Escape From Zobadak by Brad Gallagher

Billy (11) and Sophie (9) love it when their Uncle Gary comes to visit.  He is quirky and fun and always has little gifts for them.  Their mom likes Uncle Gary fine, it’s the sawdust from all the furniture he builds that seems to follow him everywhere that she would prefer not to deal with.

Then one day Uncle Gary disappears, leaving behind a mostly empty home and only a lone night stand in the basement.  Odd that someone who worked on furniture all the time yet never sold a thing, would not have a home bursting with wood projects.  Billy inherits the nightstand but soon learns there is something different about it.  At night noises seem to be coming from inside the nightstand.  When taking a closer look, Billy finds a hidden panel that opens into a maze of corridors – big enough for Billy, his sister, and their two friends Chris and Maggie to all climb into and explore the massive hallways of drawers and doors.  Billy is certain that Uncle Gary is in there somewhere!

Meanwhile, Billy and Sophie’s parents are being harassed by some odd-looking men wearing brown suits and toting business cards from Zobadak Wood Company.  They are looking for Gary Frye (Uncle Gary!) stating that a delivery of special wood was sent to him accidentally and they need it back.

Where is Uncle Gary and what did he do with this strange company called Zobadak?  A company that no one has ever heard of?  Are all the answers somewhere inside the secrets of the nightstand?

From the moment I first spied this book on Shelf Awareness I wanted to read it.  The cover, dark and mysterious, the title with attention-getting words like “escape” and “Zobadak”…. it made you want to know more about what was inside….

not only the book…

but the nightstand.

Pack a lunch before you dive into Escape From Zobadak because you are not going to want to put this fun middle grade read down.   The mystery of Uncle Gary’s disappearance, the unusual looking men that keep popping up looking for Gary, and of course the nightstand itself, are enough to keep a middle grade readers nose to the pages.

Shoot, who am I kidding?  My nose was to the pages.  😛

I found this book to be entertaining with elements of 100 Cupboards by N D Wilson and a touch of Harry Potter too.  The creativity of the nightstands dwellings was an excellent dose of middle grade fantasy at its best! 

My only grumble is that the first 3/4 of the book sailed by with a fast pace story line that kept my hopping and then when it got to the last fourth, it seemed to drag with detail.  Part of that was due to a character named Krandall who is supposed to be a little light in the head from being in the nightstand all his life, but at times the rambling was excessive.  I am hoping perhaps a middle grade reader will find this part fun.

Escape for Zobadak won the MEMSPA Children’s Book Award.  It is in fact a good read and in the end leaves an opening and a hint that there will be another book.

Amazon Rating

Good Reads Review

The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading Map now includes Escape From Zobadak

Thank you to Shelf Awareness for sending me this book for review

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