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Thanks to the author for providing an ebook in exchange for an honest review.

251 Pages

Synopsis: Fourteen-year-old Hannah Bradbury loved her father so much that she worried about constantly. After all, he was a photographer who traveled to the most dangerous places in the world. 

To allay her fears, each time he came home he brought her silly gifts, each one with supposed magical powers: the Seal of Solomon, the Ring of Gyges, even Aladdin’s Lamp. It was that lamp that Hannah found the most unbelievable, for it looked like an ugly teapot. Nevertheless, her father assured her it was real, and made her promise to save her three wishes for something very special.

Then…six months later…the unthinkable happened. Her father was killed while on assignment to Baghdad. And so, on the day of his funeral, Hannah did something she never thought she’d do.

She took out that teapot and gave it a rub…

I always have mixed feelings when I’m personally contacted by an author who would like me to read/review their book. Part of me is excited and humbled that they’ve reached out to me, but at the same time I’m afraid of the possibility that I won’t like what they’ve written. I hate the thought of hurting anyone’s feelings. After finishing The Ugly Teapot though, I am overjoyed to be able to say that I absolutely loved it. Hannah Bradbury is a character that middle-grade readers can relate to, particularly ones who have experienced the loss of a loved one. She has such a sweet personality, yet she’s also extremely courageous and willing to do anything for her father. Their relationship is the heart of the story and it reminded me of the one I had with my dad, who died when I was 16-years-old. The moments between them are quite touching and more than once I found myself tearing up. While much of the story focuses on Hannah and her father, her mother is not to be forgotten and at the end of the book, Hannah realizes what a close bond they share. While the story is obviously inspired by Aladdin, it expands upon the original tale by bring the lamp into the modern day world. It combines elements of fantasy, adventure, magical realism, and even a little bit of horror, into an exciting and fast-paced story that I finished in one sitting. There’s a plot twist near the end that caught me completely by surprise and added an even more emotional element to this multi-layered story. There were a couple of questions which arose that I didn’t think were fully addressed, but nothing that spoiled my overall enjoyment of the book. In the end, The Ugly Teapot is an exciting middle-grade novel that manages to balance a fun and action-packed story while at the same time, exploring weightier topics including coping with the loss of someone you love. It’s a perfect book for a book-discussion group or a family read. I am very interested in seeing where Fred Holmes takes this series next.