Reviews for Any Which Wall
Booklist Reviews 2009 May #2
"This title celebrates summer vacations of yore, when kids played outside and rode their bikes toward adventure. Susan, Roy, Henry, and Emma discover a magic wishing wall in the middle of a cornfield that can transport them to any place in any time, real or imaginary. As in her picture book Inside the Slidy Diner (2008), Snyder displays a knack for collaborating with an artist who complements her offbeat sense of humor; here, Pham's handful of black-and-white drawings recall scenes from old-school dime-store novels. While the premise is rife with potential for grand adventures, the kids' excursions through Camelot, New York, an old pioneer town, and an encounter with "the worst pirate in the world" feel like rushed pit stops on the road to a lesson about friendship; and the focus on "common magic," the kind that is not "loud and full of dragons," sometimes feels like a cop-out. Still, this breezy and fun tale is just the right sort of book for a rainy summer afternoon indoors." Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2009 #3
One summer day, sibling pairs Henry and Emma, Roy and Susan stumble upon a magical wish-granting wall. Faster than you can say "root beer float," the hot and sticky kids find themselves whisked to a diner for some cool treats. After a bit of trial and error, the friends figure out the wall's magic and begin their explorations. First stop is a visit with Merlin, who explains more of the rules and proclaims, "Magic transforms you." Not surprisingly, Merlin's message proves prophetic: little Emma, perceived as helpless, frees the older kids from a dungeon; brash Henry curbs his greed after tousling with an opportunistic (but scaredy-cat) pirate; introvert Roy takes decisive action in the Old West; and Susan, on the cusp of adolescence, regains her appreciation of play and wonder after reuniting with her best friend. Throughout, an omniscient (occasionally obtrusive) narrator instructs readers, reflecting this contemporary-set story's old-fashioned sensibility, also seen in Pham's black-and-white line art. Snyder acknowledges her debt to Edward Eager; fans of Jeanne Birdsall's Penderwick books will also be pleased. The tale's tame episodic exploits and pervasive sense of idyll gracefully reinforce the narrator's assertion that "fun does matter. It matters a lot." Copyright 2009 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2009 April #2
Susan, Henry, Roy and Emma stumble upon a wall in the oddest of places--the middle of a cornfield. To their delight, it turns out to be wishing wall, complete with a key, capable of whisking them away to fascinating times and places. It's not all fun and games, though, at least not at first. The kids have to puzzle out how the magic works and then contend with some mysterious visions granted to them by none other than the famous Merlin. The visions, along with the particular wishes each child makes, unfold into a unique life lesson for each of the children. Unfortunately, these lessons can feel a little contrived, particularly when it comes to Susan, the oldest of the group, who is desperately trying to grow up without losing the childlike qualities of imagination and adventure that are a fundamental part of her spirit. Nonetheless, the fast-paced plot and glib narrator--fond of making asides--will keep readers turning pages and looking for magic in their own corners of the world. (Fantasy. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Reviews 2009 June
Gr 3-6--During an Iowa summer, two sets of sibling neighbors--first-grader Emma and fifth-grader Henry, fifth-grader Roy and seventh-grader Susan--are getting bored. Luckily, adventure looms in the shape of a huge wall in the middle of a cornfield. When the children discover that it is magic and figure out its rules and parameters, they are transported to Merlin's castle, the American frontier, the home of "the worst pirate in the world," modern-day New York City, and an ice-cream shop and a movie theater. This book begins with a quote from Edward Eager's Seven-Day Magic (Houghton, 1999) and, as in his fantasies, the charm of the story lies not just in the magic, but also in how four kids figure out how it works, what to do with it, and how to get along at the same time. That magic, like everything else, has consequences is made clear to the youngsters, especially when their adventures saddle them with a large, wounded, lovable, homeless dog to take care of. Snyder's fresh, down-to-earth voice is complemented by Pham's energetic illustrations, which seem at once retro and modern. Fantasy fans will enjoy this novel, but so will readers who like stories about ordinary kids.--Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library [Page 138]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2009 April
Henry, Emma, Roy, and Susan are expecting an ordinary summer of boredom until they stumble upon a mysterious wall towering above them in a cornfield. What starts as an accidental wish unleashes a roller coaster of adventure, danger, fear, and fun with a little help from their newly discovered magic wall. When the four friends realize that they can think of a place with walls and be transported anywhere in history, the opportunity to experience an adventure of a lifetime is too fabulous to refuse. As each of the children take a turn at wishing, they find themselves encountering wizards in Camelot, bank robbing pirates, and malicious outlaws. Susan discovers the need for strong friendship and how it is important to be true to herself, whereas Emma discovers quick thinking can get someone in and out of any situation. Henry and Roy learn that the most fantastic wishes may not be the best choices to make, but in the end it all comes down to sticking together Snyder attempts to write an engaging story of adventure and friendship, but the tale falls flat. The characters are one dimensional and the adventures sparsely written. The dialogue is stilted and not realistic for some characters, while other descriptions are written using words and phrases for much older readers. This book is clearly for lower middle school readers, but the writing and illustrations do nothing to enhance the book's appeal. Readers will find themselves wishing for more details and excitement that never materialize.--Laura Panter 3Q 3P M Copyright 2009 Voya Reviews.