An ill-used imagination conjures up some serious big-time baddies in this charming English import.
It’s bad enough when your sister is the family do-gooder, but now she can perform magic as well? And not just any magic either, since Lucy now has the ability to invent any creature from scratch. When a magic wood behind their home grants Henry’s sister this awe-inspiring gift, he soon learns that she’s in danger from her own creations. The garingay want to steal her away, the yo yitsoo are on the prowl, and dangerous cupcakes are shrinking their victims at a frightening rate. Solving this puzzle means figuring out a way to un-invent the worst of the creatures before Lucy is stolen once and for all. Part of the book’s charm is that it reads like a highly logical stream of consciousness with a bit of dream logic thrown in for spice. Readers hoping for a familiar story arc may find expectations upended by the book’s many quiet passages and repetition. Illustrator Donnelly’s jolly pen and inks, in which Lucy is depicted as light-skinned (implying that Henry is too), reflect the lighthearted goofiness of the writing, even if she has an occasional tendency to take the author’s descriptions as only mere suggestions.
A mad-dash fever dream of a book peppered with magic, fancy, and just a little bit of soul. (Fantasy. 7-10)