With Willa the Wisp, Jonathan Auxier introduces a magical chapter book series .
The Fabled Stables: Willa the Wisp by Jonathan Auxier, illustrated by Olga Demidova. Amulet, 2020, 96 pages.
Reading Level: Chapter Book, ages 6-8
Recommended for: ages 6-10
“At the top of the world sat an island. And at the heart of that island lived a boy named Auggie.” Auggie’s gift is caring for animals, and his job as keeper of the Fabled Stables is both occupation and calling. All the animals of the Fabled Stables are fantastic beasts, like the Hippopotamouse and the Long-Beaked Curmudgeon. Auggie is good at his job but, like Adam in the garden, he’s lonely for a real companion. The only occupants of the island who can communicate with him are Fen (best described as a talking stick) and Miss Bundt, who is nice but usually too busy to play. Then one night, invaders appear on the island. They’re chasing an elusive, ebullient creature: a Wisp named Willa, who doesn’t know the danger she’s in . . .
The author has a lot of fun with wordplay, from the names of creatures (like the Yawning Abyss) to unexpected modifiers (like “a brilliant, bread-crumby idea”) to misplaced references (such as the invaders approaching with “toils and snares”). Very young readers may not catch all those, but they’ll enjoy the rhythmic language and the fast-paced action. Best of all, Willa the Wisp is only the first volume in the Fabled Stables series, so watch for dangling plot lines to be stretched further as Auggie pursues adventure.
Overall Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
- Worldview/moral value: 4
- Artistic/literary value: 5
Also at Redeemed Reader:
- We’ve reviewed plenty of Jonathan Auxier’s novels, many with stars: *Sweep, Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, and The Night Gardener
- The Fablehaven series doesn’t have much in common with The Fabled Stables, except fun fantasy for younger middle graders—see our review.
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