Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures
by Jackson Pearce & Maggie Stiefvater
♦publisher: Scholastic Press
♦release date: April 28th, 2015
♦hardcover, 198 pages
♦intended audience: Middle Grade
♦series: Pip Bartlett, book 1
♦source: ARC from publisher for honest review
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.
Review: Take two of my favorite authors, a fearless and determined heroine, and a fun plot full of magical creatures and the chaos they cause, and it’s pretty much guaranteed to have a story that I will really enjoy. I ended this one with a smile on my face and the next second, I handed it over to my 9-year-old son (lover of animals both magical and not) and said “read this, you will love it!”
Pip Bartlett has an incredible gift. In a world where magical creatures are just a part of everyday life, she is the only one who can actually talk to them. One big problem is that no one believes she can do it. Another is that being able to listen to them always seems to get her into trouble. There is a really great theme running through the whole story of just having someone that listens to you and believes in you, for both Pip and the magical creatures. I really rooted for her to find someone that would just put a little faith in her and I love that she found that in Tomas, a funny, fearful, and very sneezy new friend. She also finds a few allies among the animals themselves on her quest to save the town and save an innocent (but very flammable) species from being exterminated!
The story is made even more fun by the addition of several creature sketches and notations on the characteristics of each one. Some are familiar, some are brilliantly plucked from the endlessly creative minds of these two authors. Though the writing style is very young--much younger and less complex than I think most of us might be used to when we pick up an MG book---it is as charming as can be, and I'll be happily reading and enjoying the future books in this series no matter how old I get!