Townley, Roderick. The Door in the Forest
Publication date 22 March 2011.
ARC provided by Mr. Townley
Daniel Crowley's family runs a store in Everwood, a small, backwoods sort of town, 1923. The most exciting thing to happen is that Grandma Birdsong's unusual granddaughter, Emily, comes to live with her because her mother was labeled a traitor and taken away. This is because of the Uncertainties, which also cause soldiers to arrive in town and be billeted with local families. Captain Sloper doesn't seem too bad, until he burns a map that Emily has. When the map appears on her back in freckles, Daniel, his brother, and Emily try to figure out what it means.
When the three manage to get to a densely foliaged and mysterious island set in an equally mysterious river, things get interesting. Emily's mother and uncle are there-- even though they are dead. Emily finds out that she is in charge of keeping the island, and the magical creatures who live there, safe. This becomes especially important when Captain Sloper decides that there are weapons on the island and starts to fire upon it. Everwood is hiding secrets about the rebellion, and Sloper's insistence on finding them leads to his eventual demise.
Strengths: Mr. Townley writes exceedingly beautiful prose, especially evidenced in The Great Good Thing, one of my favorite books. He has a good eye for writing fantasy that is not horribly long, so that younger or struggling readers are not intimidated by the books, and it is also wonderful to see some fantasy (or any books) that is not in a series.
Weaknesses: I struggled with pinning down the setting; carts and cars were mentioned, but once a specific date was given, I tried to think where there might have been civil unrest in the real world. As I said with Matched, I don't do as well with fantasy when the parameters of the world are not clearly laid out, but that's a personal failing. If I had been able to just accept it as fantasy, I would have been okay.
Stanley, George E. Mr. Rogers: Young Friend and Neighbor.
Out of print.
*Sigh* I'm starting to see why I was SO addicted to these as a fourth grader. But I am going to stop.
Unlike the Dr. Seuss book, this followed the format that I remembered; most of the book was about the person's life before age 18, and then one chapter was devoted to what the person accomplished as an adult. Did this give me more scope for imagination? It certainly gave me a great window into the different historical time periods. Are they great literature? No. But they certainly taught me a lot about history.