Almost time for the next school vacation! And if you need a book for a long car trip, I’ve got a good one!
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Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures
By Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater; Read by Cassandra Morris & Peter McGowan
4 Hours, 12 Minutes; 4 CDs
Pip Bartlett has an unusual talent…she can talk to magical animals. Miniature Silky Griffins, Bitterflunks, Unicorns, Emerald Dunking Ducks…if she meets it, she can talk to it. The problem is…no one believes her! Not her parents, not her classmates, not even her aunt, a veterinarian who specializes in magical creatures. So Pip has to keep her abilities a secret.
Then comes Career Day, when all the parents come to school to talk about their professions. Piece of cake, right? Pips parents are geologists and bring geodes for kids to examine; there’s a dad who’s a chef, a mom with the stringed instrument quartet, an antique dealer dad….and then there’s Marisol Barrra’s parents. Who raise unicorns. Pip LOVES unicorns! But unfortunately, unicorns love no one more than themselves, which Pip finds out from a vain unicorn named Raindancer as he tramples geodes, grills, violins and (almost) classmates and other unicorns, with Pip on his back!
After The Unicorn Incident, Pip is exiled to Cloverton, Georgia, to spend the entire summer with her Aunt Emma and cousin Callie. The best part to Pip will the the chance to help in the small vet clinic Aunt Emma runs. It seems like a vet clinic for magical creatures would be the perfect place for her, but it’s more difficult than you might think NOT to talk to creatures when they’re right in front of you. Things get a little heated when mysterious tiny fuzzles start popping up all over town, followed by fires that start small and grow to endanger everyone. Pip and her new friend Tomas jump from the frying pan into the fire when they realize that the fuzzles they’re trying to rescue are actually starting the fires. If that’s not bad enough, Mrs. Dreadbatch, from the Supernatural/Magical Animal Care, Keeping and Education Department, tries to close down Aunt Emma’s clinic and have the fuzzles exterminated. Can Pip and Tomas save the town from fire, the clinic from Mrs. Dreadbatch, AND the fuzzles from themselves? It’s a mystery and a rescue mission, all rolled into one!
I loved Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures! It was a fun and fast story, with lots of humor, an intriguing mystery, some great flights of imagination, and a wonderfully original character right in the middle of it all. Cassandra Morris narrates the story with lots of enthusiasm and great characterizations, while Peter McGowan jumps in to narrate the selections from Jeffrey Higgleston’s Guide to Magical Creatures, Pip’s source of information for everything magical…which she adds to once she meets a creature and agrees or disagrees with the description. In fact, if you listen to the audio book, you should definitely pick up the print book as well, so see the illustrations for each creature entry. Pip’s additions are humorous, and the illustrations are beautiful. If you don’t want to listen to the book on CD, Pip’s story would be a fun read-aloud for a family to read together.
Pip Bartlett would be a great family car trip book for everyone…kids as young as five or six would probably enjoy the story as much as adults, and it’s perfect for third through fifth graders. A second book just came out–Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Unicorn Training. I’m looking forward to reading and/or listening to that one too!
So come down to the library and check out Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures! And if someone else beats you to it, put it on hold and pick up something else while you wait. Similar titles would be Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George, Hatch! by Bruce Coville, or Ten in a Bed by Alan Ahlberg. Or ask one of our librarians for help finding something perfect, just for you!