Juniper Berry by M. P. Kozlowsky
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Copyright Date: 2011
Review copy provided by the publisher
Publisher’s Summary: Juniper Berry’s parents are the most beloved actor and actress in the world—but Juniper can’t help but feel they haven’t been quite right lately. And she and her friend Giles are determined to find 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 bound in a 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 is a modern-day fairy tale of terror, temptation, and ways in which it is our choices that make us who we are.
Disclaimer: I’m a teacher. I’m a reader. I’m a connector. I read books with teachable moments always in the back of my mind. My reviews are written from the prospective of a teacher looking for any opportunity to connect kids with engaging books.
Read alouds are one of the easiest ways I have found to help connect students with books...and it doesn't matter the age. Reading aloud is a non-negotiable in my classroom. I’ve written about it’s importance here on several occasions. I’m always on the lookout for middle grades novels that will spark my students’ imaginations, stretch their thinking, and sweep them up, carrying them away in the current of a significant story. When I received an ARC of Juniper Berry by M. P. Kozlowsky from Kellie at Walden Pond Press, I was thrilled to have found exactly that kind of book.
Imagine, if you will, twenty fifth graders sitting absolutely still, entranced actually, on a rug in front of you, completely captivated as you read aloud. You come to the end of the chapter and they beg…yes, beg…for you to continue reading. That doesn’t happen you say. Well that is precisely what happened when I read Juniper Berry aloud to my class. Now, while I’ve been told by some that I’m a “really good read alouder” I can’t take full credit for this book’s read aloud potential. I really can’t even take partial credit.
M.P. Kozlowsky has penned a chilling tale of good vs. evil whose descriptions are so well written the reader can easily visualize what is going on, leaving them with lasting images. The characters are believable, their voices so well written that they literally jump off the page during the read aloud. While I personally found the pacing of the story a bit slow at first, my students didn’t seem to notice and once the action got going, it was difficult to pull ourselves away. I appreciated that Kozlowsky didn’t water down the story with simple language. His use of rich vocabulary was done in a way that wasn’t condescending.
Based on the age old saying “Be careful what you wish for” the story line offers many themes worth exploring with students. During our read aloud of this book, we had thoughtful discussions about such themes as facing our fears, giving in to temptations, being your true self (even when no one is watching), our choices and their powerful consequences, loyalty and friendship.
Here’s what some of my students had to say after we finished this book:
“This book really keeps you hanging which makes you want to keep reading it!” Sierra
“The author didn’t just tell you everything at once. You had to read between the lines...go below ‘ the surface’! That kept me on the edge of my seat!” Jaden
“I loved that it was dark and scary! I really liked the way the author gave strong descriptions of the characters.” Dylan
“There seemed to be a surprise with every turn of a page!” Gabby
“I learned to expect the unexpected!” Jillian
Courtesy of Walden Pond Press I’m excited to be able to offer one reader a hardcover copy of Juniper Berry with a signed bookplate! Leave a comment on this post and you are entered! It's that's easy. Please be sure to leave your email address so that I contact you if you are the winner. The giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada only. Comment before Monday, May 16, 2011 at 11:59 p.m.
But wait...there's more! To celebrate the release of M.P. Kozlowsky’s debut novel Juniper Berry, Walden Pond Press is inviting all writers aged 9-14 to write their own tales of terror and temptation in at least 500 words. One grand prize winner will receive an iPad, a library of Walden Pond Press eBook, paperback and hardcover novels, and his or her story published online at walden.com. Author M.P. Kozlowsky will select the winner. To learn more: www.walden.com/win/juniperberry.
Be sure to check all of the stops on Week 2 of the Juniper Berry Blog Tour:
Juniper Berry Blog Tour: Part II
Tuesday, May 10th - Interview and Giveaway at Another Gray Day
Wednesday, May 11th - Interview at Bri Meets Books
Thursday, May 12th - Interview at Book Yurt
Friday, May 13th - Review and Giveaway right HERE!!!
Saturday, May 14th - Review at MundieKids
Sunday, May 15th - Guest Post at Kid Lit Frenzy
Monday, May 16th - Review and Giveaway at Kid Lit Frenzy
Tuesday, May 17th - Interview and Giveaway at MundieKids
Tuesday, May 17th - Guest Post and Giveaway at The Cozy Reader