cover image Island of the Aunts

Island of the Aunts

Eva Ibbotson. Dutton Books, $15.99 (276pp) ISBN 978-0-525-46484-6

As in her earlier popular fantasies, Ibbotson (Which Witch?; The Secret of Platform 13) once again brews a delicious mix of magic, humor and adventure. ""Kidnapping children is not a good idea. All the same, sometimes it has to be done,"" begins her latest novel, set on a remote island. The island's caretakers--three eccentric, kindly aunts who are getting on in years--need younger, able-bodied helpers to continue their mission: tending the injuries of unusual creatures (gigantic birds, talking seals, mermaids, etc.) who have been harmed by mankind. Resorting to desperate measures, the trio travels to the mainland to kidnap suitable candidates (""Of course it won't be a real kidnap because we shan't ask the parents for ransom""). Two of the abducted children are not sorry to leave home; they become fond of the island creatures and their captors almost immediately. But the brattiest, most spoiled of the three is intent on returning to the comforts of his mansion. Tension mounts when the children's whereabouts are discovered, putting at risk the island creatures' privacy and safety. The author's exquisite sense of humor plus an imaginative and memorable cast of characters make this a rollicking escapade with a timeless moral about respecting nature. Final artwork not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)