Sound Bender

Sound Bender

4.6 16
by Lin Oliver, Theo Baker

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A roaring, supernatural adventure that spans New York, and the globe!

After their parents' plane goes down over the ocean, Leo and his brother Hollis are forced into the custody of their rich and enigmatic uncle Crane, a dealer of rare and probably illicit antiques. But almost as soon as he's settled--or as close to settled as he can get in the bleak Brooklyn


A roaring, supernatural adventure that spans New York, and the globe!

After their parents' plane goes down over the ocean, Leo and his brother Hollis are forced into the custody of their rich and enigmatic uncle Crane, a dealer of rare and probably illicit antiques. But almost as soon as he's settled--or as close to settled as he can get in the bleak Brooklyn mansion, surrounded by his uncle's dubious staff--Leo receives a mysterious package his father put together long ago, to be opened on his 13th birthday. With the package, Leo discovers he has an amazing ability. He can hear the history of any object by touching it. But when Leo finds a strange helmet buried among his uncle's artifacts, and hears a pained cry coming from it, a mystery unravels as to its origin.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Debbie Kirchhoff
When you are thirteen, everything starts changing, but in main character Leo's case, the changes are unusually extreme. Leo is still dealing with being orphaned when he discovers he possesses a unique power. The familiar phrase, "if these walls could talk," is turned on its ear in Sound Bender because Leo really can hear what certain inanimate objects have to say. The power he has been given allows him to experience strong emotional events that occurred in the past by touching the objects, which somehow absorbed emotional energy as the event occurred. The story of how Leo was given this power begins to unfold as he and his brother move to their new home with their Uncle Crane in a different part of New York City. There, Leo receives a mysterious package to be opened on his thirteenth birthday, and the adventure begins. With the help of his best friend Trevor and one of his father's close friends, their pursuit of the mystery's solution leads them to a South Pacific island. While the concept of Sound Bending is presented in a completely believable way, other plot points unnecessarily strain the book's credibility. Perhaps in future books, since a series is a definite possibility, the concrete details of a typical teen's life will get a little more attention. Reviewer: Debbie Kirchhoff
School Library Journal
Gr 4�7—After Leo Lomax's parents die in a plane crash in Antarctica, he is sent to live with a rich and peculiar stepuncle in Brooklyn. Not long after his arrival, Leo turns 13 and receives a mysterious package from his deceased father detailing his origins. He was born not in Manhattan but on an island of undiscovered people who communicated through song near Papua New Guinea. The village holy man named him Sound Bender. After this mysterious note, he discovers that when touching emotionally charged objects, he can hear the memories embedded in them. Leo's uncle deals in priceless artifacts, and when the boy discovers what looks like a horrific torture device, he is given a painful vision and knows he must discover how to right a wrong. Sound Bender is based on an interesting premise, but falls short in its execution. The pacing is askew, and early on a lot of time is spent on character development and backstory, leaving the quest and adventure part feeling rushed and unsatisfying. A number of the characters working for Leo's uncle are obviously of Russian or Eastern European descent, and the Cold War-esque portrayal of them could be read as culturally insensitive. Nevertheless, Baker's writing style is extremely approachable and readable.—Devin Burritt, Jackson Memorial Library, Tenants Harbor, ME
Kirkus Reviews
A young adolescent boy discovers secret, amazing powers. Thirteen-year-old Leo Lomax and his brother Hollis have barely had time to absorb the fact that their parents have been lost in a plane crash when they are swept away from the only home they've ever known. Their step-uncle Crane installs them in his combination resident/warehouse in a bleak area of Brooklyn. The warehouse is chock full of what Uncle Crane considers valuable antiquities and artifacts, but Leo finds one that can't be either: a helmet that looks--and more importantly sounds--both painful and dangerous. Leo discovers that he is, in fact, a Sound Bender, someone who can actually hear the past just by touching an object. This leads him and his best friend Trevor on a quest halfway around the world to stop Crane from selling the helmet to the Russians and to free whoever has been trapped by this dastardly device. Although it has an interesting coming-of-age premise, this book is often confusing, with too many undeveloped threads and promising characters who rarely come to life. Leo's first-person narration too often tells instead of shows ("It wasn't surprising with everything that I'd been through lately, but I couldn't believe I forgot my own birthday"), which contributes to the overall flatness of the story. Ultimately, readers will feel this has all been done before. (Science fiction. 10-14)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
730L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Lin Oliver is a television producer and writer and the Executive Director of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She coauthored (with Henry Winkler) the NEW YORK TIMES bestselling middle-grade series HANK ZIPZER: THE WORLD'S GREATEST UNDERACHIEVER, and wrote the series WHO SHRUNK DANIEL FUNK? Lin resides in Los Angeles, California.

Theo Baker has had a lifelong fascination with sound. Wizened in Santa Barbara and toughened by New York, Theo has worked as a record producer, a music journalist, a sound designer, and a court reporter, amongst other odd jobs. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

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Sound Bender 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sound Bender is awesome because the characters fit good the story is vivid and it feels like you are with them and experiencing it and it make a great to anyone of all age
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful story with excellent characters that left me wanting more. Perhaps a sequel. This is good reading across the age spectrum, especially for teens and pre-teens. Adults definitely welcome. The descriptions of locations and events were marvelous and made visualizing everything easy and enhanced the story extremely well.
Ardentreader75 More than 1 year ago
It's rare for me to find a book that immediately engages boy readers but Sound Bender does just that. It's got a fantastic concept...a boy who can hear the past through objects he touches...that will grab kids imaginations and keep them reading til the end. I hope this is the first of a series, because endless stories exist from the basic concept. A great combo of action, adventure, science, science fiction and contemporary setting. Live on, Sound Bender!
VoraciousReaderCA More than 1 year ago
Wow! I bought this for my nephew, and he couldn't wait to tell me about the story, so I bought a copy to read for myself. This is simply a great novel for adolescent readers. It has likeable and unique characters, and the suspense and surprises keep the reader glued to the book. Additionally, the plot struck me as very visual---part of the reason I suspect my nephew liked it so much. I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Must read for anyone. Its a very quick delightful read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Looks so cool! Cant wait to read. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sound bender is a great book for school most of all reports grades 4567
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is around...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I got this book at my school's bok fair and I TOTALLY recomend this book :D
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a thrilling sci-fy stories full of mystery & adventure
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The earthbender. She can also waterbend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The five year old sat up on her rock. She was dressed like an airbender. "Come join!"