Magical Animal Adoption Agency: Clovers Luck, by Kallie George, for MMGM
Happy MMGM, my friends! As I type this, we here in North Carolina have had minor freezes and threats of freezing rain, but no snow. That’s still quite cold enough for me, and it’s easy to see how a lovely (warm!) summer book like this one could be a hit for some young reader to unwrap. 🙂
Magical animals and a hidden super cool place for the protagonist to explore? You’ve got all of that and more in Magical Animal Adoption Agency: Clovers Luck, which is in the spotlight today.
This was a super short story that will appeal to boys and girls who want the kinds of stories the stronger/older readers are enjoying, but at an easier level to plow through them the fatter fantasy books that are generally available.
Despite the fact that I enjoyed the book, initially I almost put it away and stop reading. So to coax you through these negatives (which I do want to discuss) I’m first going to give you a pic of a fairy house. To remind you of where we’re going with this post. 😉
My first hesitation came when we quickly shifted from modern life to fairy tale/olden days type setting without any actual shift or transition–more of a lurch. The initial setup is that Clover has just gotten out of school and is disappointed when she finds that her friend has gotten into the Pony camp they both wanted to go to and were wait-listed for, while Clover did not get in. She thinks this is just her luck as she is a very unlucky girl and is happy for her friend but sad that there will be no ice cream runs or sleepovers adventures, and she can forget the excitement that she would have had with her friend all summer. She knows she will be bored since her parents work all the time. Typical modern-day kid, yes?
But, wait! Shortly after this we find that Clover lives in a village with a deep dark woods nearby, where no one lives and in which no one goes because they’re afraid of it, and that even the adults don’t know what is on the other side of this mysterious woods. My difficulty was that none of that sounds remotely modern, does it? And the story carried on with this kind of juxtaposition of fairy tale and modern, going back and forth the entire time. Another example: the adoption agency for magical creatures where Clover eventually volunteers feels like something straight out of a fantasy or fairy tail if you don’t mind the modern refrigerator. Initially this really pushed me out of the story. And another–Clover’s parents appeared to be reasonably on the ball professionals, caring and aware of their daughter, yet they never find out even the address of the new place she’s volunteering or who she’s working with on a daily basis.
So, there are some definite world building quirks that require suspension of disbelief and a willingness to ignore possible discrepancies. If those weren’t enough, it also bothered me that right up front Clover is asked to keep secret from her parents where she is going during the day by a man who is supposedly a good guy and cares about all creatures, Clover included. A chapter or two later we learn that she is only keeping secrets about the fact that she is working with magical creatures, and not that she is working with animals at an animal adoption agency, so that helped. But I would have preferred different handling of the situation.
All of that said, I do think the book is worth pushing into! And I also suspect these issues will not be as problematic for young readers as they were for me. The creatures found in the adoption agency were delightful and unique while remaining true to the tropes readers expect from fantasy beasts. In addition, Clover’s need to be ingenious and reach within herself to solve problems that she encounters, once she is left to manage the adoption agency on her own, is delightful to read as an adult and I’m sure would fill a younger reader with triumph. I also enjoyed reading about her encounters and interactions in the woods with both those who are adopting animals and the animals themselves.
Best of all, in the end, Clover finds the resources inside herself to create her own happy ending for the magical creatures of the adoption agency, and for herself. The message is that you create your own luck if you’re lucky enough, and that message came through very clearly without beating the reader over the head with the message stick. And finally, I have to give a shout out to the illustrator Alexandra Boiger, whose delightful drawings throughout really added a touch of whimsy and fun to the story. Sometimes I barely notice the drawings in a book, and sometimes, like here, they add a whole ‘nother layer of character. 🙂
Now, let’s see what Apricot-kitty has to say:
“A bit simple for my taste, but I liked this book. As for luck, so far as I can see humans have little of it. Cats, on the other hand, are some of the luckiest creatures out there. We generate good luck when we purr. A lesson for you humans in there, eh?”
I think we’d all agree that’s true. For more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday spotlights, interviews, reviews and giveaways, stop by Shannon Messenger’s blog. Happy reading, and happy holidays!