The Menagerie | Tui T. Sutherland & Kari Sutherland | Book Review

If you are currently in the market for a fun-filled middle grade read filled with fantastical creatures, The Menagerie by Tui T. Sutherland and Kari Sutherland might just be your ticket. I found this book by the sisters Sutherland engaging and magical. That’s not to mention the humor, appropriate for a 12 year old, yet also the jokes inside made this adult laugh along too. Griffins, unicorns, golden geese and more make appearances in The Menagerie, a book that’s mostly about friendships – old and new.

The Menagerie by Tui T. Sutherland and Kari Sutherland | Good Books & Good Wine

Logan and his attorney father move from Chicago to Xanadu, Wyoming after Logan’s mother leaves them with nothing but a postcard – sent from Cheyenne. Logan is having a hard time adjusting to Xanadu. His new school is not as diverse as his old one, Logan is one of two African-American guys at his new school. He’s have a rough go at making friends, never knowing the right thing to say. Logan is a very lonely boy. This all changes when he finds a young griffin terrorizing his pets. To his amazement, Logan can communicate with the griffin. It turns out Xanadu is home to the Kahn Menagerie, a parcel of land where many mythical creatures live. It is also the home of Zoey Kahn and Blue, classmates to Logan. Unfortunately, several baby griffins have run away from the menagerie. It is up to Logan, Zoey and Blue to round them up before the menagerie’s inspection.

What The Menagerie by Tui T. Sutherland and Kari Sutherland excels at is it’s portrayal of friendship. Logan’s friendship with Zoey is tenuous. She really does not like him at first, owing to a previous betrayal by another person. And so, much for much of the book Logan must earn Zoey’s trust. He works very hard to do this, relying on his intellect to help him find the missing griffins. Also, Logan desperately wants to be involved with the menagerie, given his genuine love of animals. Then there is Logan’s friendship with Blue which comes quite easily. Blue seems to instantly trust him, having sort of a second sense about those things. Finally, there’s the former friendship between Zoey and Jasmin, one of the popular girls at school. Much of the book has Zoey reminiscing about Jasmin and how close they once were, highlighting the difference between her former best friend and her new friend.

The greatest thing about The Menagerie is the magic that it evokes. The various creatures really get the imagination going. It sort of reminded me of the care of magical creatures class in Harry Potter, how Hagrid would always bring some cool new creature to class. Plus, the creatures can talk and all have personalities. Like, the griffins are totally food obsessed and act like kids all hyped up on pixie stix. Then there’s the unicorns who are totally stuck up. I also laughed out loud over the golden goose who would not shut up. I thought that the Sutherlands did a delightful job in giving the different creatures strong characterization. Seriously, I think that the animals totally stole the show in this book.

If your child is prone to flights of fancy, or maybe if you are inclined toward reading children’s fiction do not miss out on The Menagerie. It’s a cute book that would do well in the hands of readers who enjoy RedwallPercy Jackson, or The Beastologist series. Tui T. Sutherland and Kari Sutherland have written a book filled with heart and a setting that I would not mind visiting.

Disclosure: Received for review via Amazon Vine

Other reviews of The Menagerie by Tui T. Sutherland and Kari Sutherland:

Can’t find any. Drop your link in the comments if you review this and I’ll add it.

Books by Tui T. Sutherland:
The Dragonet Prophecy

About April (Books&Wine)

April is 28 years old and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. In her free time she can be found reading, working out, or eating junk food. She often wears her sunglasses at night.

Comments

  1. I love these kinds of books–great for break in between some of the dark adult stuff. Thanks for the review! This will be a good recommends for the kiddies this summer at our store.

  2. I want to live in a place that has baby griffins! While I don’t teach middle grade anymore, I do still enjoy a good MG story, especially one with intriguing characters and a fun storyline. Plus–humor!

  3. I LOVE friendship & I love magic so this book sounds intriguing to me! and you made a comparison to Harry Potter, my interest is piqued. I might check this out if I need a magical middle grade book.

  4. Let me just say that that cover is GORGEOUS. I hadn’t heard of this book either (no idea how I missed it), so thanks for putting it on my radar! Like what Elena said: I absolutely adore books with magic as well. And being the HP nerd that I am, any books that are compared to it will be read. Eventually.

    Bahaha, the talking creatures sound adorable, especially those GRIFFINS. Hope I’ll be able to give this one a try. I might use my younger sis as an excuse as to why I’m reading MG books when I’m clearly not in middle grade. xP

  5. 🙂 My review went up yesterday.

    What a cute story! I knew I was going to enjoy it, but I didn’t know just how much I’d love it. Such a fun book and holy crap those griffins. SO. CUTE.

    Unfortunately I can’t find any info about a sequel, but there’s no way that ending could have been it. There were way too many questions left unanswered.

  6. I haven’t heard of this one. I may have to read it just because the cover is *awesome*. Great review!

  7. You had me at unicorns. Also at laughter. But really unicorns, because, girl, I still want one and wish they were real.

    Oh, I love that middle grade books are more about friendship, because that totally gets neglected in most older fiction, because we’re all like ROMANCE and DEATH and THINGS, but like friendship is the most important. Not that I don’t love kissing books, but it’s nice to get to see well-developed friendships and books that don’t take themselves too seriously.

    OMG, I need to read this. It sounds totes adorbs. CUTENESS.

  8. Love it when MG books have jokes that adults can get 🙂

  9. I bought this April. I loved the cover and blurb and sometimes I need a good middle grade to put me in the right reading mood. I am glad this is one of those books. I can’t wait to read it now.

  10. First off that cover is fantastic! I’d buy it based on that alone I think. I love reading middle grade fiction like this, it’s so fun and really puts me in a good mood. This one sounds like something I really need to read.

  11. I’ve been really curious about this one since I saw it at ALA midwinter. The synopsis wasn’t enough to sell me then, but you’re review really made me want to read it!
    I love that the animals all have different personalities. That’s exactly the type of thing that would have drawn me to a book when I was the target age, and frankly, it’s still a pretty big draw these days. I’m a sucker for talking animals.
    I’ll definitely be adding this one to my TBR.

  12. Okay, first of all, I LOVE the cover of this book. I can only imagine how much prettier it is in person!

    I also love that this book is about friendship. There’s something special about books that highlight this kind of relationship, and while that’s usually the case with MG, I thought it was super special to see it done with the context of the Menagerie.

    And speaking of the Menagerie, the creatures sound fantastic! I love how they’ve each got their own personality. It would be so much fun to work among them, I’m sure, so I can understand Logan’s yearning.

    So, this sounds like a winning MG book to me! I definitely want to check it out.

  13. I’m so sooooo happy that this, one of my most anticipated MG reads for the year, sounds as if it’s absolutely wonderful. Of course, I was attracted to it because of the fantastical creatures and the Wyoming setting (is it sad that my reaction to reading that he was one of two African American kids in his school was to think ‘yeah right, he’d be the only one?’ I mean seriously, we had a total of 6 African Americans in my hometown). I really like MG because of the friendship stories though, sometimes I get sick of all the YA romance, ya know? Anywho, with this one having your stamp of approval, it’s moving to the top of my list!

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