The Real Boy by Anne Ursu: Middle Grade Review


The Real Boy by Anne Ursu

Age Range: 8 – 12 years

Grade Level: 3 – 7

Hardcover: 352 pages

Publisher: Walden Pond Press (September 24, 2013)

Series: None

Genre: Fantasy

Source: Bought

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

About the Book:

The Real Boy, Anne Ursu’s follow-up to her widely acclaimed and beloved middle-grade fantasy Breadcrumbs, is an unforgettable story of magic, faith, and friendship.

On an island on the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy named Oscar. Oscar is a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the village, and spends his days in a small room in the dark cellar of his master’s shop grinding herbs and dreaming of the wizards who once lived on the island generations ago. Oscar’s world is small, but he likes it that way. The real world is vast, strange, and unpredictable. And Oscar does not quite fit in it.

But now that world is changing. Children in the city are falling ill, and something sinister lurks in the forest. Oscar has long been content to stay in his small room in the cellar, comforted in the knowledge that the magic that flows from the forest will keep his island safe. Now, even magic may not be enough to save it.

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My Thoughts:

Anne Ursu took one or two aspects from an old story and spun a brand new fairy tale. The Real Boy is about a magician’s hand, Oscar, who doesn’t fit in with everyone else. He’s odd, and he knows it. Through an unexpected friendship with the healer’s apprentice, Oscar begins to unearth secrets about the island he calls home. What he finds changes the way he views magic, and the world, forever.

Magic, something that started out so beautiful, turned ugly in the face of greed and selfishness. Disrespect for magic’s power and disregard of ancestral warnings are among the many pitfalls of the magic smiths. Ursu gives us a cautionary tale to never let a hunger for wealth, fame, knowledge, power, or anything else, override what you know in your heart to be right.

Ursu’s heartfelt novel is beautifully crafted. Adults may enjoy the book more than children, but either way, it’s a wonderful story with a great message.

Content: A couple of scary scenes/fantasy violence, but I consider this clean.


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  • Reply
    Adriana Garcia
    March 13, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    Did it get too dark for you? Is that why you mentioned adults will like it better than children?
    I really liked Breadcrumbs but there was something about how it ended that I didn't like.
    It's great that you rated this so high because it gives me hope that it's even more amazing than Breadcrumbs and I could have hoped for.

    • Reply
      March 14, 2014 at 12:32 am

      Parts of it were pretty dark, but that's not why I thought adults might like it more. It had the feel of a book for an older audience. The way it was written really appealed to me, but I can't be positive it would appeal to kids. Am I making any sense? 😉

  • Reply
    Tressa S
    March 14, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    This sounds fabulous! I'll have to think about getting this for my nephew or son.

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