This is a spellbinding return to the magical world created by Louie Stowell in The Dragon in the Library where we find Kit, the youngest wizard in the world making magical mistakes in training; however, she has a feeling that it is more than inexperience that is making her spells go wrong.
And when she and her friends discover that Dogon, the utterly adorable dragon-dog who lives in the library, is unwell and that they can understand the animals in their local park, they decide they have to investigate the dangerous creature that is causing havoc.
What they find is not at all what they were expecting and so, they find themselves on a mission to Scotland, travelling through one of the portal books in the library, a book on computers. The picture for this is just brilliant, and showcases Davide Ortu’s fantastic illustrations which complement the story throughout perfectly.
On arriving in Scotland, Kit and her friends meet the librarian Duncan – who is utterly brilliant – and soon find themselves on an action-packed adventure which involves mermaids, ancient curses and a battle of wills. The action is fast-paced, tension-filled, dangerous … it really did have me on the edge-of-my seat, quickly turning pages, to find out what happens.
The depiction of the friendship between Kit and her best friends, Alita and Josh is wonderful. It is filled with warmth, humour and support. There is a magic in their friendship: in their ability to cheer each other up; to draw on each other for strength; and, the belief they have in each other’s abilities. Josh is the clever, quick-thinking friend who has a thirst for knowledge; Alita is the gentle, animal-loving friend who sometimes lacks self-belief; and Kit is the outdoor loving tomboy who is developing her love of reading – yay! Together, they make a brilliant team!
I love the relationship between libraries, reading and magic in this story which is a beautifully symbiotic one. As a teacher who adores middle-grade books, I loved the symbolism in this as I truly believe that there is something very magical in losing yourself in a fantastic story. Every child is entitled to a local library where they can explore the magic, comfort and joy in stories of all kinds, and hopefully find the story that hooks them on reading for life, as I did with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, when I was a child.
This is a wonderfully warm, action-packed, humorous adventure for younger middle-grade readers. The short, perfectly-paced chapters and gorgeously bold images by Davide Ortu are perfect for this age group, and will certainly keep them engaged and entertained as they adventure with Kit and her friends to discover the identity of the real monster in the lake …