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The Goodfellow Chronicles, Book One: The Sacred Seal

by J.C. Mills

Moving into the rickety old Hawthorne house in New England is no fun for 10-year-old Sam Middleton, who doesn’t like his new house or room. Until, that is, he encounters mouse-sized Mr. Goodfellow. Goodfellow is one of the sages who provide inspiration to people on the verge of discovering, creating, and inventing, including Einstein, Edison, Beethoven, and Rembrandt, among others. He’s on the hunt for the lost Hawthorne scroll and with Sam’s help he hopes to discover the whereabouts of this mysterious artifact before his enemies track him down.
J.C. Mills is better known as illustrator Judith Christine Mills (Bridge 6, Wild Cameron Women) and the author-illustrator of the picture books The Stonehouse Schooner and The Painted Chest. The Sacred Seal is a huge artistic leap and one that Mills has accomplished with mixed results.
At the heart of the fantasy is a first-rate conceit, the mysterious sage who quietly slips through history providing assistance to those on the verge of greatness. But Mills provides us with no more than a snapshot of the sage at work and only superficial details of Mr. Goodfellow’s current assignment, finding the Hawthorne scroll. Instead, she focuses at far too much length on a story within the story, the mysterious disappearance of young Edgar Goodfellow. That aspect of the tale is exciting but it takes up far too much time. Mills introduces too much material that is simply left hanging, obviously to be taken up in the remainder of the trilogy, but the story gets bogged down.The author also hasn’t included any significant female characters in this first volume, and those that do appear in supporting roles are often riddled with stereotypes. Plenty of imagination is at work here, but Mills is going to have to steer a much steadier course to keep readers interested in the sequels.


Reviewer: Jeffrey Canton

Publisher: Key Porter Books


Price: $14.95

Page Count: 304 pp

Format: Paper

ISBN: 1-55263-328-4

Released: Sept.

Issue Date: 2001-9


Age Range: ages 8-11