Title: The Magic Warble
Author: Victoria Simcox
Year published: 2009
Publisher: Two Harbors Press
Number of pages: 276
Recommended age: 9+
Reviewed by: Renee and Danielle (Mother and Daughter)
Excerpt From “The Magic Warble”
What’s it About? The Magic Warble transports the central character in the story, Kristina, to the fantasy world of Bernovem along with three others who regularly bully her. Only there does Kristina learn that it is her destiny to break a magical spell placed on the land which has made the King disappear and which has imprisoned the Queen. Ruling the land is the evil Queen Sentiz, who with the help of her son Prince Ramon and her evil minions, the zelbocks, will stop at nothing to prevent Kristina from breaking the spell.
Kristina sets off on her quest to place the magic warble in its final resting place ultimately releasing the people, gnomes, dwarfs, fairies, and other creatures of Bernovem from the cruelty of Queen Sentiz. Along the way, Kristina enlists the help of the true Prince of Bernovem, Werrien, some spunky fairies, talking animals, and helpful dwarfs and gnomes. But, not everyone is who they seem to be and Kristina must learn to distinguish friend from foe. And, what will Kristina do when she learns that her three tormentors have been captured by the evil Queen?
My Thoughts: Victoria Simcox has created an intricate and imaginative world in Bernovem filled with elements of magic; fantastical creatures such as dwarfs, gnomes, fairies, and zelbocks; and the classic theme of good versus evil. The complex plot features a likable and strong female main character in Kristina and is filled with unexpected twists and turns. As a reader, I had many moments of “I did not see that coming.” Victoria Simcox is an excellent story-teller.
Kristina, the main character in the book, is a 12 year old girl who is awkward, has very few friends, and is a bit of a loner. This is a classic tale of the introduction of a young girl who suffers from low self-esteem who is thrust in a hero role in an alternate world. Isn’t this the fantasy we all have as tweens/teens? I think many tweens and teens would identify with how Kristina feels and how her character develops as her self-confidence grows.
There is an extensive supporting cast of characters in the book ranging from the children who are mean to her in her real world; to the people, animals, and magical creatures who help her along the way; to the evil characters who live in Bernovem; and finally, to the characters who turn out to not be who we think they are. I think that, overall, the range and depth of the characters added to the enjoyment of the story; but I do feel that sometimes the characters were a bit over-the-top and stereotypically mean with few redeeming traits. That felt ok for some characters such as Queen Sentiz, but sometimes it made me uncomfortable with the descriptions of the children (Hester, Davina, and Graham) and how they treated each other.
On the other hand, the transformation of Ugan the dwarf, including detailed descriptions of his thought processes, I felt was very well done. With respect to character development, we witnessed significant changes with Ugan and Kristina, but it seems that the three children (Hester, Davina, and Graham) did not develop as characters. Their experiences didn’t change them: they were just as mean to each other afterwards. I was a bit disappointed by that. Although, having read the next book, The Black Shard I know that they were indeed transformed by their experiences.
The story itself is thoroughly exciting and engaging. It is a really fun adventure filled with many side stories as the history of Bernovem is revealed and we learn more about the people and creatures of this magical land. There are many unexpected plot twists, but everything really ties together nicely at the end of the book. That being said, I do feel that the disappearance and re-appearance of Graham was a bit rushed and it felt out of sequence with the rest of the story.
I thought the cover art was beautiful and that it really captured the feel of the fantasy-filled story. There are also 1 to 2 simple pencil drawings per chapter (that’s Davina to the right) and these really help bring the story to life. I think that drawings (and preferably simple ones) go a long way in helping children “see” a story. I do feel that middle grade books still need to include illustrations as a transition from picture books and early chapter books, to books for teens and adults which rarely have pictures. I really appreciated the artwork and felt they were completely appropriate for this book.
My bottom line: The Magic Warble is a well-written, fun, fantasy-filled adventure that has an interesting and twisting plot-line and a colourful collection of characters. I really enjoyed reading it from cover to cover.
Who Would Like This Book? I think any tween or teen who loves reading stories filled with magic and fantastical creatures and who love to be surprised at every turn will really enjoy this book. Ages 9+.
Grown-up Rating: ★★★★☆
1. How would you describe a “warble”? A warble is a magic ball that changes colour. It also breaks a spell that was cast over the kingdom. It turns into something but I don’t want to give it away.
2. What do you think of the cover and the pictures in the book? I thought the cover was really cool and I liked that there were lots of pictures on the inside.
3. Who is main character and what did you think of her? Kristina is a 12 year old girl. She sometimes reminded me of me and how people at school sometimes treat me. I liked her a lot.
4. What was your favorite part of the book? My favorite part of the book was at the end when something special happens to the Magic Warble. It is really cool, but it’s a surprise so I don’t want to say what it is.
5. Was there anything you didn’t like about the book? I didn’t like the part where one of the characters turns out to be mean and evil. Someone is not who you expect them to be. It made me sad and mad to read that part.
6. Overall, how did you like the book? I really, really, really loved this book. I loved that it had magic, a long adventure, and that there were completely unexpected things that happen. Some things you just couldn’t predict would happen.
7. Who do you think would like this book? I would recommend this book to kids 8 and up, both boys and girls.
Daughter Rating: ★★★★★
*** This book was provided to us free-of-charge by the author exchange for an honest review.***
About The Author:
Victoria Simcox was born in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, to an Austrian immigrant mother, and a Dutch immigrant father. She now lives in Western Washington with her husband, Russ and their three children, Toby, Kristina, and William. Her other family members are a Chihuahua, named Pipsy and two cats, named Frodo and Fritz. Besides being an author, Victoria is a home-schooling mother of twelve years and an elementary school art teacher of eleven years. In her spare time, Victoria enjoys managing her two older children’s Celtic band. She also loves writing, reading, painting watercolors, hiking, good movies, and just simply hanging out with her family and friends.
Please visit http://victoriasimcox.blogspot.ca/ for more information on Victoria Simcox and her books.
Look for Book 2:
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