The Ottawa Citizen was kind enough to mention my book. And they mentioned it well!
Jackson Jones: The tale of a boy, an elf and a very stinky fish
By Jenn Kelly, illustrated by Arian Elsammak
Jackson, a 10½-year-old boy who should be in Grade 5 but instead is in Grade 6, feels small and friendless at his new school and is intent on writing fabulous stories in which he is the hero. But, to his dismay, nothing interesting ever happens to him — until he falls into his very short Great-Aunt Harriett’s “very, very, very, very, very, very, very thick hair” where elf Meeka holds hourly tours accompanied by a smelly fish. Meeka takes him to a magical bookstore and an equally exotic cafeteria, then they encounter Meeka’s huntress sister, who protects birds from bubble-gum chewing critters called crubbies. In a series of further adventures reminiscent of Alice Though the Looking Glass, Jackson learns some life lessons, finds he is no longer friendless and performs a heroic, life-saving deed. The story also has a spiritual edge to it, leavened with mystery, humour and adventure. The book is broken into amusingly-titled chapters (i. e. “No longer the First Chapter;” “A Very Hairy Chapter,” and “In Which This Book Really Begins”). It is not a picture book, though there are apt illustrations.
— Kirstin Endemann
Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Books+Over+Transom/4232126/story.html#ixzz1DH8LbvOb
Most words taken from ‘Quill and Quire’ Canada’s magazine of book news and reviews November 2010 by Laura Godrey. I didn’t put all of them (description of book) as I don’t want to get smashed for plagerizing. Or whatever. Can I rewrite reviews? I have no idea. I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough.
“This adventurous debut from Ottawa author Jenn Kelly has a perfectly silly spirit that helps put across the admirable lesson learned by its young protagonist blah blah. Blah blah. Blah blah.
Although it’s a joy to hear young Jackson mention the authors he admires and to see him take a literal and metaphorical leap of faith to protect his new friend, the problem is that our young hero is given relatively little external conflict to match the internal conflict he faces. The book has no villain and no ultimate goal for him to accomplish. The people hemeets teach him important lessons about faith and love, but the book lacks suspense and danger that would make the payoff more rewarding. Despite its shortcomings, and a set of lacklustre illustrations, it still offers a worthy tale about a boy who learns how to believe in himself. The author’s self-referential, outgoing sense of humour will also appeal to young readers, many of whom will see themselves in Jackson.”
You know, when you read a review, you want to defend yourself. But then that would be defensive. Or catty. Or complaining. Or whatever.
I just want to say thank you to Laura for the awesome review.
And that ‘Alice in Wonderland’, ‘Anne of Green Gables’, ‘The Secret Garden’, ‘The Black Stallion’, “Little House on the Prairie’ etc did not have villains. Or goals.
I’m just saying.
Reading: My Life in France by Julia Child (I love food)
Listening to: quiet.
I am so blessed to get another:
My name is JK and I live in PA. I recently read
your book Jackson Jones. It was loaned to me by your former teacher
LG, whom I have known for about 10 years. We vacation at White Lake and L and D have a summer place there. We
actually had supper with them one night during vacation. L cooked
and it was quite good!
I am a retired 5th grade teacher, so D offered the book to read. I
read it and passed it on to my daughter, who is also a 5th grade
teacher. She and I both enjoyed it. She pronounced it “C.S. Lewisy”,
which of course it was. Pretty good company!! It was great to see an
imaginative, creative book that didn’t feature werewolves and
magicians, but rather pointed to “the Author.”
Diane told me about the book and I said I would read it. As soon as I
saw it, and saw Zondervan was the publisher, I knew which direction it
Great job and hope it is a huge success for you. Kids need an
alternative which points them in the right direction.
And so I dance delighted in the library…
See, the sun always shines regardless of the rain.
Not that I was sad.
But I did get an encouraging letter about my book.
So here it is:
I am having so much fun reading Jackson Jones. I am a homeschool mama to 6 little ones–(almost) 10 to 7 months. I received my copy to review and I am so glad I chose it. I don’t normally go for things that are ‘just silly’. Your book is very much not one of those kinds of books! I am picking it up and reading even when I am not reading to the children–it is that good! I had to let you know how much I/we are enjoying reading about Jackson. I also love that you drink chai lattes, too (my favorite 😀 ). Are your upcoming books about Jackson, too? Cannot wait to read more.
Now how cool is that?
Normally I would title this “Encouragement #4” but this isn’t an encouragement. It’s actually a bad review.
Now why on earth would I post a bad review?
I’m not sure.
Maybe because it didn’t upset me that much.
Maybe because I already know that not everyone is going to love it. I know that there are a lot of books out there that get great reviews and I just don’t care for them. Doesn’t mean they aren’t any good, just means they aren’t my ‘cup of tea’. And I’m good with that.
What ‘could’ hurt is that it’s from Kirkus Book Reviews.
But it doesn’t.
Here it is:
In this absurd adventure, insecure sixth grader Jackson falls into his Great Aunt Harriett’s enormous hair. Inside that hair is a whole world, where Jackson meets an elf named Meeka. Meeka insists on taking Jackson on what she calls the Author’s tour. Extreme wackiness ensues, during which Jackson meets two significant characters. The first is Eleissa, who explains to Jackson that his life is not random, that the Author created him and wrote his story. The second is Josh the Page, whose job is to help people find their stories. He leads Jackson to the river’s edge and instructs him to find his stone. Jackson has to resist all the stones inscribed with negative messages to find the ones that are truly calling out to him. While the story of Aunt Harriett’s hair is presumably intended to guide children to a stronger faith in a higher power and in themselves, it winds up in a hopeless allegorical tangle. The frequent, lengthy narrative asides, meant to be funny, will only add to readers’ confusion and frustration. (Fiction. 8-12)
What’s interesting about this, is that Jackson doesn’t meet two significant characters. He actually meets 8. And also they write that it presumably intended to guide children to a stronger faith (yes, it is) and a higher power in themselves. It is not written for children to find a higher power in themselves. Why that word? power. I never said power. If anything it would elude to confidence.Hm.
Anyway, I’m guessing that lovely editor Kathleen will not be putting their review on the back of my book. And that’s ok.