The Storyteller

Scholastic. May 2023. 224p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338797268.
Gr 3-7–Ziggy is a member of the Cherokee nation living with anxiety and still processing the grief of his mother’s disappearance when he was a baby. Determined to find clues about her, Ziggy teams up with school misfit Alice to explore caves his mother once explored. Alice claims these caves are home to the Nunnehi, spirit people who may be able to offer guidance. What unfolds is a series of encounters with various magical creatures. Once Alice and Ziggy, accompanied by Ziggy’s sister Moon and friend Corso, start their adventure, the novel moves at a quick pace. In each chapter readers are introduced to a new magical creature or character, but the story does not feel fragmented. On the contrary, this narrative style is reminiscent of a folklore anthology, woven together with the overarching hero’s quest. In one of the final chapters, Ziggy reflects on the lessons he learned from the characters he met along the way. This reflection comes off expositional; readers will have already drawn conclusions and noted the lessons learned through his travels.
VERDICT Hand to tweens who enjoy magical realism and quest stories. Ziggy’s experiences with anxiety and loss will likely resonate with many.

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