Keely is a lonely 10-year-old girl living in a town impoverished by successive closing of the local coal mine and a land-scam that bankrupted many of its residents. Keely’s father is mostly absent on marginally productive business trips and her mother assuages financial stress and loneliness with Jim Beam, venting her anxieties on Keely who takes emotional refuge in internal defenses her Gramms had taught her. But then, Gramms dies and Keely inherits Mariah — an ancient mare that had been owned by the family in better days and who mind-speaks to an amazed Keely, introducing the world of “im-possible is-possible”. And then, Mariah foals Crea — a unicorn. And for Crea’s sake, Keely and her animal companions travel to the land beneath the rainbows, doing good, defeating evil, and bringing treasure in the best epic fashion. With feet set firmly in the gritty and grim reality of current economic stress, The Ever Part of Always — Keely Tucker’s First Adventure by Toby K. Davis stands in the reality-fantasy genre of tales like Ende’s The NeverEnding Story. The story encourages kindness, forgiveness, and self-reliance. The text is illuminated by well-drawn line illustrations, reminiscent of books/serials of the early 1900s. For listening, storyline can be followed by a 6–7-year-old; the vocabulary should be reading accessible to a 10–11-year-old. Either group will, however, find concept or vocabulary being stretched. But isn’t that what reading’s for?

Reviewer: T. Preschersof, May 12, 2012