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The Real Boy (Anglais) Relié – Séquence inédite, 24 septembre 2013

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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

“Anne Ursu’s (Breadcrumbs) latest novel explores what makes someone (or something) ‘real.’ The author mines the potential of magic and mystery in the story of 11-year-old Oscar, whom Master Caleb, ‘the first magician in a generation,’ plucked from the orphanage.” (Shelf Awareness (starred review))

“It’s all highly rewarding and involving, with a tight plot, resonant themes, a gripping adventure, a clearly limned fantasy landscape, and a sympathetic main character.” (The Horn Book)

“Deeply moving, with language powerful and true as a child’s voice. Grade: A.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

“Wholly unexpected with plot twists and turns you won’t see coming, no matter how hard you squint, Ursu’s is a book worth nabbing for your own sweet self. Grab that puppy up.” (Betsy Bird, A Fuse #8 Production (SLJ blog))

“There is such richness to this tale about a world seemingly falling apart. All of the fairy tale allusions. But in the end, The Real Boy is such a compelling fantasy story because of the two children who, amidst the chaos of their world, can help each other so much.” (Richie's Picks)

“Anne Ursu keeps readers turning the pages until the unexpected but satisfying ending of the story…. I believe this book will be around for a long, long time.” (Anita Silvey, Children’s Book-A-Day AlmanacAnita Silvey, Children’s Book-A-Day Almanac)

“Anne Ursu’s The Real Boy is a fantasy in the truest, deepest sense: it illuminates the human experience by giving substance and shape to that which is otherwise intangible. Beautifully written and elegantly structured, this fantasy is as real as it gets.” (Franny Billingsley, author of Chime)

“Anne Ursu has created a brilliant fantasy, alive with the smells and sights and sounds of a place both familiar and strange - but the true magic of The Real Boy lies in the powerful friendship that grows between Callie and Oscar. A joy to read.” (Linda Urban, author of A Crooked Kind of Perfect)

“The Real Boy is an engaging fable about what happens when people reject real life in favor of pleasure, of magic. I enjoyed it very much.” (Nancy Farmer, bestselling and multiple-award-winning author of The House of the Scorpion)

Présentation de l'éditeur

National Book Award Longlist
2014 Bank Street Children's Book Committee Best Book of the Year
"Beautifully written and elegantly structured, this fantasy is as real as it gets."—Franny Billingsley, author of Chime

The Real Boy, Anne Ursu's follow-up to her widely acclaimed and beloved middle grade fantasy Breadcrumbs, is a spellbinding tale of the power we all wield, great and small.

On an island on the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy named Oscar. Oscar is a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the village, and spends his days in a small room in the dark cellar of his master's shop grinding herbs and dreaming of the wizards who once lived on the island generations ago. 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 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 forest will keep his island safe. Now, even magic may not be enough to save it.

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Amazon.com: 87 commentaires
9 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
More than a magical fairy tale 15 décembre 2013
Par Experienced Editor - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
I'm not sure which I like better: the story, the characters, or the writing. I mean, you've gotta love a book that contains sentences like "The apprentice's name was Wolf, because sometimes the universe is an unsubtle place."

Wolf makes life miserable for the orphan by Oscar, who also works for the magician Caleb. Oscar is only a hand, doing menial tasks that Wolf wouldn't touch. He spends his days in the cellar of Caleb's magic shop in the Barrow, a tangle of forest circling the gleaming hilltop town of Asteri. Oscar has no social skills; he takes words literally, doesn't understand facial expressions, and cannot look people in the eye. In other words, Oscar is an unlikely hero. Yet when Caleb disappears, Wolf is killed, and the children of Asteri become ill with unexplainable symptoms, Oscar is forced to act. Fortunately he meets Callie, apprentice to the village healer (who has also disappeared). Armed with Oscar's knowledge and Callie's perceptiveness, they set out to unravel the mystery and restore their world to health.

The universe is indeed subtle, and so are the themes in this book. The story includes not only adventure and mystery but also reflections on friendship and loneliness, on altruism and greed, on honesty and deceit, on caring for the environment and on what it means to be a person. But none of these themes are intrusive or "preachy." The book is first of all a story, with characters to care about, an intriguing plot, and plenty of suspense and surprises to delight the reader. Highly recommended for middle-grades and up to adult.
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Magical and Engaging 11 octobre 2013
Par K. M. Martin - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
THE REAL BOY was a magical story with a wonderful main character. Oscar is an orphan who was taken from his orphanage and installed as magician's hand. He is the one who gathers the herbs and other greenery to make the tinctures, potions, and ingredients that the magician sells. He is content living in his workroom in the basement with only cats for his friends. He loves spending time, when he is supposed to be sleeping, reading the books about plants from his master's library.

Oscar doesn't deal well with people. He gets confused because they don't say what they mean and he can't interpret facial expressions at all. When his master goes off to the continent on business and the apprentice is killed in the forest, Oscar is left to mind the shop and deal with customers. Luckily, the Healer's apprentice Callie befriends him and begins to teach him how to deal with people.

When the Healer also leaves town, Callie is on her own too. This is so not the time for sickness to come to the children of the Shining City. But the sickness does come and both Callie and Oscar need to scramble and use all their talents to try to heal the children.

This book has magic and friendship and tough decisions. And it has two really likable characters in Oscar and Callie. Readers will be glad to get to know them.
9 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Beautiful Storytelling, Magical Story 12 octobre 2013
Par Heather - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Anne Ursu is a storyteller like no other. It's not just the story, or the characters, but also the words she uses that create images that make you say "yes, yes, I know how that looks," or "oh, I can picture that". It's not just the way she writes, but the words seem magical as she weaves her story. And the story is about magic and the power that word holds. "Magic". It makes me tingle whenever I read it in a book description. It holds a promise of things to come, enchanting, sparkling, potions and spells and well, magic. But, I realized, I was prepared for magic being comfortable and well, good. That's not this story.

I wondered, just from the name, if this was a Pinocchio story. And, after reading it, I can't say. It has some of the elements, but I think it's purposely ambiguous to let you make your own interpretations. Yes, definitely there is a round about nod to Pinocchio, but Anne Ursu makes it completely her own story. That's what I like about her storytelling, you don't really get a retelling. It's a complete reworking with only a touch of the original story there.

Oscar is a bit hard to attach to, he doesn't feel anything for a long time. He relates the story to us as if he were a newspaper reporter. The cats seem to bring out the most feeling in him. That and the plants. But the one feeling we see clearly is fear. He has bad dreams, nightmares and they wake him at night so that he sneaks into the library and reads. He is a cautious boy, as if he is always wanting to hide in the shadows, afraid to be seen, not allowed to be there, wherever he is. He isn't supposed to be out at night, but he waits, after his nightmare, for hours after the last footsteps, and finally goes to the library. And he reads.

Callie is the apprentice to the healer Madame Mariel. She is a few years older than Oscar and very much not impressed by the "Shining People" of Asteri who live on the hill surrounded by white walls and protected from illness and danger because they are guarded by magic. Yet they still come down into the Barrows for little love potions, luck charms and such. Callie seems to figure Oscar out right away, not completely, but she knows enough that he isn't comfortable when he's left to mind the store in Master Caleb's absence. She, too, is left to run the healer's business in Madame's absence. She decides to strike a deal with him to show him how to run the shop, to talk to people if he will help her with her healing.

Oscar's cellar, his world, is suddenly not only bigger, but louder, brighter and now he has to share it with someone. He has to learn how to read faces, especially Callie's and he finds that not every face can be read the same. He has to learn what to do when he hurts Callie's feelings and what not to say in front of people with sick children. And yes, the people of Asteri, or their children are getting sick. They never get sick, it's just not supposed to happen. And the healer and the magician are gone. Tragedy strikes Oscar and he makes a huge discovery that sends him back to thinking there is something wrong with him as if "that" is the reason he is like this. When I read what Callie said to him, and there is a picture to go with it, it brought big fat sloppy tears to my eyes. It was so unexpected! Magic. That's Anne Ursu's writing for you.

There are a lot of secrets that are hidden from the people of The Barrows and Asteri. Maybe some remember and just chose to forget. Maybe some never knew. But the earth remembers. The magic knows. And truthfully everyone knows what must be done only no one wants to admit it. They don't want change. The ending is ambiguous as I said before, but I believe in happily ever afters so that's what I think happens. It doesn't bother me a bit that the ending doesn't say yes this happens.

I really do highly recommend this novel to anyone that enjoys Middle Grade Fiction, though I hate to limit it to Middle Grade. It's just a good story. A definite twist on the Pinnochio story that will leave you wondering to the very end.

I received a copy of this novel from Kellie at Walden Pond Press for review. This in no way influenced my review. All opinions expressed are my own.
16 internautes sur 20 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Reality fights 26 septembre 2013
Par E. R. Bird - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
My two-year-old is dealing with the concept of personhood. Lately she's taken to proclaiming proudly "I'm a person!" when she has successfully mastered something. By the same token, failure to accomplish even the most mundane task is met with a dejected, "I'm not a person". This notion of personhood and what it takes to either be a person or not a person reminded me a fair amount of Anne Ursu's latest middle grade novel "The Real Boy". There aren't many children's books that dare to delve into the notion of what it means to be a "real" person. Whole hosts of kids walk through their schools looking around, wondering why they aren't like the others. There's this feeling often that maybe they were made incorrectly, or that everyone else is having fun without them because they're privy to some hitherto unknown secret. Part of what I love about Anne Ursu's latest is that it taps directly into that fear, creating a character that must use his wits to defeat not only the foes that beset him physically, but the ones in his own head that make even casual interactions a difficulty.

Oscar should be very grateful. It's not every orphan who gets selected to aid a magician as talented as Master Caleb. For years Oscar has ground herbs for Caleb, studiously avoiding the customers that come for his charms, as well as Caleb's nasty apprentice Wolf. Oscar is the kind of kid who'd rather pore over his master's old books rather than deal with the frightening conversations a day in his master's shop might entail. All that changes the day Wolf meets with an accident and Caleb starts leaving the shop more and more. A creature has been spotted causing awful havoc and the local magic workers should be the ones to take care of the problem. So why aren't they? When Oscar is saved from the role of customer service by an apprentice named Callie, the two strike up an unlikely friendship and seek to find not just the source of the disturbance but also the reason why some of the rich children in the nearby city have been struck by the strangest of diseases.

Though Ms. Ursu has been around for years, only recently have her books been attracting serious critical buzz. I was particularly drawn to her novel retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen" last year in the form of the middle grade novel "Breadcrumbs". So naturally, when I read the plot description and title of "The Real Boy" I assumed that the story would be some kind of retelling of the "Pinocchio" tale. As it turns out, there is the faintest whiff of Pinocchio circling this story, but it is by no means a strict model. As one of the librarians in my system put it, "I am scarred for life by Pinocchio (absolutely abhor any tale relating to inanimate objects longing to become real to the point where I find it creepy) but did not find this disturbing in the least." Truth be told it would have been easy enough for Ursu to crank up the creepy factor if she had wanted to. But rather than clutter the text up with unnecessary disgust, the story is instead clean, fast, exciting, and to the point. And for all that it is 352 pages or so, you couldn't cut it down.

There have been a fair number of novels and books for children this year that have been accused of being written with adults rather than children in mind. I've fielded concerns about everything from Bob Graham's "The Silver Button" to Cynthia Rylant's "God Got a Dog" to Sharon Creech's "The Boy on the Porch". Interestingly, folks have not lobbed the same criticisms at "The Real Boy", for which I am grateful. Certainly it would be easy to see the title in that light. Much of the storyline hinges on the power of parental fear, the sometimes horrific lengths those same parents will go to to "protect" their young, and the people who prey on those fears. Parents, teachers, and librarians that read this book will immediately recognize the villainy at work here, but kids will perceive it on an entirely different level. While the adults gnash their teeth at the bad guy's actions, children will understand that the biggest villain in this book isn't a person, but Oscar's own perceptions of himself. To defeat the big bad, our hero has to delve deep down into his own self and past, make a couple incorrect assumptions, and come out stronger in the end.

He is helped in no small part by Callie. I feel bad that when in trying to define a book I feel myself falling back on what it doesn't do rather than what it does do. Still, I think it worth noting that in the case of Callie she isn't some deux ex machina who solves all of Oscar's problems for him. She helps him, certainly. Even gets angry and impatient with him on occasion, but she's a real person with a personal journey of her own. She isn't just slapped into the narrative to give our hero a necessary foil. The same could be said of the baker, a fatherly figure who runs the risk of becoming that wise adult character that steps in when the child characters are flailing about. Ursu almost makes a pointed refusal to go to him for help, though. It's as if he's just there to show that not all adults in the world are completely off their rockers. Just most, it would seem.

There's one more thing the book doesn't do that really won my admiration, but I think that by even mentioning it here I'm giving away an essential plot point. Consider this your official spoiler alert, then. If you have any desire to read this book on your own, please do yourself a favor and skip this paragraph. All gone? Good. Now a pet peeve of mine that I see from time to time and think an awfully bad idea is when a character appears to be on the autism spectrum of some sort, and then a magical reason for that outsider status comes up. One such fantasy I read long ago, the autistic child turned out to be a fairy changeling, which explained why she was unable to communicate with other people. While well intentioned, I think this kind of plot device misses the point. Now one could make the case for Oscar as someone who is on "the spectrum". However, the advantage of having such a character in a fantasy setting is that there's no real way to define his status. Then, late in the book, Oscar stumbles upon a discovery that gives him a definite impression that he is not a human like the people around him. Ursu's very definite choice to then rescind that possibility hammered home for me the essential theme of the book. There are no easy choices within these pages. Just very real souls trying their best to live the lives they want, free from impediments inside or outside their very own selves.

I've heard a smattering of objections to the book at this point that are probably worth looking into. One librarian of my acquaintance expressed some concern about Ursu's world building. She said that for all that she plumbs the depths of character and narrative with an admirable and enviable skill, they never really felt that they could "see" the world that she had conjured. I suspect that some of this difficulty might have come from the fact that the librarian read an advanced reader's copy of the book without the benefit of the map of Aletheia in the front. But maybe their problem was bigger than simple geography. Insofar as Ms. Ursu does indulge in world building, it's a world within set, tight parameters. The country is an island with a protected glittering city on the one hand and a rough rural village on the other. Much like a stage play, Ursu's storyline is constricted within the rules she's set for herself. For readers who prefer the wide all-encompassing lands you'd see in a Tolkien or Rowling title, the limitations might feel restrictive.

Now let us not, in the midst of all this talky talk, downplay the importance of illustrator Erin McGuire. McGuire and Ursu were actually paired together once before on the underappreciated "Breadcrumbs". I had originally read the book in a form without the art, and it was pleasant in and of itself. McGuire's interstitial illustrations, however, really serve to heighten the reader's enjoyment. The pictures are actually relatively rare, their occasional appearances feeling like nothing so much as a delicious chocolate chip popping up in a sea of vanilla ice cream. You never know when you'll find one, but it's always sweet when you do.

"Breadcrumbs", for all that I personally loved it, was a difficult book for a lot of folks to swallow. In it, Ursu managed to synthesize the soul-crushing loneliness of Hans Christian Andersen's tales, and the results proved too dark for some readers. With "The Real Boy" the source material, if you can even call it that, is incidental. As with all good fantasies for kids there's also a fair amount of darkness here, but it's far less heavy and there's also an introspective undercurrent that by some miracle actually appears to be interesting to kids. Whodathunkit? Wholly unexpected with plot twists and turns you won't see coming, no matter how hard you squint, Ursu's is a book worth nabbing for your own sweet self. Grab that puppy up.

For ages 9-12.
7 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Real Boy In a Magical World 22 décembre 2013
Par Antigone Walsh - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
Young Oscar was taken from an orphanage by Caleb the magician to be his "hand" or helper. Uncomfortable with people and persecuted by the Caleb's sadistic apprentice, Wolf, Oscar is happiest with the cats and plants that comprise his master's magical potions. Although isolated, Oscar is wedded to his routine and quite happy with this life and thrilled by the occasional approval of Caleb. But all that changes when an Wolf is killed and it becomes obvious that evil is stalking the magical world. As life as he knows it disintegrates Oscar has no choice but to rely on his instincts and push the limits. With the assistance of Callie, a healer's apprentice, Oscar learns to trust himself and in a power greater than magic.

I waned to love this fable. Oscar was a likeable character who develops as the book progresses. Callie is a feisty foil, drawing Oscar out of his shell. but the story is long and the dark portions are gruesome. The adults in the story are, for the most part, unkind, unpleasant, and selfish. The ending did not satisfy and while the advice to "fake it 'til you make it" helped Oscar navigate treacherous social situations, it is not exactly a motto to live by. There important lessons here about love, illusion and being oneself. It is readable, if flawed. Older kids might appreciate its charm while not being alienated by the more disturbing components. They would also have the wherewithal to plow through 352 pages. Not my favorite, but not bad.
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