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‘The Enchanted Globe’ a globetrotting adventure

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Local author releases fantasy novel for young readers

Fiction aimed at younger readers can be a tricky business. Specifically, making something that falls somewhere between the relative simplicity of picture books and the more sophisticated themes of recent YA fiction is tough – particularly if you want the reader to learn something while navigating the narrative. There’s a fine line between entertaining and educational.

It’s a line that Bangor author Sean Faircloth attempts to straddle with his new book “The Enchanted Globe” (Pitchstone, $12.95). Three young friends playing in the woods stumble upon an ancient artifact of great power that whisks them away on a world-spanning adventure, enlisting them in an ancient battle of good and evil.

Eleven-year-old Brendan O’Flanagan, his younger brother Ryan and their friend Gabrielle Miller are out playing in the woods in their Bangor neighborhood when they inadvertently uncover a mysterious metallic object buried in the dirt. When they dig it up, it suddenly takes flight and begins to speak to them.

The object contains the spirit of an ancient librarian called Eratosthenes; he has been waiting for centuries to awake so that he can do battle with an evil creature known as McGrab. However, he’s about 50 years late, leaving him with no choice but to enlist the three children to help him track down the evil and stop it before it destroys the world.

Eratosthenes – dubbed Erat by the kids – forms a magical bubble and ushers the kids into it. From there, they tunnel through the Earth and start popping up all over the world, hopping from continent to continent in an effort to locate McGrab and solve the various riddles he has left in his wake. Only by solving these puzzles can the children find the sinister creature.

They’re steered in part by the titular Enchanted Globe; it will show them where to go, but only when one of the kids holds onto it. By using the Globe, they zig-zag their way around the world.

Along the way, a particularly motley crew is assembled from the various and sundry spots they visit. There are ghosts – a Viking warrior, a Portuguese explorer, a hippopotamus and an ancient tree. And there are non-ghosts as well – a young man from Russia, an antelope and a platypus. All of them are set to play some part, large or small, in defeating McGrab.

“The Enchanted Globe” is definitely a rip-roaring adventure story, filled with fun and magic and very much suitable for the tween audience. The short chapters and constant action will serve to hold the attention of any reader interested in the fantastic. Excitement and goofy humor are abundant (for instance, there’s a running joke that no matter where they go on the face of the Earth, literally everyone is familiar with Stephen King), with a diverse cast of characters that features something for everyone.

(For what it’s worth, I think Bobo the ghost hippo might be my favorite.)

But it’s not just about the adventure. What Faircloth has done is introduce a wide variety of interesting places and things into the fabric of the narrative. Amidst all of the good-versus-evil battling, readers will be given glimpses of places carrying cultural and geographic importance. And Faircloth does a good job sliding snippets of information into these glimpses. Any curious child will likely have their attention captured by one or more of these nuggets; it’s the sort of thing where a kid might make their way to the library or the internet or a teacher and ask to find out more.

(This might be a reference that escapes the book’s target audience, but more than once, I was reminded of a contemporary and magic-fueled “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?”)

Writing a book for kids is hard. And writing a book for kids that isn’t basically disposable is even harder. “The Enchanted Globe” is a solid effort, telling an engaging story that will capture the imagination while also providing entry into a wide array of fascinating real-life people, places and things. From the Sahara Desert to the skies above the Amazon to the Australian outback to the Salvador Dali Museum (yes, really), Faircloth takes his young heroes all over creation on their quest.

Young readers intrigued by geography, history or even just fantastic adventure will likely find “The Enchanted Globe” to be truly enchanting indeed.

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