Blue Umbrella series (1)
Pages: 426 + "after words" bonus section
Finished: Sept. 30, 2011
First Published: Oct. 1, 2009
Publisher: David C Cook
Genre: children, christian fiction, fantasy
Not many people are killed by lightning. Zac's mother was.
Acquired: Received a review copy from the book's publicist.
Reason for Reading: Simply the plot! The folkart cover appealed to me too.
I've had this book on hand since publication but it was unfortunately just one of those books that kept slipping further down the pile for no particular reason. I sure wish I had read this sooner as it was absolutely fantastic! One of the best children's fantasies I've read in a while! The book comes from a Christian publisher and so technically is christian fiction, but this is as mainstream as Madeline L'Engle and C.S. Lewis' children's books. The story is pointing to God, the Creator and this is obvious to me, a Christian, as I went in looking for it but there are no religious themes or preaching, etc. and the book is easily as mainstream as the Time Quartet with a scientific basis. Here the weather is our theme.
Zac has been orphaned and taken in by two unknown "Aunties" who are very nasty, cruel and downright weird. They live in a small town called Five Points and you could say the whole town and everyone in it is a little strange. From the man who runs Porter's General Store who continuously carries a blue umbrella with him all day long outdoors and in, to the aloof, know-it-all, weather fanatic at school who befriends Zac but isn't exactly that friendly, to his sister Chelsea who *can* talk but hasn't spoken a word in years. Then there is Dada whom the Aunties take Zak to meet, their own father, who must be pushing a hundred himself. It is here that Dada introduces Zak to the powers of the cane, which he has previously only been beaten with, but Zac falls unconscious every time he touches the cane with Dada. And Dada sends Zak back with a mission, get the Blue Umbrella and bring it back for him or else ...
A fantastically, unique fantasy with weather as it's main theme. When Zak makes the connection of the blue umbrella's purpose we have entered a strange reality within our own world. But Zac and his two friends must face evil in the form of the Aunties and Dada while along the way they pick up surprising allies and are shocked by who has joined against them on the side of evil. The characters really make this book, along with those mentioned there is Butler, the Aunties' man about the house a tiny old man who at first is not kind to Zak but eventually they strike up an odd friendship only when the Aunties are out of the house. Then there is Eldy another person who cannot talk but he can communicate and he has the tiniest store selling roses and balloons. Finally the children also befriend the neighbourhood Barber, rightfully named Barber, who is an old man with very long hair and a very long beard who won't answer questions, yet if one is smart enough one can still have very informational conversations with him.
Well-written, a tight plot, a unique theme, fun and simply a great read. The book finishes with the complete end of the plot yet ends on a note that leaves room for a sequel, which has already been published. This is a book that really needs to get more attention! A great read! Now, just to get my hands on the sequel "The Violet Flash".