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The Children’s Book Review
Written by Drew Callander and Alana Harrison
Illustrated by Ryan Andrews
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Penguin Workshop
What to expect: Interactive Books with Action, Suspense, and Excitement.
What if anything you imagined, wrote, or drew on paper could come to life? YOU, the reader, are the star of the Mightier Than the Sword books. Your survival is not guaranteed. Grab a pencil to write and draw your way through the suspenseful peril in these witty, pun-filled novels that will turn even the most reluctant reader into a bona fide book nerd. And that’s a good thing! Especially in a world in which kids are spending more and more time connected to electronic devices.
In book one, Mightier Than the Sword, you wake up on the beach with a heart-shaped bottle jabbing you in the back. A perfume-scented piece of paper slips out: Help! Who are you? Where are you from? How did you get here? And who is this Prince S. in need of being rescued?
In book two, The Edge of the Word, you’re stranded in a strange world a bazillion light-years away. Will you find yourself on the dark side in a battle of good vs. evil? The plot twists and turns as you fill in the blanks of the story for your character. The stakes are high for YOU!
Both books take place in Astorya—a fictional world where stories come to life. It is here that Couriers—a select group of creatures—collect original stories, split them up, and hide them to keep them safe. Dark days are upon Astorya as its very fabric is under attack and stories are being erased. To be erased means these ‘Originals’ no longer exist. Can you help?
This world’s setting is magical: trees talk (and blow raspberries) and cotton candy clouds of many flavors appear in the sky, which fosters the feeling that ‘anything could happen next.’ And anything can happen when YOU are invited to fill in the blanks of the text (Mad Libs style). You can flip the book upside down to keep reading; draw a map, a car, and a disguise for yourself; create a castle; unscramble words; and answer a crossword for clues and play hangman. Along with plenty of onomatopoeia, the typography falls and bounces across pages, emphasizing the movement and excitement taking place in the story and allowing the reader to create vivid movies in their head that connect them with the plot even more.
There is no shortage of character appeal, and since YOU are the protagonist, you’ll be instantly hooked. There are many creatures and critters that add to the zaniness and charm of this series: the evil Queen Rulette with her fuchsia pink lipstick, an army of Rubots (robots) with glowing purple eyes, dust bunnies with evil red eyes, bandits, mermaids, a Pegasus-centaur, ninjas, an alien, banshees, and even a politician-magician. Not to mention Manteau, the lovable French stoat, who peppers the books with warmth, humor, and culture through his French accent and occasional use of French words.
Then, there’s the action, including battles with Rubots, escapes from dust bunnies, riding in a giant poop ship (the GPS), a gladiator match, a molten lava maze, and even a car crash. Funny footnotes enhance the reading experience. Readers will come away with a vastly expanded vocabulary and a pleasure in understanding the meaning of lesser-used words, as well as some fun animal facts. There’s also a very useful guide in the end pages to help with the fill-in-the-blank portions, along with a glossary of French words used by Manteau.
To quote Manteau: “Holy crêpe!” This series is so much fun and it’s bound to become a keepsake when YOU put your pencil to the paper. The Mightier Than the Sword series truly introduces the magic of paper, pencil, words, and art in a way no other books have done before. A child’s creativity will undoubtedly be unleashed when they read these books. Highly recommended—especially for fans of Mad Libs and Choose Your Own Adventure books.
About the Authors
Alana Harrison and Drew Callander have spent their lives telling stories and cracking jokes. Alana graduated from The College of William and Mary with a degree in Comedic Writing and Performance. Drew graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in Fiction Writing. Together they have created cartoons and short films with Jon Stewart, Conan O’Brien, John Oliver, and Kristen Schaal. Their work as writers and improv comedians has aired on Sirius XM Radio, NBC, and Comedy Central. Mightier Than the Sword is their first book series. They live with their two kids and one exquisitely talented cat (none of whom help with the dishes).
About the Illustrator
Ryan Andrews lives in the Japanese countryside, with his wife, two kids, and their dog, Lucky. A friendly Kodama or two have been known to take up residence in the giant acorn tree that shades the house. Ryan often works at his drawing desk in the early-morning hours, to the sound of rummaging wild boar and badgers, who come from the surrounding forest seeking out shiitake mushrooms and fallen chestnuts.
Dedicated Reviews allow authors and illustrators to gain prompt visibility for their work. This is a sponsored, non-biased review of Drew Callander and Alana Harrison’s “Mightier Than the Sword” book series. Learn more about getting a book review …
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