The Hole in the Sky
Barbara A. Mahler
Sea Turtle Publishing (2009)
Reviewed by Maggie Desmond-O’Brien for Reader Views (11/09)
Her beloved mother’s death, troubles at school, a hidden diary and a terrible curse: Kaela Neuleaf’s life gets very complicated indeed as she tumbles through the Hole in the Sky. Enlisting the help of her cousin, Shawn, and a host of magical creatures that insist she is the mythical red-haired girl, Kaela sets out to face her fears and uncover deep secrets about her past before time runs out for her friends and this strange and wonderful land.
While the beginning of this book seemed preachy and contrived, as the story went on I was wholly engrossed by Kaela’s fantastic journey and the host of likeable and believable characters. Here is children’s fiction of the most magical sort: Love and understanding abound, even when patience grows thin and the characters and those they love are in deadly peril. In its honesty and heartbreakingly sweet narrative voice, “The Hole in the Sky” is a winner.
The dialogue and melodrama were my issues with this book, but hey, who cares in what is clearly written as a sweet mother-daughter bedtime story? With its beautiful cover, sturdy binding and ribbons to mark your place, this edition is meant to be read aloud, and while the characters aren’t always perfect and some are downright evil (there’s certainly some intense moments of peril for Kaela as well as some frightening and dishonest characters driven insane by their visions of the future), messages about the importance of family and friends abound.
All in all, “The Hole in the Sky” by Barbara A. Mahler is a book that’s meant to be shared, and is sure to be beloved and treasured by children and their parents for many years to come.