The Shadow Collector's Apprentice

Overview

Fans of Holly Horvath and Kate DiCamillo will love this warm, eccentric, and enchanting middle-grade novel.

Peculiar things are going on in the town of Medley over the summer of 1963, but it's hard for twelve-year-old Cully Pennyacre to figure out what it all means. His father has mysteriously disappeared, people don't seem like themselves, and his apprenticeship at Batty's Attic antique store gets stranger each day. The owner has a disturbing hobby of collecting people's ...

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Overview

Fans of Holly Horvath and Kate DiCamillo will love this warm, eccentric, and enchanting middle-grade novel.

Peculiar things are going on in the town of Medley over the summer of 1963, but it's hard for twelve-year-old Cully Pennyacre to figure out what it all means. His father has mysteriously disappeared, people don't seem like themselves, and his apprenticeship at Batty's Attic antique store gets stranger each day. The owner has a disturbing hobby of collecting people's shadows that he claims is harmless but that leaves his victims listless and passive. Odd happenings become the norm as Cully, Batty's granddaughter Isabel, and Cully's best friend band together to get to the bottom of a secret black market in human shadows.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Jody Little
Twelve year old Cully Pennyacre lives with his three eccentric aunts after the mysterious disappearance of his father. Wanting to earn some money, he takes a job as an apprentice at a local antique shop, Batty's Attic, but things are strange at this shop. Cully soon uncovers a secret about Batty and a strange contraption in a back room, a device that can steal people's shadows. With the help of Batty's granddaughter, Isabel, Cully sets out to find answers about shadow collecting, only to have more questions come his way, like who is the strange foreign man wooing his Aunt Inca, and why is Isabel's mother asking his aunts to sell their farm, and what is the purpose of his father's secret recipe? Gradually, the pieces of the puzzles are put together, and in the midst of learning how shadow collecting steals a piece of one's personality, and discovering that his father was a victim of shadow theft, Cully finds a true friend in Isabel. Quirky characters, solid themes of family and friendship, and elements of both fantasy and mystery combine to make this a fun, captivating, middle grade novel. Reviewer: Jody Little
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—In 1963, there is something strange happening in the small rural town of Medley. Following the mysterious disappearance of his father, 12-year-old Cully Pennyacre takes a job as apprentice to Batty Bates, the owner of an antique store. He is a man with a very peculiar hobby: he collects shadows. Cully also finds that the back room of Batty's Attic holds more than just shadow-collecting equipment. Housed within is a secret so devastating to Cully that he risks everything his family has to learn the truth. With the help of Batty's granddaughter Isabel, a dog called Fitz, and his extremely eccentric trio of aunts (Opalescence, Incandescence, and Miggs), Cully embarks on a quest to find his father and restore order to Medley. The novel is well thought out and readers will find themselves sharing Cully's determination to find the truth at any cost. This is novel filled with rustic charm and enough plot twists and turns to keep readers engaged.—Wayne R. Cherry, Jr., First Baptist Academy Library, Houston, TX
Kirkus Reviews
Gordon (The Gorillas of Gill Park, 2003, etc.) sets the stage for an eerie fantasy that doesn't quite live up to its potential. Cully Pennyacre, 12, reluctantly becomes the apprentice of antiques dealer Batty, who seems to be up to something with his shadow-collecting hobby. In the back of his store, Batty runs an apparatus that neatly removes people's shadows. He has plenty of willing participants who aren't warned that, once shadowless, they will be sadly incomplete. Appalled, Cully stays on because he needs the money to help keep his family apple farm running, a job made all the more difficult since his father disappeared a year ago, leaving his quirky aunts to run the business. Batty's granddaughter, Isabel, a notably unpopular classmate of Cully's, seems to know more about the shadow business and her malevolent aunt and uncle's determination to acquire the Pennyacre farm than she's telling, at least at first. As Cully's friendship with Isabel strengthens, she develops some emotional energy to defy her nasty relatives. Eccentric characters, both good and evil, add life to the tale, but the bad ones become increasingly caricature-like, diminishing their menacing effect. Unfortunately, as the tale becomes less grounded in reality, it also begins to lose its atmospheric threat. Even if not fully disquieting, the fast pace and unusual characters will keep most readers turning the pages. (Fantasy. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823423590
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/1/2012
  • Pages: 208
  • Age range: 10 - 13 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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