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Book Review: Juniper Berry, by M.P. Kozlowsky and Erwin Madrid (Illustrator)

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Juniper’s parents have
not been themselves lately. In fact, they have been cold, disinterested
and cruel. And lonely Juniper Berry, and her equally beset friend,
Giles, are determined to figure out why.

On a cold and rainy
night Juniper follows her parents as they sneak out of the house and
enter the woods. What she discovers is an underworld filled with
contradictions: one that is terrifying and enticing, lorded over by a
creature both sinister and seductive, who can sell you all the world’s
secrets in a simple red balloon. For the first time, Juniper and Giles
have a choice to make. And it will be up to them to confront their own
fears in order to save the ones who couldn’t.

M.P. Kozlowsky’s
debut novel is a modern-day fairy tale of terror, temptation, and ways
in which it is our choices that make us who we are.

***

Print Length: 245 pages
Publisher: Walden Pond Press; Reprint edition (April 26, 2011)
Age Level:
8 and up

Juniper Berry is an adventurous middle grade thriller about an 11 year old girl and her friend Giles searching for the cure to their parents’ strange behavior over the past few years.

The beginning was a little bit slow, and at first you think that this is going to be yet another woeful tale of a child not receiving attention from their parents.  Then Giles enters the scene and tells Juniper about his own parents and their strange behavior.  They decide that there must be more behind the neglectful ways of their parents and do some investigating.

Eventually they come to discover the underworld where their parents have been selling bits of their souls to a sinister creature in exchange for realization of their dreams.

Once the story got going, it was very fascinating.  It is a tale of learning to love who you are, and accepting your own shortcomings because they are what make you unique.  The story is about chasing your dreams, and discovering how far you would go in order to achieve your goals.  Would you sell your soul?  Don’t be so sure you wouldn’t.

I enjoyed the aspect of Juniper learning how far is too far.  She learns about friendship, kindness, and loving other people even with their natural weaknesses, and she learns about herself and what she truly wants out of life.  She is a brave little heroine with a big heart and a bigger determination to save the souls of her parents.

The age level is a bit generous, I think.  The book is supposed to be for children 8 years old and up.  Honestly, I wouldn’t give this book to a child under 10.  Juniper and Giles come upon some very disturbing discoveries and some of the scenes (in my opinion) are a little too scary for younger kids.

The Illustrations: The artwork in Juniper Berry were fantastic.  There are just a few illustrations sprinkled throughout the book, adding a visual to the storyline.  I love Madrid’s style.  He rendered each illustration well, giving life to the characters and situations.

By the way, Juniper Berry is only $3.79 for a Kindle version.

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