Friday, August 12, 2011

Juniper Berry by M. P. Kozlowsky

Book Jacket

The house was a mansion, the lake was a pool, Kitty was a dog, and Juniper Berry was an eleven-year-old girl.

Such is life for young Juniper: a series of contradictions.  She is the daughter of the world's most famous film stars, and yet she is alone.  She lives on a palatial estate, but she feels trapped.  And even though she is closer to her mother and father than anyone, she couldn't feel more distant from them.  In fact, Mr. and Mrs. Berry have been cold and disinterested and cruel, not at all themselves lately.  And lonely, imprisoned Juniper and her equally beset friend, Giles, are determined to find out why.

On a cold and rainy night, she follows her parents as they sneak out of the house and enter the woods.  What she discovers is an underworld also 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 truly make us who we are.


Brilliant!  This book is brilliant.  I am a big fan of fairy tales done right--a fantastical story that teaches a lesson in a slightly scary, slightly touching way.  This is definitely a modern fairy tale.

Juniper is a great protagonist.  For much of the beginning of the book, she wanders her house alone, unable to connect to the help, who treat her parents (and by default, herself) reverantly because of their celebrity status.  Most distressing of all, her parents ignore her at best and rail at her at worst.  Her memories of happy times with them in the past make their present behavior all the more heartbreaking.

Things pick up when she meets sad and bullied Giles.  They discover why their parents are so different--and instead of helping them right away, Juniper and Giles fall prey to the tempting offers of the disgusting creature.  Because really?  If something told you it could make your dreams could come true (deep, heart dreams), I think it would be hard to resist.

But of course, like all good fairy tales, there is a happy ending for our main characters, if not for all the side characters.  And really, that is what makes me love the book so much.  It is more classic Grimm than the sterilized Disney versions, and I believe this makes it a stronger story overall.  This quote by Kozlowsky sums it up perfectly, "I write to convey the dangers of the world and the light hidden deep within it – there is always a way through the oppressive gloom and a child must know that."

Five out of five monoculars.

Release Date:  April 2011
Reading Level: Grade 4+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection:  J KOZ

Don't believe me?  Check out these reviews of Juniper Berry:

The Book Smugglers

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