A great starter novel for kids 4-12
The Power of the Sapphire Wand continues the Creepy Hollow Adventures (the first being Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin: Creepy Hollow Adventures 1). It is crafted by the duo of Erika M Szabo, an established children's book author, and Joe Bonadonna, established in the Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction arena. I know Bonadonna's work more than Szabo's; even though he has written more adult fiction, he has always expressed empathy and interest in children's perspectives (partly inspired by a direct connection to the 1958 Our Lady of the Angels School fire).
The paperback The Power of the Sapphire Wand clocks in at 244 pages, but it reads fast with wide spacing and large font. Jack and Nikki are key young protagonists who come of age ~13yrs old, learning new Gifts and making friends as they adventure in "Creepy Hollow" (a parallel world, Narnia-esque). They leave earth to save family members and fantastical creatures from Evila, a cruel witch. All the fantasy creatures are derived from common myths/stories, and the "Creepy" world is appropriately fantastical yet very accessible.
Humor abounds, with three stooge-like goons (Poo, Goo, and Boo) and Dragon Rocks (a.k.a. scat, or poop) playing essential roles. Plenty of righteous motivations drive Jack and Nikki: they protect the weak and confront evil directly. It is fun to see them grow. Some of the bad guys are just too bad to save, but others are open to redemption.
In short, Szabo and Bonadonna make a great pair. Their Creepy Hollow Adventures is a perfect starting point for young children making the leap from "kids books" to "novels."
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