Kane Miller/EDC Publishing: Tulsa, OK, 2010.
Originally published by Allen & Unwin Pty: Sydney, Australia, 2009.
Darius Bell and the Glitter Pool is an unusual and refreshing read. The Bell family lives an alternate lifestyle in an otherwise commercial, modern society. It can afford to do so, because their estate was bestowed upon their ancestors by a grateful ruling class. Due to some jealous people among that group, restrictions were placed upon the holdiing of the estate. A gift must be given every 25 years to the town, and none of the estate can be used or sold for monetary gain.
Since centuries have passed, the family is lacking money, and parts of the estate are in disrepair. The Bells get by through the use of a barter system. They have several retainers who live on the land and use some of their resources in exchange for providing services (the cook, the farmer, the maintenance guy, etc). They are all friends and have time to pursue careers separately. It is similar to the medieval landlord/peasant setup, except that the retainers receive all of the profit and only a little is expected of them. Also, they have more freedom to leave and more choice in their lives. It is like a small community within the town's community.
Much of the book is taken up with the matter of the Gift. The leader of the town is spreading rumors about how spectacular the Gift will be, knowing that the Bells have no money for anything flamboyant. Any old gift will do, but Darius's father is unwilling to give something that will not uphold the family name.
Darius has stumbled upon something that he thinks will help solve their dilemma. He goes to great lengths to develop the idea, all the while keeping it a secret, as much as he can. Coming up on the eleventh hour, he thinks he has failed. One of his friends demonstrates that it need not be monetary, and he includes more people in the secret in order to pull it off.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The problem solving aspect is inspirational. I like to see a bit of nature and science employed as well. It may seem a little simplistic, but that works fine for the reading level.
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