Monday, November 16, 2015

Witherwood Reform School by Obert Skye, illustrations by Keith Thompson

When Tobias and Charlotte’s dad, Ralph Eggers, witnesses a prank the siblings pull on their cantankerous nanny, Ralph feels he has no choice but to scare his children into submission. Immediately, he drives his kids to the top of a strange mesa and abandons them outside the ominous gates of Witherwood Reform School. With threatening weather coming, Tobias and Charlotte have no choice but to enter the gloomy grounds when their father doesn’t return. But once they gain shelter inside the school, Tobias and Charlotte are unwillingly enrolled into the prison-like establishment where strange creatures patrol the grounds at night.

Skye’s witty dialog and Thompson’s captivating illustrations chronicle the fateful beginning of the Witherwood Reform School series. Each chapter is setup with tidbits of Skye’s amusing commentary or humorous practical advice before delving into Tobias, Charlotte, or Ralph’s stories. This structure will make readers not only ravenous for the Eggers’ narrative, but also famished for Skye’s cryptic words of wisdom. One aspect of Skye’s series that sets it apart from other middle-grade fantasy is his addition of Ralph’s story. Skye brings to light that parents of tween protagonists can also experience their own transformative adventures. Ralph’s perspective gives added suspense and depth to Tobias and Charlotte’s tale. This well-crafted novel is destined to become a best-seller. Skye’s next book in the series, Lost & Found, will be released in March 2016.

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