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The Real Boyby Anne Ursu
Synopses & Reviews
On an island on the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy. The city is called Asteri, a perfect city saved by the magic woven into its walls when a devastating plague swept through the world years before. The forest is called the Barrow, a vast wood of ancient trees that encircles the city and feeds the earth with magic. And the boy is called Oscar, a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the Barrow, who spends his days in the dark cellar of his master's shop grinding herbs and dreaming of the wizards who once lived on the island. Oscar's world is small, but he likes it that way. The real world is vast, strange, and unpredictable. And Oscar does not quite fit in it.
But it's been a long time since anyone who could call himself a wizard walked the world, and now that world is changing. Children in the city are falling ill; something sinister lurks in the forest. Oscar has long been content to stay in his small room, comforted in the knowledge that the magic that flows from the trees will keep his island safe. Now, even magic may not be enough to save it.
Anne Ursu has written an unforgettable story of transformation and belonging—a spellbinding tale of the way in which the power we all wield, great and small, lies in the choices we make.
"Oscar is the magician's hand, charged with collecting plants to concoct spells, and lives happily hidden away, with his cats, in the cellar of Master Caleb's shop in the Barrow, outside the walled city of Asteri. (Ursu subtly delineates tics that suggest 11-year-old Oscar may be autistic.) Then Master Caleb disappears for mysterious obligations on the continent, and the bane of Oscar's existence, the magician's apprentice, is killed. Oscar's world crumbles. Unprepared to deal with customers, he receives help from the Healer's apprentice, Callie, but Oscar realizes his inability to make small talk is more than shyness: there is something off about him. It gets worse: his garden is ravaged, the city's children fall ill, and a monster stalks the countryside. It's left to Oscar and Callie to save Asteri. Adult readers will savor Ursu's allusions to well-known fairy tales — most significantly, Pinocchio — and appreciate the many well-turned phrases. But the story has some gaps, and a message about the failings of magic may disappoint younger fantasy fans. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8 — 12. Author's agent: Tina Wexler, ICM. Illustrator's agent: Susan Cohen, Writers House." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Miloandrsquo;s just a regular kid from Downriver. So what can he possibly do about all the startling events that unfold when he finds himself in a crazy place called Ogregon? An imaginative and comic fantasy-adventure from acclaimed author Linda Urban.
When magic came to Milo Speck, it came in the form of a sock. andldquo;Figures,andrdquo; said Milo.and#160;
So begins Miloandrsquo;s adventure in Ogregon, a place populated with hungry ogres, dino-sized turkeys, kidnapped kids, andandmdash;Dad? Whatandrsquo;s Miloandrsquo;s regular-old salesman father doing in Ogregon? For that matter, how did a shrimp like Milo end up there? Heandrsquo;s no hero. He canandrsquo;t help those kids. Right? But thereandrsquo;s no time for Milo to get the answers. After all, hungry ogres like nothing more than a tasty bite of boy, and what kid is going to stick around for that? A fast escape back home to Downriver is all that mattersandmdash;until Milo realizes that whatandrsquo;s really afoot in Ogregon goes far beyond an ogre quest for snack food. And his own family may be somehow mixed up in the dastardly plot. But what can a small boy in a very big world possibly do about that?
Milo had read about magic before. He knew that kids in stories sometimes found magic in secret drawers or hidden away in attics, and he had always hoped that if he were to find magic, it would appear in the form of a mysterious silver coin or a doorway to an enchanted world. But when magic came to Milo Speck, it came in the form of a sock. andldquo;Figures,andrdquo; said Milo.
So begins Miloandrsquo;s adventure through a clothes dryer into Ogregon, a land populated with hungry ogres, dino-sized turkeys, kids needing rescue, andandmdash;Miloandrsquo;s dad? Whatandrsquo;s his regular-old salesman father doing in Ogregon? In fact, whatandrsquo;s Milo doing there? But the answers must waitandmdash;because the top priority for all non-ogres is escape. Well, after Milo thwarts the dastardly plot that threatens to make kids everywhere into ogre snack food. But how can a small boy in the very big world of Ogregon possibly do that?
About the Author
Anne Ursu is the author of the three middle-grade novels that comprise the Cronus Chronicles trilogy: The Shadow Thieves, The Siren Song, and The Immortal Fire. She teaches at Hamline University's MFA program in Writing for Children and is a lifelong Minnesota Twins fan. Anne lives in Minneapolis with her son and cats.
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