Rip Squeak and Jesse are two mice who are brother and sister. Rip wants to draw something, but can't figure out what, and Jesse is trying to dress her favorite doll in a costume but can't get it to look just right. Their friend Abbey, the kitten, is bored with exploring the cottage, so their frog friend, Euripides suggests a magical outing for everyone. Soon they all find themselves inside a little book shop where each of the friends embarks on an enchanted journey into the pages of the stories.
I received an ARC copy of this book for review from LibraryThing. Even though I am very familiar with many children's books, before seeing it there, I had never heard of the Rip Squeak book series. After doing a bit of research, I discovered that the series has been around for over a decade. It began as a series of paintings created by Leonard Filgate, and then morphed into a franchise of children's books, artwork and even a chain of five galleries in California and Hawaii.
This book, Find the Magic, takes the core characters of the series, Rip Squeak, Jesse, Abbey, and Euripides on a little boredom-busting outing to a local book store, where they discover all the adventures awaiting them inside the pages of the books. The illustrations in this book are stunningly beautiful. I was immediately enchanted by them, and could hardly draw my eyes away from them to read the text, so I can't imagine that any child would not be captivated by them as well. In some ways, the story itself almost seemed too simplistic for the pictures, but I can't really complain about a tale that encourages children to read. Although the story is certainly fine as a stand-alone, I couldn't help feeling that I was missing something by not having read the other books in the series, but that may just be my perception since I'm very particular about reading series in order. I'm sure kids probably wouldn't mind or even notice the difference. Otherwise, this is a lovely book that I would recommend to parents and educators alike. It is great for read-aloud or independent reading, but would probably be of most interest to children in the 5-8 years age range. The books in the series that precede this one are Rip Squeak and His Friends, The Treasure, and The Adventure, all of which were written and illustrated by the original creators, Leonard Filgate and Susan Yost-Filgate. Since I haven't read these earlier books, I cannot say how they compare to Find the Magic, but the new books are officially sanctioned by the creators. Book #5 in the picture book series, Surprise Party, is due to be released this Spring, and there is also a series of Rip Squeak board books for younger children. I just may have to seek out the remaining books in the series, if for no other reason than to gawk at the beautiful artwork.
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