The Thunder Child

Science Fiction and Fantasy
Web Magazine and Sourcebooks

Vol 1, Issue #4
"Stand By For Mars!"
April 2006

Children's Fiction Book Reviews
by Kathy Thomason

The Rock of the Realm
by Lea Schizas
Star Publish

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This fantasy begins with fourteen year old Alex Stone is having a really bad day, a day that began when she forgot to put the dog outside and Butch ate not only the garbage but her lunch, her dad's and her mom's lunches and left trash all over the kitchen. Then she is forced to ride to school with Mrs. Harris in her rusty old pink car. She had planned to go to the movies with her best friend but finds out she has to babysit for Mrs. Harris' grandchildren, and then her friend informs her that she has a perfect set of paw prints on her jeans. Later in the day she is mortally embarrassed when she hears laughter and goes outside to see what is going on and there, sprawled on the grass in front of the school, is Butch. It wouldn't be so bad except he had Pops, a squirrel, perched on his back. Alex and Sarah, her best friend, dash outside and take Butch home. She puts a bandanna and patch on Butch, and a birthday hat on Pops and goes off to babysit.

Butch and Pops, who can talk to each other, aren't too thrilled with their outfits but realize it is for a good cause. After they get through babysitting, the two girls and the animals head for home, with the girls talking about how much fun it would be to be a kid again and fantasize about adventures. As they tease each other back and forth,they decide to cut across the park and save time. They are standing near the sandbox and talking some more when something hits Alex on top of her head. Bending down, she picks up a small, pink granite rock. They look around but don't see anyone but then Sarah notices a beige pouch with purple stripes near where Alex found the rock. She opens it and finds that it is filled with gold glitter.

Alex jokes that it is probably magic. Sarah laughs and starts sprinkling it around her while chanting a little poem they learned in school. Alex grabs some glitter, telling Sarah that she is chanting it wrong and starts to chant the right verse. Suddenly, the wind picks up and dust swirls around them and when the air clears, they realize they aren't in the park anymore.

As they look around, they see, instead of the familiar swings and toys, mammoth black trees and a white-stone path trailing through the forest. Alex has an odd feeling of familiarity and thinks that she knows this place. She hears talking and realizes that she can understand Butch and Pops. And then they hear another voice and as they look around trying to find who is talking to them, they see no one. But then the voice says, "I'm Sappy," and they see a dark tree waving it's branches at them. That is when they really know that they are in a strange place. When they ask Sappy how they got there, he tells them about the Rock of Realm and how only enchanted ones can use it and it is used as a passageway to enter Dread's Forest or any other part of Rock Kingdom. Much to Alex's surprise she finds out that her mother was the queen here and she is a princess. Sappy tells them that the only way to go home is to seek out Larok, who was her mother's guide and protector, and get his help.

The four friends then embark on an adventure that will test not only their courage and stamina but will strain their friendships. Alex has to use all her wits, courage and instinct to decide whether to trust her uncle, who is supposed to be evil, to stand beside him and fight the Braks, skeletal creatures that project thorn-infested slime encasing their victim before plunging them deep within the caverns of the earth. Alex and her friends will have to learn many valuable lessons if they are to survive and save kingdom, the most important being to look twice because things aren't always what they seem.

Author Lea Schizas was born in Montreal, Canada and besides writing is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Apollos Lyre, a writing site, founder of The Museit UP Club and is a copy editor, book reviewer and creative writing instructor. She has also written a screenplay and several short stories.

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