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Author: Allan Jones

Illustrator: Gary Chalk

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Publisher: Greenwillow Books, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2012

Material: Galley

Summary: Only the Oracle can find the Crown of Ice. Esmeralda, the hedgehog Princess in Darkness, is convinced she's that oracle. The fact that she has helped her group find three other crowns is proof! Climb aboard the Thief in the Night and join the crew as they traverse the land of Spyre on a quest to reach the Ice Gate before Captain Grizzleneck and his band of evil pirates. This is the fourth book in a fantasy series for middle grade readers.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 10 to 13

Interest Level: 8 to 12

Reading Level: 5.3

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: This is an exceptional read aloud. The humor is clever, with conversation driving the story more than plain narrative. The illustrations - especially of the characters themselves - are expressive and fun. Although the reading level is middle grade, the story is easily understood by younger audiences. I purposely picked up the book in the "middle" of the series. The prologue gives you some background, but I recommend reading The Six Crowns in order.

Pros: Lots of action combine with imaginative characters and events, to create a swash-buckling adventure for young readers.

Cons: When you pick it up, the book has the characteristics of a transitional reader: illustrations every few pages, and wide line spacing. However, the reading level is middle grade and the chapters hover in the 8 to 12 page range.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. Go back, read the first book first. Based on this book, The Six Crowns is a definite recommendation for reading aloud, but start at the beginning.


Educational Themes: Use this as a read aloud book to help kids visualize story concepts.

Notes: The publisher donated an Advance Review Copy (ARC) 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 - animal fantasy, animal characters, adventure, middle grade series, pirates

Date(s) Reviewed: December 2015

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at and


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