by William Westwood, Jr. Book : Elementary and junior high school : Fiction
FUN! The Best Fantasy Book I’ve Read This Year!    (2013-07-25)
I nominate this as my “Book of the Year!” “The Shimmering” is a wonderful fantasy story of fourteen year old Michael who, on his birthday, strikes out into the forests of the Cascades to search for his father who has been lost for a year. By accident, Michael wanders into a “ripple of time,” which is called a shimmering, and lands into the magical world of Tremora. People have compared this to “Harry Potter” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.” I say, “Phooey! And, Phooey again!” There is no comparison—because, this story is delightfully unique in its own right. And, I just can’t wait for the movie! (Hollywood? Are you listening?)
Michael’s free-loving, gypsy-type mother slips a note into his backpack the day he leaves. When he finds the note he learns that his mother has been to Tremora many times. She isn’t at all the normal housewife Michael thought she was. She’s been an important figure in Tremora . . . actually, she’s been many, many important figures in Tremora—for a long, long time. She also knows that this is exactly where her husband is. She just hopes that Michael doesn’t accidently kill him.
On Michael’s arrival to this special place he is greeted by a little green man named Tracker. (No, he’s not from Mars.) This Tracker fellow was sent by high order of the king to escort and protect Michael on his journey. From the very beginning, Michael is warned to “Be careful—there is danger everywhere.” He wants to know why, but Tracker tells him he will find out when they get to the wizard’s meeting. It’s driving Michael nuts that he doesn’t understand all this. He doesn’t want to go to the wizard’s meeting—he just wants to find his dad! Tracker presses on and tells the kid that before they can do anything about his father Michael has a serious job he has to perform. He’s got to save Tremora. And, of course, like you or me . . . the boy is thinking, ‘Me? Yah, right! This guy has some serious mental problems.’ But, he has to humor Tracker so that he can find out more about this land and where his father might be.
The characters in this book are alive, exciting, and just plain fun. There are no copycats here. (To my knowledge there aren’t.) I mean, who has ever heard of camelops, wazalops, shape-shifting friendly trolls, or fluster birds. Speaking of fluster birds, Michael actually gets to meet one, and that is special because they are believed to be extinct in most parts of Tremora. Now, check this out—even the prose is creative and fun. “The bird went berserk. It waved its wings wildly, turned summersaults, blustered, and sputtered—feathers flew everywhere as it chirped, whistled, and spun like a spinning wheel firecracker. It then plopped down with a thud on Michael’s upturned hand, legs splayed, eyes crossed, and small tongue hanging to the side. Even so, in the midst of it all, it still managed to grab the twig with one small foot (p. 131).”
I say, “Bravo, William Westwood! Bravo!” This book should be in every home and school library in America. And, I can’t wait for the movie. . . . (Are you listening, Hollywood?)
Although, I do read books for the purpose of review--that in no way has any bearing on my opinion about this story. I, like the fluster bird, am spinning and wildly waving as I run through the streets screaming, “Hey? Have you read this one yet? You gotta read it! It’s really, really good!”
My thanks to the author for this lovely copy of “The Shimmering,” and to Review the Book.com for this opportunity to share my thoughts on what I believe is the best fantasy book of the year.
P.S. On the latest news . . . “The Shimmering” has won the Mom’s Choice award for friendly-family content and has been chosen for recording by the National Library Service audio books division and by Audible.com. (Psst.--Hollywood . . . any takers?)
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