Word Spelunking

Year of the WereCurse -- WereWhat? - Debi Faulkner After a week of reading some pretty serious YA novels, Year of the WereCurse: WereWhat? was the perfect weekend read for me. This is such a fun read! This is the kind of book that I would have adored as a child…and totally enjoyed as an adult.In Year of the WereCurse: WereWhat? we are introduced to Jack Henry Hoboken and his family- his parents Eugene and Eleanor, his older sister Esmee, and his baby brother Evan. The Hobokens learn that they have inherited Hobokenstone Manor in the town of WhereVille and a great deal of money. The family, minus Jack Henry, is ecstatic about their new home, but they all soon learn that this new home comes with a few surprises. Upon arriving in WhereVille, the family is shunned by the townspeople and discover that each full moon they turn into WereAnimals. Jack Henry must face his fears to discover the truth behind his mysterious new home and family history.Faulkner has created such a fantastical and fun story with WereWhat?. There are many YA and adult books that focus on Weres, but Faulkner has taken this idea and run with it in a very creative and original way that will really delight younger readers. There is so much about this book that I like. The story itself is whimsical, fast paced, and has enough twists and turns to keep even young readers captivated. Jack Henry is such a great main character because he embodies everything that young readers love about protagonists- he’s smart, brave, and makes a great hero, but at the same time his insecurities and fears make him very normal and relatable. Kids will easily be able to put themselves in Jack Henry’s shoes and be swept away into the story. The other Hobokens make for interesting characters as well, each with their own unique oddities and personalities.Then there’s Hobokenstone Manor. This mysterious house with its suddenly appearing and disappearing doors, impossible rooms, and ability to know what its inhabitants need makes for a very magical setting. Faulkner describes the Manor with such whimsical detail that it is easy to picture it in your mind and easy to imagine oneself there, which is really important in a book for younger readers who tend to be more visual than adults. I found myself so excited each time Jack Henry discovered a new, oddly designed door.Another aspect of this book I like is the animals Faulkner chose for each Hoboken to change into. I won’t spoil it for anyone, but just know that each WereAnimal is a perfect and clever choice for each Hoboken. I think one of the things that captivated me the most, and I think younger readers will appreciate, is the way that the younger characters really run the show. The younger characters are the smart, logical, brave ones that save the day and solve the mysteries.Faulkner clearly understands and knows how to write for her intended audience. Younger readers will love the book’s fantastical, magical adventure that is fast paced and has enough surprises to keep readers guessing and turning pages. But I think adults will be equally captivated by the book’s fun atmosphere and the way it captures all the fantasies we had as kids- being able to turn into an animal, a magical house, playing the hero. I think this would make a fun read aloud book.The book ends in a way that sets up for a sequel, and I, for one, look forward to continuing the adventure with Jack Henry.

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