***Note: I was given a free copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.***Broken Branch Falls by Tara Tyler
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Doing homework for bully ogres and getting laughed at as the butt of pixie pranks, Gabe is tired of his goblin life. When he and his friends step out of their nerdy stereotype and pull a prank of their own on the dragons at the first football game, it literally backfires, bringing a High Council vote to dismantle not only Gingko High, but the whole town, too!
The Book of Ages–hidden handbook of the High Council, filled with knowledge and power–may be Gabe’s only hope. With the help of friends old and new, can Gabe complete his quest to find the Book in time to save Broken Branch Falls? Or will he remain an outcast forever?
“First Law of Beasts: Each species will keep itself pure.”
Gabe is tired of being told what he can do, merely because he’s a goblin. Going to school with other species, he sees what others can do and wishes he could try something new. He’s tired of only being allowed to do what is expected of his species. When a prank goes wrong, which is normally the territory of the pixies, his punishment backfires. Now with the integrated school of Broken Branch Falls about to be destroyed, along with the entire town, Gabe and his mismatched friends must do what it takes to save it.
This book might use goblins, ogres, pixies, elves, and other creatures to make a crucial point against segregation, but it can easily be applied to humans. We have a tendency to stick with “our own kind” and people are expected to do certain things merely because of their religion, race, ethnic backgrounds, etc. In a delightful way, Tara Tyler shows us how wrong that mindset is.
During their journey, Gabe and his friends gather together a wildly diverse group to find The Book of Ages. Along the way, they learn more about each different culture and become fast friends. They each realize that there might be differences, but they have a lot more in common than their teachers and other authority figures let on.
Even though the characters are in high school, I see this book appealing to a wide range of ages. I’d feel perfectly comfortable handing this book to a 5th grader. It certainly wouldn’t hurt if this was a required reading in schools, especially at the middle school level. It reveals that each person should be allowed to choose what they want to pursue and excel at without being held back by a segregated mindset. I believe this is a lesson all children should learn. It could also help them realize that just because someone is different, it doesn’t mean that person should be bullied or made fun of.