Media Type: Ebook
Title: The Grotto Under the Tree
Author: John A. Theo Jr.
Publisher: Astrea Press
Pages: Ebook; 139
Release Date: February 15, 2013
Source: CBB Book Promotions
Content Screening: Mild Fantasy Violence
HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Young readers who enjoy short and sweet fantasy reads
Sebastian and Sara mistakenly descend into a mystical land where elves, mermaids, gnomes and other mythological creatures live. The two discover they have stumbled into an ancient battle between these fair folk and evil creatures called the Kylo. Their guide on this journey is Capri, an elf lord who is on a quest to find his lost tribe. The Kylo chase the children and Capri in his flying galleon north into the Arctic Circle where they find the most unlikely ally. During the final battle the children learn about sacrifice, love and ultimately forgiveness.
My favorite way to read Middle Grade fiction is to go into as if I was a young reader. I love to take the story at face value, get lost in it, look at it as both a young and an older reader. To me, the best kind of MG fiction is that which can peak the interest of any reader, no matter what the age! All of that being said, I thought that The Grotto Under the Tree had a lot of potential. Charming and fun, this is an easy romp in a new world.
It did take me a bit to get fully immersed in this story. Being a shorter read, things move very quickly for our young heroes. I found Sara and Sebastian to be very brave and fun to follow. Each a bit impulsive, and yet courageous, watching them navigate this magical land was intriguing. I loved how they played off one another. When one was scared, the other compensated. They were great at coming up with ideas to get out of sticky situations and, when it counted, they were always there for one another. I see a lot young readers will love in these two.
The thing that took me a while to get used to was how juvenile the dialogue between these two was. I don't mean this as a jab. What I mean is that the children come at problems exactly how a young reader might. Their solutions are simple, the fights are minimal, and things move effortlessly from one event to the next. As an older reader, I missed some of the action. I missed having even that minimal amount of tension that keeps me turning pages. Still, to the age group that this is aimed at, I'm sure it will be more than enough.
Overall, The Grotto Under the Tree was a quick and fantasy filled read. Young readers who love mermaids, talking animals, and any number of other fantasy elements, will likely fall in step with Sara and Sebastian very easily. If you have a reader at home who is looking for their next read, give The Grotto Under the Tree a shot.
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FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.