Thursday, October 7, 2010

Waiting for a Bubble: Hickory Woods Adventures

My children and I just finished reading Waiting for a Bubble: A Hickory Woods Adventure aloud in the evenings. We thoroughly enjoyed Jim Dober's whimsical animal fantasy, with it's gentle lessons about patience and friendship.

Bumble, a "squwat" (a cross between a squirrel and a cat) and his friend Snap Jaw (a dragon) live in Hickory Woods, a medieval forest. Bumble spends his days helping Snap Jaw (Snappy) cook at the local inn, and studying the Good Book with Jindo, a wise ex-wizard. When Snappy asks Bumble to take over the creation of his famous bubble soup, Bumble has the perfect opportunity to put into practice the verses about patience he has been learning from the book of James.

Snappy, too, has a chance to practice patience. He and Bumble have long promised each other they would see a famous juggling act together for the first time. However, when Snappy is out shopping for meal ingredients, he gives in to the temptation to see the juggling act's pre-show. Snappy's decision disappoints Bumble and the bubble soup is almost ruined because he stayed out so long. Dober redeems the situation by showing us the power of forgiveness and the strength of true friendship. The friends also demonstrate hospitality by giving the leftover soup to the poor.

Dober's pencil sketches of the characters are fantastic. Warm and full of life, they capture the creatures' personalities and were the highlight of our reading sessions.

What I Like: Dober creates a believable fantasy world, within an unequivocally Christian framework. The chapters are short and action-packed, which made it great for reading aloud. The characters are appealing, funny, sweet and adventurous, and children will relate to the situations Bumble and Snappy find themselves in. There are ample opportunities for discussion as you read, but there are also "Parent and Child Thought Questions" in the back of the book.

I also like the way Dober uses the Bible. It is called the "Good Book," but Jindo reads actual verses from the biblical book of James.

What I Dislike: The book needed one more round of editing before going to print. Many of the sentences are wordy or redundant, and some of the dialogue is not punctuated correctly. However, my children didn't notice. I don't want to discourage our readers from buying the book--just don't use it as a model of creative writing.

Overall Rating: Very good due to editing issues, excellent otherwise

Age Appeal: Publisher lists 8-12, but I would say as young as 5

Publisher Info: Xulon Press, 2010; ISBN: 978-1-61579-688-5; Paperback, 136 pages, $14.99

Buy it at for $11.69.

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