While collecting data for a school science project, Dexter and his best friend Fiona discover a glowing rock amid electric mushroom-like thingies, that have appeared overnight in the area of the forest that Fiona is studying. Dexter picks up the rock and takes it with him, thus begins an exciting adventure in making new friends, and finding hope after loss.
Dexter at first seems to be little more than the literary-typical awkward middle grade boy, constantly in trouble, compared to a perfect sibling, and the cause of desperation for his overwhelmed parent. Within a few pages though, he becomes very real and relatable. We find that his confidence and his world has been shattered by the loss of his mom several months prior He, along with his brother and dad, is simply trying to find his footing in this new circumstance. To make it harder, it the first Christmas without her. She was the spirit of the family, organizing, decorating and creating traditions, like the lovely Kissmas. It all seems like so much nothing without her. Lonely and devastated, Dexter makes a wish on a falling star. Boy does he get his wish in spades.
Dexter soon finds himself caring for a lost alien, the eponymous Gobbledy from the title, described as a cross between a prairie dog, a chinchilla, and a cartoon. With the reluctant help of his logical younger brother, Dougal, and the technical expertise of his hilariously down to earth bestie Fiona, Dexter finds out that life goes on, just in a different way, as the kids work together to keep their new friend a secret, all the while trying to protect him from outsiders, and keep Dexter from getting into the kind of trouble that just seems to find him.
This story beautifully explores the themes of loss, life changes, and loyalty, while being completely entertaining. I laughed out loud. I teared up. I sat on the edge of my seat. I cheered at the victories both small and large. This is the kind of book that once read, could spark a life-long love for reading fiction or at least a new family holiday tradition.
Any middle grade kid is going to find something personal in the story. While excellent in both prose and length for that age reader, it will make a wonderful story time (bedtime) read for younger kids, especially with the delightful pencil sketches that dot the book. I know a few teens that will thoroughly enjoy this as well. This story has been told, but there is a little part of me that really wishes this can be expanded to a series.
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Ever since eleven-year-old Dexter Duckworth and his brother, Dougal, lost their mom, everything has been different. But “different” takes on a whole new meaning when, one day just before Christmas (or Kissmas, as they call it), Dexter finds a golden rock in the forest that hatches into an adorable alien. Gobbledy is smarter than he seems and is lost on planet Earth. Before long, Gobbledy takes Dexter, Dougal, and their best friend Fi on an adventure of friendship, family, and loss—one that requires them all to stay out of trouble, protect Gobbledy from a shadowy group called the Planetary Society, and prepare for their school’s Winter Extravaganza Play, where Dexter has to be a dreaded Gingerbread Man.
Gobbledy is a fun-filled holiday story that adds up to two brothers, three friends, unlimited jars of peanut butter, a ketchup factory, and one little alien far, far from home.
- 2021 Independent Press Awards Winner in Holiday: Children’s
- 2021 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards Silver Winner in Young Reader: Fiction (8-12 Years)
- 2021 15th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards Finalist in Holiday
- 2021 Book Excellence Awards Finalist in Holiday
- 2020 New York City Big Book Awards Winner in Holiday
- 2020 Wishing Shelf Book Awards Gold Winner in Books for 9-12 year olds
Lis Anna-Langston was raised alongside the winding current of the Mississippi River on a steady diet of dog-eared books. She attended a creative and performing arts school from middle school until graduation and went on to study literature at Webster University. She is a Parents’ Choice Gold and a Moonbeam Children’s Book Award Winner. She draws badly and sings loudly, and loves ketchup, starry skies, and stories with happy endings aliens. Lis Anna-Langston lives in Columbia, South Carolina. You can learn more about her at www.lisannalangston.com.
Pinterest handle: @LisAnnaLangston
Twitter handle: @LisAnnaLangston
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B00IXKUOEQ
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