Don't miss this entertaining treat for chapter book readers!
It's a little bit creepy, a little bit fanciful and a whole lotta delightful.
"AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD SAT AN ISLAND.
And at the heart of that island lived a boy named Auggie. "
On this island are the Fabled Stables. They look small from the outside, but inside they are magically massive enough to be home to one of a kind magical beings.
Auggie, a young boy with the ability to talk to animals, is their caretaker.
Unfortunately he's the only boy on the island and lonely. He may or may not be friends with Fen, a cantankerous 'stick in the mud" who transforms into any shape Auggie needs while caring for the stables. All to often this means turning into a shovel to dig out the muck a stable inevitably acquires. The only other people on the island are Miss Bundt, who, based on her many tattoos, may or may not have been a pirate in a previous career. Her job now seems to be to make things for Professor Cake, an old, clever collector and owner of the island.
One morning the earth shakes. When Auggie rushes to the stables he discovers a new stall. The back of it opens into a swamp where, unbeknownst by him, far away, some hunters are chasing down a magical creature.
Auggie, wrapped in a bit of Gargantula's web so he doesn't get lost, heads off in search of the new creature. Willa the Wisp, seems to be a bunny like creature with floppy ears, fluffy tail, horns and wings. She has the capacity to transform herself into whatever shape she wants.
Things seem dire when Auggie and Willa end up trapped in a net by the nefarious hunters.
I adored so much about this book. Jonathan Auxier's writing is whimsical and fun. I've read this three times and each time I am more enchanted. My NetGalley copy included unfinished artwork by Olga Demidova, a Russian illustrator now living in the USA. She creates exquisite art using photoshop. I found some of the finished work I shared here on her instagram site.
In his introductory note, the author writes,
The Fabled Stables is meant to be read aloud. As a parent I've struggle to find read-alouds that strike a balance between the interests and attention spans of my differently aged kids. I wanted to create a series that combined the more complex plotting and language of chapter books with the illustration-every-page excitement of picture books. Truly, this is a series meant for readers of all ages."
Thank you Jonathan Auxier for your brilliantly executed vision.
I've already ordered a couple of copies of this for two of my grandchildren. (I might even have to purchase a copy for myself for when they come to visit)
I'm excitedly looking forward to the next in the series.