hoping for a wardrobe

Janelle LeonardBook Newz, The Carver

Rabbit Holes.
Enchanted Mirrors.
Holes in walls.
Platform 9¾ .
Wardrobes.

portal_falling.gifIf a book has a portal to another world, count me in! I can’t tell you how many times I pushed on the back wall of my closet, hoping it would lead somewhere magical—a whimsical escape from the predictability of my life. We’ve all done it, we’ve all dreamed about discovering new worlds, finding a gateway to another realm, going back in time, maybe meeting a few hot pirates along the way . . .

In most books I’ve read, the stories transport characters from our world into another and back again. (Excuse me while I share my two cents: I’ve gotta admit, one of my favorite parts of these fantasy-world stories, is when the characters return to their own world with a new sense of wonder. They’re back to life as usual, but they’ll never be the same. They carry with them a secret remembrance—“I was a protector. A warrior. A princess. A king.”) But what about the people on the other side of the mirror? Do we ever get to hear about the girls who didn’t fall down the rabbit hole, the kids who didn’t go into the wardrobe, or the explorers who didn’t get sucked through a wormhole?

One of my favorite children’s books is Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch by Trinka Hakes Noble. It’s about a farmer who goes to town and his wife who stays home. In town, the farmer goes about a normal day. He gets a haircut, plays checkers, sits in a rocking chair chatting with other old timers. But meanwhile, back at the ranch, his wife discovers oil, builds bigger barns, wins the lottery, and gets a limo. Diving into any book is an escape, but when I pick up a book and discover there are two worlds I get to explore, two new places to discover, I get positively giddy like there’s a BOGO on coffee! Two worlds means twice the excitement, twice as many characters to fall in love with, and even twice as many villains to hate! There are two races going on when you have alternating worlds. Things happen in this world that affect that world, and vice versa.

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Jacob Devlin creates this experience in The Carver, taking the reader on an epic road trip that starts in present day America (the NEW WORLD) with a grown-up Pinocchio (who goes by Pino here to hide his real identity) and his teen-aged son, Crescenzo (Enzo). Then, the story flashes to the OLD WORLD (Florindale). Jacob takes it one step further. He doesn’t just tell us about what’s happening in the Old World at the present, but he also gives us a glimpse of the past—explaining how and why the beloved characters left their home and came to America! Jacob does a wonderful job with setting, making the worlds come alive! He even made our world seem magical—describing it through the fairy tale characters’ eyes. How did I not know about fried mac-n-cheese on a stick?? How is that even possible??

As a writer, my brain is always alternating between two worlds. I want to know both sides of every story!

How about you? What are some of your favorite alternate worlds or alternating world stories?

Audiobook for The Carver now available!