Monday, September 12, 2011

Book Review: Danny Marble and the Application for Non-Scary Things by Jessica McHugh

My thoughts:
Jessica has written a book that deals with the two major fears of most adolescents.  The fear of what is out to get them in their room when they go to bed and the fear of being bullied at school.  Danny Marble is a kid who is constantly plagued by fear.  He can't sleep because of it and it's taking a toll on his life.  All he wants is to get rid of the fear and he'll do anything to do it.  Where he goes to accomplish this is when we start getting into a sort of Greek mythology theme in the book.  Danny crosses a body of water in a gondola with a gondolier who is dressed in a black hooded robe.  Sound familiar?  He must deliver his 'application' to the Oneiroi, a god of the underworld.  The application is almost like an employment application, but it explains why he needs the fear to be gone.  Basically, the application turns out to be a contract with the Oneiroi and there are dire consequences if he breaks the contract, but it also turns out to be bad for Danny to be utterly without fear.

I liked this book not only because it was a great story, but also because of the various themes it touched on. Danny had lost both of his parents.  His mom became terminally ill and his father left them.  Jessica touches on how children who feel as though they were abandoned can be gripped by fear and this can also lead to problems in school and becoming a target for bullies.  There is also the old adage of "be careful what you wish for" as Danny learns that sometimes fear can be a good thing.  Fear can protect us from dangerous situations and some fears...like the fear of being on your first date with a girl...can be a good kind of fear.  This is an excellent story for the middle grade/young adult audience with some genuinely creepy crawliness thrown in.  Not only is it entertaining, but the underlying themes teach important lessons.  There are also some wonderful black and white illustrations (by Dave McHugh) throughout the book that add a fun visual aspect to the book.  I will definitely be letting my sons read it, if I can trust them with my e-reader!

Original illustration from the book
by Dave McHugh

Book description:
"Three years, ten months, and nineteen days had come and gone since Danny Marble had gotten a full night’s sleep. He had counted approximately one hundred fifteen thousand and eighty-two sheep and consumed nearly two thousand glasses of warm milk. He’d read his favorite book, 'The Phantom Tollbooth', one hundred and seventy five times in attempt to tire out his eyes and ingested no less than eight different herbs to promote healthy rest. But the only number that really mattered was the number three: the amount of scary things it took to ensure that all of those other numbers kept climbing." (from Jessica's website)

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Jessica McHugh is an author of speculative fiction that spans the genre from horror and alternate history to epic fantasy. A prolific writer, she has devoted herself to novels, short stories, novellas, and even playwriting. She has had nine books published in three years, including "Song of Eidolons", "The Sky: The World" and the first three installments in her "Tales of Dominhydor" series.  Visit her at JessicaMcHughBooks.com or www.facebook.com/author.JessicaMcHugh.


Check out Jessica's guest post from earlier today HERE.

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