Allie Gator and the Seven Stones by Sean Eckenrod (CreateSpace, 2013, 272pp.)
A cross between Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, Allie Gator and the Seven Stones follows the adventures of Allie, a brave young girl whose life takes a turn for the fantastical after she falls in the Myakka River, and into an underwater world of excitement and intrigue. Populated by talking catfish, friendly alligators, and clumsy wood storks, it’s a world divided into seven imperiled kingdoms that have fallen out of balance since the seven magical stones have been lost. Now, Allie is presented with a mission that only she and a group of new friends can carry out: she must retrieve the stones and restore the world’s balance.
Unfortunately, Allie Gator and the Seven Stones is a problematic tale. While it has a lot of good ideas and some surprising lessons for the reader, the execution of these ideas/lessons leaves much to be desired. The two biggest issues for me were pacing and content. After Allie makes her initial entrance into the underwater world, she, along with the reader, is bombarded with a mass of names and concepts that we don’t have enough time to absorb. In this way, it almost reminds me of a video game: press START, and game characters start feeding you information. In regards to content, although each sea kingdom/adventure is meant to be unique in its own way, only four of these seven episodes—and the lessons learned along the way—made any impact on me as a reader. So, while Allie Gator has lots of potential to be a good read, I feel that it still has a long way to go before it gets there. Recommended for Ages 9-12.
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