Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures
Jackson Pearce and Maggie Steifvater
Scholastic, 2015 184 pages
Pip Bartlett series book 1
Meet Pip Bartlett, who has an amazing ability: she can speak to magical creatures. Only no one believes her and so far it has only landed her into trouble. When Pip starts a unicorn riot, which demolishes her school's career day, her parents decide to take drastic measures. Pip is sent to spend the summer with her aunt, a magical creature's veterinarian, and Broadway-bound cousin. It is here that Pip encounters her aunt's nemesis, Mrs. Dreadbatch, who is against all magical creatures and is trying to shut down Aunt Emma's facility. Friendship comes in the form of neighbor boy Tomas, who despite his allergy to practically everything, becomes Pip's partner in crime. Pip happily updates her volume of Jeffrey Higgleston’s Guide to Magical Creatures with new information as she conducts her research, until a new creature threatens to wreck havoc on Aunt Emma's small town. Little harmless-appearing fuzzles start showing up around town in barns and underwear drawers. The problem with fuzzles is that they catch on fire when scared, which can quickly spread. Mrs. Dreadbatch is on the warpath to exterminate the fuzzles and the Higgleston Guide is no help. It is up to Pip to determine what has brought the fuzzles to town and why they won't leave in order to save them from extermination. She must depend on her new friends and family, her ability to communicate with magical animals, and determination and grit to save the little creatures from harm and defeat the intolerable Mrs. Dreadbatch.
Designed to look like a real guide to magical creatures, this eye-catching book will appeal to readers. A collaboration of two seasoned authors for young people, Pearce and Steifvater, know how to draw-in their target audience. Filled with madcap situations, humor, and fabulous beasts, this series opener will keep readers delightfully turning pages. The setting is contemporary suburban United States, yet with a slight twist: magical creatures do exist. Putting this premise in a completely relate-able situation will help kids to identify with Pip and completely give themselves over to the fantasy. The authors have utilized some creatures already part of the folklore cannon, such as unicorns, and have developed some of their own, such as fuzzles. Mrs. Dreadbatch is a perfect foil of the Scooby-Doo variety that all kids will love to hate. Readers will cheer as Pip out-smarts her and saves the day, as well as the clinic. The chapters have snappy headings, the print is a good size, and interesting design elements will draw in reluctant readers. The illustrations all appear to be labeled drawings from the actual guide and are relevant to both the format and the plot and add further interest. The book is cleverly written and is laugh-out-loud funny in certain parts. All readers will enjoy this book, from die-hard fantasy fans to children new to the genre. The series will appeal to readers of the How to Train Your Dragon series. As someone who likes to believe that unicorns are real and maybe exist on some isolated island somewhere, I loved this book and think that children will too.