Title: The Ugly Teapot
Author: Fred Holmes
Series: The Ugly Teapot, book 1: Hannah [Can be read as a standalone]
Genre: Magic Realism, [Middle Grade]
Heat Rating: N/A
Page Count and Format: 205 pages, Ebook
Published: March 30th 2016
Source: I received a digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Fourteen-year-old Hannah Bradbury loved her father so much that she worried about him constantly. After all, he was a photographer who traveled to the most dangerous places in the world.
To allay her fears, each time he came home he brought her silly gifts, each one with supposed magical powers: the Seal of Solomon, the Ring of Gyges, even Aladdin’s Lamp. It was that lamp Hannah found the most unbelievable, for it looked like an ugly teapot. Nevertheless, her father assured her it was real, and made her promise to save her three wishes for something very special.
Then . . . six months later . . . the unthinkable happened. Her father was killed while on assignment to Baghdad. And so on the day of his funeral Hannah did something she never thought she would ever do.
She took out that teapot and gave it a rub . . .
The Ugly Teapot by Fred Holmes is a timeless tale, filled with magic and adventure. More importantly, it will make you believe in the overwhelming power of love.
I don’t usually read Middle Grade books, I don’t know why but I haven’t give it much a try. But something about this book called to me and I wanted to give it a try! I am sooo glad I said yes to read this book because this was such magical experience that I am never going to forget!
Hannah had received an ugly teapot from her father the year before that he had claimed to be magical. Now he is no more and Hannah can’t bear that fact. So with one last push she decides to test the teapot’s magical properties and try bringing her father back to life. And woosh! Within sometimes she is whisked into a magical adventure along with his father that is going to change her life forever. Well is she manages to make it back alive!
First of all, the plot was magical! I enjoyed it so, sooo much! I enjoyed every element of this story, it was so much fun to read about and I loved the fact that it was quite unpredictable. It managed to surprise me throughout the entire book. The magical realism part was handled really well and it was just so great! Hannah can’t imagine a world without her father who is a photographer and travels throughout the world. But when the unthinkable happens, Hannah feels crushed. I felt so bad for that little girl. I could understand the pain that she was going through. Nonetheless, every time Hannah’s dad came back from an assignment he bought something for Hannah and the last time he got her an ugly teapot which he claimed was Aladdin’s magic lamp. Hannah doesn’t believe in those things but this time she decided to take a leap of faith.
I enjoyed the adventure that Hannah embarked with her father so much. I adored Hannah. She was such a great character. I felt like a little girl myself, on an adventure while I was reading this book. The experience was surreal. Hannah was such a strong and caring character. She was ready to do anything for her dad whom she considered her hero. I can’t say much without giving out the story but you guys have to read this one, believe me! All the characters were fleshed out really well, I liked Hannah’s dad. I could understand why Hannah loved her dad soo much. Despite the adventure with her father, the last portion where Hannah understood the bond which she shared with her mother made me cry. It was so heartfelt!
Overall, The Ugly Teapot was a fantastic read! I loved the plot from the very beginning and there was not a single dull moment in this book. It managed to hold my interest as one thing or the other was constantly happening. I adored the characters, especially Hannah! The writing beautiful and it felt like a vivid picture was painted in front of my eyes. The pace was fast and I loved the overall ride! This book changed my view on the middle grade category and I am definitely going to give MG more a try! Last but not the least, I am so excited to read the next adventure in this series!
And now I present to you guys the lovely Q&A that I’m glad the author agreed to do! Without any further ado, here it is! I hope you guys enjoy reading it as much as I did!
1. Describe your story to the readers in a line or two.
THE UGLY TEAPOT is the story of a young girl who goes on a magical adventure with her father. There is just one problem. Her father died a month ago.
2. Which authors were your inspiration?
There are so many authors I absolutely love it’s difficult to narrow them down. But high on my list would be Terry Pratchett, George R. R. Martin, Patrick Rothfus, and Neil Gaiman. The author who inspired TEAPOT was Ray Bradbury. He wrote a wonderful book called DANDELION WINE, and it is one of my favs. Years ago, a friend of mine was working with him on a movie version of THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES. The movie didn’t get made, but my friend got Mr. Bradbury to autograph a copy of DANDELION WINE for me, and it is one of my prize possessions. In homage to Mr. Bradbury, I named the town in TEAPOT Green Park, after the Green Town of DANDELION WINE, and I named my family Bradbury.
3. The Ugly Teapot is a pretty interesting story. How did you come up with such an intriguing idea?
The story sprang from tragedy. My brother died very young and his death was very difficult for me. That was decades ago, and I’m still not over it. I wanted to write a story that would accomplish two things: help me through my grief, and help others as well. The story itself came from my love of fairy tales. I wanted to write a timeless tale that had elements of the stories I read as a child, but had a modern sensibility. I enjoy urban fantasy, and am intrigued by the idea that magic exists all around us all of the time, we’ve just lost our ability to see it. I love stories like THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE, that start in the real world, take you into a fantasy realm, then bring you back. If you’ve never read Joseph Campbell’s HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES, you should. It talks about the commonality that exists in stories told all over the world, and is an excellent primer on the mythological structure of a story.
4. Are you as adventurous as Hannah’s father?
I do love a good adventure. It is one of the few pure joys in this world, in my opinion. I have been fortunate because my profession (I write and direct television documentaries, etc.) has taken me all over the world, and along the way I have had some pretty exciting adventures–more than I could possibly relate in this short interview! Some of these places were very dangerous, and I’ve had a few close calls, but I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.
5. What was the most challenging aspect that you faced while writing The Ugly Teapot?
There were many challenges in writing TEAPOT, but one of the most challenging was keeping the real world and the fantasy world “in sync”. What I mean by this is that once Hannah completely immerses herself in the fantasy world, her link to the real world slips, such that time passes differently for her and her mother. I tried to make this disparity seamless, but if you look at the two timelines closely, you will see they do not match. This was by design.
6. What is the thing that you love the most about our protagonist Hannah?
I adore her bravery and tenacity and her willingness to risk death to save her father. But most of all, I love the fact that even though she was often terrified out of her wits, she never let this stop her from doing the right thing. This is something I believe we can all identify with. There is nothing wrong with being afraid. Fear is nature’s way of telling us to be careful. But what separates the great from the mediocre is that the great continue on despite their fear. Perhaps this is why my favorite character in the HARRY POTTER series isn’t Harry Potter. It’s Hermione Granger. Not only did she have a brilliant mind, she was fearless. She weighed the odds, adopted a plan, and moved forward.
7. Are you working on any new project that the readers should be aware of?
Oh yes! I’m almost finished with the sequel to THE UGLY TEAPOT, and I love it even more than the first one. This is mainly because my new heroine is my homage to Hermione Granger. She is freaking brilliant, but also fearless–which is good because she faces some insurmountable odds. I can’t tell you any more than that, but if you enjoyed the first TEAPOT, you will adore the second!
(I can’t tell you how excited I am to hear that!!)
8. What is your advice for aspiring writers?
A lot of people will give you advice on character and conflict and on good writing habits. The internet is bulging with writers giving other writers advice. I prefer to talk about why you should write. And I guess I would want to say that as writers, our stories are our gifts to the next generation, so make them good gifts. In a world in which so many people use their creativity to harm others, be one of those who gives something of value to others. Write stories that serve a grand purpose—that spread joy and happiness. I know I probably sound like a hippy from the sixties, and if I do, thank you for the complement. But those of us who write have been given a unique opportunity. We get to create worlds that have never existed, and to populate those worlds with flesh and blood characters who go on to accomplish worthwhile goals. If you do your job right, people all over the world, people you will never meet, will be impacted by your stories in a positive way. And what a rare and beautiful gift that is!
You guys can check out the book trailer here.
THE UGLY TEAPOT is Fred Holmes’s first fiction novel, having previously ghost written a nonfiction book, LETTERS FROM DAD, published by Thomas Nelson. He is known primarily as a writer and director of films and television, working primarily in family films and children’s television. His work can be seen on Mary Lou Retton’s FLIP FLOP SHOP, BARNEY & FRIENDS, WISHBONE, HORSELAND, IN SEARCH OF THE HEROES, and many other shows, for which he has won two Emmys and three CINE Golden Eagles, among numerous other awards. He has also directed three feature films, including DAKOTA, starring Lou Diamond Phillips, distributed by Miramax, and HEART LAND, a Bollywood feature film shot on location in India. He lives with his wife and son in the southwest United States, and can be found online at http://www.flholmes.com.
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