FICTION

The Bickery Twins and the Phoenix Tear

S. &S./Aladdin. (Unmapped Chronicles: Bk. 2). Aug. 2020. 336p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534443105.
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Gr 3-7–The Petty Squabbles’s family motto is “Do not be afraid…to stamp all over other people’s feelings.” That has worked well for 11-year-old twins Fox and Fibber until recently. Programmed by their money-grubbing parents, the twins only know greed and glory. Until a Bavarian antique store sends them on a quest into the Unmapped Kingdom of Jungledrop, which resembles a magically populated Amazon rainforest. The twins reluctantly agree to locate the Forever Fern, the only hope to save Jungledrop and nonmagical Earth, generally called the Faraway by Unmappers. Enchanting companions like Heckle the overly honest parrot help the children as they are pursued by Morg the harpy and her evil minions. Environmental awareness cleverly winds through the journey. This second book in the “Unmapped Chronicles” series can stand alone. It is told from the point of view of Fox, the female twin, with healthy doses of direct address. As with the first installment, the backstory is a little overwhelming. However, this volume better introduces setting, characters, and quest and achieves quick reader buy-in. This title stands out, not only for lovable secondary characters, but for the exquisitely horrible sibling rivalry. These are not pleasant children and that feels refreshing, especially as Elphinstone shows, (and never tells), how love can grow during a magical adventure.
VERDICT While the idea of Unmapped Kingdoms may require explanation, children will fall in love with the twins soon after meeting them. Recommended, especially for “Artemis Fowl” fans.

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