Authors: Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Length: 192 pages
From bestselling authors Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce comes an exciting new series full of magical creatures, whimsical adventures, and quirky illustrations.
Pip is a girl who can talk to magical creatures. Her aunt is a vet for magical creatures. And her new friend Tomas is allergic to most magical creatures. When things go amok—and they often go amok—Pip consults Jeffrey Higgleston’s Guide to Magical Creatures, a reference work that Pip finds herself constantly amending. Because dealing with magical creatures like unicorns, griffins, and fuzzles doesn’t just require book knowledge—it requires hands-on experience and thinking on your feet. For example, when fuzzles (which have an awful habit of bursting into flame when they’re agitated) invade your town, it’s not enough to know what the fuzzles are—Pip and Tomas also must trace the fuzzles’ agitation to its source, and in doing so, save the whole town.
Protagonist: Pip Bartlett can talk to magical creatures, though no one believes her. This special talent often leads to unfortunate "incidents" that leave Pip looking like an undisciplined and trouble making child. Her latest misadventure, known as "The Unicorn Incident," motivates her parents to send her to spend time with her veterinarian aunt for the summer. Once there she learns more about the magical creatures she loves, makes a new friend, and does her best to help when the town is infested by fuzzles, little puff balls that catch on fire. Since this is a middle grade novel there isn't much time spent on character development, mainly because characters like Pip and Tomas are great just being kids and making the mistakes that kids their age would make. I really enjoyed both the characters of Pip and Tomas. While Pip is up for adventure and discovery, Tomas is sort of her opposite, shy, mild mannered, and neurotic. When put together though there isn't much that these two cannot do.
World-Building: The entire premise of this world is built on the fact that magical and mythical creatures are knowingly living among the characters in this world. In fact many people seem to have magical creatures as pets. While the world isn't too developed, as in what makes these creatures magical? How are they classified and what makes some seemingly normal, but non-existent in our world, animals magical. However, it's a MG book so it was fairly easy to let these questions slide a bit. I was really pleased to discover that while this book is completely aimed at a MG audience, it's not annoyingly so, meaning that I'm sure there are a lot of people outside of that age group, much like myself, that will really enjoy this book.
Predictability: Given how short this book is, and the fact that there wasn't all that much foreshadowing, this book was pretty unpredictable. If you were to go through the book and look at all the beautiful artwork prior to reading the book you might spoil certain parts, or at the very least heavily hint at certain story elements to come. I can't really think of a time that I knew for certain what was going to happen, which isn't really a bad thing, especially for a book this size.
Ending: While this is the first book in what appears to be a trilogy, the ending of this book feels very much like a stand-alone. There wasn't really any real final climax, like you would find in a book aimed for an older audience, but there is some sort of climax as the book draws to close, and a rather humorous one at that. I'll be interested to see how the rest of the series will be presented, whether it will jump forward in time another year or so, or if it will pick up not to long after the end of this installment. Either way I'm interested to see what sort of adventure Pip and Co. go on next!
So for a MG book is is a definite five stars, it's got adventure, magical creatures, wonderful guide book illustrations, what's not to love. Best of all, even though it's super short, I still felt like I went on a great adventure with these characters.