A boy travels to a magical world in this beautifully illustrated children’s novel by Richardson (Lavender Blue and the Fairies of Galtee Wood, 2013) and artist Sansom (Fairy Blossoms #3: Rose and the Delicious Secret, 2009, etc.).
Young Logan is always competing with his older brother, John, and despite his skill at video games, sports and the slingshot, he always feels second-best. After a mysterious bird lures the boy into eccentric Professor Priddle’s house, he soon launches into an adventure in the microscopic, magical world of Canlandia. He soon discovers that his arrival fulfills part of a prophecy about a hero from the “outer world,” who’s destined to save Canlandia from the evil Baron Von Jawbreaker and his Mad Gobstoppers. Logan doesn’t believe he’s special, but he wants to help, and alongside Canlandia’s greatest warrior, Butterbrickle (who’s Logan’s age), he travels through dangerous wilderness to confront the Baron. Along the way, he earns Butterbrickle’s respect and gains a new level of self-confidence. The world of Canlandia, with its edible environment and candy-colored landscape, is well worth exploring, thanks especially to Sansom’s brightly colored paintings. An author’s note at the end shows photos of the real-world landscapes in Ireland, Utah, Colorado and elsewhere that inspired the Canlandian locations, and these images are sure to spark young readers’ imaginations. The book’s impressive production value could easily make it a coffee-table book. However, the story doesn’t quite live up to the beautiful illustrations that surround it. Logan’s journey is a traditional portal fantasy, in which a young boy finds inner strength to defeat the villain. But although he faces many challenges, he doesn’t develop very much as a character, beyond his growth in confidence. Butterbrickle also never quite becomes a full, well-rounded person; despite her strength and amazing skill, her main function is simply to believe in Logan. And although the Baron voices a diatribe about wanting to be a benevolent dictator that changes Canlandia for the better, he never really moves beyond mustache twirling.
A kids’ book with fine illustrations but overly familiar story trappings.