It is time, boys and girls, to share with you another nominee for the 2012-2013 South Carolina Children’s Book Award! This afternoon, I finished reading Barbara O’Connor’s The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester, and this was an awesome book to start my summer break. (Technically, I still have a few days of work, but students are out for the summer, so my work is almost done.) The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester is a fun, adventurous summer romp that will be perfect for boys who like to read about characters as daring and outdoorsy as they are. Girls will enjoy this story too, but boys in upper elementary school are definitely the target audience here (much like O’Connor’s previous book, The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis–which was also a fun summer read).
Owen Jester and his family recently moved in with his grandfather after his dad lost a job. Owen isn’t thrilled with the move–especially his grandpa’s snappish housekeeper, Earlene, and his nosy, know-it-all, next-door neighbor, Viola–but Owen will make the most of things with the help of his two friends, Travis and Stumpy, his dogs, and his awesome bullfrog, Tooley Graham.
One night, when the nearby train goes by, Owen hears a sound that is a bit out of place–thump, thump, thump. Wood crashes, and Owen wonders what could have possibly fallen off of the train. Well, as most curious boys would, Owen goes looking in the woods for something that could help solve the mystery. After much searching, Owen finds what he’s looking for, and this could be the most fantastic secret in the history of the world! (No, I’m not going to tell you what it is. You’ll have to read the book to find out!)
As Owen figures out what he should do with this awesome secret, he’s must also deal with his beloved bullfrog, Tooley. Tooley isn’t happy being away from the pond where Owen caught him. Owen tries his best to find a way to keep Tooley happy and with him, but nothing seems to work. Will Owen lose the best, most wonderful bullfrog that Carter, Georgia, has ever seen? Will he do the right thing and return Tooley to his home? If he does, could there be a way to see his favorite frog again? Let the adventure begin when you dive into The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester by Barbara O’Connor!
This book is a perfect fit for any boys who love having fun exploring the woods. (Since I work in a rural school, I can think of dozens of students who will love Owen Jester.) It’s difficult to determine what time period this story is set in. It could take place at any time in the past thirty or so years, and the story would still work. Mischievous boys–young and old–will find someone to relate to in Owen Jester. (Nerdy girls like me will relate to Viola.) I highly recommend this book as a great summer read for anyone who loves a good adventure!