cover image The Emperor’s Ostrich

The Emperor’s Ostrich

Julie Berry. Roaring Brook, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-59643-958-0

Berry (The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place) creates a lively, magic-laced folktale featuring a self-centered emperor, a dairymaid, a farmer boy with grand romantic ideals, and two very stubborn animals. It begins when two ancestral spirits decide to teach the 21-year-old bully of an emperor a lesson, kidnapping him and leaving him on the road with no companion except an eight-foot-tall ostrich. In a nearby village, Begonia is searching for her wandering cow when she runs into Key, who has left home to seek his fortune. Believing Begonia is a damsel in distress, Key insists on being her escort, and they soon cross paths with the unrecognizably bedraggled emperor. Disastrous predicaments ensue, and the travelers find themselves on a mission to save the empire, which has been usurped by a scoundrel who makes the original emperor “look like a saint.” Whimsical details, including an enchanted map and a pot of mustard that changes flavor, will delight readers, and the nonstop action will keep them on the edge of their seats. Ages 9–12. Agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group. (June)