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Kathe Gogolewski

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by Kathe Gogolewski   

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Publisher:  Wings Press ISBN-10:  1590885643 Type: 


Copyright:  November, 2003

TRI Studio Books LLC
TRI Studio Books LLC

After a boy loses his grandfather, who was his best friend, he acquires magical powers that get him both in and out of trouble. His grandfather's spirit returns to help him make the right decisions.

TATO, a fantasy/adventure for upper elementary readers, captures children's imaginations by recognizing their desire to earn the admiration of the adults closest to
them. The story casts Michael Tate, an inventive and willful boy, and his bossy older sister, Nicole, into a strange world filled with mirrors and strange creatures where they must rescue their parents from the evil power that rules the realm.

Michael's trouble begins with the passing of his grandfather and best friend, Gankum. Rebuffed by his family when he insists that Gankum now lives in his closet, he confides in his grandfather's spirit that he wants someone new to love him. When he
learns the secrets for creating a baby brother by soaking a potato in a magic formula, he jumps at the chance.

He botches the formula, however, and instead of a brother, two creatures are spawned: One, soulless and desperate, kidnaps Michael’s parents. The other, Tato, part human, part potato yet irrepressibly warm and affectionate, accompanies Michael
and Nicole in their quest to find and free their parents. Danger and treachery greet them every step of the way. Children will be enchanted by this tale of a young boy who acquires magical powers that get him both in and out of trouble.
“You’re not a ghost, Gankum, are you?” he asked. “you’re not dead! Right? You’re alive, right here in front of me!”

The look in Gankum’s eyes was soft. “I am not alive, my dear one, like you are alive,” he said.

“Why, Gankum? You feel alive.” Michael felt a lump growing in his chest.

“Yes I do! And my spirit is alive…alive for all eternity!” Gankum said.

“But this is your body too, though, right?” Michael asked, patting his grandfather’s chest.

“This is the body that your belief created for me, so that I could visit you,” Gankum said.

Michael began breathing heavily.

“No! Gankum, no! You didn’t die! You didn’t!” Michael buried his head in Gankum’s shirt and began to sob uncontrollably. His muffled cries echoed up and down the hallway. His grandfather stroked his hair, kissed the top of his head and held him. After a good long while, Michael grew silent, his chest quietly heaving.

Finally he looked up. His eyes felt swollen.

“Gankum, I don’t care! Even if you are a spirit now, I want you to be with me! You are my very best friend!”

“I know, little man, and I am always here for you,” Gankum promised. “Whether you can see me or not.”

“What do you mean, Gankum? If I can see you or not?”

“I mean, little man, that love never ever dies, and it is always through love that you are with me,” he said softly.

“But how will I know that you love me if I can’t see you for you to tell me?” Michael asked.

“You will feel it. Any time, anywhere, whenever you desire, just think of me and you will feel my love.”

“But Gankum, you won’t be able to talk to me anymore without your mouth.”

“Yes, yes I will.”

“How, Gankum?”

“In your heart. Whenever you want to, you can become very still, and you will hear my voice in your heart. Would you like to try it now, just to see?”

“Well, okay, I guess,” Michael said, though he was feeling skeptical.

“Shut your eyes then, and ask me a silent question. Then become very, very quiet and listen…from the inside of your heart, listen carefully.”

Michael did as he was told and searched for a question to ask his grandfather. Then he thought of one.

Gankum, he thought to himself, how much do you love me?

A moment passed before Michael felt a flood of joy and laughter enter his heart and being. He recognized that feeling…it was the pure essence of his grandfather. It was the very feeling that he loved best about being with Gankum…warm and sunny, safe and happy…only now, in his heart, it felt amplified and pure, like a beam of sunshine on a quiet lake.

A voice bubbled up from that feeling…not a voice that could be heard with his ears, but it could still be heard, inside…

I love you bigger than the stars and I love you forever, the voice told him. Michael laughed, overjoyed, and opened his eyes. Gankum was laughing, too.

“Oh Gankum! I heard you! I heard you speak inside of me!”

“Yes,” Gankum assured him, “and I will always speak to you like that when you search for me in your heart.”

Michael thought about this. He also thought about his family. He thought about everyone being stuck here in this world feeding his or her soul to the mirror for all time. It seemed so silly. None of this was necessary. His whole family was suffering for it.

Michael made a decision. He turned to face his grandfather with the same strength of conviction that he had set out to save his sister from the spider.

“We must say good bye, Gankum.”

The old man’s eyes twinkled. His wrinkled hands gathered up Michael’s small ones, and he kissed Michael’s fingers.

“You are growing up, my little man,” he said.

Michael could feel the great love that this man had for him, and he was satisfied.

“I will never forget you, Gankum.”

Professional Reviews

Piers Anthony, Science Fiction and Fantasy Author
"I found Tato to be a well-written fantasy novel that...became compelling as the
magic developed."

"The story is interesting with young Michael believing more than he should, and
the power of his belief making it real. It also gets scary, as the malign mirror eats

"It's about a seven year old boy who tries to make a little brother from a potato
and almost succeeds. But he messes up the formula and spills some on a miror,
so not only does he get a talking potato instead of a brother, the mirror starts
devouring people, including his parents. Now he has to go into the mirror himself
to try to rescue them, and it's harrowing."

POT-Tato is cute. Getting lost in mirror-land, and stalked by trapped bugs is good
adventure. So I did enjoy this novel, and think a young reader would too."

Shirley Johnson, Senior Reviewer for MIDWEST BOOK REVIEWS
"This is a fun read, entertaining from beginning to end; but also one that will teach children lessons of life. Very highly recommended."

Established in 1976, the Midwest Book Review publishes several monthly
publications for community and academic library systems in California,
Wisconsin, and the upper Midwest.

Tracy-Jane Newton, reviewer for Alternative Book Reviews says:
"Kathe Gogolewski is an adaptable writer, who can turn her hand to creating a children’s story with ease. It’s not surprising she trained as a teacher! I enjoyed the ending tremendously, and when I asked my son what he thought, he told me, ‘I
liked the ending because it was happy, but kind of sad at the same time!’
This is a captivating adventure of magic and mayhem, where one child’s yearning for adult recognition throws him into an unfamiliar fantasy world, where he discovers his true inner powers – love and courage – are held within. Tato is guaranteed to thrill the younger audience and comes thoroughly recommended by us oldies too!" For a full review, click on the Alternative Book Reviews link

Tracy-Jane also says:
"I honestly enjoyed it (TATO) as much as Jake (her ten-year-old son) did, and reading together makes all the difference when you see he is enjoying it, and not just reading it because 'Mum wants him to!'"

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