I had the good fortune to be invited to dinner with MacMillan Saturday evening. This was one of the books in the gift bag. I read a few chapters every evening despite the level of fatigue because I could not wait to see what would happen next.
THE FANTASTIC SECRET OF OWEN JESTER by Barbara O'Connor (FSG 2010) is the story of Owen Jester who dos indeed have secrets as do all boys in a magical summer where things all seem possible. Owen has managed to capture a huge frog from the lake. He has named him Tooley Graham, he of the large eyes, the heart shaped spot on his forehead and the glorious thrum of his croak. Owen, along with his pals (who could rival those of Huck and Tom) build a large cage for Tooley, one that can drift in the water. But somehow, Tooley's captive state "niggles" at Owen. There are some other complications: living with his grandfather who has suffered a stroke, a nosy and bossy housekeeper and the dreaded Viola, know-it-all girl and spoiler of all things fun.
One night, Owen hears the train per usual, the clatter as it crosses the tracks. But there is another noise, the sound of someting perhaps falling off the train and landing right in Owen's backyard, so to speak. And that is yet another secret, one that will alter how Owen looks at the world.
This is a quiet bok, a lyrical one in places. It is one to read aloud to tweens. It is also one I hope will lead them to HOW TO STEAL A DOG and other beautiful books crafted by O'Connor.
And now, I am going back to try to grab another couple of hours of sleep. Happy Turkey Day. Today I am grateful for so many things: family, friends, time to enjoy them both. And the books....