THE FANTASTIC SECRET OF OWEN JESTER by Barbara O’Connor

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Owen hates that his family had to move into his grandfather’s house.  First off, the horrible housekeeper, Earlene, has no sense of humor and yells at Owen for the stupidest things.  And now that Owen doesn’t live on the same street as Travis and Stumpy, his friends always do things without him.  Worst of all is Viola, his annoying, know-it-all next door neighbor who always sticks her nose into Owen’s business.  There only good thing about living at his grandfather’s house is Tooley, the biggest bull frog in Carter, Georgia, who Owen caught in his grandfather’s pond.  But when Tooley starts looking ill, Owen needs to find a way to make the frog happy. And when he hears a crate fall off of a train in the night, Owen realizes he may have another exciting summer project–both of which he is determined to accomplish without Viola’s help. 

The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester is a story about responsibility and friendship.  As Owen matures throughout the novel, he is able to empathize, first with his frog and then with Viola, and he begins to make less selfish decisions.  The book will most likely appeal to upper-elementary age readers who enjoy realistic fiction or stories with detailed Southern settings.

If you liked The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester, you might like The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline KellyThe Missing Manatee by Cynthia DeFelice, and Moon Over Manifest by Claire Vanderpool.

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