“It would not be appropriate for me to leave a review as I am the author, although, to date, it's the favourite of all I have written.
The five star rating is based on Amazon feedback.
Excellent opening to the story. This author does not patronize her young readers by using language that it too simple thereby stretching their imagination. The story moves along well and keeps up the excitement. I was particularly taken by the descriptions of some of the events. For example the laying of the "Dirty" trail, in the caravan by the dog was very well done. Another good feature is the use of just a few important characters in the story thus allowing it to move along without too many red herrings. In all an exciting read.
I read this book to find out if it was suitable for my 10 year old daughter and to be honest I couldn't put it down! It's a brilliant story and so well written - my daughter will also love it I'm sure.
Brilliantly vibrant and so much fun! 11 July 2012
Glass Dreams draws you in from the first sentence. Ms. Laycock is a master storyteller that takes you on an amazing journey with Jake and Khala into the heart of a circus. Brilliantly vibrant and so much fun! Fantastic read for the little ones.
I'd already had a few great reviews here on Amazon (UK and US) for Glass Dreams,
but I placed it on the HarperCollins' site, authonomy, to see what the reaction would be . . .
I was THRILLED with the responses. Here are some of them:
~O wow! I just read your first chapter, and there is a definite lump in my throat. Your magnificent story telling brought Jake into my heart right away. His honest, authentic, innocent perspective is perfectly done, even down the tone of his voice (ie: should he say "passed on" or "gone"...yet he reflects that Grandma Mo is "becoming more dead" over there). You have the written the voice of this sweet little boy absolutely perfectly. I love the little details as well ("small floral telephone book" and the fact that the house wasn't an "old person's house"). I'm so sad how quickly Jake was whisked off by social services, instantly finding himself on a new path before he knew what hit him. I can only hope Rags will be his bright spot. Giving you high stars and looking forward to reading on as I have time.
~The story begins so sadly with the death of Jake's grandma Mo. Poor Jake is all alone with her and wondering what he should do, who he should tell and how to say it. This is a good insight into how a child's mind works and young readers will be able to relate to Jake.
The reality of his grandma's death means he has to leave everything, his home, his belongings and taken into the care of Social services. Mike is so cold with that comment, "By the way, I'm sorry about what happened, mate." It's so flippant, but perfect for just how alone Jake now is.
At Lily and John's, Jake discovers the letter. You manage to mix the sadness and the intrigue of it's contents very well.
Sunnydale Lodge is even more of a shock for Jake. He's been living the life of an only child with his grandma and is thrown into this riotous place. No wonder he runs away.
And what better place to end up. Every child's dream, to run away with the circus. We haven't even touched on what powers of the crystal ball or if Jake will be able to master it, but I'm guessing he does.
A few months ago a book called 'Mr. Unusually's Circus,' reached the Ed desk, it was on the same lines, so I think you'll have a success story to tell soon. I don't think the title really does it justice though.
It's well written and edited. I've high starred it and will keep my eye it as it progresses.
~Poor little Jake. My heart goes out to him. Suddenly cast into an unknown place where all he has ever known was life with his grandma. I have only read the first chapter. It is enough for me to know that I will be back to read more. I wonder how his life with the foster family and Rags will go. I see from your pitch that Jake joins the circus. How adventurous. Looking forward to reading more.
~Helen, I have read the first 7 chapters and will (must) continue to read the rest that you have posted! What a wonderful, enchanting story you have woven here! I felt such sorrow for Jake in the first chapter, and hope that the couple would let him stay with Rags in the second. I realize this is intended for a younger audience, but I must admit I have thoroughly enjoyed it thus far!
I will go back to reading and see where the crystal ball takes your young lad... the circus and it's malevolent Gino provides a colorful backdrop of opportunities for your story! I look forward to discovering where you take us next.... Good job!
~What a delightful, charming story. This may be written for older children and tweens, but this elderly woman really enjoyed it and I loved your surprise in chapter 16 (won't give it away here). I was saddened by Jake's loss of his Grandma Mo. I understand Jake running away from Sunnyvale Lodge where the children were so wild and uncontrolled. It was an exciting twist for your story to have Jake find the caravan and Khala, but I felt a bit sorry that the Tindells, or even Jake's neighbors, the Carvells, had not kept him. Of course if Jake hadn't discovered the caravan, than Khala could not have introduced him to the circus.
~You write extremely well and all of your characters and circus "acts" are charming; (except Gino, of course): George Tindell, Khala, sweet little Molly, Cedric, the drawf with his chihuahua, Audrey, Avalah, the snake lady and contortionist, Madame Zara who warns Jake, and the three Motormaniacs. Gino is the real villian however, mistreating the children and making them rob. I've really no suggestions for the improvement of your story as I think it's perfect just like it is and I saw no corrections to make in your grammar nor sentence structure. Your dialogue is very natural and authentic and your plot is bewitching.
~This is an enchanting, captivating story and I know that young readers will be enthralled by it (it'd be even better to have a few, not many because it's not a picture book, illustrations: perhaps one of the Jake with the crystal ball, one of the Tindells, one of Sunnyvale Lodge, and several of the circus and the performers including, of course, Khala and Jake). I hope this is published soon and would like to have a copy for my grandbabies!
~Great work, Helen. I really enjoyed this. You built a great mood, which starts out somber, and slowly picks up more and more hope as it goes along, until it starts to feel magical. I thought the writing was clean and smooth, and chapter two ends on a note that really makes me wish I had more time to read right now. I thought this was terrific.
~I have read the first 3 chapters of this. It is well-written and has a good flow to it. I was immediately drawn in by your first paragraph and the scene with Jake and his dead Grandma Mo.
The strong bond between Jake and his Grandma is clearly shown and I empathised with the M/C very early on.
I like the way you show Jake's age by having Mrs Carvell make the necessary calls about his Grandma's death because 'she knew which words to use'.
In chapter 2 there is the mystery of who Jakes's parents are. He finds a letter hidden in the back of a picture and another mystery - the locked box in Grandma's wardrobe.
I particularly liked it when Jake sprayed the 'Sleep Pillow spray' - smells are very evocative of memories.
There is tension when Jakes has 50 minutes in which to find the key to the box. He finds it just in time, ' ... and the mechanism was released with a click'.
Your chapter endings are well written with a strong pull into the next one.
Chapter 3 - the glass ball in the box suggests an element of magic.
I particularly liked , 'He didn't quite feel like a person any more'. A stark reminder of Jake's predicament.
And then he gets dropped off at Sunnyvale. Sharon is nicely drawn with her obvious lack of empathy. "They'll eat you alive," we are left wondering how Jake is going to survive.
Engaging, brisk pace and plenty to keep the reader interested.
~Wow, I read the first 7 chapters of your story and really liked it a lot. The first chapter drew me in, and I feel Jake's pain in losing his grandma and identity. When he found the box, it added a new dimension to the story, and then the glass ball. Jake running away to the circus gives your work some depth, adding an unusual setting. I think it works well as a children's story, with the young characters at the circus and the predicaments they in. The pace is well set in the story, moving along at an easy read pace. The dialogue is believable. I feel invested in the characters and I want Jake and Khala to find their way out of the trap they are in. Very well starred.
~I apologise for only having read your first chapter, but am having to dash off the site tonight.
I was however very glad that I did read what I have.
You have constructed a very good opening here. In Jake we find a very likeable MC. The sad start to the story is tempered by Jake's wonderfully warm feelings towards his Grandma. His deliberating over how to contact Mrs Carvell was well done as was his frustration at not finding her phone book.
The talk with the Social Worker is made awkward enough and the Rags tempter is well worked.
There is obviously an awful lot to come from this but it is going to be based on a very sound start.
My only very small thought was that in the long pitch it may sound more personal to replace grandmother with Grandma Mo as it is in the chapter. Just a thought.
Good luck and starred for you.
So pleased to have received yet another 5* review for Glass Dreams from Lynn Worton:
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is a fantastic children's book! I loved it!
Jake is a fantastic character! He's only 12, but he seemed very mature for his age. I loved his attitude. I'm not sure I was as focused at his age though!
This is an amazing story of a boy, a circus and a family secret. There are some other wonderful characters: Khala and Cedric, just to name a couple! Khala is a very brave person. She is also kind-hearted; I loved her warmth to a complete stranger. But I was horrified at the abuse she and the other circus performers had to deal with! Cedric made me laugh at his insistence of using Jake as a part of his knife throwing act! (He's absolutely terrible at it!).
There is enough action, adventure, danger and mystery in this book to get my heart pumping, never mind a child's!
Helen Laycock has written a fast paced action adventure that will keep even children with short attention spans hooked! I highly recommend this book for children from the age of 7 upwards. Adults may enjoy it too! - Lynn Worton