The Journal of Angela Ashby

Children - Preteen
256 Pages
Reviewed on 09/25/2018
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

The Journal of Angela Ashby is an action and adventure fantasy for preteens written by Liana Gardner and illustrated by Sam Shearon. Angela was ready and impatient to be off to the school carnival when she stopped by her best friend’s house to pick her up. Mallory, of course, was still not ready, and Angela hung out in her friend’s room while she got dressed. Mallory’s life seemed so much more harmonious than her own did right now. Ordinarily, her mom would have already taken her clothing shopping for the new year, but with her dad gone, her mom seemed to do nothing but work all the time. Angela couldn’t understand what had happened to break up their once happy family. She missed her dad, and she just couldn’t adapt to the idea that he was now with Holly instead of Angela’s mom and her.

The carnival had performed its yearly magic and transformed the athletic field of her school. Rides, games and vendors’ booths were everywhere Angela and Mallory looked, and the air was richly scented with the sweet smells of cotton candy, funnel cakes and kettle corn. Mallory’s mom had taken them and Mallory’s little brother to the carnival, and she gave them two hours to do some exploring on their own. Angela was an ace at the games; her pitching arm demolished the display at the baseball throw booth, and she managed to dunk the vice-principal, to his surprise. Then she and Mallory saw something odd -- a fortune teller’s tent that seemed strangely out of place. Angela wasn’t too sure about going in, but Mallory couldn’t resist. Angela finally gave in; after all, what could it hurt?

The Journal of Angela Ashby is an engaging and fun coming-of-age story about a twelve-year-old girl who is suddenly the possessor of great power. I loved following as Angela began to appreciate her journal’s powers and realized the importance of carefully considering everything she wished for. Throughout the story, Gardner addresses the issue of bullies and bullying, which is something all kids and most adults have to deal with at some point, and she shows how Angela learns to differentiate between solving the problem and descending into bullying behavior herself. Gardner also admirably addresses the stress and confusion felt by kids and tweens when their mom and dad get divorced. The Journal of Angela Ashby is a marvelous fantasy that brings up real-life issues without lowering the magic and fun potential for a moment, and Sam Shearon’s illustrations really make it all come alive most brilliantly. The Journal of Angela Ashby is most highly recommended.

K.J. Simmill

Angela Ashby had been looking forward to attending the school carnival with her mother, but since the divorce she is working more, and Angela hardly gets to see her mother, or her father who left and married Holly, the homewrecker. Luckily Angela has a close friend, Mallory. The two of them enjoyed the carnival together, savoring the moment until their wandering put them in front of a rather unusual tent, one belonging to a fortune teller. She gives each of the girls a reading and a gift, and Angela's gift, a journal, has power beyond measure, anything she writes in it comes to pass. With a school struggling with a bulling problem, her parents' divorce, and so many changes she wants, Angela decides to use the journal. But actions have consequences, and even the most innocent thing can have profound effects.

The Journal of Angela Ashby is a middle grade fiction by Liana Gardner and is perfectly written for the target audience. A combination of magic, childhood troubles, social messages, and the need to think before acting is prevalent, and a lesson well ingrained into the pages, There is some good tension building, injections of humour, and character development. Angela and Mallory make a great team, perfectly complementing each other in the way close friends do. This is certainly a book I will read with my son when he is older, as I think it instills some important lessons and values, much like the old 80's and 90's cartoons used to do. While the book itself has a clear beginning and end, there are hints that a sequel may follow, and it's certainly something I would consider picking up. If you're looking for a story of friendship, childhood problems, and a healthy sprinkling of magic in everyday life, then look no further.

Kris Moger

The Journal of Angela Ashby by Liana Gardner is a charming story of action and consequence. As the main character, Angela finds herself in what she thinks is a horrible situation. Her parents are divorced, she misses her dad, and bullies are picking on her best friend, Mallory. When she and Mallory go to a school fair, they meet up with a strange fortune teller who gives them each a special present. Through Angela’s new gift, she makes her situation far worse than she could imagine as she misuses the magic without thinking of what might happen. Next thing she knows, she gets people into trouble and almost loses her best friend. Will she ever figure out what she really wants instead of reacting impulsively before her whole life falls to pieces?

I enjoyed The Journal of Angela Ashby. In this story, Liana Gardner presents her characters and their problems with an equal touch of magic and reality. This allows the message of the tale to come through while entertaining instead of preaching. Gardner does a great job of taking what could be a clichéd story and putting a few twists in it to keep it fresh and humorous. As well, Gardner portrays Angela’s worries and issues through the experience of a young girl instead of an adult putting an adult perspective on a child. I enjoyed the artwork too. It is well-suited to the story and does not take away from my picture of the tale in any way. I highly recommend this book to readers who want a little meat to their story without losing any sense of enjoyment.