Sunday, March 3, 2019

The Extraordinary eTab of Julian Newcomber, by Michael Seese, reviewed by Anthony Iacovino

Common Deer Press, 2018, 154 pages available from Common Deer Press, here.

We should all be so lucky as to grow up in a family like Julian Newcomber’s.

The father is a genial, generous, ingenious inventor; the mom is a loving and sharp-witted person who keeps the family together; and Julian is the nerdy kid who can’t help but to get into misadventures that are not always of his own making. There is one other person, Biff, the school bully of dubious distinction, whose two joys in life are eating food and tormenting poor Julian.

When Julian is not busy evading Biff, he has a history-changing problem to deal with. It all started when his father gave him an amazing electronic tablet (eTab) that was as thin as a sheet of paper and could be rolled up. One app on the eTab is a timer meant to remind Julian’s father to arrive within five minutes of being called; otherwise he’ll receive an electric shock. This app, however, does not work properly.

A man arrives in Julien’s closet. To be precise, the man is a grown-up, twenty-year-old Julian. This Julian has a version of the same eTab, and apparently the timer app is actually a time-travel app. Grown-up Julian needs Young Julien’s help to set things right; otherwise the whole world could suffer catastrophic changes.

The clever and imaginative language of this novel must be mentioned. Vocabulary lessons for the twelve-year-old reader are encased within the text. For example, the father says “Check out—what the more casual folks call ‘take a gander at’—this.” Here the reader is given a synonym for the expression check out. The author gives similar explanations throughout the novel. Perhaps the twelve-year-old reader might not mind, but for an adult it can get a little tedious.

Author Michael Seese
This novel, with the extraordinary events that happen in it, manages to combine daily life with a comic other worldliness that is thoroughly satisfying. Also, the author presents an optimistic view of the world where seeming disasters turn out to be not so bad. In regard to the dark ways in which applied science is sometimes used today, perhaps the author might have been a bit more sober as to the wonder and benefits of technology.

Note: Common Deer Press is looking for the great Canadian children’s novel. Details here.

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Anthony Iacovino has been a professor, editor, journalist, and writing consultant. He now spends his days writing stories with a social justice theme.

See Brian Henry’s schedule hereincluding Saturday writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in Algonquin Park, Alliston, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Georgina, Guelph, Hamilton, Jackson’s Point, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Midland, Mississauga, New Tecumseth, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Sudbury, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

1 comment:

  1. I just wanted to offer a sincere "thank you" to Anthony for his review, and to Brian for this website.


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