Monday, November 2, 2009

Wonderous Strange

"Looking for a pet? ", "Have room in your shower?", "Love Lucky Charms?", "Well, I have got the horse for you…", "What? Never thought of keeping a pet horse in your shower?"

Kelley moved to New York and for once in her life, she is having a normal life; on her own, without her crazy aunt. She was ready to further her career in acting and start one of her first roles as an understudy in the play “A Mid-summers Night Dream”. That was until Kelley decided it was a good night to take a walk in Central Park. What seemed to be harmless exercise, to get some fresh air, turns into an adventure in a wonderland. Kelley’s world is turned upside down, as she’s followed by a horse and a young man. The horse takes a home in Kelley’s shower, and Kelley can’t go to a place that the young man is not. Weird things start to happen: a huge dog-like creature appears in the night, a carousel comes to life in front of her eyes, fairy's living among her, and of course Kelley just can’t get that horse out of her shower. Its almost as if she is living in her own “Mid-summers Night Dream”; but is this just a strange dream, or a wondrous reality?

“Wondrous Strange” can be a great segway for high school English teachers into Shakespeare’s “A Mid-summer’s Night Dream”. Throughout the book, the play and it’s characters come to life in a story that combines Shakespeare with fantasy. Students who have a hard time reading Shakespeare, might be able to understand the fundamentals of the story by reading “Wondrous Strange” and then go on to read “A Mid-Summers Night Dream”. History teachers can also use the book as an introduction to why Central Park was built in the middle of New York City. The author, Lesley Livingston, explores the fact that the park maybe a gateway to the fairy world. It could be a nice twist to the historical part of New York history and could strike some interesting analysis of the park itself. The book is a bit predictable, but is a great current resource for high school English and History students.

Students will be able to take Lesley Livingston's story and not only compare it to Shakespeare, but also be able to see the underlying Young Adult Literature theme of growing up and finding yourself. Within the book, Kelley learned who she wanted to be and who she really was through her adventures on her own in New York City. Students and teachers will be able to have discussions about family values, becoming an independent person, and accepting yourself. I recommend this book for all those interested in fantasy or a helping hand in understanding Shakespeare.
Note: "Wonderous Strange" was proposed by it's author, Lesley Livingston, to be part of a trilogy. The next book, "Darklight" will be available in December, 2009.
~Amy Vercillo


Donna N said...


Your book sounds very magical and mystical at the same time. I like that it is a good source for learning to be independent and also the importance of family values.


Anne said...

Good connection to a class other than English. It shows how books can be versitile.

Tom Philion said...

Hi Amy! Thanks for your review--maybe its the book cover, but the summary here also reminds me of the Twilight series--no vampires, perhaps, but clearly a fantasy world, female protagonist, classical allusions.

Is there a romance factor?

Take care,

averch said...

You betcha there is a romance factor. Didn't want to give the story totally away, but there is a little bit of love in this story of mixed worlds.

Clarissa H. said...

Hi Amy,

I thought it was interesting how you made the connection between this novel and Shakespeare - a subject that most teenagers seem to find intimidating. I really like how you explain how this could be a transition book into "A Mid-summer's Night Dream." I think that reading something (like this YAL novel!) that is modern, yet with a rich historical and literary history would excite and motivate teenagers to read Shakespeare.

T. Arnold said...

I also like your idea of reading this novel before delving into Shakespeare’s “A Mid-Summers Night Dream.” It is hard to get students interested and motivated to read Shakespeare. This book seems more like a modern version of it, which would help students to relate and make connections.