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I received a copy of this ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Hannah Bradbury worried about her father all the time since, as a photographer, he traveled to some of most dangerous places on the planet. When her father would come home, he would always bring back little gifts for her, gifts that he said had magical powers. She believed in her father, but she never truly believed in the magic of the gifts. The most unbelievable of them was what he claimed to be Aladdin's Lamp - you know, a genie, three wishes, and all of that - but to her it just looked like an old ugly teapot. Regardless, he did his best convince her that it's entirely real and to save her three wishes for something important. Then, when her father died six months later on assignment in Baghdad, Iraq, she surprises herself by taking out that ugly teapot and giving it a rub...just in case his stories were true after all.
I'm so glad I took a chance on Fred Holmes's debut novel, The Ugly Teapot, Book One: Hannah. It's a fantastically adventurous and heartwarming story of what a girl will do to save her father. The novel, which is aimed at upper middle grade readers and lower young adult readers, is very vivid and visual and the writing is quite fluid and fast-paced. Once you dive into the world Holmes has created you won't want to put it down for fear of missing out on Hannah's adventures even though it also deals with heavy subjects like the loss of a loved one and grief.
As a main character, Hannah is fantastic. She's brave, imaginative, loving, strong, and very relatable. Throughout the course of the story, it's easy to understand why she makes the decisions that she makes. I also have to mention Griff, Hannah's loyal dog. The two friends have quite a bond and Griff is even able to communicate telepathically with his human. In regards to V, Hannah's mother, I was pleased to see their relationship develop further and that V even gets a few perspective chapters which help us figure out more of the truth.
Finally, without spoiling too much, the fantasy elements and magical realism bring the story home. I'm a sucker for world's like the one Hannah finds herself right in the middle of. Aladdin is one of my favorite Disney movies, so I found myself particularly interested in the character of the genie, who is quite different from the movie version voiced by Robin Williams. This genie is more of a calm, almost detached, and well put-together lawyer in comparison, but still just as intriguing. In the end, I only had a couple of issues with the story. Primarily, that's with Griff's telepathy. I couldn't help but wonder why Hannah accepted that as completely normal, but initially didn't want to believe in the magic of that ugly old teapot, aka Aladdin's Lamp. Otherwise, at times, some things seemed to happen almost too quickly and almost blur together, but now that I look back on it I can understand why that was the case.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed The Ugly Teapot, Book One: Hannah by Fred Holmes. As a fan of YA and MG adventure fantasy, I wasn't disappointed. As well as featuring fantastical elements, it's also a touching story that focuses on a girl's unconditional love of her father, as well as grief at the death of a parent. Holmes handles these more difficult subjects just as well as he does the fast-paced action, adventure, and magical wishing. If you like The Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson and Disney's Aladdin, I expect you might also like The Ugly Teapot by Fred Holmes. I'm looking forward to book two!
I read this ebook from October 6 - 9, 2016 and my review is also on Goodreads. Thanks again, Mr. Holmes!