Monday, June 1, 2009
Review of Any Which Wall by Laurel Snyder
Here is the review I wrote for School Library Journal (see all the June reviews here). Because I had to conform to SLJ's format, it's short but sweet.
SNYDER, Laurel. Any Which Wall. illus. by LeUyen Pham. 256p. CIP. Random. 2009. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-375-85560-3; PLB $19.99. ISBN 978-0-375-95560-0. LC 2008022605.
Gr 3–6—During an Iowa summer, two sets of sibling neighbors—first-grader Emma and fifth-grader Henry, fifth-grader Roy and seventh-grader Susan—are getting bored. Luckily, adventure looms in the shape of a huge wall in the middle of a cornfield. When the children discover that it is magic and figure out its rules and parameters, they are transported to Merlin's castle, the American frontier, the home of "the worst pirate in the world," modern-day New York City, and an ice-cream shop and a movie theater. This book begins with a quote from Edward Eager's Seven-Day Magic (Houghton, 1999) and, as in his fantasies, the charm of the story lies not just in the magic, but also in how four kids figure out how it works, what to do with it, and how to get along at the same time. That magic, like everything else, has consequences is made clear to the youngsters, especially when their adventures saddle them with a large, wounded, lovable, homeless dog to take care of. Snyder's fresh, down-to-earth voice is complemented by Pham's energetic illustrations, which seem at once retro and modern. Fantasy fans will enjoy this novel, but so will readers who like stories about ordinary kids.—Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library