No One Returns from the Enchanted Forest

First Second. May 2021. 240p. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781250211521; pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781250211538.
Gr 3-6–Bix and her younger sister Pella couldn’t be more different. Though both are gray-skinned, pointy-nosed goblins, Bix is a planner, rule-follower, and worrier, while impetuous Pella is unafraid to speak truth to power and call out injustice. When an earthquake endangers the sisters’ underground community on Teacup Island, Pella heads for the Enchanted Forest to give the Earth Queen a piece of her mind; meanwhile, a terrified Bix is determined to save Pella. Robinson’s debut adeptly follows the sisters’ parallel adventures in the Enchanted Forest, allowing time for learning, reflection, empathy, and page after page of lush, colorful art. A peaceful resolution requires both sisters’ smarts and experience—along with the help of new friends. Despite the story’s fairy-tale trappings, the satisfying and thoughtful ending eschews a pat happily ever after. Main characters are female-identifying, with a range of body types. Images of fantastical flora and fauna packed into the detailed full-page illustrations are an unexpected delight, and sections on Teacup Island beasts and characters at the end provides inspiration for a second or third read.
VERDICT Readers will delight in Bix and Pella’s escapades. An ideal offering for most libraries, and great for “Hilda” fans.

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