Ari Magnusson. Olivander Press, $9.99 paper (240p) ISBN 978-0-9848610-5-7
First-time author Magnusson delivers a welcome, though somewhat heavy-handed message about handling bullies in this fast-paced adventure. It starts when sixth-grader Stewart is forced to run and hide from the older children tormenting him. He is mysteriously transported to Bitopia, an idyllic world inhabited by other children who also arrived while fleeing bullies. However, the world is spoiled by the Venators, terrifying predators who stalk the children and force them to seek refuge in a heavily protected city at all times. When the Venators launch an all-out assault on the refuge, it's up to Stewart and his new friend Cora to discover the secret of defeating the Venators once and for all. While Magnusson's writing is solid and the story engaging, with a sincere element of tension and an overall sense of wonder, the underlying moral—stand up to bullies and don't let fear rule you—is far from subtle. Nevertheless, this book may be ideal for readers in need of an extra shot of courage when faced with difficult situations. Ages 8–up.
Reviewed on: 02/18/2013
Release date: 02/01/2012
Hardcover - 174 pages - 978-0-9848610-4-0
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