Book Review

An oaf and a shroud - Two local authors write books for children

By: Reene Abbott, for the Auburn Journal
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Carol Guild, features editor for the Auburn Journal, initiated the Support Placer Writers program in 2015 to promote local authors and inspire AJ readers to buy and read their books.
I have reviewed both fiction and non-fiction; additionally I reviewed a book helping writers perfect their craft and one outlining steps parents can take to make their children more proficient at reading.
There are subcategories of writing, two of which are juvenile and young adult, and it is important for children and teen-agers to be given books geared to their ages so that reading, instead of being an “assignment,” becomes entertainment, a pastime, a looked-forward-to time of wonder, fantasy and adventure.

“Oaf in Ophir”
In Daniel G. Linsteadt’s wonderful book, “Oaf in Ophir,” Emory, a little boy spending the summer at his grandmother’s rural home, enjoys being away from his own neighborhood with rows of houses and apartments, with “trees and bushes … crammed into tiny yards or neatly placed in the small neighborhood park.”
Being able to roam among trees and streams and flower-filled clearings, Emory seems to be surprisingly in tune with the plants and birds. The jays are particularly quiet one afternoon, as if something is causing them concern. Could it be the mysterious, mythical Oaf reported to live in the area?
Emory sees a knothole in a tree; the next day the knothole is gone. Was the Oaf there and did he disappear into the knot?
Emory questions his grandmother about the Oaf, who not only encourages him to try to find the Oaf, but also prepares a very special sandwich for Emory to give to him and suggests he write a note to the Oaf.
Does his grandmother know more than she’s telling?
Without lecturing or moralizing, Linsteadt quietly lets the reader in on the history of the Oaf, his reasons for living outdoors, and his efforts to preserve and protect the countryside and the plants and animals living there.
Those of us who are lucky enough to live in this extraordinary place should read this book and share its message with children so they, too, will appreciate and defend it, and perhaps, one day, become a special knot on a special tree.
Linsteadt’s book, “Oaf in Ophir,” is available at,, and A sequel is in the works.
Linsteadt is a resident of Auburn.

“Peril of the Sinister Scientist”
Janet Ann Collins mixes a little bit of religion into her charming story of a little boy trying to figure out who he is.
Joshua Davidson learns that before he was born his mother worked in a secret laboratory in Arizona where a scientist named Sindoni covertly attempted to develop a clone made from the blood of Christ on the Shroud of Turin. He comes to believe he is the result of that experiment and is, in fact, the clone of Jesus Christ and acts accordingly at school, only to get into trouble at every turn. He misses classes, loses his two best friends, insults a girl in a wheelchair, gets locked in the janitor’s closet, and starts a food fight in the cafeteria.
Having lost his friends, Joshua sits at the “nerd” table at lunchtime with Chris, who, because he has a lot of comic books about Christ, Joshua asks about the Shroud of Turin. Later, at the library, Joshua checks out books about the Shroud and finds out that “Sindone” is another name for the Shroud.
Oh no! Sindoni must have been a code name! Now he knows for sure he is a clone!
A mysterious brown car is seen outside their apartment, a car belonging to the scientist who conducted the experiment, which concerns his mother and frightens Joshua.
His mother once remarked that the rich man who set up the lab, and the scientist, were both arrested, so Joshua makes a mighty effort to avoid the scientist, who he is sure wants to kidnap him and hold him for ransom, and “rescue” his mother from the scientist’s evil clutches, all while waiting impatiently for his Christ-like powers to kick in.
Maybe he would get his miracle powers by being struck by lightning.
But until that happens, Joshua must avoid the scientist and try to keep his mother safe from him.
The subsequent days show our young hero to be doughty and brave, and to be the miraculous hero he was born to be.
Throughout the book Collins, an author with great insight into the mind of a child, had me laughing out loud at some of Joshua’s thoughts, comments and actions during his adventures.
As I read, I continually thought this book would make a great Disney Channel movie.
“Peril of the Sinister Scientist,” by Janet Ann Collins is available at,, and Collins is a resident of Grass Valley.
Reene Abbott lives and reads in Colfax and gives books as gifts to everyone.