The Hidden Boy: Charming children’s story

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsJoh Berkeley Bell Hoot Fables 1. The Hidden BoyThe Hidden Boy by Jon Berkeley

Bea Flint’s family has won “the adventure of a lifetime” for seven people, so they grab Phoebe from next door, and Gabby, the clockwork girl who’s always lived in their house, and board the submarine bus for Bell Hoot. But while the bus is under water, Bea’s brother Theo disappears with a “pop.” When Bea and Phoebe set out to find Theo, they discover that Bell Hoot is not a normal vacation destination, that Bea’s family is not quite normal either, and what “the adventure of a lifetime” really means.

The Hidden Boy is a quick-paced, fun story with delightfully eccentric characters and an entertaining plot that never lags. Not much is believable (e.g., the Flints don’t ask Phoebe’s parents if they can take her with them, they let Bea explore Bell Hoot after Theo has disappeared and there are enemies around), but I didn’t mind — quirky tales can get away with this kind of absurdity.

There are still many questions to answer (Who are the Gummint? Who is Gabby? What is Arkadi up to?) and lots of room to explore Bell Hoot. A sequel, The Sleeper’s Moon, will be released in October. The Bell Hoot Fables will be a great series for kids who enjoy preposterous stories full of strange but charming characters.

The Bell Hoot Fables — (2010-2011) Ages 9-12. Publisher: “You are the lucky winner of a Blue Moon Once-in-a-Lifetime Adventure. It’ll be the trip of a lifetime! The tour leaves from the Blue Moon office at 11 p.m. sharp. Groups of seven only. No pets.” When the Flints win the trip to Bell Hoot, they board Captain Bontoc’s Blue Moon Mobile with the expectation of a grand holiday. Then something terrible happens: Bea Flint’s little brother, Theo, disappears on the journey, and the peculiar Ledbetter clan of Bell Hoot, who call Theo the Hidden Boy, is more desperate than even Bea and her family to find him. Bea will have to trust herself and the weird and wise words of an old man called Arkadi in order to find Theo. In her search, she’ll discover that Bell Hoot is more than a vacation destination, a wish is no good unless you give it legs, and Mumbo Jumbo is much more than nonsense — it’s hidden potential that she can find within herself. Jon Berkeley sends readers on the adventure of a lifetime with this first installment of a saga about a mysterious place called Bell Hoot, where strange and wonderful things happen.

Joh Berkeley Bell Hoot Fables 1. The Hidden BoyJoh Berkeley Bell Hoot Fables 1. The Hidden Boy 2. The Sleeper's Moon


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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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