A review by Joey Madia
Book I: Sharoo Awakens
Spirituality is often difficult to talk about with children. Despite numerous studies that show that meditation can help with everything from concentration to stress, most school systems do not have meditation programs, as it is perceived by many parents to be a form of religion—and one to which they are not comfortable having their children exposed.
Given this unfortunate situation, W. W. Rowe’s Eedoo Trilogy is important. Taking place in a parallel universe where things are close enough to ours to be recognizable but different enough to be a fun literary device, these chapter books (each chapter is set off by an illustration by Benjamin Slatoff-Burke) introduce or reinforce the importance of being in touch with your higher self, represented in Book I by the enigmatic, warning spirit guide/guardian angel called Eedoo (who is termed a Floater).
Like imaginary friends, the existence of Eedoo is questioned by adults, with some significant results.
I mentioned that the parallel universe is fun. This is partially so because of the adjustments to common words and phrases, which also serve, similar to A Series of Unfortunate Events, to call attention to vocabulary (e.g., flutterbys instead of butterflies). There are also phrase adjustments like sleep room and water rituals (washing up, we called it).
Rowe also has fun with alternatives for popular acronyms, such as URL (to us it means Uniform Resource Locator, but in the universe of the book it is Ultra-Rarified Level). There is also plenty of punning, which also shines light on vocabulary and the uses of language. Young readers are introduced to portmanteaus in the form of a planet called Blore, a combination of blood and gore.
At a time when parallel universes are no longer in question, given the work of NASA, Google, D-Wave quantum computing, and quantum physics, children being exposed to the subtleties of the shifts in paradigm that might be likely is no less than good education.
Any children’s book that takes place in a school, especially one with elements of mysticism and magic, is likely to be compared to the Harry Potter series. One comparison in particular is the school teacher who has it out for the students, in this case Mr. Sade (a nod to the infamous marquis from whom the term sadist derived) and his corporal punishment device, the Zapper. In my days in Catholic school, a wooden ruler or a tug on the ear would do. When one of the children mentions the teacher’s battle-axe of a wife, I thought of the schoolmaster in Pink Floyd’s The Wall.
The heroine of the trilogy is Sharoo, recognizable as a cross between Judy Bloom’s Sheila the Great and J.K. Rowling’s Hermione Granger. She is a character that is likeable because she is identifiable. She navigates home and school as the targeted audience of ages 9 to 12 must.
It is interesting that, despite the book making a strong case for the importance of meditation and being in touch with our guides that the fortune teller/witch character is so stereotypical, from her cackle to the “curved, warty nose” and single tooth. I know many psychic mediums (I am married to one and father to another) and given their beauty and “normality” it’s probably time for such off-putting stereotypes to go.
In the last third of the book, Sharoo answers the call to adventure, becoming the stranger in a strange land as she leaves her home to help the king and queen.