Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Freckles: The Dark Wizard

At Flame Rock Middle School, you show off your big biceps, post your dimples on InstaWitch, grow a cheetah tail, or use your fairy wings to fly down the hall. For Simon, wearing his peers' opinions can be a literal event. Especially since Simon has the visible mark of a weak wizard... freckles. What will happen when Simon learns he has dark magic and can conjure a dragon? Will he become one of the bullies he hated or choose a different path?

my review...

Wow, fun with a lesson. An important lesson. This may be  a fun story but bullying is not fun. Mixing the hurt of bullying, and ways to handle a bully with humor, makes every bit of this easier to read.

So...with that said, a book about kids handling normal problems in a rather magical world is an excellent setting. The author paints wonderful fantasy pictures, placing us all right in the scene at times. This is an easy read and it flows well. I think sometimes that is necessary to get young people to read. At 200+ pages, I think it could easily be read by what we now call the tweenage reader (7th to 8th grade). I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying it no matter their age.

read an excerpt... 

Simon stepped forward. Krull grabbed him and pushed him backwards. “What do you plan to do, Freakles? Throw freckles at someone?” Krull laughed. Simon looked at his arms as all his freckles reappeared. Then he looked up as another book flew into Trent’s hurt shoulder.

Simon saw the air around his fists swirl. He felt a connection to something outside of himself. Last time he couldn’t identify what it was, but this time he could. It was power. And it felt like the time Simon’s family went to the beach. Simon remembered the warm sun all around him, seemingly lifting him up with its warm rays. That was the feeling Simon had now, except instead of sunbeams it was beams of power.

Up through the floorboards an image appeared. It was a dragon. A small dragon, maybe no more than three or four feet. But a dragon. It rose from the floor directly beside Trent. Then it stood between Trent and Danzig. The dragon swished its tail and opened its mouth. A shot of white light cast over Danzig. He fell down. His eyebrows and hair burnt off. Danzig panicked and began slapping at the flames on his shirt. The dragon walked around Danzig and then huffed. Then it flew back to a spot between Trent and Danzig. It sat like a well-trained pet. Then, as quickly as it appeared, it vanished into a fog of smoke. No one saw Simon’s hands as they returned to normal. The growing crowd had their eyes fixed on Trent and Danzig, stunned to silence. Simon still stood behind his friend, but the smoke was gone. There was nothing around his fingers except for his freckles. For all anyone knew, it was Trent and not Simon who had summoned the dragon.

Simon heard someone off to his left say, “Trent is a dark wizard!”

about Jerry Harwood...

Jerry Harwood
was born in Ooltewah, TN. His mother was an elementary school teacher and he spent his afternoons reading books in her classroom or the nearby library. He has experimented with other occupations: camp director, program director at a counseling center, college professor and middle school teacher. Jerry has backpacked Europe, taught in a Ukrainian University, worked in Rwanda after the genocide, is a first responder, sort-of remodeled a VW Thing, and has a love for Cherry Coke Zero that is only surpassed by his love for his wife, six children, and grandson.

Jerry attended college at UT Chattanooga where he was in university honors and majored in Latin and classical literature.  He has two master’s degrees, nearing completion on a third.  He lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he is an active member of the Chattanooga Writer’s Guild, the Atlanta Writer’s Club, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Feel free to share your thoughts on the book with Jerry at or visit his website at



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