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Review: Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle by George Hagen & Scott Bakal (Illustrator)


This fast-paced, exciting, and emotionally rich fantasy novel for middle graders reads like a cross between The Phantom Tollbooth and Harry Potter.

How can 11-year-old Gabriel find his missing father, who seems to have vanished without a trace? With the help of Paladin—a young raven with whom he has a magical bond that enables them to become one creature—he flies to the foreboding land of Aviopolis, where he must face a series of difficult challenges and unanswerable riddles that could lead to his father . . . or to his death.


Gabriel Finley and the Raven’s Riddle is an adventurous narrative that leaps the imagination of the young reader through a place of magical fantasy only one could’ve dreamt of. Sprinkled with wit, capturing the reader from the beginning, we are led through a three part novel that embraces a beautiful story that will entertain and inspire. 

Gabriel Finley, is like any other kid his age. Inquisitive and curious but unlike others, one day his father just disappeared, then his mother. Whenever the subject was brought up about their disappearance, his aunt became uneasy. Three years had passed, his 12th birthday growing near, strange things started to happen. The time being right, his aunt gave him a notebook which at first he had forgotten. As he started to read, realizing that it was his father’s dairies, a spark ignited within him realizing that he might be holding the key that might lead him to finding his father. Using his love for riddles, he is led on an adventurous quest with the help of some friends, and then the magic begins. Will he find his father?

Ideally and age appropriate for the middle school grader, the story has many attributes other than being a well written, engaging narrative. What I think is both enlightening and entertaining are the riddles and puns. I thought it was such a creative tool to enhance the quality of the story and also encourage the reader to think and use their imagination. Throughout the book, the imagery of the animals, including the ones who transform into humans as well as their interactions with them, illuminates the beauty within the story which brings it to life. Considering this is the age range that is starting to understand their emotions and developing their opinions, I feel what each character is going through in their own lives and how they interact with each other is something that they could identify with it and learn from. Every chapter is themed and at a good length that will keep them interested. I think this would be a good read that both the kids and the parents will enjoy. 

Reviewed by Michelle Bowles

Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 8/26/2014
Pages: 384
Age range: 9 - 12 Years

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