Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures by Maggie Stiefvater & Jackson Pearce, Scholastic Press (April 28, 2015). ISBN: 9780545709262. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.
When you live in a world where magical creatures are real, you love Unicorns and you can talk to any animal, it’s pretty difficult to hide that fact, or be taken seriously by adults. Meet young teen Pip Bartlett, resident of Atlanta, Georgia.
When one of the other students in her class has her parents bring their herd of trained unicorns to career day, it’s a perfect storm of opportunity for Pip. As soon as she sees them, she rushes over and starts talking. Unfortunately, there’s competition among the herd and once they realize Pip can understand them, it becomes a madhouse as various unicorns want her to tout their appearance and assets. The end result is disaster, leading to her being exiled to her aunt’s home for the summer. However, that’s not such a bad punishment because Aunt Emma is a veterinarian, running the Cloverton Clinic for Magical Creatures.
Pip brings her favorite book, Jeffrey Higgleston’s Guide to Magical Creatures with her, and as she meets (and helps treat) new species, she appends its original entries with stuff she learns. She also makes friends with Tom, a boy her age who lives close by the clinic. Despite Tom being a bit spleeny, they become good friends and help each other as an unusual infestation hits Cloverton. By the end of the story, Pip has encountered a myriad of new critters, as well as proven to others that she’s not an annoyingly delusional kid.
This is a fun, fast read with a plot and illustrations that will captivate younger teens, especially those who like light fantasy. It’s a very good option for both school and public libraries.