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There's A Book

Juniper Berry by M.P. Kozlowsky and Illustrated by Erwin Madrid
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Pages: 192
Ages: 8 to 12
Publishers Summary:

Juniper Berry’s parents are the most beloved actor and actress in the world—but Juniper can’t help but feel they haven’t been quite right lately. And she and her friend Giles are determined to find out why.

On a cold and rainy night, Juniper follows her parents as they sneak out of the house and enter the woods. What she discovers is an underworld filled with contradictions: one that is terrifying and enticing, lorded over by a creature both sinister and seductive, who can sell you all the world’s secrets bound in a balloon. For the first time, Juniper and Giles have a choice to make. And it will be up to them to confront their own fears in order to save the ones who couldn’t.

M.P. Kozlowsky’s debut is a modern-day fairy tale of terror, temptation, and ways in which it is our choices that make us who we are.

Life isn’t always as it seems. For Juniper Berry and her new friend Giles this is more a way of life than a curious statement. With fame and fortune surrounding them you’d think they’d be the happiest children in the world. Every gadget and trinket  they could desire, but the one thing more than any is withheld, their parents. In a world where fame and fortune, status and possessions equal happiness, it’s Juniper who wants nothing more than to simply have her parents back the way they were before the glitz and glamor. What is she willing to risk and will the choice she makes be the right one? In this dark tale of choices and consequences it’s the dreams we aspire to that may have a lasting impact, for good or bad.

Every so often I read a book that stays with me for days after I’ve finished it. It’s words and the images it conjures leave a lasting impact that haunt my thoughts unceasingly. Rarely, if ever, is that book a middle grade book. That’s not to say I haven’t read some marvelous middle grade books, because I absolutely have, but there are few that leave the impression that Juniper Berry did upon completing it. Part of this I’m sure is due to it’s darker undertones. The idea of a creature who has power to give you whatever your heart most desires, but in return takes something even more precious is quite frightening. Not so much so that I feel I an eight year old couldn’t handle it (in fact I think they’d love it), but it’s not very common. The only other middle grade author that comes to mind with as sinister a cast would be Holly Black’s Spiderwick Chronicles, but those are still quite different. No matter the varying reasons, I should simply state: Juniper Berry has yet to leave my thoughts and I’m sure will continue to be on my mind for some time to come.

Juniper Berry’s ultimate message “Be careful what you wish for” is a perfect one for middle grade readers. It’s at this age that many of our greatest thought processes begin, I believe. It’s also when we do so much of the reading we will look back on with fondness in our adult years. For these reasons I think it’s important to address the theme of choices and the powerful consequences they will have on our lives. Unfortunately, some of those consequences aren’t beautiful or happy, but terrifying and sometimes life-altering. That’s not to say that Juniper Berry is a completely dark and depressing read, but it’s definitely one that will have you thinking about why you make the choices you do and whether they are worth it.

What I loved so much about the cast of characters were the stark contrasts between the adults to the children throughout the story (with one exception that I won’t share because I don’t want to spoil the end). With Juniper and Giles you have innocence, purity, concern and hope as well as both their quirky qualities that made them so endearing. In the case of the adults, it’s a never ending stream of selfishness all with the ultimate goal to be to achieve the very best. Even Juniper’s tutor fell prey to this situation and failed in her teaching responsibilities due to her interest in Juniper’s parents. It begs the question, where do the desires begin? And do we ever really “grow up”? It’s not as if the parents corner the market in selfish desires throughout the book, but they do take their fair share and leave the children to wonder what exactly matters most.

For a debut, I could ask nothing more from what M.P. Kozlowsky offered up in his writing of Juniper Berry. This is a middle grade novel that will speak not only to the young readers it was intended for, but readers of all ages up to adults as well. Explore what it means to make choices based on our desires, hopes and dreams; often the results may be positive, but at times there will be lasting implications that can alter a life forever. Gorgeously illustrated by Erwin Madrid, each image will bring the story to life before your eyes. Take walk with Juniper Berry to a very peculiar tree to discover whether she has the ability to overcome temptation and ultimately define who she is.

The1stdaughter Recommends: Ages 8 and up. A dark tale that illustrates the power our choices have to define us as individuals.

Please Stop by the Sites along the Juniper Berry Blog Tour for more great reviews, interviews and giveaways!
Monday, May 2nd – Review at There’s a Book & Review & Interview at Alison’s Bookmarks
Tuesday, May 3rd – Guest Post at My Friend Amy
Wednesday, May 4th – Review and Giveaway at Reading Vacation
Thursday, May 5th – Interview at Literary Asylum
Friday May 6th – Guest Post at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Saturday May 7th – Review and Giveaway at National Examiner
Sunday May 8th – Interview at National Examiner
Monday, May 9th – Review, Guest Post and Giveaway at The Book Smugglers

Juniper Berry Writing Contest:

To celebrate the release of M.P. Kozlowsky’s debut novel Juniper Berry, Walden Pond Press is inviting all writers aged 9-14 to write his or her own tale of terror and temptation in at least 500 words. One grand prize winner will receive an iPad and a library of Walden Pond Press eBook, paperback and hardcover novels and his or her story published online at walden.com. Author M.P. Kozlowsky will select the winner. To learn more: www.walden.com/win/juniperberry.

Juniper Berry by M.P. Kozlowsky at the following spots:
Amazon
Powell’s Books
Indiebound
Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

Today’s post is part of our month long celebration of Walden Pond Press for our monthly feature “Book Publishers 101“. Make sure to stop by the Walden Pond Press Site for more information about this title and more. For more information about our Book Publishers 101 feature take a look at this month’s opening post.

Make sure to stop by tomorrow when we reveal our huge month long giveaway from Walden Pond Press, including a chance to win a copy of Juniper Berry!

Thank you to Walden Pond Press for providing this book for review! Find Walden Pond Press on Twitter and Facebook!
Purchasing products by clicking through the links in this post will provide us a modest commission through our various affiliate relationships.

20 Responses to Book Review: Juniper Berry by M.P. Kozlowsky

  1. I loved this book and the lesson it teaches. Great review.

  2. Holly says:

    Loved the book, and it has stayed with me as well, although I’ve been reading several books from Walden Pond recently and have loved them all.

  3. Carol says:

    This is the second review I’ve read that has me convinced that this would be a good one to read aloud with my daughter. She’s 11, but it’s still our ritual to read aloud half an hour every night.

  4. NotNessie says:

    This is another book I would buy just for the pretty cover factor. Sounds like it’s actually a good read as well, so, BONUS!

  5. Heidi says:

    This is something to look forward. I’m an adult but I love reading middle grade books (I read those that have Newbery Award seals most of the time). I particularly like the illustration and based on your review, this book is promising. I might just scour my local bookstore for it.

    • You should definitely be on the look out for it! Especially being that you like reading middle grade books as an adult. I think you’ll find this one “mature” enough for readers from adults all the way to middle graders, which is difficult to do, but definitely accomplished here. Enjoy!

  6. Wow loved this review and I am going to be sure to check this book out. As middle school teacher I have a hard time with lots of the books written for this age group and still tend to prefer YA over MG as so many of them are just too young for most middle schoolers these days. I will definitely be checking this one out and probably be putting it on next year’s book battle list. Thanks for the review!

    • You will love this one and I think your kiddos will as well. I agree on the “youthful” side of things for many middle grade books, it can definitely be hard to find ones that aren’t too immature. Every one of Walden Pond Press’ books are so well written & edited I think you’d love each one. 🙂

  7. Juju at Tales of Whimsy... says:

    Wow. It sounds so good.

  8. RAnn says:

    Love the look of your blog, and this book sounds good too.

  9. Now I want to read it even more – I had no idea this book was a tour book… I would have loved to be a part of it.

    • You absolutely should read this one! If you are interested in reading more really good middle grade books I’d be happy to connect you with the publisher. Just let me know. 🙂

  10. I love the sound of this! Those darker fairy tales can be a lot of fun. And it gives you something to think about? Perfect! I do love the artwork on the cover.

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