Monday, August 23, 2010

BOOK REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: The Death (and Further Adventures) of Silas Winterbottom

I am fortunate enough to be participating in the blog tour for the release of Stephen Giles MG story, The Death (and Further Adventures) of Silas Winterbottom. It's always a pleasure to be part of a group of people who treasure supporting an author. And I have an awesome surprise. I have a copy of the book to giveaway!! I want to thank SOURCEBOOKS for providing me with an ARC to read and review, and the copy to share with our giveaway winner.

Title: The Death (and Further Adventures) of Silas Winterbottom.
Author: Stephen M. Giles
Genre: middle grade
Release Date: August 1, 2010

Favorite line or segment: "Horse poop!" snapped Rosemary. "I'm staying and that's that!"

"If it's money you want," said Silas coolly, "then you are wasting your time."

"Money?" Rosemary screwed up her nose. "Can't stand the stuff! Turns perfectly fine people into greedy, self-centered nincompoops."

Description: What secret is Uncle Silas hiding?

Adele, Milo and Isabella Winterbottom haven’t heard from Uncle Silas in years – unless you count the occasional insult. So curious eyebrows are raised when the cousins receive a mysterious invitation from their disagreeable relative. But Silas is dying, and a dying man with a vast fortune usually wishes to find an heir.

Or so the children believe.

But when they meet dear, old Uncle Silas and his hungry pet crocodile, the trio suspects that he may have a more sinister reason for inviting healthy, young relatives to his secluded island estate – a place where nothing is as it seems ...
Book One in the thrilling new series –
My Splats: It isn't hard to tell by looking at the cover that this is not your average middle grade book. It's Gothic flare and darker side should lure even the most subtle of middle graders in. And the title? It's fun and clever, giving us just enough to question. Even the name of Winterbottom conveys an image. 

The writing is crisp and direct with visual descriptions that pack a punch. Stephen Giles does a wonderful job of using a variety of elements to paint a picture. He shows us each child's outer world by cleverly name tagging the parents/guardian and their lifestyles, and gives us insight into the children's inner selves by fast paced scenes and secret thoughts. A teeny note of caution: There is one scene at the beginning (having to do with birds pecking flesh) that may be disturbing to some middle graders. Then again, at their age, they'll probably laugh.

The story begins with a relatable, average scene of a parent complaining about money. But soon, as we are introduced to all three of the main characters--Adele, Milo, and Isabella--we realize these children are far from your average middle graders with far from your average upbringings. And when they're introduced to Uncle Silas, it's obvious to the reader that this story is anything but average.  

Talk about dysfunction. All the adults in this book are 'less' than worthy of being parents, with the exception of Milo's guardian. I loved this. Often in both MG and YA, parents or guardians are introduced quickly and then shifted from the story. Their personal 'issues' are explained away and we're done with them. Here, there are constant references as to how each child was affected by his/her parents/guardians, which plays directly into the movement of the story. 

And as we being to follow Uncle Silas around his island estate, a sinking feeling sets in. Silas' eerie pauses and stares lead to constant questions. The story slowly progresses to a real 'Who done it' or 'Who's going to get it?'. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the dynamic created between the three cousins. Their personalities are extremely unique, yet believable, and will appeal to both girls and boys of this age group. A battle of mistrust, fake-facades, snobbery, and even lies begins between them. I loved this realism, and how each child is forced to grow, overlook the others' flaws, and work together. It's a great lesson for kids of this age.

And honestly, could a middle grader really resist a scaly, pet alligator named Thorn, that roams the halls of a gigantic mansion?

You MUST want the book now. ENTER below for your chance to win. You must be an Alleywalker to win. Follow me!!


  1. Thanks for sharing this. It sounds goo. And I love finding new middle grade books.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing! This book looks amazing, the kids at school will love it!

  3. I entered, but if I don't win, I might have to get it anyway. This reminds me of Lemony Snicket, which my boys loved!

  4. This sounds like something my Gina might like (as well as my 5th grade students). I'll have to enter.

  5. This sounds like a great read! I've never heard of this series- thanks so much for bringing it to light!

  6. Nice interview. I've never heard of this author before. Thanks.


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