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Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

*The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck* by Stan Swanson- young readers fantasy book review
The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck
by Stan Swanson
Ages 9-12 208 pages Stony Meadow Publishing September 2007 Paperback    

The bread is lying on the kitchen counter like its dead. That's not normal in the town of Pennywhistle - enchanted items don’t lose their enchantments! But something or someone is draining power from the enchanted items. The pepper shaker won’t budge, and the bedcovers stay down. If ten-year-old Hobart wants to read a comic, he must do it himself. If he needs to send a letter, he’ll have to relay his messages without the aid of origami birds. Whatever is causing the cuckoo clock bird to fall from its perch and stoves to cool down is now spreading to towns outside Pennywhistle. Worry is growing, and the Bureau of Enchantments is taking notice.

A lot of people who work on Pennywhistle’s Druid Lane could be guilty of this enchantment depletion. Delphenia Dragonwart, rumored to be a witch, is a merchant newly moved to Pennywhistle. Her arrival coincides with the enchantment drain and makes her Suspect Number One. Beauregard Bladderblott’s stockpile of magic books and talent with magical powers puts him on the suspect list, and Magnolia Moosefeather has the motive, the meanness, and perhaps the genetics to carry out such an offense, so she’s on the list, too. In all its wisdom, though, the Bureau of Enchantments decides to arrest perhaps the most innocent person - Wicksford Waxenbee, Hobart’s 103-year-old grandfather. With suspicions and evidence mounting against Wicksford, Hobart decides to take action. He won’t be without help. Joining Hobart will be his two best friends, Specks Spacklethack and Rosie Rumpleskirt, his former enemy Pickwick Prattfall, and the overly sensitive apparition named Tumbletoes.

It’s Spring Break for Hobart and his friends, a sojourn from Algebra and Intermediate Spelunking classes. But they don’t have time to toss blastballs and catch frog-eyed fish. They have to find out who is causing the enchantment drain so they can prove Grandpa’s innocence. The friends don’t have any luck spying on Screevy Scuttlebutt. The pixie powder they consume turns Rosie and Hobart into three-inch versions of themselves, as it’s supposed to, but it turns Specks into a twelve-foot giant! Their visit to Moosefeather’s store only results in drinking teas made from cauliflower cabbage, asparagus algae and broccoli beans, eating salamander sandwiches, and being witness to a magic trick gone awry. Their other investigations don’t turn up a great deal of evidence either, but Hobart Hucklebuck does foresee his future through his fortunetelling session with Delphenia Dragonwart. The darkness and danger of the prediction does come true, but the final outcome is a cause for celebration.

Author Stan Swanson's characters use a variety of alliterations, unique catch-phrases and funny sayings when they talk. When Hobart and his friends like something, they say “thoroughly thermal.” Flora Flaxenfluff believes that “Sorry doesn’t put the apples back on the tree…” She is Grandpa’s 89-year-old housekeeper who is sensitive about her age and protective of her floors. She likes to serves Hobart and his grandfather muckenslush mush, stinkpot stew and pickleberry pie. Wicksford Waxenbee tells Hobart, “It only takes one bad egg to bring up the breakfast….” He does live in a town that prefers enchantments over magic, but he enjoys the excitement and unexpectedness of magic over the novelty of enchantments. He likes to joke that Pernacious Prattfall is his friend from the Bureau; in truth, there is some history between them that keeps them distant. It’s no surprise Pernacious Prattfall is the person to arrest Wicksford and later ignore evidence that points to Wicksford’s innocence.

As the long list of suspects is investigated, the mystery mounts. An antique magic mirror is stolen from Grandpa’s magic shop, and a black cat starts to follow Hobart around. Their connections to the enchantment drain are soon revealed as Hobart and his friends use their magic and their minds to solve the mystery. One mystery that remains a secret, though, is the real story behind Grandpa’s crazy looking hair!

I know so many children to whom I am going to recommend this book. The author’s descriptions and attention to detail allow readers to see inside the shops on Druid Lane and learn about the inhabitants of Pennywhistle. The characters are unusual but interesting - and also a little secretive. Hobart and his friends do have their fair share of misadventures while helping Grandpa, but it's misadventure mixed with merriment and mystery. Humor is brought into the story from page one with the malfunctioning bread and continues as other enchanted items start to go haywire. Two of the funniest characters in the book are Tumbletoes and Flora. Get them a little mad, and they are comical. The funny moments in this book make what is already a page-turner of a book even better.

After spending three years in the army, Swanson worked for a newspaper and magazine and for a Denver printing and publishing company. Following his first book, The Dragons of Shadara, he wrote two books on the subject of songwriting. Stan Swanson and his wife live in Colorado, where the next misadventure of Hobart Hucklebuck is in the works.

Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

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  Tanya Boudreau/2007 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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