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Summary: Aldwyn things life in Bridgetower is an adventure. Finding fish to steal, grilling it in the chimney smoke, running from Grimslade. In an attempt to escape Grimslade's arrows, Aldwyn jumps into the closest open window. He is in the shop of familiars, animals of every species with magical powers. Hoping to hide, Aldwyn jumps into an empty cage. When Jack spots him, the connection is instant; but Aldwyn has a new problem: he has no magical powers! What fate awaits him if fellow familiars Skylar (the blue jay) and Gilbert (the tree frog) find that out? So begins Aldwyn's new adventures and a journey of discovery. This is the first book in a middle grade fantasy series with three magical animals and their wizards in training.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, independent book, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 10; read yourself: 10 and up
Interest Level: 8 and up
Reading Level: 3.8
Age of Child:
Adult Reader Reaction: What a fun, fast read. Events start at a fast pace and the speed of the action continues to the last page. Readers will easily identify with specific characters (human and animal) and keep turning the page to learn more about them (as well as what happens next). There are lots of subplots, too. Jack, Marianne, and Dalton are orphans, and it is nice to see that they have positive adults in their lives; these are not Oliver Twist- or Harry Potter-type situations.
Pros: Lots of action and well-developed characters will wrap readers into this story from beginning to end.
Cons: The young wizards' mentor (Kalstaff) is removed from the picture early. His importance to Jack, Marianne, and Dalton is established very quickly, and some readers may be taken aback by what happens.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. If you're thinking about the whole series, then I would buy it. Readers will definitely need to refer to previous books to check on historical events or characters.
Educational Themes: This is an adventure story, first and foremost. That said, there are themes of trust and cooperation, as well as problem solving, teamwork, and relationships that can be explored.
Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.
Literary Categories: Fiction - fantasy, animal stories, series book
Date(s) Reviewed: October 2014
Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at barnesandnoble.com and amazon.com.