Review Detail

Kids Fiction 3585
Step in and Smell the Apples
Overall rating 
 
4.5
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
5.0
What a ride! The Shadow Collector's Apprentice managed to hook me right from the start, and it was a unique adventure! This fantasy/mystery/historical fiction(with even a little bit of environmentalism) work was gripping and compelling. Cully, the main character, pulled me in with his deep, wondering thoughts and emotions and his persevering spirit. Devastated with his father's mysterious departure, Cully is trying to navigate his small-town world of tween girls, friendship, and family. It is 1963, and he lives with his three aunts, who own and maintain an apple orchard but are having financial troubles. When summer arrives, Cully finds himself wanting a job in order to help in whatever small way he can. He hears about an apprenticeship at an antiques shop run by the grandfather of the weirdest girl in school, Isabel. When he is accepted, he realizes he has gotten himself into far more than he bargained for.

Weaving together such differing elements as quirky, hard-working, and enchanting aunts, environmental concerns, Secret Services, World War 1 and 2, and insects, Gordon managed to draw me in and hold me there, even if, at times, my suspension of disbelief was not there. The main hook? The characters. I grew to love Cully, Isabel, his aunts, and even his friend Sam. Each character was drawn in such a way that I could see them so clearly in my mind, and felt like I knew them myself. Not every writer has such a knack, but Gordon does, and it worked so well in this fantastical story. It is a great read and perfect for middle-graders, introducing them to new words and concepts, and even opening their eyes to look into all sorts of new subjects.
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