Review Detail

Middle Grade Fiction 539
Bringing truth to the Hushlands
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
What I Loved: This was a very quirky plotline that was irresistible to my middle-grade reader. The premise is that Evil Librarians control the Hushlands (I love the name!) which is the world we all know. Information is controlled by the libraries and we believe what has been presented to us. This could be a really great discussion topic by itself. However, Alcatraz Smedry becomes aware of the Free Kingdoms and wanted to write his autobiography. The only way to get it past the Evil Librarians and into our hands is to present it as a story under the pseudonym, Brandon Sanderson. In this way, the author continues to break apart from events in the story and talk directly to the audience. This allows what would be a very unbelievable story and super silly to seem more plausible. My son kept grinning and commenting back to the book and me when the author engaged the audience.
The outlandish powers that Alcatraz Smedry and his newly discovered family members possess don’t seem all that amazing. Like Alcatraz’s ability to break things. Sing’s ability to trip and fall. His grandfather’s ability to arrive late. Yet, as the story progresses each talent really does help them. My son and I had fun discussing what talents we really had. We decided stubbing a toe may come in handy after all!
Final Verdict: We half read the book and half listened to the audiobook. The audiobook was fantastic but this was the first time that I experienced a loss in the value added from the printed version because of the illustrations scattered throughout the book. I don’t know which version I would recommend the most. The voice actor was very engaging to listen to, but the illustrations were great as well. Either way you choose, this is definitely a quirky book sure to delight your middle-grade reader. Even with a Library degree, I enjoyed it a lot too. I know which side I am rooting for in the sequel!
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