Sherman Oak and the Magic Potato.
S. William Shaw
I picked up this book for a few reasons. In part, I did so because I have read William Shaw's blog for a while now and followed the journey of this book's development. In part, it was because every so often I find a good teen fiction book to be a nice change of pace. Finally, the tile just grabbed my attention.
Now to be honest I have had a few self-published books come my way and have yet to be really inspired or impressed with them. This book exceeds all expectations.
First, I would state that the writing is better than any of the Harry Potter books. It is not as good as Lewis or Tolkien, but give Shaw time and I am sure he will get there if he continues to pursue the path of writing.
The book follows a young man 'Sherman Oak' as he goes from being the most bullied kid at school, and the butt of the other students' jokes, even his two older sisters, to a young man on a quest to free not only his parents but his tormentors from school. He has been told the quest will take 'as long as it takes', yet time and time again, Sherman presses on, when a rest and wait are possible. He grows and develops as a person throughout the book.
Oak is a very well-written character; he is not flat or stifled. He becomes very real to you and you find yourself cheering him on.
Shaw does some great things with this story, and unlike many other writers today, he comes up with his own creatures and his own stories, not just retelling old tales. Some of the creatures you will meet are truly creative and wonderful. The story will draw you in and compel you to keep reading.
Most people do not know that Eragon was originally self-published, and look at the literary and film success that it has had. I believe this book has the same potential. You can purchase it from the website below in either a print or electronic format. This book will surprise you, make you laugh, make you cry, and if you cannot see some of our reluctant hero in yourself, you're clearly not getting the book. So this is a book I would recommend to a person of any age. It may be written for teens, but the child in all of us will respond to the story. Also check out the author's blog if you have an interest in writing or publishing or are just curious to know more about the person who created this wonderful book.
This is an awesome book. I cannot wait till my daughter is older to read it to her and hopefully it will be one of her favorite's and we will read it together many time over the years. I am sure if you pick it up it will challenge and inspire you ant those you share it with also. I also look forward to reading other offerings that come available from Shaw.
(First Published in Imprint 2007-06-01 in the book review column!)