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11 / 30 books. 37% done!

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Madcap Middle Grade Adventure a Fun, Zany Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

As the ruler of the Kingdom of Camellia, the 22-year-old emperor has been so spoiled that he's become an insufferable egomaniac.  Watching from the Great Beyond, his meddling ancestors decide it's high time their ungrateful descendant learns a lesson in humility.  Using their otherworldly powers, they plop him in the countryside alone except for an 8-foot tall ostrich.  

While attempting to make his way back to Lotus City, the helpless emperor crosses paths with Begonia, a young dairymaid in search of her lost cow.  She's accompanied by Key, a romantic lad who's seeking his fortune away from the overcrowded home in which he feels invisible.  When two of their party make an unlikely love connection, all of them are sent on a wild, madcap adventure that will have them crisscrossing the kingdom, chasing twitterpated animals, encountering strange folk, and rescuing a forlorn emperor who cares only about himself.  Along the way, they will all learn some valuable lessons about friendship, family, and working together to save the day (also, an ostrich).
Because of stunning novels like All the Truth That's In Me and The Passion of Dolssa, I've become a big fan of Julie Berry.  She's a talented writer who's not afraid to take risks.  I love that about her, even if her newest—The Emperor's Ostrich—is a risk that didn't work all that well for me.  Although I enjoyed it overall, the story did seem overly long and it got confusing in places.  Despite a few dull spots, though, it's a fun, zany adventure that will appeal to kids who like fairy tales (which I never was, which probably explains why I didn't like this one as much as Berry's others).  With a strong female lead who's brave and independent but also a team player, the tale offers a refreshing spin on a conventional genre that should delight girls who prefer to rescue themselves rather than wait around for Prince Charming to do it for them.  Even though The Emperor's Ostrich is not my favorite Berry novel, I still think it's worth the read for fairy-tale lovers who like quirky adventure stories infused with magic and mayhem.  

(Readalikes:  This tale is supposed to be Berry's nod to Lloyd Alexander, an author whom I've never read.  Presumably, it's similar to his novels?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of The Emperor's Ostrich from the generous folks at Macmillan.  Thank you!


  1. This one sounds a little all over the place and I’m not sure if it’s for me but I do like Berry. I’ll probsbly skip this one though.

    1. I really like Berry's writing. This one just happens to be a genre I don't love. It didn't capture me the way her other books have.

  2. I didn't know Julie Berry was LDS. Too bad you didn't like this one that much, but you can't win them all, I guess.

    1. Yep, she is! I didn't love this one, but that doesn't diminish my Berry love. She's a great writer and I love that she tries different genres/styles -- she doesn't write the same book over and over and over again like some writers.

  3. I enjoyed this one, and so did my boys. You've never read Lloyd Alexander?!

    1. Oh, good! I wondered how/if kids would relate to it.

      If I've ever read Alexander, it was so long ago that I don't remember it. I should probably at least read (re-read?) THE BLACK CAULDRON, right?

    2. Start with The Book of Three, and The Black Cauldron will make more sense.

  4. This sounds like a good book. My niece and nephew aren't quite old enough for books like this yet, but I'm keeping a list of books to buy them when they're older.


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