The Mysteries of Verner Castle

The Adventures of Tom and Andy, Book 1

Children - Adventure
76 Pages
Reviewed on 11/22/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Courtnee Turner Hoyle for Readers' Favorite

The Mysteries of Verner Castle is the first book in The Adventures of Tom and Andy Series by Edward Penner. Seven- and eight-year-old friends, Tom and Andy, are excited when the ground is broken for a new museum. They enjoy donating interesting items to museums. During the new museum's announcement, they learn they can visit Verner Castle, a historical landmark in their community. At the castle's gift shop, Tom sees a book about the castle's secrets, and the boys learn about the Lost Sword of Karl Verner, a stolen relic still missing. The boys vow to find the sword and donate it to the museum, but they must find it before the castle's greedy owner, Vincent Von Verner, locates the sword and sells the gems in the hilt.

Edward Penner has crafted a mystery that will thrill his young audience! Themes of friendship wind through the pages, and children can relate to Tom and Andy's dynamic. Young readers will follow the story easily, recognizing the distinctive characters and the direction of the plot. With full-color illustrations and decorative page borders, readers will become immersed in the tale, caught up in the boys' efforts to outrun Vincent Von Verner and locate the sword. Even though the book can be suspenseful, readers never feel as if the characters are in truly frightening situations that involve bodily harm. This chapter book hints at more secrets within the castle walls and summarizes the next adventurous book. Depending on their reading level, first- through fourth-grade children will enjoy The Mysteries of Verner Castle.

Jennifer Ibiam

After fire razed the Beemer House, it was time to build a museum instead. Seven-year-old Tom and his best friend, Andy, got invited to the project flag-off because they donated items. At the same event, a guest named Vincent Von Verner announced the reopening of the Verner Castle, and everyone was welcome. While at the castle, Tom encountered a bully named Jason, and during their altercation, he stumbled on a book that opened to a picture of a magnificent sword with diamond and ruby gemstones. The weapon known as Verner’s Torch had history but was missing. Andy and Tom set out through the castle to look for it. The duo would encounter situations that would either dampen their courage or solidify their bravery in The Mysteries of Verner Castle by Edward Penner.

The Mysteries of Verner Castle is the first installment in a series that documents The Adventures of Tom and Andy. This book is perfect for young readers and preteens who love mystery and adventure. The story centers on bravery, compassion, and fun. It also serves as the opening to an addictive series. I loved the storyline, simple language, and short sentences. These will make reading and comprehension easy for children. I also enjoyed looking at the stunning illustrations by Paul Schultz. The backdrop cobblestone idea, old paper texture, and colorful drawings appeal to the eye. This book will teach children how to be good friends, show kindness, and always stand up for what is right. Thank you for a beautiful book, Edward, even as I await the second installment.

Rosie Malezer

The Mysteries of Verner Castle is an adventurous children's book by Edward Penner. Eight-year-old Andy and seven-year-old Tom are best friends. Vincent Von Verner, a self-entitled, bitter man who owns Verner Castle, announces that the new renovations are complete and his castle is now open to the public. Children and adults are required to pay the same price for a ticket. When Tom and Andy arrive at Verner Castle, they are immediately drawn to the gift shop full of plastic helmets, swords, and shields for sale. The information brochure says that Russell Plank stole Karl Verner's lost sword many years ago, but there are doubts that this is true. Tom and Andy find the lost sword within the castle, however, while school bullies Jason and Kyle try to create as much mayhem as possible to ruin the day for everyone. With the gems missing from the pelmet of the sword, Vincent Von Verner admonishes Tom for claiming he'd found the missing sword, before telling Tom to keep what he believes to be an obvious fake - much to Tom's delight.

Tom and Andy bring a strong sense of right and wrong to this delightful tale. Edward Penner's tale of a falsely accused man, an attempt to bypass the law, and how bullies like to inject their poisonous words into the everyday lives of others is remarkably written. It was of little surprise to me that such a nasty man who inherits a castle and enjoys milking the poor for monetary gain (charging children the same price as adults) could be so devious. Money seems to be a contributing factor to Vincent Von Verner's corruption, and the children luckily have no concept of the evils it can produce in adults. I loved how the only motivation Tom and Andy had was to give the sword to the new museum in their town. It is this type of innocence that makes me believe that leaving our futures in the hands of younger generations is not automatically going to lead to devastation. The Mysteries of Verner Castle is a story that I feel will be enjoyed by young and old alike. Libraries everywhere would benefit from sharing Tom and Andy's adventures with young readers.