Friday, May 22, 2009

Mysterious Magical Circus Family Kids

Mysterious Magical Circus Family Kids:
The Chocolate Cake Turkey Lip Crumb Trail Mystery Adventure
by R. Hawk Starkey

(Outskirts Press / 1-432-73096-7 / 978-1-432-73096-3 / December 2008 / 192 pages / Ages 9-12 / Amazon $13.95)

Reviewed by Donna Nordmark Aviles for PODBRAM

Author R. Hawk Starkey grew up in the creative and unique environment of the circus where his parents performed as acrobats. Drawing from those early life experiences, Starkey delivers an adventurous tale of magic and mystery as the Circus Family Kids and their traveling caravan head over the mountains for a show in the next town.

The Circus Kids, with names like “Goodnight Irene”, “Sweet Lips”, and “Bobby Sock”, each have special powers that audience members assume to be illusions of some sort but which are, in fact, true magic. These magical powers come in handy as their travels lead them through one unexplainable encounter after another. Following a trail of ever moving chocolate cake crumbs which seem to point the way, the kids and their family caravan are met with quicksand, dinosaurs, storybook characters come to life, loss of gravity and much more as they forge ahead toward their destination.

Starkey has a unique, familial writing style and frequently uses nonsense expressions that may prove entertaining to the 9-12 year old reader. Throughout the fifty-eight short chapters, the author interjects some of life’s important lessons through the voice of the children’s Grandfather: Be kind to those who are different from you…Consider the power of your words…Protect our oceans and forests…Turn problems into adventures, just to name a few.

The illustrations throughout the book, by artist Gary Potratz, are quite enchanting. The portrait of Grandfather is especially well done. While I enjoyed the five young characters in Mysterious Magical Circus Family Kids: The Chocolate Cake Turkey Lip Crumb Trail Mystery Adventure, as well as a few of the magical encounters, I felt that the never ending stream of obstacles was a bit much. Everything and anything that could possibly have gotten in their way, showed up. One central mystery, as opposed to a multitude of quickly solved encounters, would have made for better plot development and a fuller, more intriguing story. As written, I would say the storyline is appropriate for the 6-8 year old reader if it were slimmed down and set in a larger font. A more concise, memorable title would be beneficial as well.

See Also: The Outskirts Press Release
R. Hawk Starkey's Tutor Page
R. Hawk Starkey's Photography Page

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