This is a review of Countryside: The Book of the Wise by J. T. Cope IV.
Overall Rating: ★★★★★
I was sent books one and two of the Countryside series by J. T. Cope IV in exchange for an honest review.
One thing I love about this story is the “southern manners.” It’s all “yes, sir” and “yes, ma’am,” from 10-year-old protagonist, Luke Rayburn. That definitely isn’t something you hear from kids up where I live! These manners are such a glorious change from the way books targeted at middle-schoolers are often written these days. It seems to be “in style” for kids to be obnoxious and rude to authority in stories, but you won’t find any of that in Cope’s writing.
In addition to the great manners, these books promote healthy family relationships and respect for parents and other adults. I would be comfortable recommending this book to any young child! Truly, the only thing a parent would need to consider before reading this book to a child would be whether certain parts might be too creepy. And honestly, it’s not actually the kind of creepy that would have freaked me out as a kid (and I was very easily spooked!). It’s more like the “fun creepy that makes you hide under your covers while mom reads” kind of scary. No one gets hurt (permanently); no one dies. Nothing too intimidating for a very young reader. This book would make a fantastic read-aloud! (And you can bet I’m hanging onto it until I have children of my own.)
I also love how this book wasn’t ALL fast-paced. Yes, it definitely moved right along. But it didn’t feel like you were being dragged behind a speeding train. There was breathing room. Sure, there were near-death experiences and mysterious happenings. But there were also plenty of scenes where Luke is playing sports or just hanging out with his friends. And that’s part of what made this book relatable. Life isn’t one constant adventure, no matter what literature likes to suggest. There are so many small moments–and life wouldn’t be the same without them.
Another thing that I appreciated about this book is that Luke is really just a normal kid who has been thrown into a magical world he didn’t know existed. He’s quiet, polite, and has a family. He is NOT: 1. A snarky, sarcastic protagonist, 2. The life of the party, or 3. An only child. Those three things are very commonly found in protagonists in both children’s and YA literature. It was quite refreshing to read a story with a different kind of hero.
I would absolutely recommend this book to young readers! (And all readers, really. I am 21 and very much enjoyed it!) There really isn’t a dull moment in this story, but it encourages good manners and excellent morals throughout the entire thing. Absolutely worth reading!
Note: Grading scale is based on other Middle Grade Fiction. It is not in comparison to YA literature.
Content (10= extremely high focus; 0=non existent)
Adventure content: 7
Creepiness content: 3
Grief content: 2
Language content: 0
Religion content: 2
Romance content: 1
Sexual content: 0
Violence content: 3
Be sure to check out Cope’s official Instagram page!