A #WyrdAndWonder Audiobook Review | “The One Great Gnome” by Jeff Dinardo, narrated by Simone Stevens, courtesy of #NetGalley

Posted Monday, 10 May, 2021 by jorielov , , , , , 2 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: In late Winter (February, 2020) I joined NetGalley for the first time as they finally announced they were going to be offering full-length audiobooks for reviewers. I was never able to join NetGalley due to having chronic migraines and being unable to read ebooks. I started requesting audiobooks to review as soon as they opened their audiobook catalogue in July, 2020. I am an eclectic reader and thereby, you will see all genres in Fiction explored from both markets of interest: mainstream and INSPY as well as from Major Trade, Indie Publishers & Press and other routes of publication, too. There might be the occasional Non-Fiction title appearing in my NetGalley queue of reviews as well. This marks a new adventure for me seeking stories for review consideration and I look forward to seeing where the stories lead me to venture.

I received a complimentary digital and temporary audiobook copy of “The One Great Gnome” direct from the publisher One Elm Books (an imprint of Red Chair Press) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All audiobooks via NetGalley are able to be heard via the NetGalley Shelf which is why I was thankful to be gifted an android tablet by my parents to celebrate my 7th Blog Birthday on Jorie Loves A Story. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

NOTE: As a new reviewer on NetGalley, I’m sorting out how to get the Press Materials for each of the audiobooks I’m reviewing when I share them on my blog Jorie Loves A Story. When I contacted NetGalley Support they informed me that if a separate Press Kit is not included on the audiobook’s book page we’re allowed as reviewers to use the book cover and synopsis provided when we go to share our review of that audiobook on our blogs; as long as we give attribution as I have done at the bottom of this review in “Sources”. Those materials are provided with permission of the publishers to be used by reviewers via NetGalley.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Why I was intrigued to listen to “The One Great Gnome”:

It all started when I was a young girl fascinated by the tv series (animated) called David the Gnome – which was about David’s wife and their family and their community of gnomes. It was quite an interesting series and I never understood why it didn’t gain more traction on dvd (or perhaps it had and I never knew it?). I’d love to find a collection of it on dvd one day – but until then, I had Gnomeo and Juliet to occupy that space of interest for me! The cheekiness of the plot, the characters themselves and of course, the absurdity of the whole affair is what had me rollicking in laughter since the film started! The fact they made a sequel delighted me to new heights of hilarity!

And, yet, there was a lot of heart in those films, too! I just have always felt a certain fascination about gnomes but I didn’t actively pursue finding more stories or films about them. They just sort of wander into my life every so many years – such as this particular audiobook caught my attention just before Wyrd And Wonder began our 4th Year this May, 2021. And, coincidently enough – right around the same time I found this lovely I also found another which is on an audiobook blog tour!

On the 27th of May – I’ll be talking about another story about gnomes “Magical Neighbours” by Mary Ellen Spencer – be sure to return!

Gnomes are simply interesting characters – they have such distinct personalities – they sometimes remind of me of the seven dwarves in that respect because some are friendly and good-natured whilst others are quite a bit grumpier! You just never know!! I was delighted to see how the author of this story would approach the gnomes and how the story would unfold with having a human girl inclusive of the story as well. So far, I generally read about gnomes where there are no humans engaging with them so this was an unexpected surprise to explore during Wyrd And Wonder!

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Notation on Cover Art Design: 

There is something cute and whimsical about the cover art for this audiobook. I liked how it showcased Sarah and her innocent curiosity about gnomes which I felt translated well throughout the story. It would be a delight to see this artwork up close and personal – and I would imagine the hardback copy would have more illustrations to go in-step with the storyline, too.

A #WyrdAndWonder Audiobook Review | “The One Great Gnome” by Jeff Dinardo, narrated by Simone Stevens, courtesy of #NetGalleyThe One Great Gnome
by Jeff Dinardo
Source: Audiobook Direct from Publisher via NetGalley
Narrator: Simone Stevens

In the spirit of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, this story introduces listeners to the magical and mysterious hidden world of gnomes, elves, and trolls....

Eleven-year-old Sarah moves with her family from New York City to rural Hadley, Connecticut. She's eager to explore her new home and meet new friends, but she never expected to befriend an old garden gnome. Join Sarah as she is drawn into a secret world beneath our feet. Sarah uses her instincts to calm old rivalries and help the underworld elves, gnomes, and more live in peace.

Genres: Action & Adventure Fiction, Children's Literature, Middle Grade, Fantasy Fiction, Epic Fantasy, Middle Grade Fantasy, Juvenile Fiction


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Book Page on NetGalley

ISBN: 9781947159594

ASIN: B08T5WMWLZ

on 17th January, 2021

Format: Audiobook | Digital Review Copy (NetGalley)

Length: 2 hours and 48 minutes (unabridged)

Published By: One Elm Books

an imprint of Red Chair Press (@redchairpress)

Formats Available: Hardback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #MGLit, #MiddleGrade, #MiddleGradeLit or #MGFantasy

as well as #TheOneGreatGnome + #NetGalley and esp #WyrdAndWonder !!

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

✍📖 Follow the author: Site 

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

my review of the one great gnome:

Sarah is your typical eleven year old girl whose been uprooted from the home she’s always known and has relocated both out of state and out of the city! She’s found herself living in a farmhouse only her parents can see the beauty and charm of living inside. Sarah’s adjustment to ‘her new home’ isn’t as quick as her parents might have hoped it would be – as she’s still thinking of herself at home elsewhere from here. It happens to us all – we are suddenly somewhere new and the newness hasn’t quite worn off – wherein your mind likes to play tricks on you about ‘where’ you are and how you came to be where you are ‘now’. I could relate to Sarah and what she was feeling. Relocating even under the best of circumstances can be a bit jarring and I was sure, given the changes in her life from city to country life – this was one move that might take more of an adjustment period to accept.

Her father reminds me so dearly of Tim the Tool Man Taylor (from Home Improvement) because he’s what you would call ‘the father who believes he’s handy about the house but in all practicality has no idea about what he’s doing’. He has good intentions, mind you, but I had a feeling Sarah’s father has had as many injuries as Tim Taylor! If not, more?!

The best part of any relocation is exploring — I used to do that myself when I was Sarah’s age and even younger! The best bit is when your parents let you have the freedom to go out and take stock of your surroundings. Either the immediate yard round your house or the wider neighbourhood – where you need a bike just to see all the different streets which interconnect with yours without going onto major highways or byways. That was the best part of childhood really – being able to ride your back through different neighbourhoods all interlocking together with yours and feeling a bit of the freedom you’d have lateron in life once you started to learn to drive. Of course, having a backyard as big as Sarah’s was just as wicked good because you could curate a whole activity log just by what you could do there. I thought it was clever she was already considering which trees were for climbing and where the best place would be to put a swing! Sounds like my kind of gal!

When Sarah first finds the gnome – he looks just like an ordinary garden gnome which of course brought back fond memories of the Gnomeo and Juliet films — but something about this gnome led me to believe there is more to his story than meets the eye! In Sarah’s innocence, she took him with her into the house and I was curious if this might parlay into the childhood stories of where stuffed animals (or other toys) become alive whenever that child or person is either out of the room OR asleep! It would be interesting to see what the author has planned for us and I couldn’t wait to see the reveal. And, guess what!? The script was flipped!! I loved how the unexpected happened instead — as I didn’t quite see that coming!

When Vesper decides to stay with Sarah for awhile, I was taken by how Ms Stevens changed her voice three different ways – from Vesper’s uniquely thick accent, to the sweetness of Sarah and then, reverting back to her narrating voice. It was such a wonderful sequencing because you truly felt you were sitting company with a gnome and a young girl at this farmhouse! We were treated to a short history about why gnomes aren’t inclined to liking trolls and that was good folly in of itself! There is also a bit of lore behind what allows a gnome to be alive and what will render them still as stone!

Once Vesper and Sarah started to take their journey together, we learnt more about the gnomes – such as hearing about the Ogg (or the One Great Gnome!) before they took leave of Sarah’s home to find out what happened to Vesper’s parents. There was a portal to reach his world on her land and this part did remind me of Alice in Wonderland – as the portal was similar in both action and use; not to mention that it was also a wonder how a human child could fit into the same portal of a gnome! I liked how this was described as it actually became a bit more believable through keeping the perspective on Sarah’s impression of what was happening to her and where she was ‘going’.

Navigating the gnome world takes a bit of ingenuity on behalf of Sarah as this isn’t like her world – in this one, everyone is afraid of a troll invasion (and rightly so!) and they seem to have an issue mistaking humans for trolls! However, the best part about Sarah’s introduction to the gnomes world is through Maisie as she’s definitely the kind of character you’d hope to meet yourself if you were in Sarah’s shoes! She’s full of moxie, knows how to spin a yarn and makes you feel cosy-comfortable even though you’re completely confused by your surroundings.

When Sarah finally finds Vesper, he relates to her the story about his people. He’s the Ogg’s cook but his story is bittersweet as he doesn’t know what became of his parents – he’s found a shell of a home they once inhabited but it was the stories he told her which captivated Sarah and I. It involved trolls and a concise history of the gnomes. The sound effects in the background made you believe you could feel the fire crackling in the fireplace which added to the atmosphere of the setting. As there are many sound effects throughout the telling of this audiobook – all aptly timed and fully immersive to the scenes in which they alight.

Every story has its share of villain’s, and what I appreciated about how gently told this story was is that it didn’t overthink how to introduce the villain’s to the reader and listener. You gathered for yourself based on the information and clues presented to you, the trolls were definitely either grossly misunderstood or simply the kind to avoid altogether. You knew to be cautious in their company and that is why when Sarah meets Ralph, the troll – it was a bit curious how that encounter left an impression on both of them. Freda the sprite was a cute addition – as she added a bit of humour and friendship to the storyline.

The quest Vesper and Sarah undertook together led them through gnomeways (ie. passageways) which could interconnect to different places both in the real world (where Sarah lives) or within the gnome world itself. It is a clever shortcut and reminded me of stories which involve ley lines and/or hidden portals of passage. Their main goal was to reach Gnome Mountain and to seek out information about what became of the missing gnomes (like Vesper’s parents) as well as the OGG (or The One Great Gnome). What is more interesting is they met a true nemesis in Crickshaft (spelt?) of whom was an elf who had a power streak in him that would make anyone shudder who met him! He was one wickedly deceitful fellow and definitely an apt opponent when it comes to putting other lives in danger!

What staid with me though is how Dinardo threaded this entire story by the first discoveries and observations Sarah made on the grounds of the farmhouse. Those initial finds and the curiosities they encouraged out of Sarah is what truly knits the story together. You have to pay close attention at the beginning in order to gain the most out of the ending. I felt it was a very well told story from that perspective because of how it encourages younger readers to listen harder to the stories their hearing in audiobook but also to be full of the wonderment of escaping into a fantasy world wherein gnomes, sprites, trolls and elves all exist concurrent to our own living world.

This is definitely a great primer for Portal Fantasy and Urban Fantasy – as when Vesper first meets Sarah, it has elements of an Urban Fantasy where the fantastical intersect and interact with us in our world. I even liked the fuller backstory about the OGG – his origins and how he became he most important person in the gnome world itself. Without spoiling anything – I found that an interesting twist of story and I thoroughly enjoyed the revelation as I hadn’t quite connected the same dots myself as I was too wrapped up in Vester and Sarah’s Quest.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

on the fantastical musings of jeff dinardo:

I loved how immersive this story became the more you dive deeper into the gnome world! Dinardo keep everything on a level of enjoyment for younger readers – you get to see this world through Sarah’s POV which in of itself is a wonderment of joy and innocence; where she’s eager to take an adventure into a world she hadn’t expected to be visiting. It gives such a warm introduction to Fantasy if this is the reader’s first entry into reading Fantasy stories as it allows younger readers to feel as if they are tagging along with Sarah; seeing what she sees and experiencing this world with the same sensibility she has herself.

Dinardo keeps the fantastical approachable in this story – he makes the whole world come to life for the reader and the listener, alike. The narrator was a fantastic choice because of how she undertook the ability to not just give voice to the characters but to bring each of those characters straight to life by how she voiced them and gave them depth by how she performed through the narration of those characters. I felt her narration was a strong compliment to how Dinardo wrote this story and how the story could feel to the listener.

He also kept the Fantasy elements on the softer side of the ledger, where if this was only your first or second entry into Fantasy, you wouldn’t feel too overwhelmed. And, for those who are more experienced at reading Fantasy, I think you would feel entertained just to take the Quest with the characters and see how this world opened itself up to those who wander in search of the truth.

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Seeking out the fantastical elements –

→ Gnomes!

→ Sprites!

→ Trolls!

→ Elves!

There is a strong variety of Fantasy species in this storyline but at the heart of the story is finding ways to communicate with them and to seek out the truth behind the deception of what was happening in the gnome world. There is a strong narrative about seeking out friendships and alliances and of not giving up even if the future seems a bit blight. There are a lot of lovely life lessons entwined into the Quest itself and also through the experiences Sarah and Vesper have as they encounter sprites, trolls, elves and fellow gnomes!

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#AudioReads banner created by Jorie in Canva. Unsplash Photography (Creative Commons Zero) Photo Credit: Alice Moore

In regards to the audiobook directly:

I am appreciative of Ms Jess providing a cursory outline of how best to articulate my listening hours on behalf of this audiobook and the others I shall be blogging about or reviewing in future. I’ve modified the suggestions to what I felt were pertinent to respond too on my own behalf as well as keeping to the questions I felt were relevant to share.

Number of Times I’ve heard the Narrator(s):

This is my first time listening to Simone Stevens.

Regards to the Narrator’s Individual Character performances:

Sarah: She has a very young voice as you would believe her to have as she’s just eleven years old in the storyline. She has a sweet nature about herself despite her unease about moving to another state in the country. Her innocence remains a part of her character’s journey as she enters into the world of gnomes, trolls and elves as well. She has a kindness about her I think younger readers will appreciate hearing and she is the best guide to have in this world.

Sarah’s father: His voice sounded different enough from Sarah’s to differentiate between them but his voice wasn’t too strong or bold in regards to how you might have expected a father to ‘sound’. He took a more backseat role once Sarah and Vesper became partners and explorers.

The gnome (Vesper): His voice sounded just like you’d think he would! He was definitely not accustomed to humans and that explained his initial reactions to Sarah! He had a thick accent and was a natural bourne storyteller. You couldn’t help but want to have Vesper in all the scenes as he added so much to the storyline.

The characters in the background:

Maisie: She has a chirper personality and likes to laugh at herself which made her an interesting character for Sarah to meet when she first entered the gnome world.

Ralph, the Troll (the one Sarah meets): His voice was deeper than Vesper’s and he had a slow moving speech as if talking to Sarah went against his own nature. I had the feeling trolls have more issues with trust than gnomes!

the OGG: He had a wizened older voice and he was quite the compassionate character. He has a few secrets of his own which are introduced at the right time I felt in the story, too.

How the story sounded to me as it was being Read: (theatrical or narrative)

I liked how Ms Stevens approached narrating this story from different perspectives – wherein she had distinct voices attached to different characters but she had a mainstay voice for the narration as well when she was narrating betwixt and between characters or dialogue. I felt it was theatrical in how she conveyed the story – she put empathsis on certain words that needed an extra shine of light on them and she performed through the words themselves, which I always love to find in audiobooks!

Regards to Articulation & Performance of the story:

Articulation:

Ms Stevens had wonderful articulation throughout the story – the only thing I felt was a bit off though was the author’s preferences for how Sarah referred to her Dad; in some sentences he was ‘Dad’ and in others ‘father’ but sometimes within the same paragraph it switched back and forth which didn’t feel quite as natural as I think the author was trying to have it sound. Usually those of us who called our fathers’ Dad would keep with that term rather than suddenly shift between ‘Dad’ and ‘father’ simultaneously.

Performance:

You’re drawn into Ms Steven’s narration because of how she’s found the right balance between the innocence of Sarah’s view on the world and the larger expanse of how her life intersects with the lives of the gnomes. I especially enjoyed how Ms Steven’s performed through the narration, gave further depth to both the characters and this world by how she build the characters through how she voiced them as much as how she used specific sound effects to make this world feel familiar. Those sound effects were inserted in just the right way and at just the right times, too.

Notes on the Quality of Sound & the Background Ambiance:

When Smokey the cat was heard ‘meowing’ was an unexpected treat! Not all narrators add-in sound effects to the stories their narrating and hearing that meow was very well timed! It felt natural to hear Smokey say something too. The squeaking door of the potting shed gave a bit of atmosphere to where Sarah was adventuring in her own yard. There were a lot more sound effects throughout the duration of the story which I felt added to the experience of listening to the story. It became very interactive and I loved the choices which were made about which sounds to highlight and when they were inserted.

Preference after listening to re-Listen or pick up the book in Print?

I believe it would be interesting to read this in print – as I am quite sure there are illustrations to go along with the story as its being read. It would also be a strong compliment to the audiobook if you wanted to re-listen to the story and read the book in print at the same time. I felt Stevens did a wonderful job in narrating the story to where you could simply reply on her narration without the print book in your hands, too. So for once, I’m on the fence about what I’d prefer as I enjoyed this audiobook without having to lean on a copy in print.

In closing, would I seek out another Simone Stevens audiobook?

I definitely appreciated getting to meet Ms Stevens through this audiobook! She is a natural at multi-character stories and she makes each character stand out by themselves to gain your full attention. The sound effects were a special treat for this production, as not all audiobooks have those in their chapters and I felt they were used at just the right intervals to make the story remain believable. I would love to see what else she has narrated – either in this genre or in others as I think she’s a natural talent.

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Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

This book review is courtesy of:
One Elm Books via NetGalley

I am grateful for NetGalley
for audiobook readers
who love seeking out the audio stories
which might not be available to them to listen
otherwise whilst increasing their
Literary wanderings with #newtomeauthors!

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Reading this story contributed to my #WyrdAndWonder Year 4:

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CLICK THE BANNER TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR YEAR 4 EVENT | READ JORIE’S YEAR 4 INTRO

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Enjoying my fantastical reviews about the worlds of Fantasy?

Ever since the beginning of Jorie Loves A Story, I have embarked on a Quest to seek out stories within the worlds of Fantasy which would heighten my awareness of the genre and give me wicked good reads – across the subniches of a genre I’ve loved since I was seventeen. Every May, I happily co-host @WyrdAndWonder – whilst throughout the months of the year, I regularly read & discuss the Fantasy reads I am discovering.

Visit my full archive for ALL my #EnterTheFantastic wanderings! As well as take a walkabout through my archives for #WyrdAndWonder – or take a walkabout through my archive for everything deemed wickedly fantastical!

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{SOURCES: Cover art of  “The One Great Gnome” as well as book synopsis were all provided by the publisher via NetGalley and are used with permission of the publisher and NetGalley. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #WyrdAndWonder Book Review banner, #WyrdAndWonder Year 4 banner and the comment box banner.}

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Monday, 10 May, 2021 by jorielov in Book Review (non-blog tour), Elves & the Elven, Faeries & the Fey, Fairy Tale Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Fantasy Romance, Indie Author, Mythological Societies, Self-Published Author, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Supernatural Fiction




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2 responses to “A #WyrdAndWonder Audiobook Review | “The One Great Gnome” by Jeff Dinardo, narrated by Simone Stevens, courtesy of #NetGalley

  1. Gnomes are fascinating and honestly I love reading about fae woodland creatures- i like the occasional dark take but am also thrilled with the Narnia- esque, more friendly/ wholesome take as well? And this- “The best bit is when your parents let you have the freedom” So true!!!!! Exploring is one of the best memories of childhood! :)

    I also like the idea of the gnome world connections with the real world in different places. The ambience sounds wonderful also.

  2. Love this review! This sounds like a cute story, and like it would be a great introduction to the fantasy genre for young readers. I’m not sure I’ve read many fantasy novels that feature gnomes, but they have so much potential as fantasy creatures! The moving to a new house and portal aspects are giving me Narnia vibes.

    I like how you reviewed the audiobook narrator. I have trouble knowing how to review narrators, so I end up not including it in my review. Your review has given me thoughts on what I need to think about when listening to an audiobook.

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