Wednesday, July 25, 2012

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: The Tide Changers by Sandy Green

Release Date: December 19th, 2011
Publisher: Penumbra
Page Count: 127
Source: Complimentary copy provided by author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)

For a thirteen-year-old kid who lives right by the ocean, Ford Kahr has never been a great swimmer. In fact, he sinks like a rock in the water. He’s actually afraid to swim in the ocean after his dad, a marine biologist and experienced scuba diver, disappeared off the shore of their hotel in Cape Lore, New Jersey, three years ago.

As klutzy as Ford is in the water, his older brother Jag is a junior swimming champ, and his younger sister Mercedes has a mystical connection to the water that Ford can’t explain. But when Jag swims out to investigate the disappearing island past the jetty, Ford uncovers an amazing secret that puts a new spin on his relationship with the ocean. The ocean harbors a whole other world beneath its surface that Mercy and Ford must explore—hoping they’ll find some clue to the disappearance of their father and the astonishing secret they share about the water.

Legends of underwater people and stories of scary sea monsters push Ford and his sister to discover the truth about what’s really out there in the ocean depths.
What Stephanie Thinks: With a creative and appealing scenario, a lush writing style, and a realistic, highly relatable voice, The Tide Changers is a book I think will appeal to all middle grade readers looking for a danger-filled and awing adventure.

Ford Kahr (yes, the clever and witty parents named the boy Ford Kahr, his brother Jag 'Jaguar Kahr', and his sister Mercedes Kahr....... I don't know whether to laugh or cry) has been plagued by his father's sudden disappearance since he was a little boy. He won't go near water, even though his brother is a competitive swimmer, and makes excruciating efforts to tend to his emotionally distraught younger sister, Mercy. 

When, for the first time ever, he is forced to face demons he thought he'd never conquer, he, alongside reckless and adventure-seeking Mercy, discovers a whole new world, a whole new life, underwater. The only thing is, it may be putting them in grave danger... but more shockingly, it may lead them to discover even graver secrets about themselves.

The idea of this subterranean underworld is enchanting. Green's descriptions are vivid and captivating, but not so fantastical that the unfamiliar realm seems like a child's imagination. Ford is mature in tone, but still has a childish edge to him, so everything he describes seems realistic—I had no trouble following! I'm doing this a lot lately—selecting books that remind me of the books I review—but I feel it's an accurate way to make a point of what a certain book is like, to someone who's never read it: The Tide Changers is like a combination of the Magic Tree House and Emily Windsnap series (both of which, are my childhood favorites!) because it brims with excitement and involves strange, but alluring underwater exploration.

I really love Ford's character. He's a good boy from head to toe—no teenage angst yet—but I do get a sense of fun-loving, realistic mischief that Green portrays well. His compassion and prudence are admirable too, and his self-determined responsibility over and patience for his little sister, equally precocious traits. Jag is also a likable character. He holds himself in higher regard than Ford does (at fourteen, he's old enough to do that); as a brother, this is irritating, but as a supporting character, it's appropriate. He's a good kid as well. Mercy is lovable in every aspect. She's the cute, imaginative, too smart for her own good, yet still terribly naïve eleven-year-old sister that everyone wants. Characterization is very strong in this novel, one of my favorite aspects to it.

Basically, I adored everything about this fast-paced, but never skimpy, story about identity, belief, and family, but am not fond of the ending. It's sort weak and unsettling—typical of a middle grade novel since kids can't really complain about inadequate closure. I would have liked a more secure finalization, a more satisfying one, but that's really the only constructive criticism I have. Otherwise, The Tide Changers is a beautifully-crafted and child-friendly (I recommend it for children ages 8 to 12) novel that's short in structure, but huge on sentiments, and I enjoyed it a lot.

Stephanie Loves: "My eyes drooped from the sun, and my arms and legs weighed a ton. The cloud rolled and settled on the seaweed peak of the island. The only fearless cloud in a fierce, blue sky.— such marvelous imagery!

Radical Rating: 8 hearts: An engaging read; highly recommended. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥