by James Riley
Interest level: 3-6
Reading level: 5.1
4 out of 5 stars
This is a very enjoyable fantasy/adventure story that is action-packed from beginning to end. One day at school, Owen watches as his classmate, Bethany, jumps out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Bethany has the ability to enter and leave books and stories, and Owen sees this as his opportunity to get to interact with his favorite characters in the Kiel Gnomenfoot series. Bethany is very careful about jumping in and out of stories, so that she doesn’t change anything or get noticed, but Owen has a different agenda — save a beloved character from death.
James Riley has masterfully crafted a complex story that tackles what happens to stories if you change the outcome after the book is written, and what happens to characters who learn they were created and controlled by someone’s imagination? Riley breaks down the “fourth wall” between the fictional world and reality and a thrilling adventure begins as the two worlds begin to merge and interact. You get two stories at once in this book: the plot of Bethany and Owen, as well as the developing story in the latest Kiel Gnomenfoot book.
One of the things I most loved about reading this book, was that I was reading and sharing the excitement with a 5th-grade boy, who heard about the book in a Boy Scout magazine. A book that appeals to a 40+ adult and an 11-year-old boy has special appeal! This is a very unique plot that will continue in future books.