Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures Breathes Life, Youth into Urban Fantasy

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Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures Scholastic Jackson Pearce Maggie Stiefvater Critical Blast

Spiderwick has an alternative source of facts. Fablehaven has competition. And Hagrid wipes a tear from his eye as he adds a new volume to the summer reading list for the Care of Magical Creatures.

This is all due to one Pip Bartlett, a young girl who lives in America which is exactly like the one we know -- except for the zoology, which has been expanded to include magical creatures. Despite all this magic that people have everyday contact, there is an unshakeable disbelief in Pip's claim that she has the ability to talk with these creatures like some eldrich Doctor Dolittle. Perhaps that's because she can talk with the creatures and understand them, but they're under no obligation to obey what she tells them.

After Pip causes an "incident" at her school's career day (involving some rather pretentious unicorns, who are bad listeners), Pip spends the summer with her Aunt Emma in Cloverton, where she runs a clinic for magical creatures. It's the perfect world for Pip, who loves spending time with animals more than people. She even makes a new friend, Tomas, who is allergic to everything -- and allergies to magical creatures manifest themselves in magical ways! But still, trouble manages to find her, first in the form of a unicorn who's scared of everything, and then with the advent of fuzzles -- little puffball creatures who hum, purr, trill... and ignite when they get excited, which is no good for your underwear drawer, which is apparently a comfortable nesting spot for them.

Pip is determined to find out why the fuzzles have infested Cloverton before the fuzzles burn the place down or the irascible Mrs. Dreadbatch of the Supernatural/Magical Animal Care, Keeping and Education Department (S.M.A.C.K.E.D.) can bring in the exterminators. With help from Tomas and her seemingly aloof cousin Callie, Pip finds herself in a race against time to save creatures that most people consider a nuisance.

Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater weave a delightful middle-grade chapter book with PIP BARTLETT'S GUIDE TO MAGICAl CREATURES, injecting some much needed youth into the urban fantasy genre. Pip should surely find a comfortable place somewhere between Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi's SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES and Brandon Mull's FABLEHAVEN series.

4.5 / 5.0