The Riverman: Book Review

May 13th, 2014 by

Riverman_Aaron-StarmerI picked up The Riverman by Aaron Starmer thinking: This is going to be a story about a boy and a girl, about friendship, and by the looks of the cover, maybe something a little spooky or fantastical. And it is. But it’s so much more than that.

The year is 1989, and the town is Thessaly, New York. Alistair Cleary is a pretty normal kid, and his neighbor, Fiona Loomis, is a slightly odd kid. One day, she approaches him to write her biography, which wouldn’t seem that strange except that they’re only 12 and her story doesn’t seem quite real at first:

Fiona claims that in her basement is a portal to Aquavania, a magical world where anything is possible. In her Aquavania, anything she imagines comes true — and she can even visit other kids in their version of Aquavania. She’s stayed in Aquavania for days, weeks, even months — but only a short time will pass in the regular world, Alistair’s world. In Aquavania, everything seems wonderful, except for the Riverman. The Riverman sneaks into Aquavania and steals the souls of children… and those children seem to go missing in the real world too.

This isn’t a typical fantasy story — Alistair and Fiona don’t team up and gather weapons, enter Aquavania, and battle the Riverman. There’s no prophecy to follow, and the Riverman seems impossible to defeat. As much as I would have liked to see Alistair and Fiona kick butt, I loved that this fantasy story blended with the real world — after all, what did happen to Alice when she returned from Wonderland, or the Pevensies when they exited Narnia?

As Alistair learns about Fiona’s story, he’s still hanging out with his friends, working on class assignments, getting ready for Halloween — life goes on in Thessaly, NY. Alistair isn’t sure how much of Fiona’s story is real or fiction… but when she suddenly disappears, he’s left with all the clues she’s left behind — did the Riverman kidnap her, or did she run away? And either way, Alistair’s decided that it’s up to him to save her.

the-only-ones-aaron-starmerI can’t possibly describe this book in a single blog entry without spoiling too much, so if any of this sounds interesting to you, you should read it! If you’re a fan of Aaron Starmer’s book, The Only Ones, then The Riverman is obviously a must-read! Note: Just like The Only Ones, we recommend this book for kids ages 10+, so if you’re on the fence, ask your parents.

The Riverman is just the first book in a trilogy, and I’m excited to find out what happens next!

— Nancy

icon_nancyNancy thinks that the Riverman is like the antithesis (opposite) of the BFG. He’s horrible and evil and takes souls instead of gifting dreams.

More about Nancy »

Aaron Starmer: Author Video & Interview

October 11th, 2011 by

What do an evil principal, five child prodigies, one boy prophet, a mysterious machine, and a world without adults have in common? They all come from the mind of author Aaron Starmer!

His first book, DWEEB (for ages 8-12), is about a group of middle schoolers who are kidnapped by their principal and have to thwart his dastardly plan — pronto.

His new book, The Only Ones (for ages 10 and up), just came out last month, and we were delighted to receive a copy hot off the presses!

But we were even more excited when Aaron took a break from his intergalactic vacation to send us a video message about his books. Confused? Just watch the video — filmed exclusively for you guys here at Kidsmomo:

HA HA HA HA HA! We hope his lamp survived the video shoot…

Anyway, here’s that interview Aaron mentioned in his video:

In DWEEB, five kids band together and call themselves, well, DWEEB. Did you ever form a club with your friends when you were a kid? And if you could be in your dream club now, what would it be?
Aaron Starmer: I never had a club when I was a kid, but we definitely had a tight-knit group of guys who would build forts and play capture the flag and flashlight tag together. We weren’t quick to let other kids in on some of our adventures, so I guess there was a silly air of exclusivity about it. These days, I’m not ashamed to admit, part of me would still love to be in a band. I never had the patience to learn to play an instrument, but rock star dreams don’t ever completely fade away.

In The Only Ones, each kid in the village has a special skill they bring to the group to help the town run. One kid hunts, another purifies the water, another puts on elaborate shows for entertainment, etc. If you lived there, what do you think you would have done?
Aaron Starmer: I like to think I would be a halfway decent survivalist, who could build things and start fires by striking stones together. But that’s probably not the case. I would hope I’m a good enough storyteller that people would come over to my house in the evening to sit next to the fireplace while I would regale them with tales. In the mid-80s, when I was a kid, I lived in Australia and that was sort of my job there. As an American, I had seen all the TV shows that hadn’t yet reached Australia. So I could tell my new friends what was going to happen on The A-Team and V and Dukes of Hazzard, long before they were able to see it. For an 8-year-old, that was power!

Both books have a really interesting and unique cast of kids. Are any based on real people in your life?
Aaron Starmer: Not consciously, but every character is a little bit me and a little bit the people I know… and a lot of who-knows-what. I think every person has at least one thing that is remarkable about him/her, and I tend to start by defining what is remarkable about each character. Then I try to find contradictions in the character, because we’re all full of contradictions. I definitely borrow dialogue and anecdotes from things I’ve heard friends and family say, but that’s hardly the majority of the writing. It’s more about establishing a character and setting them loose in a world with its own particular rules.

Well, wasn’t that nice of Aaron Starmer to interrupt his space travels to say hello? Why don’t you reward his efforts by entering our sweepstakes for a chance to win his books?

• Copy of DWEEB, signed by the author
• Copy of The Only Ones, signed by the author

[This sweepstakes is now closed.]