The Forbidden Expedition

S. & S. (Polar Bear Explorers’ Club: Bk. 2). Nov. 2019. 352p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534406490.
Gr 4-7–In this series sequel, Stella Starflake Pearl is eager to go on her next adventure as the first female member of the Polar Bear Explorers’ Club. Her anticipation is halted by the discovery that she is an Ice Princess, her mother was a cruel Ice Queen, and the witch Jezzybella murdered her parents and wants to harm Stella. She must also grapple with prejudice from others who are fearful of Ice Princesses. When Jezzybella attacks Stella’s home and her adoptive father Felix goes to the dangerous Witch Mountain alone, Stella launches a rescue mission. With her explorer friends Ethan, Beanie, and Shay, Stella sets off to face Jezzybella. Along the way, the explorers meet Witch Hunter Cadi and Witch Drusilla. They learn that not everything about Witch Mountain, Jezzybella, and the cruel curse of ice magic is what it seems. This novel continues the whimsical world-building Bell established in the first book. The creatures the explorers face are both fearsome and funny, including vampire trolls and argumentative mushrooms. Some readers may find Bell’s world a little corny, but fans of Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted or any of Rick Riordan’s series will be intrigued. Tomic’s wonderful illustrations enhance Bell’s story and bring the creatures to life.
VERDICT A delightful fantasy adventure that will leave readers wanting the next book in the series.

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