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Children's LiteratureIf it were possible to meld the fantastical plots of C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter, and J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, while combining these with the concept of the "fantasy turned reality" theme present in Chris Van Allsburg's Jumanji, the result would be Dean's "The Secret Country Trilogy." The first of the three books follows the adventures of cousins Patrick, Ruth, Ellen, Ted, and Laura, who have created their own imaginary game, called "The Secret." The game, however, becomes very real one summer once the cousins realize that the game has taken on a life all its own. Transporting the cousins into a not-so-imaginary world, they must play the game to its finish and find their own way out. Confusing at times, the plot seems to appeal more to the adult intellect than twelve- year olds; however, once the reader sorts through the perplexing plot and confusing character facts, the book suddenly grows into a wonderfully enveloping saga of five youths, forcing readers to submerge themselves in the fantastic and mystical adventures of Dean's modest heroes and heroines. 2003 (orig. 1985), Firebird/Penguin Group, Ages 12 up.