories that hold the fabric of our world together. If people stop telling stories, the web, and our world will fall apart.

Now, when forest animals begin to appear around the town, and most surprisingly, in front of Alice, she realizes that they are trying to tell her something.

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Could it be that the story Web is in danger, and if so, is the world falling apart. Alice needs to figure out what she can do to stop this, and in the meantime, she also learns some important lessons about life, friendship and family.

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This is a most heartwarming tale of love and loyalty, during those difficult years of transitioning into a teenager. Written with wit and whimsy, Blakemore weaves a beautiful tale that will keep your middle grader (and you) turning the page, long after it should be ‘lights out’

The Story Web will be published  by Bloomsbury Books on June 4th 2019. Be sure to save the date!

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World Book Day: What was your favorite childhood read?

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I have been a voracious reader for as long as I can remember. Even as a child, any book I could get my hands on, I would read. I could never get enough. However, if you asked me as an adult what my favorite book  was, my answer would change day by day because they’d always be something newer on the horizon that might just be ‘The one’.

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However, back when I was around age seven, I was given a dog-eared copy of C.S. Lewis’ book ‘The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe’ and yes- I’m going to say it – it changed my life.

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This was ‘The One’ – my first love affair with a book. I inhaled it from cover to cover in one read. I cried intermittently at various stages of the story and wept buckets at the crescendo; wanting to step inside and take control of the story because I just couldn’t bear to be a witness of  events that were out of my control-yet paradoxically, neither could I step away from it  for more than the moment  it took to take a steadying breath, in order to fortify myself  because I just had to know whether things would become better. I still vividly remember my shaking hands as I turned each page, catching myself holding my breath and finally praying my hardest for the happily ever after that I had to have.

 

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That book both nourished me and yet traumatized me in ways that I cannot adequately describe, and it stayed with me and will stay with me for my lifetime. narnia-19

I cannot isolate one particular reason for why this book touched my soul in the way it did. I guess I feel it was a perfect blend of elements: the four child characters of which little Lucy was the main protagonist maybe? I had three older brothers and I felt her pain at not ever being taken seriously enough. Or perhaps it was the winter setting? Winter had always been my favorite season. The battle of good versus evil? For sure, that was an element because I was hoping against hope that good would win out in the end. But whatever the reasoning of the head, this book touched my heart in so many wonderful ways that day, and I have reread it a couple of times since. And each time, it still hits the spot.

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Now I know this book is part of the ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ series. I have read the first book ‘The Magicians Nephew’ and also  the third book ‘The Horse and his Boy’, but iI have yet to complete the rest. I have the set waiting patiently for me to pick them up, and I know I will eventually. Just not yet, but I will.

Now if there is a person the this big wide world who has not yet heard of, or read the ‘Chronicles Of Narnia’, or ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ in particular, here is the official synopsis:

‘NARNIA…the land beyond the wardrobe door,  secret place frozen in eternal winter…a magical country waiting to be set free.

Lucy is the first to find the secret of the wardrobe in the Professor’s mysterious old house.At first, her brothers and sister don’t believe her when she tells of her visit to the land of Narnia. But soon Edmund, then Peter and Susan step through the wardrobe themselves. In Narnia they find a country buried under the evil enchantment of the White Witch. When they meet the Great Lion, Aslan, they realize they’ve been called to a great adventure and bravely join the battle to free Narnia from the Witches sinister spell.’

I do hope that I can entice at least one person who reads this blog, to either pick up this book for themselves or buy it for a child that they know would love it. There is not a book on earth that I would offer a higher recommendation for than this!

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So moving on to my adult favorites I have my own story to tell…

I once applied for a job in a bookstore back in England while I was at college. I had a great interview and everything was going really well until I was asked the $60,000 question: ‘What is your favorite book?’

My mind went blank. I stuttered and stammered, and came up empty. My only answer was “I haven’t found it yet’. I asked what their most popular book was. The answer was ‘The Davinci Code’. I hadn’t read it. How embarrassing. You see there was so much hype when that book was published that like ’50 Shades’ the whole world went crazy buying it. So I didn’t.Just because I didn’t want to be a sheep. #fool

I mean, it was still selling millions back then, even though it had been published several years before my interview, but I was my own worst enemy and refused to jump on that bandwagon. To my own expense. I did not get offered the job, despite the fact that I was reading four or so books per week. Maybe he had other better contenders, but personally I think I blew it on that one question. And so, I went right out and bought that Dan Brown book.

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I read it cover to over pretty much overnight. And guess what? It’s the best book I’ve ever read.


I finally met ‘The One, and  although it was much too late to swing that job. But then I’m an optimist, and so the moral of the story is that I realize that if I hadn’t had that interview, I would never have read that book- or everything else that Brown wrote after.

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I am still looking for my next favorite book.

I’m hoping that it will be the one I am writing. That would be so cool.

In the meantime, if you are already a fan of Narnia, I can totally recommend these two literary critiques:

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Inside Narnia by Devin Brown  ‘Longtime fans of the Chronicles as well as newcomers to the series will find this book both insightful and informative’ _ Jerry Walls

And also The Magician’s Book by Laura Miller

Lots of love, Sally xxx

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