Published by Walden Pond Press on April 26, 2011
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.
It's funny how something strikes you in a conversation. I remember a discussion about how authors write parents in MG and YA literature and how there's always an excuse to get them out of the way, whether they travel a lot, the child is in boarding school, etc. So, this is one of the rare books that you see a lot of the parents. Maybe not in the best light, but they are there. In fact, they are the reason that our main character embarks on this adventure.
Juniper has noticed that her parents have changed. They're famous, so it's to be expected, but there are really weird things going on. Her parents disappear into a tree at night, she finds them sucking the air out of balloons, and they simply don't care about her or each other anymore. And she's not the only one who notices something weird going on. A boy who lives down the block also has seen his parents disappear into the strange tree.
So, they do what all curious children do, they follow their parents one night. And they find a set of rooms in the tree. A man is there who will give them what they desire most of their future, they just have to blow air into balloons. Will they be able to resist and find a way to set their parents free?
I just loved this book. There's all the warnings of danger, but the children travel forward to help their parents. Some terrifying moments will suck your breath away and keep you turning the page to find out what will happen next. The characters are interesting and the bad guy is overwhelmingly scary. I love the cleverness that is needed to pull off a good fairy-tale and I can't wait to see what this author writes next.
Read this book if you love fairy tales, or if you want to be frightened a bit, or if the cover simply appeals to your senses. It's worth it. Definitely one I will be recommending to my students who like a bit of a scare while reading.