Rating: High Five!
Who I'd Recommend to: Fans of the Land of Stories, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and the Pegasus series.
Synopsis (from Amazon):
Fourteen-year-old Hannah Bradbury loved her father so much that she worried about him constantly. After all, he was a photographer who traveled to the most dangerous places in the world. To allay her fears, each time he came home he brought her silly gifts, each one with supposed magical powers: the Seal of Solomon, the Ring of Gyges, even Aladdin’s Lamp. It was that lamp that Hannah found most unbelievable, for it looked like an ugly teapot. Nevertheless, her father assured her it was real, and made her promise to save her three wishes for something very special. Then . . . six months later . . . the unthinkable happened. Her father was killed while on assignment to Baghdad. And so on the day of his funeral Hannah did something she never thought she would ever do. She took out that teapot and gave it a rub . . .
Hannah is an amazing main character. She shows a lot of great change, originally being more tentative and fearful (though still stubborn) and in the end really making a name for herself, something readers will enjoy watching. Aside from that, Hannah is also a great role model for kids - imaginative, likable, selfless, but still very real and relatable, unlike many characters in children's literature today. The writing is fantastic, too - not too difficult to decipher for younger readers, but still very descriptive and sophisticated, so it appeals to all ages. I was instantly pulled into Hannah's story, in such a way that right from the start I felt Hannah's emotions, something that I loved. The story starts pretty quickly - there's not much buildup, which actually surprised me. I was expecting to have a scene where Hannah hears about her father's death, or some sort of prologue.
I'm actually thankful my expectations were proved wrong, because it really sets the tone for this fast-paced story. The action and adventure is fantastic - exactly what middle grade readers, in my opinion, are looking for. The plot isn't too complicated, but there are also tons of twists that keep the reader on their feet. THE UGLY TEAPOT is anything but a predictable read. For me, the ending really made this a five-star-and-beyond book. There's a major, heartwrenching twist that readers seeking something new and fresh will appreciate. Holmes skillfully gave the story some feeling of closure while still keeping readers gripped to read the next book. My only gripe with this book - and it's incredibly minor - was that I wasn't totally feeling Hannah and her father's relationship. Again, not major, but just something that I would have liked to see more of.
Overall, a fast-paced, action-packed story with a main character to remember.
Disclosure: I recieved this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.