A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow is the masterful first volume in a fantasy series by Australian newcomer Jessica Townsend. Morrigan Crow is an outcast, plucked from the petty, provincial family that scapegoats her, and delivered to a magical realm where she competes for a highly contested slot at an elite school and society. While this treads familiar territory (think Harry Potter, the Percy Jackson series, and The Mysterious Benedict Society), Townsend confidently claims it as her own with this strong, highly imaginative debut. Morrigan battles self-doubt but is plucky and resourceful. The stakes are high -- she narrowly escapes death -- and the action's swift-paced. But Townsend also delivers convincing emotional moments with wit, not syrup, including the reassuring message that life brings unexpected adventures, and this book very happily counts as one of them.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In NEVERMOOR: THE TRIALS OF MORRIGAN CROW, Morrigan Crow's considered a "cursed child," blamed for every mishap and woe in the area, and she knows that all the cursed children are scheduled to die. But just as she turns 11, she's offered some "bids" to mysterious schools and apprenticeships. After signing one, a man appears: Jupiter North, who rescues her just as the hounds of death are bearing down. He spirits her away to the magical land Nevermoor and reveals he's sponsoring her for a coveted spot in the elite Wundrous Society. For this, she must compete against hundreds of other kids in four grueling trials. For the last, she must display a "special knack." But does Morrigan have a knack? And who's the evil "Wundersmith" people talk about? Has he returned to menace the land?
Is it any good?
Kids will hide under the covers with a flashlight long after bedtime -- one more page! -- to read this highly satisfying and engrossing new fantasy. With its page-turning plot, offbeat humor, quirkily colorful characters, and richly imagined fantasy world, Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow has all the earmarks of a classic. The writing's stylish, with just enough Britishisms ("brolly," "chuffed") to make readers feel they've been transported. Since Morrigan comes to Nevermoor without papers and risks deportation, author Jessica Townsend invites kids to think about issues related to immigration. And though Morrigan and her patron, Jupiter North, are white, other significant characters are people of color.
The messages embedded in the story are delivered meaningfully, in ways that feel psychologically smart. While Morrigan continues to feel the rejection from her family, Jupiter is the supportive parent figure every kid would want, and his own magical gift enables him to truly see her. In one exquisitely touching scene, he takes her face in his hands and does not break gaze as he staunchly reassures her. With fast-paced action and heart, Townsend's fantastical world feels truly "Wundrous."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fantasy in Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow. How many fantastical elements does the author invent? Do any remind you of others you've read in other books? Which ones?
Do you relate to or identify with any of the characters? Who and why?
Since this is the first book in a planned series, what do you think might happen in future volumes? Which questions have been left unanswered? Which characters or magical fantasy elements might come into play, or take more of a leading role?
- Author: Jessica Townsend
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publishers: Little, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: October 31, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
- Number of pages: 480
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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