Kids Book of the Week: The Keepers: The Box and the Dragonfly – Ted Sanders

Those of you who have been listening to me over the years know that me earnestly touting a kids book is rarer than hen’s teeth. But people, this one’s got it.

I picked up this middle grade debut because the publisher went to the expense of mailing out a paper manuscript and it just seemed rude not to skim a few pages. Some indeterminate number of hours later, I was back from Horace Andrews’ dangerously magical Chicago, sitting on my couch in Ann Arbor and looking up the publication schedule for this series to see when I might get my hands on the second book.

At the risk of making you roll your eyes, this book has what Harry Potter had. (Stick with me here…) It’s the story of an every boy who is called to greatness. It offers a magical and sinister world that exists behind the mist of everyday life. It’s written in way that is engaging and accessible to children and at the same time doesn’t talk down to anyone, so it works nicely for adults as well. And bonus points: It’s got physics!

One of the underlying themes of the book is the relationship between magic and science. When Horace receives a magic box that allows him to see 24 hours in the future, Sanders offers a two-page explanation of the Theory of Relativity that, rather than letting the air out of Horace’s magic box, shows just how magical science is—that they are two sides of the same coin.

Booksellers are loving this story and it’s been picked as a Book of the Month at more than a few of stores. It’s a spring Indie Next Pick and I hope it’s the beginning of a grand adventure for tens of thousands of readers of all ages.

The Keepers is a wildly original adventure, electric-paced and brain-bending, that will enthrall kids and adults alike. It’s more than a fantasy, building physics and folklore into its search to answer questions about whether true magic can ever exist. But most of all, it has a wonderful central character in Horace, smart and vulnerable, who grounds us in this extraordinary world.”
— Soman Chainani, author The School for Good and Evil

“Twelve-year-old Horace F. Andrews is both curious and logical. On his quotidian commute home, a previously unseen storefront called the House of Answers ignites his inquisitive tendencies. The discovery of the shop coincides with meeting a creepy man who is more insect than human and a spitfire, self-assured 12-year-old girl, Chloe, who appears out of—and disappears into—nowhere. The House proves to be a curated collection of magical objects—Tan’ji—linked to “keepers.” Chloe is one such, and Horace becomes another when he’s linked to the Box of Promises. Only in the hand of a keeper can the Tan’ji’s power be fully realized, so it’s up to Horace, Chloe and a small group of keepers to keep it from villains of the more-insect-than-human variety….An epic adventure of self-discovery, magic, tragedy and blurred lines of loyalty.”
— Kirkus Reviews

“When Horace F. Andrews discovers a box that refracts time so he can see 24 hours into the future, he is set on an exciting quest that will not only bring him face to face with evil beings bent on taking back the Earth, but also sets him in the middle of a well-drawn group of characters, including a young girl whose life on the streets has forced her to mistrust everyone. Sanders’ writing is fluid and never speaks on ‘a child’s level,’ but he smartly assumes kids are intelligent enough to understand such sweeping concepts as Time, Relativity, and Atomic Structure. In this way, he reminds me of Madeline L’Engle and her fabulous A Wrinkle in Time books. Lest you think The Keepers is too heady and dull, I can assure you there are plenty of exciting action scenes alongside the intelligent exposition. The last two hundred pages involving the raid on the (wonderfully evil) villain’s lair is thrilling and almost sweat-inducing. Sanders has crafted a near-perfect book for kids. They are going to love this book, and I think it can sit comfortably on shelves next to Harry Potter and The Mortal Instruments!”
— Bill Carl, The Booksellers at Fountain Square, Cincinnati, OH

The Keepers: The Box and the Dragonfly is fantastically complex middle-grade novel that’s part fantasy, part (accessible) science fiction. With its fully developed cast of characters and fascinating hidden world, The Box and the Dragonfly has all the charm of Harry Potter while remaining wonderfully original. This is a dense book to be sure, packed full of believable science and mysterious places (and people and objects) and centuries old conflicts, but the plot never feels weighed down. And, it’s been a long while since I’ve read a villain that had such a sinister air about them; every time that Dr. Jericho entered a scene, dread churned my stomach and prickled goose bumps on my arms. I cannot wait for book two.
— Brittney Gabbard, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH

The Keepers is SO good! I only wish I didn’t have to wait until March to start recommending it to people. It reminded me of reading Kate DiCamillo in the way Sanders doesn’t write down to kids–even touching on poverty and alcoholism but without hitting you over the head with it. Please, please give me the advance copy of the next book in the series.”
— Jessie Martin, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI

The Keepers: The Box and the Dragonfly (9780062275820) by Ted Sanders. $16.99 hardcover. 3/3/15 on sale.

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