The Ugly Teapot #1
“Fourteen-year-old Hannah Bradbury loved her father so much that she worried about him constantly. After all, he was a photographer who traveled to the most dangerous places in the world.
To allay her fears, each time he came home he brought her silly gifts, each one with supposed magical powers: the Seal of Solomon, the Ring of Gyges, even Aladdin’s Lamp. It was that lamp Hannah found the most unbelievable, for it looked like an ugly teapot. Nevertheless, her father assured her it was real, and made her promise to save her three wishes for something very special.
Then . . . six months later . . . the unthinkable happened. Her father was killed while on assignment to Baghdad. And so on the day of his funeral Hannah did something she never thought she would ever do.
She took out that teapot and gave it a rub . . .
The Ugly Teapot by Fred Holmes is a timeless tale, filled with magic and adventure. More importantly, it will make you believe in the overwhelming power of love.”
Thank you to the author, Fred Holmes, for gifting me with a copy of The Ugly Teapot in exchange for an honest review!
I have overall mixed feelings for this book. I think it’s time I start weaning myself off of middle grade because I consistently want more character development but in MG, that’s not exactly a priority. But let me wait to go into more detail on that.
1. The plot. By definition, the middle grade (MG) genre is very plot driven. The plot for this specific book is well-organized and structured with a spectacular sense of overall drive. This is an Aladdin retelling and there is an overall end goal to get the lamp to the secret cavern in order to save the world from itself (more on the retelling later). The author did a great job keeping the action moving along which created a very fast paced novel; perfect for MG.
2. The characters. This is where I have a little bit of internal struggle. On one hand, the genre is MG which designates a certain amount of ambiguity in terms of character development. On the other hand, I found myself consistently baffled by the decisions of the characters. This was especially the case with Hannah. She seemed to always think in the moment and never took a big picture view. This was not helped by the fact that I’m unsure of her actual age. I don’t believe it was ever actually stated (or perpetuated) in the novel and she would act mature in one scene and descend into a 10 year old mindset in another. With all that being said, it doesn’t hold a large bearing on my rating simply because this is MG and the characters don’t matter as much as in YA or Adult.
3. The ending. I feel I have to address this as I am a bit mystified by the ending. Generally speaking, without spoilers, I wish there were more there. Hannah and her father’s adventure ends quite abruptly and after the ending, there is very little recovery time shown which would have built up the ending’s reasoning a bit more. There is an epilogue as well that connects this book to the next (not currently written to my knowledge at this time) which I did appreciate. It did a wonderfully smooth job of slipping the reader into the next story. The rest of this section has spoilers (highlight to view). The difficulty I found with the ending is the inconsistency. Hannah’s adventure ends with her mother pulling her out of her reverie (she was imagining the whole adventure). I can understand Hannah imagining the whole thing as that is actually a psychological condition. However, like I said earlier, there was no recovery period after the end of the adventure to show her getting treatment or a diagnosis or anything of the sort. Additionally, the epilogue suggests that the lamp (the ugly teapot so to speak) actually is magical which contradicts Hannah’s imagined adventures. This played a significant role in my rating.
4. The retelling. I truly loved how the author chose to do an Aladdin retelling. I rewatched the Disney version during Freeform’s 25 Days of Christmas and I was thinking about why there aren’t many retellings of Aladdin. There are plenty of Peter Pan, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, etc etc, but there aren’t many of Aladdin so I found this book quite refreshing and unique. The story is kept relatively the same (it’s set hundreds of years after Aladdin gets the lamp) with some changes.
5. The writing. This is the best part of my reading experience. The author of this book has such concise and smooth prose which made reading a true delight. I felt as if I was actually within the novel and participating in the story, even with the hiccups.
The Final Verdict:
This retelling of Aladdin has a well-structured plot line, solid characters, and excellent written form. The ending could use some reworking, however (or clarification). Overall, a well-rounded MG novel.