The Maker-Man of Merryville

Gilbert Sullivan is a twelve-year-old boy who has grown up in the small town of Merryville—a place that is nowhere near as jovial as it sounds. Laughter and jokes are few and far between, and Gilbert is expected to be useful above all else. So, when an ad appears in the paper inviting residents to a new shop filled with toys, Gilbert is beyond excited for the prospect of the delight such a store could hold. The Maker-Man of Merryville welcomes Gilbert into his toy store, and he offers Gilbert a special object that promises adventure. Gilbert and his classmate Sarah use the object to venture into a new world together, but they are not the only ones interested in what can be found there. Together, the two friends must team up with new companions to find their way back home before everything they have ever known changes forever.

This charming upper middle grade adventure is a blend of both a portal fantasy and a journey of adolescent discovery. Told through the words of an omniscient narrator, the novel shifts perspectives at regular intervals to give readers insight into each character’s experience as the story progresses. Chapters of various lengths make up the narrative, causing the momentum of the story to ebb and flow in intensity and focus. Confident middle grade readers will appreciate the action-focused storytelling as well as the respite shorter chapters provide. Good writing and a host of colorful and unexpected characters make this story an intriguing read for those who enjoy fantasy storytelling.

Fans of stories like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will enjoy the similar tongue-in-cheek humor found in this book along with its quirky delivery. Throughout the story, references are made to great literary works and authors, anchoring the novel in reality alongside its fantastical elements. At twelve years old, Gilbert is becoming more independent and is beginning to question the world around him. This adventure gives him the opportunity to view his reality from a different perspective while the seeds of romance are simultaneously planted in his psyche. Confident middle grade readers will appreciate the adventure and humor in this story and will relate to the many human emotions depicted within it. This is an enjoyable addition to libraries for middle grade readers.

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