Happy Wednesday to you! If you have children, you are likely deep in the throes of back-to-school chaos. Mine kids are madly trying to finish up the math workbooks assigned for summer work and looking over their reading logs to make sure they have accounted for every day of reading – the latter being much easier to keep up with as my kids love to read.
Both of my kids are big fans of serial books and I am excited to introduce them to a new series created by James Larson – The Winnie and Winslow Adventure Series. The first book in this series, recently released, is “A” is for The Alchemist, and it’s my “What I’m Reading Wednesday” pick!
“A” is for the Alchemist incorporates a number of zany elements: talking animals (cat, dogs, rats and pigeons), a mysterious superhero, dastardly villains, spooky fog-like people from outer space, a fantastic tablet for which Winnie has developed some incredible apps (like one to shrink objects, and another to transform them into something completely different) and fantastic inventions. The two main characters, Winslow and Winnie, are brother and sister. As the mom of a girl and a boy, I love to find any story that perpetuates a good relationship between siblings, and this one does not disappoint. Winnie is a scientist (the book is peppered with references to STEM, which I think is fantastic) which will definitely appeal to my own budding scientist. She has invented a robot, appropriately if not imaginatively named “Sing Master” which is able to sing any song in the world in perfect pitch and which she intends to enter into a science fair.
Unfortunately, as she is putting the finishing touches on Sing Master, he is kidnapped….by a huge flock of not-so-intelligent pigeons who mistakenly think he is the “Wing Master”, meant to kidnap pigeons and turn them into tomorrows fast-food lunch.
While this is going on, an evil 7-foot-tall scientist is in the middle of finishing his own invention which will turn ordinary objects into gold, but he is missing one important element – and that one thing turns out to be Sing Master. They need to get Sing Master back before he uses his machine to turn the NFL stadium (which is built from the one metal that his machine can transform) – and all the fans it is holding on game day – into gold!
I said it was zany!
I particularly loved the characterization of the animals – the very hungry rats (including one with an obsession with Winston’s glowing Green Hornet ring), a homeless dog who is a bit of a coward but comes to prove himself, a rather pompous,self-righteous cat (aren’t they always?), a bunch of crazy pigeons (including a selfless one who can’t swim.) I think these would appeal to any kids with an active imagination!
In the midst of all this Winston learns that his Grandpa Terry has special powers that get passed down to every other generation. To inherit the yet-undisclosed powers, Winston will have to complete a task for every letter in the alphabet – the perfect set-up for a series.
By the end of the book, lessons have been learned, most of the crazy story lines have been neatly tied up with others leaving you looking forward to the next book to learn more – about the mysterious fog-men, the magical tablet Winnie has come into possession of, Grandpa Terry’s powers that Winston is to inherit, and what the secret is that Grandpa Terry has hidden in the locked attic.
The story carries a great message about loyalty, consequences and courage. It was really fun, too! The next three books in the series will be released later this year and early next year, which is great because my kidlings get very impatient waiting for the next book in a series.
My daughter is really excited to read this next, but I need to get it for her in paper format (I was generously provided an advanced reader copy in e-book format.) And guess what?
TWO lucky readers will get their own copy of “A” is for The Alchemist for their elementary or middle school reader (or themselves – I loved it, after all.)
I’ll announce the winner in next week’s “What I’m Reading Wednesday”. Good luck!
Disclosure: I was provided an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in exchange for my honest review. All opinions and typos are entirely my own. Many thanks to both Net Galley and Smith Publicity for the ARC and the books for giveaway.