Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Ugly Teapot: Volume 1 by Fred Holmes

Fourteen-year-old Hannah Bradbury loved her father so much that she worried about him constantly. After all, he was a photographer who traveled to the most dangerous places in the world. To allay her fears, each time he came home he brought her silly gifts, each one with supposed magical powers: the Seal of Solomon, the Ring of Gyges, even Aladdin’s Lamp. It was that lamp that Hannah found most unbelievable, for it looked like an ugly teapot. Nevertheless, her father assured her it was real, and made her promise to save her three wishes for something very special. Then...six months later...the unthinkable happened. Her father was killed while on assignment to Baghdad. And so on the day of his funeral Hannah did something she never thought she would ever do. She took out that teapot and gave it a rub...

This middle grade adventure story has great bones and moments of real excitement, but in the end I never felt a real emotional connection to Hannah. The story presented the great love Hannah had for her father, but it quickly became clear he was a neglectful parent at best. Hannah's mom and brothers were introduced but never fleshed out as characters which felt like a missed opportunity. The end, though not a surprise, was disappointing. There were other elements that didn't gel for me- the telepathic dog didn't add enough to feel like an essential plot point, and it never made sense that Hannah's dad would never have taught her anything about photography given how the relationship between them was presented. I also thought Hannah's thoughts and actions painted her as younger than 14. The writing was good and the adventure part of the story moved quickly, I just wish there had been more character development to make me more invested in the story.

3.5 stars

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