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The Real Boy

Cover of The Real Boy

The Real Boy

by Anne Ursu
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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.

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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  • Kindle Book
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Subjects-
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    4.9
  • Lexile:
    730
  • Interest Level:
    MG
  • Text Difficulty:
    3

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About the Author-
  • Anne Ursu is the author of Breadcrumbs, which Kirkus Reviews called a "transforming testament to the power of friendship" in a starred review, and was acclaimed as one of the best books of 2011 by the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Amazon.com, and the Chicago Public Library. It was also on the IndieBound Next List and was an NPR Backseat Book Club featured selection. She was also the recipient of the 2013 McKnight Fellowship Award in Children's Literature. Anne teaches at Hamline University's MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She lives in Minneapolis with her son and three cats--monster fighters, all.

Reviews-
  • DOGO Books ikyra_marie - cool!
  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 16, 2013
    Oscar is the magician’s hand, charged with collecting plants to concoct spells, and lives happily hidden away, with his cats, in the cellar of Master Caleb’s shop in the Barrow, outside the walled city of Asteri. (Ursu subtly delineates tics that suggest 11-year-old Oscar may be autistic.) Then Master Caleb disappears for mysterious obligations on the continent, and the bane of Oscar’s existence, the magician’s apprentice, is killed. Oscar’s world crumbles. Unprepared to deal with customers, he receives help from the Healer’s apprentice, Callie, but Oscar realizes his inability to make small talk is more than shyness: there is something off about him. It gets worse: his garden is ravaged, the city’s children fall ill, and a monster stalks the countryside. It’s left to Oscar and Callie to save Asteri. Adult readers will savor Ursu’s allusions to well-known fairy tales—most significantly, Pinocchio—and appreciate the many well-turned phrases. But the story has some gaps, and a message about the failings of magic may disappoint younger fantasy fans. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Tina Wexler, ICM. Illustrator’s agent: Susan Cohen, Writers House.

  • Shelf Awareness (starred review) "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."
  • The Horn Book "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."
  • Cleveland Plain Dealer "Deeply moving, with language powerful and true as a child's voice. Grade: A."
  • Betsy Bird, A Fuse #8 Production (SLJ blog) "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."
  • Richie's Picks "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."
  • Anita Silvey, Children’s Book-A-Day AlmanacAnita Silvey, Children’s Book-A-Day Almanac "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."
  • Franny Billingsley, author of Chime "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."
  • Linda Urban, author of A Crooked Kind of Perfect "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."
  • Nancy Farmer, bestselling and multiple-award-winning author of The House of the Scorpion "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."
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    HarperCollins
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