Hello again everyone, Paul here and today I be reviewing author James E. Venn’s book Johnny and the Seven Teddy Bears of Sin which is part of the Happy New Year 2013 Giveaway Hop hosted by Kathy at I Am A Reader Not A Writer and Babs Book Bistro.
Before moving on to the review I have to reiterate to our readers my overall thoughts on this book as far as fitting in a children’s/YA blog. I knew prior to reading this book that, at best, it would classify as a mature YA book, and now that I’ve finished it, written a review, and interviewed the author I still believe it fits that category. This is NOT a book for youngsters, or even younger YA readers. It has scarey and mature content, one swear word, one reference to alcohol, and some very difficult words (aspidistras?). With that being said, I feel that based on the literary content, story, and presentation it does indeed fit in the mature YA category. I would not recommend this to anyone under sixteen years of age. Please do not make the mistake of confusing the fact that Teddy Bears is in the title that it is a children’s book
Now, here’s the blurb:
“Johnny and the Seven Teddy Bears of Sin” is a verse fairy tale for young adults and adults. The protagonist is Johnny Meryevan, a small boy living in Victorian London, under the care of his grandfather. Johnny’s a pretty credulous kid. When Mr. Meryevan tells Johnny that there are seven evil teddy bears, one for every deadly sin, and that Johnny has to behave or they’ll get him. Johnny buys it, and believes he has been told off to go out and stop the bears. As it happens, when Johnny challenges them, they are happy to do their utmost to corrupt this kid.
Johnny and the Seven Teddy Bears of Sin by James Venn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What I liked most: The characters, hands down. I love Johnny. He is a typical little boy in a lot of ways, curious, fearless, and
incorrigible. Despite the content at times, the author reminds us of this fact often. For example, at one point we find Johnny playing in a fort made of cushions. Grandpa is a favorite of mine too, as well as Miss Marmingham. I love great names and Miss Marmingham is one indeed. It fits her perfect as I picture her to be a strict, joyless, proper English nanny. The rhyme also lends itself to some great imagery. A few of my favorite lines are, “furniture that shied out of their candles light.” Or, “…their top hats bobbed and bumped like corks caught in some tidal flow.” Who can’t picture these wonderful scenes. Oh, and did I mention that I love great names? Well, I also love great words too and flummoxed certainly is that.
What missed a bit: The content is a bit scary and mature at times. One of the Teddy Bears wants to steal Johnny’s soul & skin. That’s pretty intense stuff. The chapter with Wrath the Teddy Bear is a little graphic as well. The thing about the misses is that it really doesn’t come as a surprise if you really pay attention to the blurb and what the book is about. I wonder if the author may have been able to tone these things down just a bit to appeal to a broader YA audience. Some words were very advanced and difficult too. Governess, aspidistras, unctuously, I needed to look these words up.
Overall: I personally really, really enjoyed this book. I thought the rhyme was catchy and entertaining. It made for a very good read. Every chapter is amusing in its own way. I really enjoyed Johnny’s thoughts and behavior. Of course, I am a bit partial to things from an older time so the setting in the mid-1800’s was right up may alley. Another thought I wanted to mention is that even with the mature theme and content, for the most part the book is entertaining and spooky in an Alfred Hitchcock sort of way. It’s an unspoken scariness, not violent. I could certainly see this as a Tim Burton movie and a graphic novel. I hope I will be on Mr. Venn’s list for a copy if that happens.
Thank you everyone for joining me today. Don’t forget to enter to win one of three ebook copies of Johnny and the Seven Teddy Bears of Sin that James E. Venn has been kind enough to give away. Be sure to leave a comment too. I’m wondering, if you are an author, how you market your specific genre. And if your a reader or blogger, how do you decided what genres to read?