Narrator: Michael Gilliland
Publisher: Justin Sloan (2015)
Length: 2 hours 59 minutes
Series: Book 1 Teddy Defenders
It’s the day before Thanksgiving. Rick and his sister go to bed dreaming of tomorrow’s meal – turkey legs and all. However, both are taken by monsters to Monsterland! Rick’s teddy bear, Ari, who comes alive at night, but pull together his courage and brave the dangers to save his boy and sister.
In this secondary world urban fantasy, Justin Sloan brings us a feel good tale of courage, bravery, facing down evil bullies, and true friendship (no matter what form it comes in). This tale had me laughing out loud on occasion as I pictured the determined or even angry faces on teddy bears as they went to arms. I loved the juxtaposition of ‘ferociously fighting’ and ‘teddy bears’. There’s plenty of other magical creatures in this story such as goblins. Ari starts off his adventure believing that any other teddy bear he comes across will give him a hand. He only had to worry about the monsters. Alas, things are not that simple. Quickly he learns that not all monsters look like monsters.
Meanwhile, Rick and his sister awake in cages. There are other kids, some who want to escape and some who have become a little comfortable bullying the newbies around. The monsters want to play with the kids, but this play is often too rough (think of a see-saw being used a catapult to launch kids into the air).
Most of the adventure is through Ari as he travels around Monsterland and deals with teddy bear factions and politicians, goblins, and other monster beasties. He has his first sip of honey and survives a bit of a sea voyage on a small raft. There’s plenty more, but I leave it for you to explore.
My one little criticism is that the ladies have pretty minor roles. There’s Rick’s mom, who has like 3 lines. His sister has perhaps 6 lines. There are perhaps 2 female bears, one of which gets to help out quite a bit near the end. As usual, I would have enjoyed having the genders a bit more balanced.
All together, this was a fun, and often surprising, adventure story. Ari’s powers are untapped at the beginning of the story. But as he gains confidence and determination, his powers grow. Also, he shows kindness when he can and this is probably his greatest power, gaining him assistance and even friends. If you’re looking for a fun and heartwarming story, then look no further!
I received this audiobook from the author (via the GoodReads Audiobooks Group) at no cost in exchange for an honest review.
The Narration: Michael Gilliland was a good choice for this book. He had a nice light tenor voice for Ari. He imbued his voices with plenty of emotion as the scenes called for it. His range of emotions for Ari was great as Ari goes through quite a few emotions on his quest. Gilliland also had believable little kid voices and female voices.
What I Liked: The cover art; quite a fun adventure!; the goblins aren’t the only monsters; kindness means something; Ari’s powers increase as his confidence increases; a heartwarming tale and very satisfying ending.
What I Disliked: Could have used a few more female characters that added to the plot.
What Others Think: