By: Richard A. Berry and John M. Kraus
Publisher: Booklocker.com, Inc.
Publication Date: May 2008
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: November 2008
The new book Wizard of Windsor Island: Giovanni’s Missing Boat, is the tale of a young man and a magical book. The hero of the story, Ben Smith, lives on Windsor Island, a small, close-knit community located on a cozy island off the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. Ben is a music prodigy, playing piano every chance he gets. One day, Ben tells his mother that he and some friends are looking for items to donate to a fundraiser. Ben’s mother suggests going into the attic where there are old books, toys, and furniture.
During his search of the attic, Ben stumbles upon “Gabriel’s Book of Magic.” Curious, the young man carefully opens the old book and soon the fun begins. Rollo, an adorable talking rabbit, pops out of the book as does a magician’s wand. When Ben’s friends come to visit, Ben quickly realizes that they can’t see the rabbit. Shortly thereafter, when Ben gets the creature alone in his room, the two begin to talk. It isn’t long before Rollo the rabbit is advising Ben on how to use the magic book.
Ben learns that his newly discovered magic powers can only be used for good and he is quickly tested. The Giovannis, neighbors of Ben’s, go out in their boat for an afternoon of fun. But a storm comes roaring along and before the frightened mother and her children are able to get back to land, the thunderous sea catches their boat and they are helpless. Brian and Austin King, two kindhearted treasure hunters, are also out on their boat. Seeing that the Giovannis are in danger, the two men come to their aid, abandon their own boat to help the family, and together head toward land. Meanwhile, Ben, who is safely inside his house, uses his magic wand and his imagination to guide the frightened travelers to land. When a huge waves gobbles up the Giovannis, it is up to Ben and his magic to rescue them.
Written for young readers, the Wizard of Windsor Island certainly has an entertaining premise. Rollo the rabbit is adorable and the incantations that both he and Ben use are cleverly written. “Bring me a friend who lives in the sea, it will harm no one and be helpful to me. Find me the cave, show me the way, and get back to me by the end of the day,” implores Ben as he searches for his neighbors. Unfortunately, these delightful rhymes are few and far between. The book gets bogged down early with details that are irrelevant to the story, such as describing in far too much detail the layout of the island, its government, buildings, where kids can go to college, the various churches, etc. I fear that youngsters will put the book down at this point. The writing is also quite stilted and makes the story a struggle to get through. The old adage, ‘show don’t tell,’ is forgotten too, as time after time, the authors tell the reader what is happening rather than let the reader get lost in a good story. Do we really need to know the complete layout of Ben’s house, down to the 20 x 20 foot “fabricated wood deck” or that there is a bay window in the kitchen?
Quill says: This wonderful story gets lost in the extraneous details.
For more information on Wizard of Windsor Island, please visit the author's website at: Windsor Island
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