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PuddlejumpersReview - Puddlejumpers
by Mark Jean and Christopher C. Carlson
Hyperion, 2008
Review by Amy Ridley
Aug 26th 2008 (Volume 12, Issue 35)

Ernie Banks wants to feel like he belongs. At three years old he was abandoned on the steps of Lakeside Home for Boys with a baseball card, an acorn necklace and a tattoo on his foot. He is constantly in trouble with the head mistress of the orphanage. His dream is to one year get to go on the annual trip to Wrigley Field with the other boys but he always manages to get himself in trouble the day of the trip. His best friend Nate gets a family of his own for Christmas and this makes Ernie even lonelier. After several failed attempts at being a part of a family, Ernie is sent to a rural farm as a last ditch effort before he is sent to a juvenile detention center. Once on the farm he feels an odd connection to the farm and the widower that has invited him to stay, Russ Frazier. He learns from Joey, the teen-age girl that lives on the neighboring farm, that Russ' son was kidnapped as a baby. Joey is a tomboy who puts Ernie in his place from the moment he steps foot on the farm. The two of them begin their own investigation into what happened to the baby all those years ago. They soon learn that the neighbor that is bullying all the local farmers into selling their land  for oil, may not be who he appears to be. There seems to be something sinister going on at his farmhouse. Ernie and Joey soon find themselves in deep trouble with the neighbor and his henchmen. They find help from some small creatures they meet that call themselves Puddlejumpers. These creatures are only eleven inches tall. Ernie is shocked when he sees that these strange creatures have the same swirl tattoo that he has on the bottom of his foot.. Ernie needs to find out what his connection to these creatures is and if it will help him find Russ' missing son.

This fantasy story is perfect for an audio reading. The authors' descriptions of the beasts chasing Ernie and Joey makes the listener feel as though the Troggs are breathing down their own necks with their stinky breath. This is a fast paced story that moves from Russ' farm to the boys home where Ernie is living, to Wrigley Field and then on a wild chase through a land of Puddlejumpers, Troggs and Mother Earth. Sean Kenin's use of distinct voices for each character makes it easier to follow along with so many different characters and creatures. The Puddlejumpers have a language of their own that really benefits from being read aloud. This story is one that the entire family will enjoy reading and listening to together.

© 2008 Amy Ridley

  

Amy Ridley received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Boston University.


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