Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Book of Story Beginnings

The Book of Story Beginnings

Kristin Kladstrup
For ages 12 to and up
Candlewick Press, 2006   ISBN: 978-0763626099

When Lucy’s parents tell her that they are going to leave the city to live on a farm in the wilds of Iowa, she is appalled. Why on earth does she have to leave the only life she has ever known just because her father has inherited Great Aunt Lavonne’s house? And then her father reminds her about the mystery of her great uncle Oscar’s disappearance. Oscar was only a boy when he vanished one summer night in 1914. His sister Lavonne said that they boy had got into a boat and rowed away on the sea. They problem with this story was that there is no sea in Iowa and yet Lavonne never changed her story. Perhaps if Lucy went to the house she might find some answers to the mystery.

Not long after they arrive at the house Lucy begins her investigations while her father looks into the alchemy experiments that Great Aunt Lavonne had been trying out. Quite suddenly Lucy and her father’s efforts collide and before they quite know what is happening, Oscar is back and Lucy’s father has been changed into a bird and has flown across that magical sea that seems to appear and disappear at will. Oscar soon explains that the whole mess is tied to a magical book called “The Book of Story Beginnings.” It would appear that any story beginning that is written in the book somehow comes true. Both Oscar and Lucy have written in the book and they now have to find a way to bring their story beginnings to a safe and happy conclusion before anything else goes wrong.

This fantastical tale will have readers wondering how the children will ever be able to get themselves out of the mess they are in. Oscar is back, in the wrong time, and Lucy has lost her father in a fairy tale. Clearly it does not pay to play around with magic when you don’t know what you are doing, and though it is exciting to go on adventures, it is also wonderful to be home, safe and sound, with your family about you.

Fans of fantasy fiction will find this story intriguing and certainly there is plenty of room for guesswork and conjecture about how the whole magical business came about in the first place.