Title: The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs
Author: Betty G. Birney
Illustrated: Matt Phelan
Narrator: Joseph Butler
ISBN: 9781416934899
Pages: 210 pages
CDs/Discs: 3 CDs, 3 hours 37 minutes
Publisher/Date: Alladin Paperbacks, c2005.

Pa stood up and started pacing around, rubbing the back of his neck the way he always did when he was pondering something important.
“Eben, I have a deal for you,” he finally announced. “You find yourself Seven Wonders right here in Sassafras Springs, and I’ll buy you a ticket to go see Molly and Eli and that mountain.” […]
“How long do I have?”
“Seven days seems fair,” said Pa, settling back down. “Long as it took for God to create this world and take a day off.”
“A Wonder a day? I don’t know.” At that moment, seven of anything sounded like a lot. Especially since if Sassafras Springs had Wonders, they hadn’t showed up so far. (10-11)

Eben McAllister lives in Sassafras Springs, Missouri, which is as boring a place as you can get compared to the pictures he sees at school of pyramids and hanging gardens and temples. So when his father challenges him to find The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs in order to go on a train ride up to Colorado, he’s worried he won’t succeed. But, a bet is a bet, and he’s itching to see something besides the farmland that surrounds his tiny town. Eben though doesn’t have great big wonders, so where is he going to find something as wonderous as pyramids? Weaving tall tales with true events, Betty G. Birney weaves a fun story that makes you question what really is so wonderous about a wonder.

While I’ve heard marvelous things about Betty Birney’s books, I wasn’t too impressed with this one. I listened to it as an audiobook to start, but I found myself forgetting what the first wonder was about halfway through. It just didn’t make that big of an impression on me. I switched to the printed book, and I was to follow along better with the plot. The book isn’t the most exciting, that’s for sure, and the anything but subtle message that a wonder is in the eyes of the beholder is hammered home from the very beginning. It’s the colorful cast of characters and their stories that save this book, making it a possible resource to introducing tall tales.

Advertisements