Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Blue Umbrella by Mike Mason

I've enjoyed the writings of Mike Mason ever since I discovered The Mystery of Marriage while engaged. When I heard that he had written a children's/young adult book, I was eager to see what he would do with it! The Blue Umbrella tells the tale of young Zac who is orphaned after his mother's tragic (and weird!) death. He is sent to live in a small town with his two spinster aunts and that is just the beginning of the strange things that start happening to him!

The start of this book reminded me so much of the Lemony Snicket books. (I've only read the first couple of those). Everything is going wrong. Everything. Even when you think it might not get stranger or worse, it does! However, from what I read, this book is a great option for kids if you are looking for a Lemony Snicket-look-alike from a trusted Christian author.

I would say more about the book - because I was very much enjoying it - but my own tragedy befell me while reading this book ... I left it in the hotel in Memphis when we went to the zoo! *gasp* Imagine my shock and sadness when I got home to finish this and couldn't! :) So, this book will be going back on my list to add to my library for my girls when they get older AND myself so I can see how it ends!! :)

For the official preview, read on. Thanks to David C. Cook for sending me a copy of this one, and I'm sorry I lost it!!

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

What would happen if all the world’s weather was controlled by one man with a blue umbrella? If your mother had been killed by lightning, would you trust this man? This is the decision facing 10-year-old Zac Sparks in Mike Mason’s new page-turning fantasy novel, The Blue Umbrella (David C Cook, October 2009). Probing the depths of good and evil, the first in Mason’s series for 9 to 12 year olds is a superbly written children’s story with deep spiritual resonance.

When Zac Sparks’ mother dies, he’s sent to live in Five Corners with his cruel old Aunties. It isn’t long before Zac knows something strange is going on. Five Corners is populated with weird characters—a midget butler, a girl who doesn’t speak, a blind balloon seller, and a mysterious singer who is heard but not seen. Then there’s the Aunties’ father, Dada. Zac’s first encounter with Dada is so terrifying he faints dead away.

The one bright spot is Sky Porter, the proprietor of the general store across the street, a friendly soul who encourages Zac—when the Aunties aren’t looking—and shows him a kindness that is sadly lacking from his dismal life. But Sky isn’t what he seems either, and when Zac learns Sky’s amazing secret he realizes, to his dismay, that this wonderful man may have a very dark side as well.

Discovering that Dada is an evil magician who is intent on stealing the ultimate treasure, Zac knows many lives are at stake, including his own. With time running out, he must turn to the one person who might be able to help: Sky Porter. Can Zac trust him?

In the vein of Lewis and Tolkien, Mason has crafted a fantasy that will certainly appeal to fans of Harry Potter, The Golden Compass, Lemony Snicket, and The Chronicles of Narnia. “In this era of climate change, when weather is arguably the most important issue facing the world, a story that dramatizes the human role and responsibility in creating weather is highly relevant and timely,” says Mason. “The Blue Umbrella is permeated with a sense of awe at the power and beauty of weather, and it asks the question: Who is behind all this?”

Author Bio: Mike Mason is the best-selling, award-winning author of The Mystery of Marriage, The Gospel According to Job, Practicing the Presence of People, and many others. He has an M.A. in English and has studied theology at Regent College. He lives in Langley, BC, Canada, with his wife, Karen, a family physician. They have one daughter, Heather, who is pursuing a career in dance and the arts. The Blue Umbrella is Mike’s first novel.

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