Story Thieves by James Riley will be adored by all of my fantasy/magic/science fiction loving students, but I'll admit it- this one was a challenge for me to finish.
The story is very inventive. One day, Owen catches his fellow classmate Bethany climbing out of a book. Yes, you read that correctly- CLIMBING OUT OF A BOOK! Bethany is a half fictional (her dad is a fictional character), so she has the power to jump in and out of any novel. After a little begging (and blackmailing), Owen convinces her to take him along, but he must promise to simply observe and not alter ANYTHING in the story. They jump into his favorite book, but coming face to face with his literary hero, Kiel Gnomenfoot, proves to be too much of a temptation for Owen. He soon starts a series of events that might change their lives forever.
I'm not sure why I struggled with this book. Admittedly fantasy is not my favorite genre, but I still typically get through most stories easily. This one was a very slow read, and I had to force myself to pick it up every night. It had an original premise and fun characters but started to get a little complicated half way through reading. It was hard to keep the book within a book characters and plot straight.
Nevertheless, it has mystery, adventure, and everything else young readers like, so I will certainly recommend it for ages 8 and up. I think it will fly off the library shelves and be a hit.