The Book of Wonders

Jasmine Richards, Author
Jasmine Richards. Harper, $16.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-201007-0
Ebook - 416 pages - 978-0-06-209918-1
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In her skillful debut novel, Richards, an editor of children’s books in the U.K., keeps the novelties coming. The setting is Arribitha, a land with ancient Middle Eastern overtones; the quest is full of danger and magic; and the combative protagonist, known variously as Zardi or Zee, is in fact a 13-year-old Scheherazade. Zardi is the daughter of a vizier serving a cruel sultan who has forbidden magic throughout his realm, and her best friend is Rhidan, a boy whose silver hair and violet eyes are unlike those of anyone else they know. When Zardi’s sister and father are taken by the sultan to be prey in his hunt, Zardi and Rhidan go chasing rumors of rebels who might be persuaded to help. Their escort is an unwilling Sinbad, a pirate-charlatan whose half-djinni mother sets the children on their path of destiny. It’s a fun action-adventure read, unapologetically two-dimensional, and a good challenge for developing readers, who will find the headlong action a worthwhile incentive to master the vocabulary. Ages 8–12. Agent: Adams Literary. (Jan.)
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