Sunday, 31 July 2011
Book Review: Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth by Andy Hueller
Book: Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth by Andy Hueller, Cedar Fort, Incorporated/C F I Distribution, expected publication: August 8th 2011, 248 pages.
Source: ARC received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for a fair review.
Summary (from Goodreads):
Calvin Comet Cobble lives at Hidden Shores Orphanage. Location: the very center of the earth. Cal's life is full of the school bully and mean teachers, but when he meets Mr. E, who can skip a stone clear across Lake Arctic, everything about Cal's life changes. Told with wit and charm, Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth is guaranteed to excite and inspire readers of all ages.
When he is five, Calvin is sent to live in an orphanage in a place called Robert at the center of the earth. One half of Robert, where the orphanage is, is light, and the other half, where there is a prison for the most dangerous criminals, is dark. Anyone who goes into the dark side never returns.
In the story, Calvin is twelve and is struggling at the orphanage, his mother is dead and he has never known his father, his unruly red hair keeps getting him in trouble, there are conflicts with the teachers and the other children, and endless rules that must be obeyed.
The story is also tied together with Bartholomew Rogers who, twelve years ago, discovered a screw at the top of the world. The book goes back and forth between Bartholomew in the past to Calvin in the present.
I enjoyed reading this book and found it meandery and quirky. I thought the imagination and interesting scenerios were great - screws at each of the poles, the light and dark sides of Robert, the idea that the government would try to get rid of criminals and orphans by hiding them in the center of the earth, and the stones that skip endlessly and engage a boy who has so little in his life. Even life at the orphanage, though terrible, has a crazy humour to it. It is a book funny and captivating book with an most Lemony Snicket feeling to it - one horrible thing after another gets piled onto the orphans who are forced to live at the Center of the Earth.
The characters in this book really captured me, especially Calvin with his unruly red hair that keeps getting him in trouble, though he can do nothing about it, and Bartholomew, who didn't ever intend on becoming famous. I wanted things to work out for them.
Ultimately, however, this is a human story of fitting in, finding your place, and friendship. That, combined with the fun and adventure, will appeal to middle school readers, and I would highly recommend this book to them.