Willa the Wisp by Jonathan Auxier

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

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Janie

Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.

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