What would you do if you were sitting on a park bench, minding your own business, and one of those annoying pigeons suddenly started to talk to you? And what if the pigeon didn’t just talk to you – in a meticulous British accent, no less – but pleaded with you to help untangle a piece of string that had accidentally attached his leg to a wrought iron fence surrounding the playground? And what if, while you are still convinced that this is all a big nasty trick, a hawk swoops down out of the sky and starts cursing at you, also in the King’s English, for getting in his way when he wanted to execute the pigeon?
That is the quandary in which Jennifer (almost 13 years old and probably a bit too smart for her own good) finds herself one sweltering July morning while babysitting her 11-year-old (very precocious) brother James and his mopey, allergy-prone friend Sleepy. She soon learns that the bird is actually a man named Arthur Whitehair, a 19th-century Englishman who had been turned into an eternally-lived pigeon by misreading an ancient spell that was supposed to give him eternal life as a human. Likewise, an unscrupulous colleague of his, named Malman, had been turned into a hawk by Whitehair’s blunder. After years of searching, Whitehair claims (half-truthfully) that Malman has found him hiding in Central Park and is now out for revenge. On top of all this strange business, Jennifer has recently begun having weird dreams in which a crazy-looking man with curly red hair speaks cryptic phrases in Latin. Are they random phrases, or messages? And why would some sketchy guy be sending her messages in her dreams?
|File size:||885 KB|
|Age Range:||13 Years|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Who says fantasy and adventure, can only be found in faraway places? What if you found it in your own “backyard” and your backyard is New York City? Welcome to the world created by New York authors Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks, grab your transfer cards, your imagination and get ready for Things Are Not What They Seem, a completely enjoyable thrill ride as a group of kids begin their own fantasy adventure into the world of magic, mystery and mayhem, all while trying to stay one step ahead of parental trouble. They say that anything can happen in New York City, but talking pigeons trying to stay one wing ahead of a cursing hawk? Magical spells gone wrong? Immortality? What first appeared as a prank turns into a race against danger, discovery by the parents and the search for the correct wording of an ancient spell. Hey, these are kids; do you really think they can pull off helping a pigeon become a man again without the parents finding out something’s up or causing havoc and headlines across NYC? Hop aboard this fantasy adventure train and meet unlikely heroes, the amazing Mr. Bags, visit a museum and discover just what the talking pigeon is hiding and why the hawk REALLY wants him! While you’re at it, discover loyalty to friends and family, acts of kindness and how some pretty awesome parents handle what they do not understand! Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks have taken the city they love and turned it into a huge canvas for a rapid-fire and fun read filled with humor, mystery, caring and daring. Read it to your children; let them read it to you, there is no age limit on good reading! I received a copy of Things Are Not What They Seem from Ken Hicks and Anne Rothman-Hicks in exchange for my honest review.
One of the things I most love about my job as a book reviewer is the anticipation I feel all the way down to my toes when I first call a book up to the viewing portion of my Kindle. Sometimes I have extra layers of anticipation if the cover is a visual lure...or the title plucks at my funny bone, or sense of quirkiness. The title...?...well of course it teased and pleased my sense of humor BIG TIME! The cover, done by Cover Artist Charlotte Volnek is rich and has your eyes happily moving around the many images Ms. Volnek gave us... BUT there is so much more for me to stand on my tip-toes and with eager quivers tell you all why this is an exceptional book. Written by Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks, I could not believe the smiles that spread throughout me as I read it. I grew up during a time Catholic students HAD to learn Latin so we could respond IN Latin during the mass. This story of fantasy, magic, friendship, and adventure reminded me of that time...and the infrequency of Latin being used with such a richness. An enchanted, talking pigeon, and an equally enchanted, but evil hawk right here, in CENTRAL PARK of all places... Anne and Ken have woven a story any age will happily read and enjoy being captured in the journey very bright, with a history of magical ancestry Jennifer has been chosen to embark on. What a rich treasure this book is. For teachers, if you're looking for a story that will grab your students and become a rich core for your lesson plans, this book is a WINNER! Therefore it is with ease, excitement, and pleasure I award this book, it's title, its CA and its gifted authors FIVE STARS... and and a request you hurry up and give us the NEXT Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks winner.
Co-authors Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks launch into “Things Are Not What They Seem” without wasting time on background and descriptive junk readers of any age group dislike. The authors masterfully set the fantasy in present-day New York City, featuring regular, relatable kids. This middle-grade fantasy adventure starts with, “When the pigeon first spoke to Jennifer that morning in the playground, she responded by pretending to examine something absolutely fascinating at the top of a nearby tree.” The pigeon speaks in precise British English, which adds humor to the situation, at least for my inner tween who found something grin-worthy on nearly every page. Jennifer, who’s almost 13, is smart but not smart-alecky. She has a sense of humor, but never makes others the butt of her wit. She can be sarcastic, yet possesses a strong sense of right and wrong, compassion and a well-developed altruism. Like girls her age, she’s concerned about her appearance and what peers think of her. Being trustworthy is important to the tween. She’s a likeable and engaging protagonist. Her brother, James, provides some of the comic relief, often while bantering with the pigeon. Then there’s Sleepy, the sidekick with allergies. And of course, there are bad guys. (Sometimes young characters use phrases - “come down on them like a ton of bricks,” - that I have trouble picturing anyone other than adults saying.) Chapter ends are written with page-turning finesse. The story keeps adults in their place, that is, the kids shine in the limelight. They face challenges, push the plot arc to the climax and back down to the satisfying and appropriate end. Jennifer learns that the pigeon is actually a man named Arthur Whitehair, a 19th-century Englishman who’d been turned into a pigeon that will live forever by misreading an ancient spell meant to give him eternal life as a human. Likewise, a devious colleague of his, Malman, had been turned into a hawk by Whitehair’s mis-incantation. Jennifer, et al search for the manuscript of the spell so they can reverse it, turning Whitehair the pigeon back into a man. Without becoming pedantic, the authors weave in Shakespearean quotes and Latin phrases, and there’s a nod to the Harry Potter stories, too. One senses a depth of history and tradition, without the burden of boredom. Some scenes are reminiscent of classic Disney antics. Others remind us that the stakes are high. What young fantasy reader doesn’t love sentences like this one spoken by the aptly named Malman? “Mind me! I’ll rip out your throats and peck the eyeballs from your heads—dainty morsels that they are. Even your mothers won’t recognize you.” With more than 63,000 words, “Things Are Not What They Seem” is longer than typical middle-grade books. Even though every scene has its purpose, I wonder if some could have been written more economically. This story unobtrusively incorporates important values, while never losing sight of the plot and always maintaining readers’ trust and interest. It’s a well-crafted fantasy for younger readers and their adult cohort.
This delightful story is fast-paced and entertaining. Almost-thirteen-year-old Jennifer and her younger brother James, along with some friends, get caught up in a mysterious, magical adventure stemming from a visit to New York City’s Central Park. Can you believe it all starts with a talking pigeon!? The characters are well-developed and fun. The story moves along at a brisk pace. Lessons on love, friendship, kindness, and finding your inner strength shine through. And the humor is plentiful! Great for tween readers, as well as a quick, fun read for adults.