In a magical Maine town sitting invisibly within normal Maine, Annie and friends try to retrieve their guardian from evil clutches.
At the end of Time Stoppers (2016), the evil Raiff took universally adored Miss Cornelia (in her rainbow skirts) to another realm. The Raiff is also holding hostage elves who had been long thought dead. The rescue mission is ostensibly urgent (“Every minute that passed was another minute the elves and Miss Cornelia came closer to death”), but the plot’s pace is measured, and the kids have ample time to pause, think, and go places. They meet and ride a dragon; they go to Ireland by conventional air travel. The rescue mission’s details and parameters are arbitrary and seemingly meaningless. Still, the characters show welcome kindness and poignant insecurity, and the text sprinkles in humor (a werewolf’s “exasperation seemed to make him even furrier”), whimsy (a red dragon is, of course, a Red Sox fan), and an abundance of magical creatures. Though the previous installment featured Annie and Jamie as protagonists, here Annie dominates. Jamie’s the only brown-skinned character among many white people. Pal Eva’s characterization as stereotypical fantasyland dwarf—clumsy, blustery, braggadocious comic relief—is unsettling given that real-life little people sometimes also use the word dwarf; Eva could easily be human, but the text treats her as uniquely mockable.
Sparkly and creature-filled, toggling between fresh and trite. (Fantasy. 8-12)