Happy Thursday, Reading Nook!
Our second review today is Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures.
The SUPERBLY talented duo of Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce, have written a funny, delightful tale on the power of individuality, and how embracing your differences can help the world around you.
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published April 28th 2015 by Scholastic Press
Format read: Finished copy via publisher
A wonderful tale with an insightful heroine who can hear and help the magical creatures around her, this is a story that will charm readers of all ages.
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.
Stiefvater and and Pearce introduce us to Pip, a young girl with the ability to talk to magical creatures. Pip's the only person with these abilities, so when magical creatures called fuzzles - creatures who burst into flame at the slightest bit of provocation - invade her town, it's up to Pip to save the day...
At its core, Pip Bartlett is a coming-of-age story about a young girl who is learning the positives of embracing her differences, and how to use those differences to help others. Though innately positive and witty from the get-go, Pip has been overlooked and/or very subtly ostracized by her peers for most of her life, due to her abilities.
But rather than go the typical MG/YA route of having Pip complain and/or try and get rid of her abilities, Stiefvater and Pearce smartly challenge Pip (and the reader!) by having her face situations where she begins to realize that she can actively use her abilities to help others.
When she starts caring for persnickety animals at her aunt's vet clinic - including a very, very neurotic unicorn - there's an underlying understanding that Pip is the only one who can really reach these animals. She's unique in what she can do, and she's also key to helping make the lives of both creature and pet owner, a little better.
Stiefvater and Pearce also explore what it means for Pip to have people who accept her abilities at face value, even if they may not fully believe her. It's another great underlying theme of finding people who are willing to accept you for you - quirks, warts and all - and how that can empower you to greater heights and greater challenges - especially when it comes to figuring out just why a town is being slowly and methodically invaded by fuzzles, and what can be done about it.
Outside of Pip's core journey, Stiefvater and Pearce clearly have expansive imaginations when it comes to world-building. They've built upon pre-existing creatures of myth, by adding their own quirks and personalities. It makes the world ridiculously enjoyable, and I was actually disappointed when the story came to an end. I would have loved to spend more time in Pip's world!
The only thing that didn't quite work for me, was Stiefvater's drawings. They're adorable and awesome - just like Maggie! - but they're also very anime-esque. At some points, I felt like they didn't always jive with the nature of the story. But again, this is a personal preference. I was also reviewing an ARC, and the drawings will definitely have changed for the finished copy.
Bottom line though: aside from some personal art preferences, this book is a winner, hand's down. Stiefvater and Pearce have spun a yarn about friendship, loyalty and being true to yourself, and how that can only improve the world around you in the end.
I highly recommend this book for all readers, but especially those who enjoy and/or are seeking books that encourage those to be proud of individuality, and find the magic of using that individuality to help others.
About the authors:
Maggie Stiefvater is the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of the novels SHIVER, LINGER, FOREVER, and SINNER. Her novel THE SCORPIO RACES was awarded a Printz Honor, and the first two novels in The Raven Cycle, THE RAVEN BOYS and THE DREAM THIEVES, each received five starred reviews and were named to numberous best-of-the-year lists. She is also the author of LAMENT: THE FAERIE QUEEN'S DECEPTION and BALLAD: A GATHERING OF FAERIE. Maggie lives in Virginia with her husband and their two children. You can visit her online at www.maggiestiefvater.com.
Jackson Pearce lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with a slightly cross-eyed cat and a lot of secondhand furniture. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in English and a minor in Philosophy. She auditioned for the circus once, but didn't make it; other jobs she's had include obituaries writer, biker bar waitress, and receptionist.