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.