Author: Paul R. Hewlett
Publication Date: December 15, 2011
Recommended Age: 6+ (read-aloud)
Reviewed by: Renee (Mother)
Meet Lionel, a lovable bully-magnet, as he arrives in Larrystown and discovers a magical Three-Toed-Potbellied Walbaun foot. Follow Lionel’s fun misadventures as he uses the foot’s faulty protective power and learns a valuable lesson about helping others. Lionel and the Golden Rule is the first book in the Lionel’s Grand Adventure series, perfect for young and even reluctant readers at home or in school.
* Available as a 99 cent e-book *
My Thoughts: Meet Lionel, the most unlikely of heroes. Lionel is pudgy around the middle, wears glasses, is not popular and is often the target of bullying, and he LOVES baseball (unfortunately, he’s not too good at it though). On top of all of this, he lives in a single-parent household with his mother, who is very strict and demanding, and his brother Feeney whose personality rhymes with his name (i.e., a “meanie”). You can’t help but sympathize with poor Lionel. Then, Lionel’s life changes when he stumbles upon the magic Three-Toed -Potbellied Walbaun (pronounced “Wall-bon”) foot.
What is a Three-Toed-Potbellied Walbaun you ask? Well, they are a magical people that lived among the humans many years ago. However, Walbauns were lazy and used their magic to play tricks on one another so they never fully mastered the magical arts. As a result, their magic nearly always went awry. As with the lucky “rabbit’s foot”, there was a time when it was considered lucky to have a Three-Toed-Potbellied Walbaun foot as it was thought to contain magic. Over time, the lucky foot would only appear when it was needed. And if there was ever someone who needed some luck, it was Lionel. I really appreciated this great description of the non-stereotypical magical Walbauns.
Lionel quickly discovers that if he wishes for something while holding the “lucky” foot, magic would indeed occur; however, as was the case when the foot was still attached to the Walbaun, the magic didn’t exactly turn out as intended. For example, when Lionel challenges two of his peers in a game of Jacks (great fit for the era, 1960’s) and wishes “to win the match and the money”, he gets whisked away to Las Vegas where he wins $250. When he returns to the present, he loses the game of Jacks! Funny thing that Three-Toed-Potbellied Walbaun foot. I loved reading about the misadventures of Lionel and the foot ~ it was very entertaining!
But then, there is the final wish described in the book and the one where Lionel learns an important lesson. Lionel is a HUGE baseball fan. He works so hard to improve his fielding, throwing, and batting skills; and then, in the most important game of the season, Lionel must step in for their best player when he gets injured. Thus, Lionel starts in centre field and bats in the clean-up position.
Ok, this was my only eyebrow-raising moment in the book. I’ve played baseball my whole life, and if your least talented player is substituted in for a much better player, everyone would shift field positions, you’d put the least talented player in right field and he’d bat at the bottom of the order. I’m just sayin’. However, I will suspend disbelief and move on…
When Lionel makes the following wish: “I want to be a hero instead of a failure”, he is whisked away once again and finds himself playing for his favorite team, the Zephyrs in the final game of the ’52 Great Series. And, lo and behold, he is the best player on the team. When Lionel is given the opportunity to be the true hero of the game by batting in the clean up position, he instead spots his favorite player, Jimmy Dee, in an all-too familiar position: sitting on the bench. Able to relate to what Jimmy is experiencing, Lionel truly learns what it means to be a hero. After changing Jimmy Dee’s life forever, Lionel is then taken back to the present, where he is up to bat and … sorry, you’ll have to read the book to know the rest!
My Bottom Line: I think that Lionel is one of the most endearing characters I’ve come across among the lower middle grade books I’ve read over the last couple of years. There is something about him that feels so real and I’m sure that many young boys will be able to relate to the experiences and reactions that Lionel has as well as the fantasies that he gets to play out amidst the bullying he receives from his mother, his brother, his peers, and even his coach. I think children will find the unanticipated consequences of Lionel’s wishes very entertaining as well.
I think it’s very important to match a book to its audience and my feeling is that this book is not necessarily for everyone. Because of its length (it’s short) and its main character (a non-stereotypical young male hero), I think this would be a perfect choice for emerging and reluctant readers and most likely it will be enjoyed more by boys than girls, but you never know! I also think it can be read aloud to children ages 6 and older.
More Buzz About the Book
“As a teacher and a parent I’m always looking for books for reluctant Middle School readers and Lionel’s Grand Adventure is perfect! It has loads of action to keep readers entertained and to keep them reading, while the language is sophisticated enough to develop their reading skills. In addition, the story comes with a valuable lesson that is presented in such a way that young readers won’t feel that they are being taught or lectured.” ~ 5 Stars, The Happy Reader, Amazon
“I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story and particularly liked the magic weaved by the Three-toed Pot-bellied Walbauns, which never quite worked the way it should, but always seemed to achieve the right results. This book is extremely well-written and very readable and held my attention throughout. With its well-constructed text and its light touch, it has all the right ingredients for the intended reader; originality, humour, a touch of magic, a likeable hero, and, above all, a sound lesson in how to treat others. `Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ – The Golden Rule. I think parents could read this aloud to younger children whilst enjoying it themselves, and those old enough to read will have no problem. Either way, it is an excellent book. I highly recommend Lionel’s Grand Adventure (Lionel and the Golden Rule) for children aged 5 to adult.” ~ 5 Stars, Amelia Curzon Reviews, Amazon
“I really enjoyed this book. The story was really funny (especially when Lionel’s brother’s pants exploded – luckily his underwear was still on hee hee). I liked Lionel because he saw a lot of good in every situation and he seemed like a kid who was just happy being who he is. The story was a unique idea especially for an early chapter book. It was an easy read but the story was really good. I totally think “Lionel’s Grand Adventure” is a perfect book for “reluctant” readers or young advanced readers.” ~ 5 Stars, This Kid Reviews Books, Amazon
About The Author: Paul R. Hewlett
Paul R. Hewlett is the author of the Lionel’s Grand Adventure series, a series of early chapter books for young readers. Lionel’s Christmas Adventure: Lionel Learns the True Meaning of Christmas is the newest book in the series. His debut book Lionel’s Grand Adventure: Lionel and the Golden Rule was released in December of 2011. In addition to writing the Lionel’s Grand Adventure books, Paul co-authors a middle grade/young adult blog called Sher A. Hart: My Written Art. Paul is a US Air Force vet who is married and has a “senior” dog named Joe that he and his wife adopted from the local rescue facility.
* Giveaway *
Prize: We are giving away a print copy (US/Canada) or e-copy (INT) of Lionel’s Grand Adventure: Lionel and the Golden Rule by Paul R. Hewlett PLUS a $10 Amazon gift card (USD) to one lucky winner.
Contest runs: October 3 to 25, 11:59 pm, 2013
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* I was given this book free-of-charge by the author in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions expressed are my own. The author has also opted to participate in our Book Promotion Program where we will tweet and share information about this book, the author, and the giveaway.*