Soooo excited!! For those of you following us closely, we are currently hosting a blog tour promoting the middle grade sci-fi adventure book “Return to Cardamom” by Julie Anne Grasso. Now, it’s our turn to let YOU know what WE thought about Return to Cardamom.
About Return to Cardamom
Title: Return to Cardamom (Caramel Cardamom Trilogy, Book #2)
Author: Julie Anne Grasso
Publication Date: July 17, 2013
Recommended Age: 9+
Amazon (US) * Amazon (UK) * Amazon (Canada)
In Return to Cardamom, we meet up once again with Princess Gabriella Cinnamon (aka, “Caramel”) who is now honing her exceptional skills as both a healer and a tree-tender. The planet of Cardamom is thrown into crisis when the cardamom stems all simultaneously drop their pods in response to a vibration which spreads across the fields. This spells disaster for not only the citizens of Cardamom, but for all those across the galaxy who rely on the cardamom pods as their primary source of energy and power. The plot thickens when seemingly as a coincidence, Lex (a clone of Alexander222, the villain from Escape From the Forbidden Planet) proposes a new energy source as a replacement: Cardocryst, a Cardamom and Ishqwartz biosynthetic hybrid.
Caramel suspects that her old nemeses, Alexander222 and her aunt Isabel (now fugitives from the law), are behind the ecological disaster. No one believes Caramel, until her mother, Ariana gets kidnapped and Alexander222 demands a ransom in exchange for her return. Caramel bravely attempts a rescue of her mother making a surprising discovery about her aunt Isabel and the source of the new energy source, Cardocryst along the way.
Just as things appear to be resolving themselves, Alexander222 unleashes a malevolent computer virus on the “Forbidden Planet” as a punishment forcing Caramel to test the limits of her powers as a healer. Caramel must once again play the role of the hero to now save her friends on the Forbidden Planet from the virus that threatens the collapse of the planet and its people. Find out what happens when our heroine bravely signs on to combat the spreading virus.
My Thoughts: Julie Grasso wastes no time in getting the action rolling in Return to Cardamom, the sequel to Escape From the Hidden Planet. This time around Grasso weaves a similarly complex and engaging plot, merging science fiction and fantasy, and featuring an immensely endearing main character in Caramel, the elf princess who, despite a physical disability, proves to be brave, intelligent, and loyal as well as gifted as a healer.
All the things I loved about Book 1, Escape From the Forbidden Planet continue to be the strengths of the second book. Grasso has created an imaginative and interesting world in Cardamom and I love the way she describes the relationship between the elves and the cardamom plants. There is a recognition of the nearly symbiotic nature of the relationship between the two. While the elves tenderly care for the plants, the cardamom stems then lovingly impart their pods to the elves who rely on the seeds as their primary source of energy. This concept is so beautiful to me and carries an important message to the future caretakers of our planet.
I feel that Return to Cardamom is slightly more refined and sophisticated with regards to the descriptions of the technology and the role of technology in the story. In particular, I really enjoyed the part of the story where the computer virus injected by Alexander222 on the Forbidden Planet threatens not only all the computer systems on the planet, but begins to infect the humans there as well. This part of the story features a laugh-out-loud (literally!) scene where Caramel has to dodge the virtual pieces of ham, later identified as “spam” (love the play on words.)
As I’ve discussed in one of our Kid Lit Questions of the Day, I sometimes feel that more mature themes are often thrust onto children far too earlier. Return to Cardamom is a middle grade book that I find completely appropriate for middle grade children (i.e., no bad language, no violence, no sexual innuendos). The major themes underlying the story in the book are all relevant to the target audience of tween/teen kids: friendship, loyalty, forgiveness, courage, and perseverance. I think that Grasso has hit the right level of tension for this age group by avoiding darker and more mature themes but still challenging budding social consciences with its foray into the fields of conservationism, technology, and bioethics.
And then there is Caramel … I just love Caramel (early sketches by David Blackwell depicted to the right)! As far as role models in middle grade books, she is TOPS! Despite a physical limitation from an accident in early childhood, she is a brave, fiercely loyal, highly intelligent, and compassionate young lady. There is just something about the way she is written that feels completely genuine and relatable. More Caramel … oh, and more cake. Sorry, I got distracted there for a moment!
Do you need to read the first book Escape From the Forbidden Planet first before you dive into Return to Cardamom? Good question. I don’t have the luxury the reading the second without reading the first one beforehand. The author does provide some of the backstory from Book 1, but the second book moves along quite quickly. Unsure? You can purchase the first book, “Escape From the Forbidden Planet” for only 99 cents from AMAZON (Click Here). THEN, you can purchase “Return to Cardamom” at the rock bottom price of … wait for it… 99 cents! (Click Here).
A few parting words about the book cover: Chubby elf cheeks, I declare that it’s totally ELVO!
Oh, and remember THIS?
My bottom line: Return to Cardamom features an endearing and memorable main character in Caramel; a sophisticated and engaging plot which includes unexpected twists and turns; and many important messages about loyalty, forgiveness, and perseverence as well as much food for thought (or was that thoughts about food?) regarding the future with regards to technology, bioethics, and environmentalism. This is a great middle grade read and I highly recommend it to children aged 9+ who want to be challenged with a more advanced and complex plot and who love digging into science fiction. More please!
1. Who is the main character, how would you describe her, and what did you think of her? Caramel is a elf princess who lives on the planet Cardamom. She is a healer. Even though she has a limp, she is very brave and smart. I really liked her.
2. What did you think of the cover of the book? I think the cover is really good and I really liked the creepy elf in the green cloak.
3. What was your favorite part of the book? I really liked how the book had two stories in one book. So when you think the one story is over, there is another part of the story. I liked how it was science fiction and had lots of technology. That made it interesting.
4. Was there anything you didn’t like about the book? Nope, I liked it all.
5. Overall, how did you like the book? I loved, loved, loved the book. I liked it better than the first one. It took about 2 weeks to read it, reading a bit every day.
6. Who do you think would like this book? I think kids 8 years and older would like it. They need to be older because some of the story and the technology described are complicated.
Daughter Rating: ★★★★★
*** This book was provided to us free-of-charge by the author exchange for an honest review. We are also coordinating the Return to Cardamom Blog Tour. ***
About the Author
Julie Anne Grasso is an Australian author with a background in paediatric nursing. She spent many years literally wrapping children in cotton wool. Every day she witnessed great courage and resilience from the tiny people she cared for, which inspired her to write stories about a little girl elf just like them. Add in some very funky technology, her love of science fiction and desire to impart great values through her little girl elf named Caramel and there you have it, the Adventures of Caramel Cardamom Trilogy was the result.
Julie lives in Melbourne with her husband Danny and their little elf Giselle. Most days she can be found sipping chai lattes, chasing a toddler, and dreaming up wonderful worlds that often involve consumption of cupcakes.
Book Website: http://www.julieannegrassobooks.com/
Author Blog: WhenIgrowupIwannawriteakidsbook
Goodreads Author: Julie Anne Grasso
*** Return to Cardamom Blog Tour Giveaway ***
Prize: One winner will receive a copy (print in U.S./Canada & e-copy internationally) + a $50 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash
Contest runs: July 17th to August 7th, 11:59 pm, 2013
How to enter: Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: 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. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send us an email!
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