Mike Mason's The Blue Umbrella
Children's book review by Jane Finch.
Can One Man Control the Weather?
If your mother had been killed by lightning, would you trust a man with a blue umbrella who said he can control the world’s weather? This is the decision facing 10-year-old Zac Sparks in Mike Mason’s fantasy novel, The Blue Umbrella. In this book the author delves into the depths of good and evil, yet there is an underlying spiritual resonance throughout.
When Zac Sparks’ mother dies, he’s sent to live with his old aunties, who are cruel and nasty and make his life totally miserable. They have a weird father, too, who is a pretty terrifying character. It isn’t long before Zac knows something strange is going on. Apart from the relatives, the story has a midget butler, a girl who doesn’t speak, a blind balloon seller, and a mysterious singer who is heard but not seen.
The one bright spot is Sky Porter, the proprietor of the general store across the street. Zac takes to him as a friend who shows him kindness which is something sorely lacking in his life. But is Sky all he seems?
When Zak discovers the aunts’ father is an evil magician who is intent on stealing the ultimate treasure, Zac knows many lives are at stake, including his own. With time running out, Zak has to turn to Sky, the only friend he has. The trouble is, can he trust him? Sky, the man with the blue umbrella.
The author, Mike Mason, says
In this era of climate change, when weather is arguably the most important issue facing the world, a story that dramatizes the human role and responsibility in creating weather is highly relevant and timely. The Blue Umbrella is permeated with a sense of awe at the power and beauty of weather, and it asks the question: Who is behind all this?
When I first saw this book I was immediately intrigued by the premise. My son loves anything to do with the weather, and combined with the fact that I knew this to be a Christian publication I was interested to see how the combination of fantasy and magic and Christian ethics and a spiritual message could be intertwined. So I couldn’t wait to start reading.
The writing style is perfect for the target reader. The first line, always an important hook, is “Not many people are killed by lightning. Zac’s mother was.” I just had to keep reading after that.
The thing about this book is it is a great story so the reader is not going to think it’s just another Christian book. Zak is a likeable and believable character and I was totally lost in the story. I don’t normally choose to read magic and science fiction but as I couldn’t put the book down, I had no choice.
I think this mixture of genres works and The Blue Umbrella is set to become a top read.
Author Bio: Mike Mason is the best-selling, award-winning author of The Mystery of Marriage, The Gospel According to Job, Practicing the Presence of People, and many others. He has an M.A. in English and has studied theology at Regent College. He lives in Langley, BC, Canada, with his wife, Karen, a family physician. They have one daughter, Heather, who is pursuing a career in dance and the arts. The Blue Umbrella is Mike’s first novel.
The Blue Umbrella: A Novel by Mike Mason
The reviewer received a copy of this book.
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