Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Book Review: Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth, by Andy Hueller

Can you believe that Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth is exactly what our main character loves to do?

This story is a delightful middle grade fantasy that is full of quirky characters and fanciful situations. There are a few different perspectives to the plot, and this may cause some problems for younger students, but if they can deal with it, they all tie beautifully together at the end.

Cal, our main character, is an orphan who has been sent to an orphanage at the center of the earth, under the South Pole. This town, called Robert, contains an orphanage that exists on the light side, and a prison, that is on the dark side. The orphans don’t have it very good, as is the case for most fictional orphans, but Cal is particularly mistreated because of his unruly bright red hair. He spies on the groundskeeper, Mr. E, who is our stone skipper, and has more to his story than we first anticipate.

Another plot line deals with the discovery of Bart’s Screw--the screw at the South Pole that was covering up the real story of what’s at the center of the earth. Apparently it isn’t the hot magma that we all believe it to be. This part of the plot begins twelve years in the past.

There’s also the story of a young couple, Ron and Julia, who have all sorts of bad luck right around the time that the screw was being discovered and during its “unscrewing.”

So, Hueller has written a rather silly plot, but it’s so intriguing, and the characters are what made me keep reading. I can’t mention them all, but they are all very memorable. It sounds a bit convoluted, and for a while it is, but you just have to find out what happens to Cal, and all the wonderful characters you are introduced to. Well, maybe not Principal Warden, the head of the orphanage. Don’t really care what happens to that monster.....

I think this would be a great classroom read aloud. If you could do some different voices, like some of my grade school teachers could, you would have them mesmerized. This would be a good one for reluctant boy readers and anyone who enjoys an entertaining, over-the-top fantasy.

Published by Bonneville Books, August 8, 2011
ARC won from  Britta @ I Like These Books (signed and personalized by the author)
237 pages

Rating: 3.5/5
 



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