Twelve year old Sophia and her younger brother Mark find a mysterious book at the local library and take it home. At first, it seems like just an ancient collection of stories, but the children soon discover that it is a portal to another world, Almation – and before they know it, they are trapped in it. To get back home, Sophia and Mark will have to solve many puzzles, face unexpected dangers and make equally unexpected friends – but maybe even that is not enough…
Full of adventures, challenges and fantastic creatures, the world of Almation will take Sophia and Mark on an exciting journey, and teach them the power of stories.
"Highly creative, well plotted, filled with engaging characters both human and fantastic, and spiced with many enjoyable twists and turns." – from Readers’ Favorite 5-star review
"The Library of Secrets reads like an Indiana Jones story for a younger audience, but embeds life lessons into its action. (...) solid characterization, fast-paced action, and a logical series of progressive questions and answers, all wrapped in an engrossing adventure that will keep advanced elementary to middle grade readers on their toes and thoroughly engaged. - D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
I am a student, reader, writer, coder, gamer and logic puzzles solver. I love solving all kinds riddles, puzzles and cryptographic codes, and writing about them for children. "The Library of Secrets: The Giant Mistake" is my first book. I also love building worlds, in my imagination and virtual ones. I probably spend too much time on my gaming computer, building and navigating my own worlds, writing fantasy stories and programming.
Siblings Sophia and Mark are home alone for a few hours. Their parents have left town on a business trip and their babysitter isn’t due for a few hours. Coming up with ideas to pass the time they head to the library where they find an old discarded book that looks interesting.
Upon opening the book the two of them are sucked inside the pages to a strange land called Almation where the time moves faster than on Earth. To get back home again the siblings must complete a series of challenges, but one wrong move could see them trapped forever. Can they escape within the allocated time of six hours or will the giant Alexar keep them there?
The Library of Secrets: The Giant Mistake is a middle-grade fantasy novel that follows siblings Sophia and Mark as they find themselves within the pages of an old book. The story is entertaining and fast-paced throughout and there are plenty of challenges that the reader can join in with.
The chapters are short and all had interesting titles. Whilst in the unusual world of Almation the pair met some weird characters, some nice, some not so nice. As an adult, the challenges were pretty straightforward but I can see them being quite challenging for a child reading the book, though I did think that sometimes the pair rushed in without thinking about the challenges properly.
There were a few little things that irked me like their parents instead of being mom and dad were called Mr. and Mrs. Clark, but there was nothing major that stopped me enjoying the story.
The book reminds me of the old interactive books (Do people actually still write them?). Whereat the bottom of the page there were different options as to how the journey continued depending on the right answer to the challenges and you had to go to a different page number depending on your choice. I could see this book working as one of these types of books as it would certainly engage the reader into the plot more.
An interesting and well thought out fantasy/adventure book that will intrigue the reader and have them hooked to the book and hopefully enjoying every minute of it.
When their parents go away for the weekend, the ten-year-old Mark Clark and his older sister Sophia find themselves having an unexpected and colourful adventure.
Sophia discovers Almation: The Book of Secrets among discarded books in their local library. Neither she nor her brother expect to end up inside the book, solving riddles and meeting a host of fantastic creatures. The world they enter is an entire palette of wonder, but their time inside is limited to six hours. With the clock ticking, they need to figure out how to return to their own world and escape Alexar the Giant. The brother and sister learn to work together and depend on each other’s strengths in order to navigate the strange world they have found themselves in. In the process, they meet friends and enemies, all while trying not to raise any suspicion with Mrs. Midbow, the neighbour left in charge.
Zoe Penn weaves an adventurous story that reminds of both The Neverending Story and The Goonies. The quick-paced, short chapters have memorable titles, each of which leaves the reader a little puzzled – just like Mark and Sophia, until they manage to solve the puzzles. Both siblings are easy to connect with and root for, as they are the type of kids anyone can meet next door. Their companions, on the other hand, are an amalgamate of the familiar and the imaginative – cross-breeds, talking animals and fairy-tale characters.
For those who like their books to also ask important questions, The Giant Mistake tackles the issue of taking responsibility for our actions, whether in the real world or in the process of creative world-building.
A definite recommendation for younger readers who are starting chapter books and love to explore!
Croatian author Zoe Penn appears to be making her US publishing debut, aided by superb illustrator Zelko Pahek, with this impressive children’s novel intended for ages 8 – 12. Zoe lives in Zagreb.
Written with a solid flair for fantasy, THE LIBRARY OF SECRETS introduces Sophia Clark (age twelve, the lead character) and her younger brother Mark and we learn that Sophia is absorbed in her science project on light and color. The children’s parents are off on a trip and Sophia and Mark elect to visit the library where they discover a strange and mysterious book – Almation: The Book of Secrets - that they learn is the entry into the fantasy parallel dimension world of Almation. Taking the leap into that new place results in an adventure that changes their appreciation for stories, meeting new odd creatures (such as the water monster Giant, et al), experiencing wild adventures, challenging puzzles and more. Find their way back home is a journey that involves new friends in an escape back to reality.
Not only is the writing entrancing and involving, and the story immensely entertaining and visual, but the book also provides significant concepts about courage in taking risks, responsibility, determination and growth – and this aspect of the book makes it an invaluable adjunct to learning about maturation that is presented in a manner that children of this age group are ready to tackle. Hopefully there will be more books from this skilled author. Highly recommended.
To be honest, this book left me with mixed feelings. Even though the story in itself was not particularly unique (two siblings find themselves in a fictional, magical land from where they have to escape in a limited time by solving puzzles and riddles while confronting monsters and meeting strange animal friends), it had its good parts and was all in all, possibly more well written than a lot of other middle-grade stories that are out there. However, even for middle-grade standards, the story struck me as too fast paced at most times. I was excited about the idea of introducing puzzles in the plot but with only a few exceptions, their solutions came way too rapidly not allowing enough time for the reader to think them over themselves. Also, at one particular case, I thought that both the riddle was very challenging and the solution provided in a not so clear way, let alone for younger readers. The dialogue felt unrealistic from time to time and despite any instability that might arise from childhood, depicted here in the two main characters, I found their construction somewhat unfocused.
On the plus side: great illustrations, good chapter length, well executed layout and editing.
2 stars because I think the author has potential to grow in her writing and produce even better results.
**I was given an electronic version of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.**
Mrs. Clark (wife/mother) called Mr. Clark (husband/father), Sophia Clark (12, daughter/sister), & Mark Clark (10, son/brother) for breakfast. Mrs. Midbow (elderly neighbor) will be staying all night to babysit. Dad/mom have a business meeting to attend to Sophia, & Mark found a mysterious book Almation: The Book of Secrets at the public library. The pages began to turn by themselves, faster/faster. They then spun into a purple whirlpool that filled the entire living room. Their colors were orange, purple, & red. A message appeared for the 2 of them. A tiny parchment was underneath the book. It was a little late to worry about Mrs. Midbow.
Sophia, & Mark had gone through a portal that took them to Almation another world. The 2 of them had passed through the forest. Glistening River even had a message addressed to them. There was a teal colored wooden raft by the grassy shore. A The storm was approaching them. Great Alexar was speaking to Sophia, & Mark. Panfish (city). 50 little panafish were swimming around them. They met Lilly Marin (daughter, panafish), & Mrs. Marin (wife/mother, panafish). Mark had bumped in to a stone wall, now what? There were 3 chests to choose from. A diamond is in 1 of them. If they guess wrong Almation is their permanent home. The 2 of them went through a labyrinth into a spacious empty room. The wall tiles were all different. Rainbow (talking parrot) had escaped from her cage & introduced herself to Lilly, Sophia, & Mark. The 2 of them went into the beautiful waterfall to take a shower.
Where would Sophia, & Mark’s adventure/discovery take them next?
I did not receive any type of compensation for reading & reviewing this book. While I receive free books from publishers & authors, I am under no obligation to write a positive review, only an honest one. All thoughts & opinions are entirely my own.
A very awesome book cover, & great font/writing style. A very well written MS age fantasy book. It was very easy for me to read/follow from start/finish & never a dull moment. There were no grammar/typo errors, nor any repetitive or out of line sequence sentences. Lots of exciting scenarios, with several twists/turns & a great set of unique characters to keep track of. This could also make another great MS age fantasy movie, an animated cartoon, or better yet a mini TV series. To be continued. There is no doubt in my mind this is a very easy rating of 5 stars.
Thank you for the free Goodreads; Making Connections; Making Connections discussion group talk; Planet Zoe d.o.o.; Author; PDF book Tony Parsons (Washburn; MSW)