"A Flicker of Courage"

Tongue-in-cheek humor, a hare-brained plot and a rich palette of off-the-wall characters make Deb Caletti’s “A Flicker of Courage: Tales of Triumph and Disaster,” a zany, captivating read.

At the onset we meet good guy Henry Every—who might be better off an orphan than ward of his abusive parents, so out-there-horrible they’re laughable. Henry is honest, soft-hearted, a shy kid wanting to do only what’s right, an anomaly considering his upbringing.

Henry takes comfort in leaning out the open window of his house to hear the lovely goings-on at the neighbor’s—the family Dante, who tip the scale when it comes to love and kindness. The parents adore their children, Apollo the oldest and his little sister Coco and brother Rocco.

All is well with the Dantes until Rocco is turned into a naked lizard by cruel Vlad Luxor the current ruler of Timeless Providence, the “Horrible Ruler with Magic.”

Thus begins a quest to rid Rocco of his scaly bonds. Apollo, Henry and their buddies, Pirate Girl and Jo hop on their bikes and zip off to Henry’s Grandfather’s seaside home by a lighthouse. Grandfather is an understanding old gent who advises them, with expert assistance from The Beautiful Librarian, who’s as magical as a fairy Godmother.

The answers to the kids’ quandary lies in a book the librarian selects and the race in on to follow the spell-breaker instructions, an adventure of untold danger and guffaws that launches the kids and naked lizard into one crazy experience after another.

Young readers will relish their wild escapades and the quirky photographs that accompany the story. “A Flicker of Courage” concludes with lots of unanswered questions, which will have fans clamoring for the next book in this new series.