By M.P. Kozlowsky
Illustrated by Erwin Madrid
Published by Walden Pond Press
Ages 10 & up
Source- ARC from publisher for review/blog tour
Juniper's parents have not been themselves lately. In fact, they have been cold, disinterested and cruel. And lonely Juniper Berry, and her equally beset friend, Giles, are determined to figure out why.
On a cold and rainy night Juniper follows her parents as they sneak out of the house and enter the woods. What she discovers is an underworld 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 in a simple red 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 novel is a modern-day fairy tale of terror, temptation, and ways in which it is our choices that make us who we are (quoted from Goodreads).
Juniper Berry is a fabulous middle grade mixed with fantasy, mystery, twists and great characters. The story has a powerful message of being careful of one's true desires and what you wish for. Outback in Juniper's spacious backyard lies a tree which leads to a world controlled by an evil man who prays on the weak minded making their desires and dreams come true. Everything comes at a price and not everything is what it seems. "Be careful what you wish for".
Juniper Berry is such a fabulous character. She's full of innocence and has a unique way of seeing the world around her. Having world famous parents creates a problem for her, she's not allowed beyond the mansion's gate and no one is allowed in, which only fuels her obsession with the outside world. Not having any friends to play with and parents who are too focused on themselves, she's lonely. She turns to nature, and has a love and fascination for the outdoors. It's there that she meets her first friend Giles. Together they get an education on just how evil the outside world can be. Juniper, with her unique views of the world and being able to see things so differently might be the only one who can help her friend Giles and their parents.
Something strange has happened to Juniper's parents. The once loving and doting pair hardly even glance at their daughter anymore. Juniper's extraordinary strength and will power is a character trait I really admired, and it's tested when she comes face to face with something so evil, that even her parent's fell for it's temptation. I really love this quote from Dimitri to Juniper,
"You know, Juniper, I envy you. Your world is far different from an adult's. You see things differently. As they out to be, perhaps. It's easy to lose sight of that. Most of us do. Pressures start coming from all sides and it makes you question everything. You lose sight of what's important".- page 150
There is a powerful message in this story for young readers and Juniper is a fabulous example at not falling for temptation, even when her parent's did. This a really wholesome read that parents and kids will enjoy reading together. There are scenes that might be too scary for kids who scare easily, but the story's message is an important one that parents will be able to discuss with their kids. Like the cover, the illustrations through out the story are fabulous. I definitely recommend picking this book up.