Sarah's Stars

Philippa Dowding. The Gargoyle in My Yard
Napoleon  $8.95  ISBN 978-1-894917-82-7  120 pg.
Reviewed By Anika, Age 11

Cassandra returned, holding a picture. She didn't seem surprised that the little gargoyle was back in the backpack. She thrust the picture at Katherine. "I did have a gargoyle amazingly like him," she said.

Katherine looked closely at the picture. Here was an exact replica of the Christmas-day statue Gargoth had made; the female gargoyle flying over a block of ice, the one he had called "Ambergine". She looked sweeter and softer, somehow, than Gargoth, but also very similar. She even had a pouch at her side, just like him. In the picture she was sitting with her claws tucked under her chin, looking funny and morose at the same time.

"Where is she now?” asked Katherine softly, raising her eyes to Cassandra's.

Cassandra moved closer and bent down before her, so her large head was level with Katherine's.

"I'm sorry," she said quietly, "but she disappeared a few days ago." She paused, and then spoke so quietly that Katherine had to draw closer to hear her. "I think she flew away."

Katherine Newberry has a gargoyle in her backyard. He is rude, mean and destructive, making it look a lot like Katherine did it. When the gargoyle destroys her mother’s prized asters, Katherine finds that her mom can understand gargoyle. The gargoyle, Gargoth, has a problem of his own; a large problem for the Newberry’s, and he won't be leaving until it is solved. But once Gargoth warms up to the Family, he is kind and loving. Katherine is no longer sure that she wants him to go. She doesn't have to help him leave. Does she?

The Gargoyle in My Yard was a good read. It had characters that had lifelike problems, settings had reasons for the characters to be there, and the garden was easy to imagine. The characters and the garden, statues, pictures and Halloween decorations were well described. Katherine's dad, Hank made few appearances without Katherine's mom, Marie. This made it easier to keep track of these minor characters. Sarah and Rubie only made it confusing, their names only coming up at a maximum of five times in the whole book. It was a funny book, with characters that aren't funny themselves, but what happens to them can be absolutely hilarious. The book had an epilogue and a prologue. The epilogue makes little to no sense, but the prologue is the opposite, making perfect sense. I found I didn't need to think much to read this book. It was simple and relaxing.

Philippa Dowding wrote her first novel when she was nine. Sadly, she burned it. Philippa moved from England in the 60s, and now lives in Toronto, which is where The Gargoyle in My Yard takes place. She has one several awards for magazines and is a copywriter. The inspiration for this book came from an ancient stairwell in a strange antique store. Philippa looked up the stairwell, which had a gargoyle on every step. When she looked away, then looked back again, they had all moved. I would recommend this book to ages 8 and up since it is a pretty easy read.

I give this book, The Gargoyle in My Yard, four stars out of five.    

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