Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Children's Review: The Order of the Owls

{Click here to view it on Goodreads}
The Order of the Owls is the first in a series featuring a feisty and fearless girl named Minerva Mint. As a baby, Minerva was found abandoned in a train station, bundled into a travel bag with a volume of The Universal Encyclopedia. Also in the bag was an envelope with the deed to Lizard Manor, a crumbling estate that's rumored to be haunted but really is filled with an array of eccentric creatures, such as the band of foxes that reside in one of the five lounge rooms. Minerva is taken in by kindly Mrs. Flopps, and together they live in the manor while Minerva waits for her parents to come claim her. In this first adventure, Minerva makes friends with Ravi and Thomasina, two children who live in the nearby town. What I most liked about the book were the characters: Minerva is seemingly undaunted by her distressing past and eager for an adventure while Ravi finds his new friends' antics to be a distraction from his homesickness for India. Thomasina is the rich girl living in a house that is the stark opposite of Lizard manor. Despite Thomasina's background, her character is surprisingly not snobby and unaffected by the difference between her lifestyle and those of her two new friends. I liked that she was a departure from the classic formula for the "mean girl" in this tale. The plot itself is driven by Minerva's desire to find her parents, but the mystery of Minerva's past is made even more threatening when a couple tries to claim her as their own in order to get their hands on the deed to the manor. Though the adventure is not particularly fast-paced, I read the book in just a couple hours and find myself looking forward to the next in the series. I was expecting some elements of magic or fantasy to be involved, but the book is rather comforting in its ordinary setting and realism and reads like a remix of Pippi Longstocking and Annie.  I would recommend it for readers in 2nd to 4th grade and to those who prefer their characters to be smart, outspoken, and up for anything.

Recommended for ages 7-10 years (grades 2-4).
Bottom Line Rating: 4/5

Title: The Order of the Owls (Minerva Mint #1)
Author: Elisa Puricelli Guerra
Publisher: Capstone Young Readers, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-62370-038-6
Length: 154 pages 
Format: Hardcover
Price: $9.95 on Amazon
Source: Public Library

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