Review: No Castles Here

September 7, 2011

Bauer, A.C.E. (2007). No castles here. New York, NY: Random House Books for Young Readers.  288 p.  978-037593921.  $15.99.  Gr. 4-8.

Augie Boretski leads a hard life.  His father left.  He lives in a neighborhood overrun by drug dealers. He’s constantly bullied.  And, worst of all, his mom is making him join the Big Brothers program.  When he finds a beat-up book of fairy tales, Augie begins to believe in magic and in himself.  Bauer mixes gritty realism with a dark fairy tale world in an uneven, but enjoyable, coming of age story.  The characters are strong and likable, especially Augie, who seems ripped from the pages of Norman Juster or Daniel Pinkwater.  The problem lies with Bauer trying to do too much.  Augie is bullied.  Then he finds out his Big Brother is gay, which he doesn’t handle well.  His school’s choir is in constant threat of being ended.  Then his school gets closed down.  Bauer just keeps piling it on, before rushing to tie up the loose ends.
Additional Thoughts:
Uggh. Terrible cover and uneven book.
Similar Titles (From Books and Authors): Adam Canfield of the Slash – Michael WineripThe Black Book of Secrets – F.E. HigginsThe Dancing Pancake – Eileen Spinelli; Joanne Lew-VriethoffI Am Not Joey Pigza – Jack GantosThe Invention of Hugo Cabret: A Novel in Words and Pictures – Brian SelznickThe Last Newspaper Boy in America – Sue CorbettThe Mysterious Benedict Society – Trenton Lee StewartSeven-Day Magic – Edward Eager; N.M. BodeckerWhat Happened on Fox Street – Tricia Springstubb
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