One of my favourite middle grade reads last year was The Dragon in the Library, which was a brilliantly fun and funny book about wizards and dragons and libraries and friendship. Today I’m reviewing the just-as-awesome sequel, The Monster in the Lake!
Book: The Monster in the Lake by Louie Stowell, illustrated by Davide Ortu
Read before: No
Ownership: Review copy sent free of charge by Nosy Crow. All opinions my own.
This series is such a delight! Kit, the youngest wizard in the world, is progressing with her training under librarian Faith, with help from her two best friends Alita and Josh. The concept of libraries being repositories for magic is such a strong one, and we get to see a little more of the secrets of the wizards, with new spells, new magical tools, and a host of new magical creatures to deal with (plus, of course, Draca the library dragon, and Dogon, who’s half-dog, half-dragon, and all adorable). In this book, Kit’s magic starts going wrong, and all signs seem to point to a new resident in the local lake…
I just love every character in this book. Kit doesn’t love reading, but Josh does, and Alita’s practicality is the perfect midpoint between Kit’s impulsiveness and Josh’s nervousness. Faith is a really excellent mentor and role model – kind and cool – and I like that she’s got the balance down of letting the main characters work things out, but explaining when it’s needed. I enjoyed new character Duncan a lot too – a bearded Scotsman who drives a library bus! And yes, the bus has a dragon of its own… The illustrations really bring the characters to life (and they’re actually portrayed as diversely as they’re described!), and I love seeing how the magical creatures look on the page – the mermaids in this one are brilliant, with their seaweedy hair and hilarious expressions!
As with book one, this is fast-paced and laugh-out-loud funny. It has a great underlying message about the power of books, but also about believing in yourself and trusting your friends to help you. Confident readers will race through it, and reluctant readers should find themselves drawn in by the jokes, illustrations, and Kit herself. It’s an absolute joy to read – five out of five cats!