review: between two ends by david ward

Author: David Ward
Publication Date: 05/01/2011
Publisher: Abrams Books
Pages: 224
Source: NetGalley ARC
When Yeats and his parents visit his grandmother's creepy old house, Yeats reunites a pair of pirate bookends and uncovers the amazing truth: Years ago, Yeats's father traveled into The Arabian Nights with a friend, and the friend, Shari, is still stuck in the tales. Assisted by the not-always-trustworthy pirates, Yeats must navigate the unfamiliar world of the story of Shaharazad--dodging guards and tigers and the dangerous things that lurk in the margins of the stories--in order to save Shari and bring peace to his family. (goodreads)
Between Two Ends tells the adventurous story of Yeats, 12, (and the equally adventurous story of his father, William) while visiting his grandmother's house in Maine. His father is fighting depression leaving his parents at odds with each other after so many years of trying to find treatment. Yeats desperately wants to keep his family together and risks a daring journey to save them - and also help repair his father's image. 

After Yeats meets a pair of half witty, all swashbuckling pirates he begins on an adventure he barely knew he'd be taking. Once he reaches The Arabian Nights the story comes alive with such vivid and intelligent descriptions that it's very easy to lose yourself (no pun intended!) to it without realising you're turning the page. Sword fights, vegetables, escaping, prisons and cats abound. 

This was a really clever book. One of the potential downsides of children's literature is that some books are written with a smaller vocabulary and, at times, I believe that's doing a large disservice to the kids who read them. Being that this is a book that touches heavily on literature and poetry (Yeats and William, among others) it is very believable that Yeats, even at his age, is an incredibly smart boy. He is very much aware of the issue between his parents and does everything he can to mend it, even if it means going on an incredible adventure to save someone he doesn't even know (and maybe some he does). Although the story has references to poetry, they're mentioned in such an easy way as to mesh in well with the overall plot and are not out of place. 

It's difficult to pinpoint what I liked most about this book because it really had the entire package for me: intelligent writing, great characters and maybe best of all, a fantastic (in the literal and everyday sense) background in which it all takes place. For me it's important to be able to visualize what I'm reading which requires just the right amount of detail without being force-fed specifics. From the moment they pulled into the driveway with doors slamming and opening until the journey into The Arabian Nights, I had a clear image of my mind of just what Yeats and his crew were doing. A lot of this had to do with descriptive writing but most of it had to do with an original story idea that was wholly refreshing and a pleasure to read.

Annnnd here's a quote that really endeared Yeats to me:
Yeats rubbed a hand over his eyes. He had to think. The magic of the house was beyond reckoning; it tore down his defenses and left him numb. No wonder his father was depressed! He had to live in the logical world of the university while knowing what had happened in this room defied common sense. (Please keep in mind this quote is from an Advanced Reader Copy and may differ from the copy to be published.) 
I'd also like to give a shout-out to Yuta Onoda who illustrated the cover art. Definitely keep it in mind to take a look at the cover before and after you start. Just saying. You might be surprised.

I loved this book and although I wish I could tell you more about my favorite parts I don't want to give anything away. The first couple chapters lay the groundwork for the rest of the story, and once Yeats gets going everything else does, too.

This is a book everyone can enjoy.

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