Review: Secrets of the Book by Erin Fry

secretsofthebookSECRETS OF THE BOOK
Erin Fry
Two Lions
Publication Date: February 4, 2014

From the Back Cover:

You don’t choose the book—the book chooses you.

Sixth grader Spencer Lemon has a degenerative eye disease—and he’s rapidly losing his eyesight. So he has no idea why he was chosen to guard Pandora’s Book. When Ed, the old guy at the nursing home, hands over the book, he doesn’t get a chance to explain any of the rules to Spencer. Spencer only knows that the book contains famous dead people—people who can be brought back to life. Spencer and his autistic best friend, Gregor, soon figure out how to get people out of the book, but not how to get them back in. Then Ed disappears, and a strange man shows up on Spencer’s doorstep—and he seems to know a lot about Spencer and about Pandora’s Book. Is he one of the bad guys? Or is here to help Spencer unravel the secrets of the book? But there are others interested in Pandora’s Book, others who might use its powers to take over the world. And it’s up to Spencer, along with Gregor and Ed’s mysterious (and cute) granddaughter Mel, to protect the book—and save the world.

Erin Fry has written a fantastical middle grade adventure with SECRETS OF THE BOOK. Who knew that spending time at a nursing home could be this fun? Certainly not Spencer, who is stuck there due to his mom’s insistence that he volunteer. To him, Ed just seems like some old guy he’s stuck with, until Ed shows Spencer Pandora’s Book and he starts to realize that Ed is more than what he seems. As Spencer embarks on a quest to keep the book out of the hands of the bad guys, he learns about history, friendship, and inner strength.

I absolutely loved the way Erin Fry portrayed the friendship between Spencer and Gregor. Spencer takes Gregor’s autism in stride–it is just something that is a part of him, not something that defines him. Throughout the book, Spencer relies on Gregor’s knowledge and as the book progresses, Gregor digs deep to find the courage to step outside his comfort zone and do what is necessary to help Spencer protect the book. Their strong bond is the number one reason this book is so successful and is a must read for middle grade boys.

I also enjoyed the fact that the book manages to educate while giving readers a fast-paced adventure that never feels like a history lesson. Children learn enough about historical figures like Socrates, Teddy Roosevelt, and Al Capone to peak their interest and make them want to know more. It is not easy to make a book both entertaining and informative, but Erin Fry does it.

If you are looking for a middle grade book that is action packed, adventurous, and a whole lot of fun, look no further than SECRETS OF THE BOOK. This one will appeal to both boys and girls and parents, as well, who will love the life lessons weaved throughout.

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