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Hey everyone! Other than the date/time stamp, I’m dating this post by wishing everyone in the United States a Happy Thanksgiving. Glad you’ve put some time aside today to visit my blog and read my work. For that, I am thankful.

That said, this is not the scheduled day or time for my monthy book review. The next book on that “official” list is The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman and that will be posted at 9am on December 6th.

Today, I’m reviewing The Screech Owls – The Boston Breakout, by Roy MacGregor. The most recent in a long running series of juvenile youth books about Peewee hocky. It’s a little out of my wheelhouse but I requested it from LibraryThing’s monthly selections of advanced release book review options, specifically because it was so far from what I normally read. So, how was it?

THE REVIEW

The Screech Owls series follows a co-ed Peewee hockey team as they travel to Boston for a competition. While there, they visit the Boston Aquarium and meet an animal rights activist with a single minded desire that could lead to the deaths of every animal in the aquarium. Also, there’s a fair amount of hockey involved.

There isn’t anything technically wrong with The Screech Owls, The Boston Breakout. It’s targeted towards a youth audience that loves hockey. To that effect, it’s like pretty much any other sports series about youth atheletes, with cliches like just “have fun” bandied about and lessons like “winning isn’t everything” thrown in for good measure. Roy MacGregor just simply isn’t asking for much more from his young audience.

(Though, whether he should is a  topic I’d like to explore in greater depth at another time.)

The children have a bunch of adventures and save the day. Speaking of characters, these children are defined with distinct personalities. They don’t have much of a character arc and seem like caricatures of real children, with no dimensionality to their personality. Which might be fine, since this is a serialized story you can’t have the characters change that much, if you want another book. So, weakness inherent to the intended structure and not of the story itself.

MacGregor does use a lot of “to be” verbs. That may seem like a harsh criticism for a children’s book, but there are plenty of other youth books that have much better writing. The Boston Breakout doesn’t have any spark, reading like a perfunctory, paint by numbers narrative with no real sense of numbers.

As I said, there’s nothing particularly wrong with The Boston Breakout, but it’s not exactly memorable either. Nothing about the characters or the plot stands out. And it doesn’t ask much from it’s readers. If I had to pick an age range, I would have placed it for 7-9 year olds, slightly younger than the characters themselves.

I’m going to give this a 3 out of 5. With the understanding that for all my criticisms, my expectations for this book are different than if I were reading The Magicians.

Again, I want to thank LibraryThing for my copy of The Screech Owls – The Boston Breakout, which is currently available on Amazon or at a local book store. The Boston Breakout was published on October 14, 2014.

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