About the Book
Title: Things Are Not What They Seem | Authors: Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks | Publication Date: April 9, 2014 | Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing | Pages: 268 | Recommended Ages: 10+
Summary: 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?
My Thoughts: Things are very unusual indeed in Central Park where we meet 12-year-old Jenny Tindal who is babysitting her brother, James and his friend Sleepy when a pigeon speaks to her requesting her help. The more she ignores him, the more urgently he impresses on her the danger he is in from a vicious hawk, hot on his tail. The children soon discover that the pigeon is actually a 19th Century Englishman named Arthur Whitehair who was transformed into a pigeon after he misread a spell granting eternal life; and, the hawk is, in fact, Malman – an evil man who was also transformed by the spell.
Arthur enlists the help of Jenny, James, Sleepy, and a friend of Jenny’s, Kaytlyn to reverse the spell which he hopes will transport him back in time to when he first uttered the words so that he can destroy the original manuscript, thus preventing his transformation into a pigeon with eternal life. But they soon run across malevolent forces who also want to benefit from the magical powers of the manuscript. The children must rely on each other as well as their unique strengths to help their new friend return to the past.
The authors have created a wonderful cast of memorable, sympathetic and relatable characters, beginning with responsible and compassionate Jenny; her smart-talking, but dependable younger brother James; Sleepy, the overprotected but loyal friend; Kaytlyn, Jenny’s popular, rich, and gregarious friend; and finally Arthur (the talking pigeon) who is largely impatient and sarcastic, but whom you can’t help but feel sorry for as his back story is revealed. It is only through each character’s individual strengths that the mission is achieved, thus making for a great ensemble of characters.
Aside from the children and the pigeon, there are a number of other unique secondary characters who really help bring the story to life. I loved Jenny and James’ parents and their side story in particular. Mr. Tindal left his lucrative job as a computer software engineer to become an NYC public education teacher which he finds more fulfilling. To fill the gap in income, Mrs. Tindal went back to school to become a lawyer and in the story, she is just studying for and taking the bar exam. The parents aptly demonstrate the balance between setting boundaries while letting their children have their secrets and explore their world.
Also worthy of mention, is the character of Mr. Bags, a homeless man who speaks in rhyme who has befriended Jenny. Jenny and Mr. Bags’ friendship is a great example of how to treat people with compassion and it was very touching to see the way they interacted, literally having each others’ backs. Without revealing too much of the story, I loved how the children took it upon themselves to raise money for such a great cause arising simply out of their friendship with Mr. Bags. All this to say that the story contains so many important life lessons around family, friendship, compassion, and materialism.
The main plot itself moves along very quickly with the action unfurling at a brisk pace. There are elements of fantasy, magic, and time-travel peppered with comedic relief provided mostly from the dialogue between Arthur and the children (James in particular). But there are also many poignant moments as Arthur reflects on what is important in life, or when Mr. and Mrs. Tindal share nuggets of wisdom with their children, and when we see the strong bond of friendship between Mr. Bags and Jenny. There is so much depth and so much to love about this story.
My Bottom Line: Things Are Not What They Seem is a wonderful story featuring a stellar cast of well-developed and relatable characters, which merges fantasy, magic, and time-travel with poignant lessons about friendship, compassion, and loyalty. I highly recommend this fast-paced, funny, and charming story for tweens, teens, and even adults. Ages 8+.
* This book was received free-of-charge from the author as part of “Things Are Not What They Seem” Blog Tour hosted by MDBR in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions expressed are my own. *
“I LOVED “Things Are Not What They Seem”!! It is funny, exciting, and touching, and very fun to read. The characters are relatable and interesting, so I really cared about all of their adventures while I was reading. “~ 5 Stars, Hermione, Amazon
“The story line is original and makes for an incredibly fun read. This is a book which is VERY hard to put down, all of their adventures will definitely have you on the edge of your seats and you read from page to page. All of the characters in this book (both large and small) are well developed and their personalities definitely come off the page.” ~ 5 Stars, Alex, Goodreads
“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. ” ~ 5 Stars, HFBrainerd, Amazon
“Things Are Not What They Seem is a well written story and a joy to read. I was hooked from the start.” ~ 5 Stars, Granny’s Hill, Amazon
“What a sweet, interesting, and overall wonderful book! I love the interesting, multi-layered, realistic characters, the numerous, unexpected but extremely interesting plot twists, and the use of Latin phrases to enhance the magic. I love the simple, yet powerful message that was woven throughout- that things are not what they seem- even in the rough, harsh world of New York City. That message strongly resonates for kids, teenagers, adults, and anyone in between. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who reads this review!! ” ~ 5 Stars, Pat D., Amazon
About the Authors: Anne Rothman-Hicks & Kenneth Hicks
When Anne Rothman was a student at Bryn Mawr College and Kenneth Hicks was a student at Haverford College, they began writing together in an independent-study course with one of Ken’s professors. A brief interlude ensued while Anne wrote wonderful poetry and Ken wrote a book about hitchhiking (The Complete Hitchhiker Tobey Publishing, Dell Distribution), but they soon got back together as writers when Ken was in law school at Columbia University and Anne was paying the rent by working in publishing. They have continued to write together for about forty years and in that time have published four adult novels, eleven non-fiction books for children, two fiction books for middle readers, and two photography books. They also produced three children whom they love even more than writing.
Their most recent middle reader book is Things Are Not What they Seem, published by the MuseItYoung division of MuseItUp Publishing, and available in all formats. Their three latest adult novels are Kate and the Kid, a mainstream novel, Mind me, Milady, a mystery thriller, and Praise Her, Praise Diana, a thriller.
Between projects, they started a web site www.randh71productions.com. In case you were wondering about the address, “R” is for Rothman, “H” is for Hicks, and “71” is the year of their marriage. No secret codes or numerology anywhere.
“Things Are Not What They Seem” Blog Tour Schedule (2015)
* Blog Tour Giveaway *
Contest closes: March 19, 11:59 pm, 2015
Open to: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.