As a parent reading to their first grader at night, there is a very special moment when you're enjoying a book just as much as your kid is. I mean, there are the books that you grit your teeth through because the kid loves them (I'm looking at you, Amelia Bedelia Unleashed), and there are the ones that you love from your childhood and they kind of put up with them out of kindness (our current My Side of the Mountain experience). And plenty of kids' books are fine and pleasant and I'm perfectly happy to read them for him.
And then there's the book that I like so much that I'm glad it's a kids book just so I have someone to share it with as I'm reading it. The book where I'm glad to be a parent so there's a perfectly good reason for me to be reading this, and to buy the sequel the minute it comes out. Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures, by Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce is that kind of book.
It's hard not to like a character named Pip, right? I mean, has there ever been a non-spunky Pip? I didn't think so. This Pip is no different--she's in fourth grade (I think; it's been a few weeks), and she lives in a world that is pretty much just like ours, except that magical creatures exist. There are unicorns and miniature silky griffins, just like there are cows and alligators. It's just part of the world.
Pip can talk to these creatures and understand when they talk to her. But however much magic there is in this world, this is not a talent anyone else has, and no one believes Pip. So she goes through life carrying her dog-eared copy of Jeffrey Higgleston's Guide To Magical Creatures, seizing any opportunity she can to chat with them and marking up the margins of her Guide.
But sometimes her talent gets her into trouble, and after The Unicorn Incident, Pip goes to spend the summer with her aunt, who is a magical creature veterinarian. It's an amazing opportunity to learn about all kinds of animals, and maybe make some friends. (Pip's not very good with people.) But when her aunt's town gets an infestation of Fuzzles (which are adorable, but with a nasty habit of bursting into flames), Pip might be the only one who can solve the problem.
This book is adorable, and hilarious, and charming. I love Bubbles, the cranky old miniature silky griffin. I love Tomas, Pip's new friend who is allergic to (almost literally) everything--especially magical creatures. I love her awesome aunt and her oh-so-teenaged cousin, and Regent Maximus the paranoid unicorn, and the horrible Mrs. Dreadbatch. I love the chapter names and the sassy ducks and Tomas's houseful of non-allergic rough-and-tumble brothers. I love the illustrated pages from the Guide, complete with Pip's insider annotations. I love everything about this book.
I am heartbroken that I have to wait until, apparently, next FALL to read Pip Bartlett's Guide to Unicorn Training, which is book two in the series. And the best part? Adam's going to be SO EXCITED! It's like the best book club ever. When he's not interrupting to repeat his favorite lines, that is.