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.
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 Redwall, Percy 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