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There's A Book

The Real BoyThe Real Boy by Anne Ursu and Illustrated by Erin Mcguire
Published by Walden Pond Press
Pages: 288
Ages: 8-12
Buy It:
Publishers Summary:

On an island on the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy. The city is called Asteri, a perfect city saved by the magic woven into its walls when a devastating plague swept through the world years before. The forest is called the Barrow, a vast wood of ancient trees that encircles the city and feeds the earth with magic. And the boy is called Oscar, a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the Barrow, who spends his days in the dark cellar of his master’s shop grinding herbs and dreaming of the wizards who once lived on the island. Oscar’s world is small, but he likes it that way. The real world is vast, strange, and unpredictable. And Oscar does not quite fit in it.

But it’s been a long time since anyone who could call himself a wizard walked the world, and now that world is changing. Children in the city are falling ill; something sinister lurks in the forest. Oscar has long been content to stay in his small room, comforted in the knowledge that the magic that flows from the trees will keep his island safe. Now, even magic may not be enough to save it.

Anne Ursu has written an unforgettable story of transformation and belongingβ€”a spellbinding tale of the way in which the power we all wield, great and small, lies in the choices we make.

In city filled with magic and people so perfect that everything about them shines, it is Oscar who stands out in a crowd. Perfectly ordinary and even a bit odd, Oscar’s small world as a boy grinding and mixing plants may seem mundane to people looking from the outside. To the apprentice serving under his master, Wolf, Oscar is a nuisance to be disposed of at the earliest convenience. Master Caleb and Oscar’s new friend Callie see things very differently and when life in the Barrow becomes increasingly dangerous it turns out that there truly is more to Oscar than even he ever expected.

About one week ago Anne Ursu shared a post on the Nerdy Book Club that changed the course of my review. You see, I have a tendency to take books very personally. Every so often the lines between reality and fiction blur momentarily while reading, expanding the way you see your world and the experiences or relationships you have. Even more rarely, thanks to the beauty of the internet, you discover something about the author behind the book that causes their writing to mean that much more to you. An understanding, a connection and sometimes even a friendship or kinship is developed. Let me first share this paragraph from The Real Boy and then I’ll continue:

Oscar awoke in the morning with the feeling of dread twitching in his body, as if mice had been skittering along the inside of his skin all night. With a deep breath, he counted the things around him that were real. There was a the ceiling; there were his walls; here was his bed, his blanket, his Pebble.
p. 23, ARC, The Real Boy by Anne Ursu

You see, I’d read this some time before Anne’s post went up on Nerdy Book Club and when I read this paragraph(among others) it was clear to me that Oscar was very much like my Turkeybird. And now, having read the post, very much like Anne’s son as well. This connection, this knowing that someone else so clearly (clearly is a loose term because I’m not certain any of us will ever completely understand another without physically being in their shoes) understands and has written a character I cannot wait to share with my own son, has meant more than I can communicate. As readers we long to find characters we can relate to, those that speak to us in a way that help us to feel less alone in this enormous world. As a parent this feeling of longing for the exact right books for our children is multiplied a thousand times over. When we find one such book it’s all we can do to bide our time waiting for the right moment to casually hand it to them with every secret hope they’ll love it. This, is how I feel about The Real Boy. And for this reason I’m happy to say my review has been skewed, but why not? Books are supposed to be personal, aren’t they?

The Real Boy by Anne Ursu is a book I will champion for years to come, and not only because of the character connection I mentioned above. Anne has created a story world layered in rich bold characters, settings and conflict. Where you start within the first few chapters is only the beginning of something bigger, not only for Oscar but the world around him. Oscar’s relationships were a large part of the story connection, from good to bad and especially the small subtleties of his relationships with the cats in his home. When Callie is introduced to the story I couldn’t help but root for their friendship. So often all we need, no matter who we are, is someone to cheer us on and ask the right questions of us. Callie saw something in Oscar that most overlooked, his potential. Through Callie’s friendship and Master Caleb’s encouragement, Oscar slowly makes the choices he needs to to propel him forward.

In all honesty, I could continue to talk about The Real Boy by Anne Ursu for days. There is so much to be discovered within the city of Asteri and land surrounding it. Magic, the lack of magic, characters who come to life page after page, conflict and intrigue, the power of good and bad choices, and most of all the power of friendship and kindness. Oscar, though it’s never said in the book that he’s autistic, has characteristics that so many children today will relate to and be comforted by. They’ll possibly feel freed by knowing they aren’t alone in the world and that this very Real Boy understands the way they think. There is so much more I could say. The Real Boy by Anne Ursu is powerful and heartfelt, a story I will treasure for years.

The1stdaughter Recommends: Ages 7 and up. Magic, intrigue, friendship and the power of making choices. A powerful follow-up to Anne’s novel, Breadcrumbs, that begs to be read by all.

RB - Blog Tour Banner


I have to give a huge thank you to the publisher, Walden Pond Press, for giving me the opportunity to review and be on the tour for The Real Boy as well as host a giveaway for one signed hardcover of the book!
Be sure to enter using the rafflecopter form below and be aware that this one is for US residents only.

Also, Walden Pond Press is hosting a Facebook sweepstakes in celebration of THE REAL BOY by giving away $300 worth of books! Stop by their Facebook page to enter and read more details.

Find The Real Boy by Anne Ursu and Illustrated by Erin Mcguire at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s Books | Indiebound | Book Depository | Goodreads | ISBN/ISBN-13: 0062015079 / 9780062015075

Thank you to Walden Pond Press for coordinating this blog tour! 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.

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36 Responses to Book Review and Giveaway: The Real Boy by Anne Ursu

  1. Michelle Bitner Smith says:

    A Wrinkle in Time.

  2. I cannot wait to read THE REAL BOY. Anne’s other stories have delighted me and my kids, and this one seems so very personal.

  3. Danzel says:

    My favorite fantasy novel is A Wrinkle in Time, unless that would be seen as more science fiction. Then Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. πŸ˜‰

  4. My favorite fantasy is Roald Dahl’s THE BFG.

  5. Heather Raglin says:

    I love the Harry Potter books, but especially The Sorcerer’s Stone and The Deathly Hallows.

  6. Sharon Chriscoe says:

    I am SO looking forward to reading THE REAL BOY.

  7. Lori Tussey says:

    I’m really looking forward to reading THE REAL BOY!

  8. Lori Tussey says:

    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is one of my favorites.

  9. Charlotte says:

    I guess I’ll have to go with the Lord of the Rings; couldn’t imagine my bookshelves without it.

  10. Favorite fantasy novel? Does Aimee Bender’s work count? If so, that. πŸ™‚

  11. Fahrenheit 451 is my favorite fantasy novel.

  12. Rhythm says:

    I think that my favorite fantasy novel would be Doctor Doolittle. I fantasize about the world beinf full of Doctor Doolittles. The Real Boy sounds like an excellent story!

  13. I have heard such amazing things about this book, and I’m anxious to read it!

    One of my favorite fantasy novels is “Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow” by Jessica Day George.

  14. Megan Fuller says:

    I am so excited to read The Real Boy.

  15. Megan Fuller says:

    One of my favorite fantasy novels is The Floating Island by Elizabeth Haydon.

  16. Kim P says:

    Cannot wait to read The Real Boy! Two of my favorite fantasy books are “Liesl & Po” by Lauren Oliver and “Windblowne” by Stephen Messer.

  17. Kristie says:

    My kids and I just read a book called Red Shirt Kids that we really enjoyed πŸ™‚

  18. Dawn says:

    Wonderful review, thanks. My daughter and I are currently reading Breadcrumbs and can’t get enough of it. We would love to add The Real Boy to our collection.

  19. Anne says:

    A Wrinkle in Time is my favorite book.

  20. Steph says:

    My favorite are the Harry Potter series and the Fablehaven series. Both are excellent.

  21. Darshana says:

    Can’t wait to read this book. Wish my library would hurry up!

  22. Darshana says:

    Favorite Fantasy: Harry Potter series

  23. Pragmaticmom says:

    The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander.

  24. Tif says:

    This one looks so good! I can’t wait to read it with my son!

    Harry Potter is my ultimate fantasy favorite, but Howl’s Moving Castle is another one very, very high on that list!

  25. :Donna Marie says:

    I’ve been hearing so much about this book, and following the blog tour. It’s impossible NOT to want to read it!

    • :Donna Marie says:

      OH, I clicked on the rafflecopter AFTER posting! lol Let’s see…favorite fantasy novel. There are quite a few since it’s my favorite genre, but I think the entire Harry Potter series will always top that list πŸ™‚

  26. Of course, Harry Potter! But also Gregor the Overlander series and Game of Thrones!

  27. Julie says:

    I loved Ursu’s Breadcrumbs partially due to all the winks and nods it gave to classic fantasy, including my favorite, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” Turkish Delight, guys!!

  28. Chanae says:

    My favorite fantasy novels – Harry Potter series, Goose Girl and Princess Academy!

  29. Kat V says:

    Harry Potter! πŸ™‚

  30. Erin Varley says:

    I loved Aaron Wrinkle in Time as a kid, then discovered Harry Potter growing up, then the Fablehaven and Percy Jackson series while a teacher….love them all!

  31. Carolsue says:

    I liked a book called Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart

  32. The Phantom Tollbooth is one of my favorite MG fantasies. I also love Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy.

  33. Sara Kajder says:

    Wow. We have been eagerly awaiting this book in our classroom – thanks for sharing your review!

  34. Sara Kajder says:

    And our favorite fantasy now is the Unwanteds trilogy…

  35. Mary Weber says:

    Just saw your review for this, and the book sounds WONDERFUL. I think I’ll buy it to read with Korbin during the wintery evenings. :0)

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