Early Book Review: Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace by Nan Marino

Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace by Nan Marino is a children's chapter book that is schedule for release on April 16 2013. Elvis Aaron Ruby is a musical prodigy, and at eleven has decided that he needs a break from the spotlight. The only place he can hide is with his aunt and cousin at Piney Pete's Pancake Palace in New Jersey. Cecilia is a girl that likes to sneak out and roam at night, and cannot seem to stop blurting out whatever is on her mind.When she discovers the secret behind the new boy's arrival she shares her need to hear the fabled music of the pines, which was said to have been heard when she was born.
Hiding Out at the Pancake PalaceHiding Out at the Pancake Palace is a story about finding yourself, and liking yourself, even when you are hiding. Elvis, or Aaron, is hiding from the paparazzi and himself by working at the Pancake Palace. His stint on Tween Star, think American Idol for tweens or Star Search, has left him disillusioned and unhappy. Music is part of his life, in his soul, but in his efforts to hide he tries to lock the music away. Cecilia is looking to keep the magic in her life, the joy and innocence that seems to be fading away as she gets older and her parents begin to doubt the story about the music of the pines.

There are moments told by several different characters throughout the story, but I found that it kept the action going and the story moving forward when another character might have shut down emotionally. Revelations about a failed performance and its root cause are perfect, and might just cement peoples views on television based talent contests. The tidbits about the Jersey Devil, and area folklore, were nice additions to the story and added a special flavor to the conclusion.

I recommend Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace to readers around nine and older. Tweens, teens, and adults can all easily lose themselves in the story and recognize something of themselves in the at least some of the emotional aspects of the story. Finding yourself, and your personal song or rhythm, are important to the story, which will leave readers of all ages a little more aware of how they seem themselves, and in turn how they see and treat others.
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