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Thursday, April 9, 2015

"The Island of Dr. Libris" by Chris Grabenstein (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

Visit Chris Grabenstein's Official Website Here
OVERVIEW: What if your favorite characters came to life? Billy’s spending the summer in a lakeside cabin that belongs to the mysterious Dr. Libris. But something strange is going on. Besides the security cameras everywhere, there’s Dr. Libris’s private bookcase. Whenever Billy opens the books inside, he can hear sounds coming from the island in the middle of the lake. The clash of swords. The twang of arrows. Sometimes he can even feel the ground shaking. It’s almost as if the stories he’s reading are coming to life! But that’s impossible . . . isn’t it?

FORMAT: The Island of Dr. Libris is a standalone novel. It contains elements of fantasy and adventure with a slight mysterious element to it. The Island of Dr. Libris was published March 24, 2015 by Random House Books for Young Readers and stands at 256 pages.

ANALYSIS: Ask any avid reader if they have ever gotten so engrossed in a book that they felt like they were actually a part of story and chances are you will hear them say 'yes'. It has happened to all readers at some point in time.

Now, what if there was a way we could take the worlds are characters created by our favorite authors and somehow bring those to life. We would be able to interact with the characters, play out scenes from the books, and occasionally add our own plot twists or start our own adventure. That is the concept that is explored in The Island of Dr. Libris.

The Island of Dr. Libris may be a children's book, but it is much more than that. It really explores the concept of the power of imagination. It truly makes us think about just how powerful the written word is in terms of developing our imagination and influencing the future.

I will admit that The Island of Dr. Libris will be enjoyable if you don't take it too seriously. The tone is lighthearted and fun while the entire book is fast paced. But, I'll admit there are certainly holes in the plot and the subplot (the main character's parents are getting divorced) is resolved in a manner that is a bit unbelievable. Readers will encounter things that can certainly be picked apart and debated that it isn't 'logical', but at the core of it – this is a children's book and it isn't really meant to be detailed to the point that everything is explained in a logical way.

In many ways, The Island of Dr. Libris has two distinct audiences. The experience you get out of it will depend upon which group you fall into. The first group, elementary aged children, will like the silly dialogue and fast pace. Those that fall into this first category will certain be introduced to a tone of characters and authors that seem to be pushed to the wayside by the younger audience in favor of newer, hipper authors.

The other audience, the one I fall into, is the adult audience who will appreciate the way the author brought to life – and meshed – favorite literary novels. There is Robin Hood, Hercules, and The Three Musketeers, and my favorite – Pollyanna.

Unfortunately, if you fall into the last category there are drawbacks to the novel and you will probably notice. For example, the entire book revolves around the idea of Dr. Libris running an experiment, but Dr. Libris only appears for like 2 seconds and that is it. If you want to see what happens, I guess you will have to use your imagination and create an ending!

Overall, I enjoyed The Island of Dr. Libris. The story wasn't intense, but it wasn't bad. There were certain plot holes that were noticeable, but it didn't really impact my overall experience with the book. If you are looking for a fast, fun book that will certainly stay with you for a while – this is the place to look.


Salvatore Odyssey said...

This sounds like a great book for me to share with my kids to encourage them to read. I am always telling my kids how books come to life for me, and I bet this author will paint a beautiful picture of how our minds can really bring books to life. Thanks for the review.

Cindy said...

It really was a wonderful book. Sure, if you sit down there were things that could be overanalyzed, but I don't think that was the point of the book. The point was to show people how reading books makes things come to life and just how powerful the worlds are that were created.

I loved that the author didn't go with the modern characters/worlds. Let me know what you think!

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