cover image Mez’s Magic

Mez’s Magic

Eliot Schrefer, illus. by Emilia Dziubak. HarperCollins/Tegen, $16.99 (368p) IS

In a captivating fantasy set in the mythical rainforest of Caldera, magic-imbued creatures come together to save their home. Advised by a knowledgeable boa constrictor, a calico panther named Mez joins other “eclipse-born” creatures, which include a tree frog, bat, kinkajou, and capuchin monkey. Unlike more typical members of their kind, they are able to “cross the Veil” and remain active at both day and night; together, they seek to prevent the dreaded Ant Queen from escaping her prison and once again conquering the land. This unusual alliance of “shadowwalkers” hopes to achieve their goal by traveling to an ancient ziggurat, discovering their individual magical powers, and learning how to imprison the Ant Queen. With a memorable, quick-bantering cast, this kickoff to the Lost Rainforest series, a playful departure from Schrefer’s ape novels, brings fresh perspective to the magical animal subgenre. And, despite the fantasy setup, readers will come away learning quite a bit about this ecosystem and its inhabitants. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Richard Pine, Inkwell Management. (Jan.)