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LocalLit book review: 'Return to Ganagar' by Colleen Robbins of Joliet

Kids are the heroes in this short fantasy book that kids and the young-at-heart will enjoy.
Kids are the heroes in this short fantasy book that kids and the young-at-heart will enjoy.

It's just slightly past Mother's Day and I'd like to share my thoughts on "Return to Ganagar," a short, fun, fast-paced fantasy book where kids get to be heroes, written by Joliet mother-daughter team Colleen Robbins and Tarina Jameson.

Here is its Amazon description: "With their young children in tow, a group of adventurers return to the town of Ganagar a little more than ten years after saving it. But there's more than just a town celebration going on. Ever the heroes, the parents volunteer to investigate.

"Due to some minor misbehavior by the children, there is not a single babysitter in sight. They are forced to bring their families along.The children bond together after their parents disappear. Can they dodge the dangers, rescue their parents, and find the way back out?"

The first few chapters introduce the reader to the children and their families and how they learn that a journey is in their near future.

But you know you're at home in a kid-friendly fantasy story when the opening line says, "Riley! Grab some hot water! Charlie licked your Frost Axe again!"

And then an older brother helps out a younger brother with a healing spell

At the end of the first chapter is the fateful letter that takes the crew back to Ganagar.

But before they leave, the reader will also meet Bella (who's in love with love and has book crushes) and a twin brother and sister who keep getting into trouble for screaming, "The floor is lava!" so they invent new phraseology.

There's humor for the adults, too, such as why the girl friend of Cooper, the rock star lutist, can't fit into her wedding gown too well anymore and Cooper is clueless as to why.

Readers of the fantasy genre will enjoy all those elements that make fantasy stories delightful reads: old forgotten dusty wedding goblets on a high shelf (when all poor little thirsty Charlie wants is a drink of water), strange foods ("That's called cake, Sweetheart."), glowing orbs, curtain slime and halite caves.

And when the kids have to descend into one of those deliciously creepy caves, well, you'll have to read it for yourself.

But in and among the teasing, name calling, secret words, diary entries about kid crushes, pranks (the kids break the celebratory pole in the middle of the town) are some sage words from Robbins and Jameson, both former children, words just in time for Father's Day:

Was this part of being a parent, too? Forgetting how to have fun even when things seem dire? That wasn't the kind of father he hoped to be.

Buy "Return to Ganagar" on Amazon.

And then check out more books by Colleen Robbins.

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