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Author: Anne Ursu | Website | TwitterRelease Date: September 24th, 2013
Publisher: Walden Pond Press | Genre: Magical Fantasy| Pages: 341 |

MMGM is back! So—we spent last weekend moving, and of course I spent every free moment of my time last week unpacking and trying to settle into the new place. Which meant I avoided homework and blogging.

Nonetheless, I’m really excited to share today’s feature with you because this book swept me off my toes!!!

I checked out a copy of this story from my local library. I was not compensated in any way for my review (cross my heart) nor did I promise a good rating. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine. Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted every Monday at author Shannon Messenger’s blog


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 anciet trees that encircles the city and feeds the earth with magic. And the boy is called Oscar, a shop boy for the mnost powerful magician in the Barrow, who spends his days in the dark celler of his master’s shop grinding herbs and dreaming of the wisards who once lived on the isalad. Oscars’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.

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, and something sinister lurks in the forest. Oscar has long been content to stay in his small room in the cellar, 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.

-via book jacket

5 Reasons Why This Books is Marvelous!

  1. Wow! I have been anxious about The Real Boy for awhile now. I read Ursu’s novel Breadcrumbs back for Project: Fairy Tale, and I fell in love with her storytelling. This new novel does not disappoint. Initially, I was captured by the book cover because it’s simply gorgeous–AND the book includes illustrations so those fabulous pictures added to my imagination. I was intrigued by not only the illustrations but the story’s synopsis. I’m a long time fantasy nerd, but a world where wizards once existed but is now changing–how could I NOT fall into this story?
  2. I think that Ursu is a master storyteller. Obviously, I’m a fan of hers, but what really hooked me with this story is that I had no idea what was coming. Sure, I was following the story, and I was using my deductive reasoning skills in terms of fantasy, but Ursu surprised me with her story line. I LOVED it! I thought The Real Boy was original, mysterious, and fantastic not only for the fantasy aspect, but for the characters.
  3. Oh Oscar—my heart goes out to him. There’s something hidden in this story about being different and not quite able to fit in. Sure, the synopsis shares that with us about Oscar, but it isn’t until we really get to know him that this message plays out. At first, I was nervous as to the way Ursu approached this hidden storyline. I wasn’t for sure I liked how much attention she brought to Oscar being different, and I was scared that child readers might not fully understand what she was saying. But then I realized that’s just me judging kids. See–I honestly think they’ll connect better not only with Oscar but with his situation, than I ever will. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m not a kid anymore. I’m an outsider when it comes to being different. But kids, they’ll love Oscar. They empathize with him. They’ll see his difference and they will love him despite that. Ursu truly captures such a beautiful message in this story that I want to put it in the hands of every middle grader I come across!
  4. Back to the illustrations–because I can’t get enough. Really, not only does this book have beautiful illustrations, but the edges of the pages are worn and ragged. Going into this and turning the pages really transported me into the world of this story, and I love when a book physically embraces my imagination.
  5. The fantastical. Ursu weaves in some really neat magical concepts, as well as beautiful descriptions about the setting, and a really strong background to the world inside the story. Of course there’s a map of the land on Aletheia, and it never fails that if a story begins with this visual image of the magical land—I’m hooked. I’ve been reading fantasies on and off this year, and this is one I am so glad to have picked up. It’s a beautiful, fantastical, and awesome story that I think middle graders will absolutely love–not only because it will evoke their imagination and sweep them away, but speak to their hearts.

must-readBook Talk: Have you had a chance to pick up The Real Boy yet? If not, I highly suggest it. What’s your favorite magical fantasy MG read? 

Hopeful reading!