Plot/Idea: Sherr takes the reader on a series of wonderfully lighthearted adventures that invite the reader into the world of the novel. Readers will readily connect with the story's uncomplicated, cozy nature.
Prose: The elegant and graceful prose give this novel the feel of traditional children's literature. There is a warmth and natural simplicity to the novel that will charm readers.
Originality: Sherr creates a quietly creative world that the characters get a full chance to explore. With a variety of moving parts, the story never dulls, but instead creates an effortless tale of action and adventure.
Character/Execution: The central friendship is well defined and grows beautifully, but also allows each of the main characters to grow independently.
Date Submitted: May 21, 2023
The appealing heroes have been best friends since birth, hardly ever apart, living in adjacent cottages beside a river that is their source of joy and play. Their bond strengthens even more after a surprise discovery in the forest leads them on a treasure hunt with much higher stakes than mere material wealth. Sherr blends strong characterization and the quest plot with real-world concerns. Due to the town’s economic hardships related to rural gentrification and the local textile factory’s closing, Carol’s family is being forced to sell their house and shatter the girls’ lives for good. That makes the hunt all the more urgent: the only way to save their town is to find the treasure.
Beryl and Carol’s journey takes them mountain biking through the woods, boating down the river, caving behind waterfalls, and burrowing into the hollows of old trees, and though they face various hardships along the way, they follow their motto no matter what: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Kids in the middle-grade age group will easily fall in love with Sherr’s fast-paced, lively writing style and his two unlikely, ice-cream-loving heroes who “dared to follow an empty can into the unknown.”
Takeaway: An exhilarating treasure hunt to save a town from economic ruin.
Comparable Titles: Roshani Chokshi’s Aru Shah and the End of Time, G.M. Savage’s Jack Mathias and the Boonetown Bandits.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
The Noble Adventures of Beryl & Carol is a coming-of-age story about twelve-year-old best friends who live in England in 1997. The story opens with the duo running from bullies, a common occurrence in their lives which cements their friendship.
The only way to elude the bullies is by entering the Forbidden Forest, where Beryl and Carol “jump off the edge of the universe” into the biggest adventure of their lives.
Jeremy Sherr creates a compelling, action-packed story that draws readers deeply into the forest's secrets as the girls burrow away from their tormenters and into another world entirely. He captures the atmosphere of an area avoided by adults and children alike, fueling the girls' imaginations with descriptive allure: "Every crackle became a smuggler; every snap became a murderer, every crunch was a werewolf."
Fifteen years earlier, a disaster in the woods reinforced its reputation in the community as a dangerous place. As the girls learn to navigate unfamiliar territory and even discover unexpected beauty in a region which harbors a bad reputation, the secrets unfold to embrace readers with a special form of compelling magic.
Beryl and Carol have broken every rule they've grown up with by entering the forest and becoming lost. Even when they return home, they find their new discoveries imparts a rare courage into their lives which both reinforces their friendship and gives them the creative impetus to change their situation, as each challenge and decision they face leads to further discoveries and adventure.
Between the mystery of a boy who entered the forest and never returned to how the girls build a new strategy for handling the bullies that have overshadowed their lives for years, Sherr's story resonates on different levels of intrigue, action, integrity, and psychological growth.
The likeable characters of Beryl and Carol, their motivations for taking risks and absorbing the surprises this brings, and their revised realizations about life from tackling puzzles and problems makes for a story that lures with fantasy, but tackles real-world situations kids will find familiar.
The Noble Adventures of Beryl & Carol holds the ability to attract a wide audience of advanced elementary to middle grade readers who will find the characters nicely done, the adventures operating on more than one level, and the realizations and courage that evolve from a touch of magic and risk-taking to be thought-provoking and fun. The book is a fun read for adults as well, and parents will appreciate the good values it promotes.
As Carol’s father writes:
"Every act of strength leads to another act of strength
Every act of weakness leads to another act of weakness
Courage begets courage
Fear breeds fear."
Libraries will find The Noble Adventures of Beryl & Carol fulfills its promise of adventure, injecting a learning experience into the story that will stay with young readers and fuel discussions about friendship and transformation.
"The magic of today is the science of tomorrow.”