This week under The Magic Gazebo, where I like to sit for the reviews, is a super middle grade adventure by best selling author Cassie Beasley.
Rating 5 out of 5 stars.
Clean story? Yes it’s great for middle readers into early teens.
My review: Tumble & Blue by Cassie Beasley is wonderfully inventive and transported me to the swamps in Okefenokee. Having spent much time in the South, under those trees draped in wonderful mosses and quiet walks in the woods, I loved every part of the setting for this book. Beasley has such a wonderful voice, especially with Munch, the golden alligator, who sets the tone at the beginning and defines the challenge for the two main characters looking to catch sight of him and break a long-standing curse.
The Montgomery family home, full of winsome and annoying characters who all either have perfect destinies or are cursed with the opposite, is filled with relatives waiting for the blood-red moon to rise after many years, and provides such a great setting for the bulk of the book. Blue is a loser, literally: he is cursed with always losing any contest. Tumble is trying to be a hero, but often gets in trouble and needs to be rescued. She’s determined to save Blue from this ridiculous notion that he has a curse, by any means necessary. As the two try to help each other, they learn a lot about friendship, getting back up when you’re knocked down, beating the odds, being comfortable with the good and bad of who you are, and choosing to do the right thing.
After his father decides to return to racing, Blue is dropped at his grandmother’s home, deep in the countryside, far off any maps. Granny Eve’s mother is the only one who knows how to find the way to the alligator, so everyone tries to convince her to tell them. Blue’s feelings of loneliness and lack of belonging are easily understood by any middle grade reader. The magic of the story matches the depth of the character development and is a counterpoint to the more serious themes underlying it.
Beasley has written a wonderful second novel that tells a fascinating story of greed and sacrifice even as it speaks to the importance of losing sometimes in life. The book reads easily even as it deals with deeper issues of family, betrayal, love and heroism. And the lovely drawings inside the book in the alligator sections set the mood perfectly for the magic and story to unfold.
The cover for the book was made by Hari & Deepti, who used a special process of cutting out the paper first, then adding depth and shading with color. It’s fascinating! You can learn more HERE on their website. And HERE is an article with a great video showing how it was made.
Elizabeth Van Tassel writes compelling middle-grade fantasy. She brings her knowledge and expertise in the field of gemology to the page and infuses her love of folklore into modern adventures filled with mystery. A wildfire survivor, Elizabeth also understands the both power of loss and the power of hope. And she’s always on the hunt for a great story. Elizabeth currently resides in the Bay Area with her husband and two sons. She can be found wandering the gardens of Filoli House, enjoying her favorite coffee shops, and engaging with other writers.
You can find MMGM (Marvelous Middle Grade Monday) reviews from other authors, originally created by Shannon Messenger, and continued by author Greg Pattridge HERE.
Completely Full Bookshelf says
This book sounds really neat! I enjoyed Beasley’s first novel, Circus Mirandus, so I want to try this one! Thanks so much for the review!
You’re welcome! I haven’t read her first one yet, but I’m really looking forward to it now that I’ve heard so many people loving it!
Andrea Mack says
This sounds like an interesting read!
Thanks for visiting Andrea! Yes it’s so different from other books for middle grade right now, I really enjoyed the pace and setting, and zany characters too. Hope you like it!
Patricia Tilton says
Wow, that cover is gorgeous! I enjoyed your thorough review and find the story quite appealing. You didn’t give much away, so I’m just going to have to read it!
Hi Patricia! I love the cover. I’m a gemologist and love fine, intricate details. When I heard it had been hand-cut from paper I had to know more. I think there’s a link to a YouTube of the making of the cover. Let me look it up and I’ll put it in the post.
Greg Pattridge says
Gorgeous cover. The plot sounds engaging and could appeal to a variety of readers. Thanks for sharing. I’ll look for it.
Yes the story of the cover involves so much artistry! And so does her writing style. This is her second novel, and her first was NYT Best Seller, and I need to read it as well since she’s so talented.
Natalie Aguirre says
Haven’t heard of this one. Sounds like a great story, especially with the southern setting. Thanks for sharing it.
Yes Natalie, I can hear the gentle drawl of the characters and really feel like I’ve met these people. So easy for me to picture the rivers and waterways and creatures of that area too. Hope you enjoy it! Thanks for stopping by!