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.
“Anne Ursu has created a brilliant fantasy, alive with the smells and sights and sounds of a place both familiar and strange - but the true magic of The Real Boy lies in the powerful friendship that grows between Callie and Oscar. A joy to read.” Linda Urban, author of A Crooked Kind of Perfect
“The Real Boy is an engaging fable about what happens when people reject real life in favor of pleasure, of magic. I enjoyed it very much.” Nancy Farmer, bestselling and multiple-award-winning author of The House of the Scorpion
“Anne Ursus The Real Boy is a fantasy in the truest, deepest sense: it illuminates the human experience by giving substance and shape to that which is otherwise intangible. Beautifully written and elegantly structured, this fantasy is as real as it gets.” Franny Billingsley, author of Chime
“Its all highly rewarding and involving, with a tight plot, resonant themes, a gripping adventure, a clearly limned fantasy landscape, and a sympathetic main character.” The Horn Book
“Deeply moving, with language powerful and true as a childs voice.
“Wholly unexpected with plot twists and turns you wont see coming, no matter how hard you squint, Ursus is a book worth nabbing for your own sweet self. Grab that puppy up.” Betsy Bird, A Fuse #8 Production (SLJ blog)
“Anne Ursu keeps readers turning the pages until the unexpected but satisfying ending of the story…. I believe this book will be around for a long, long time.” Anita Silvey, Children & #8217;s Book-A-Day AlmanacAnita Silvey, Children & #8217;s Book-A-Day Almanac
“Anne Ursus (Breadcrumbs) latest novel explores what makes someone (or something) ‘real. The author mines the potential of magic and mystery in the story of 11-year-old Oscar, whom Master Caleb, ‘the first magician in a generation, plucked from the orphanage.” Shelf Awareness (starred review)
“There is such richness to this tale about a world seemingly falling apart. All of the fairy tale allusions. But in the end, The Real Boy is such a compelling fantasy story because of the two children who, amidst the chaos of their world, can help each other so much.” Richie's Picks
Praise for The Forbidden Library:
"Working in the grand tradition of children's fantasy, Wexler's off to a promising start."--Kirkus
"A charming, adventuresome fantasy from a promising new author."--Booklist
"Reminiscent of Cornelia Funke's Inkheart (Scholastic, 2003) and Neil Gaiman's Coraline (HarperCollins, 2002)."--SLJ
"Wexler is an able builder of magical worlds and creatures, with labyrinths, an enchanted library, and a feisty, swashbuckling heroine at the center. A story rich in action and allegory--fantasy fans will want to hang on for what comes next."
Praise for The Mad Apprentice:
"Wexler is an able builder of magical worlds and creatures, with labyrinths, an enchanted library, and a feisty, swashbuckling heroine at the center. A story rich in action and allegory—fantasy fans will want to hang on for what comes next."—Kirkus
Praise for The Forbidden Library:
"Working in the grand tradition of children's fantasy, Wexler's off to a promising start."—Kirkus
"A charming, adventuresome fantasy from a promising new author."—Booklist
"Reminiscent of Cornelia Funke's Inkheart (Scholastic, 2003) and Neil Gaiman's Coraline (HarperCollins, 2002)."—SLJ
National Book Award Longlist
2014 Bank Street Children's Book Committee Best Book of the Year
"Beautifully written and elegantly structured, this fantasy is as real as it gets."—Franny Billingsley, author of Chime
The Real Boy, Anne Ursu's follow-up to her widely acclaimed and beloved middle grade fantasy Breadcrumbs, is a spellbinding tale of the power we all wield, great and small.
On an island on the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy named Oscar. Oscar is a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the village, and spends his days in a small room in the dark cellar of his master's shop grinding herbs and dreaming of the wizards who once lived on the island generations ago. 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 now that world is changing. Children in the city are falling ill, and something sinister lurks in the forest. Oscar has long been content to stay in his small room in the cellar, comforted in the knowledge that the magic that flows from the forest will keep his island safe. Now, even magic may not be enough to save it.
The dark and thrilling sequel to the book Kirkus called, "Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland, and Inkheart all rolled into one"
When Alice's mysterious Uncle Geryon sends her to help capture a rogue apprentice--a boy who has the same ability Alice has to Read himself into stories--she knows to expect a wild and unpredictable trip. But even though Alice has visited the magical realms inside libraries before, this adventure is far more dangerous. Because Torment, the magic creature holding this library together, has gone mad.
But he might also have information about Alice's missing father.
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.
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 Breadcrumbs, which Kirkus Reviews called a "transforming testament to the power of friendship" in a starred review, and was acclaimed as one of the best books of 2011 by The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Amazon.com, and the Chicago Public Library. It was also on the IndieBound Next List and was an NPR Backseat Book Club featured selection. She was also the recipient of the 2013 McKnight Fellowship Award in Children's Literature. Anne teaches at Hamline University's MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She lives in Minneapolis with her son and four cats—monster fighters, all.