Elora of Stone: Legend of Rhyme Series (Vol. 1, Book 1)
by Jaime Lee Mann
Blue Moon Publishers
150 pages (print version)
Mann delivers a multi-generational saga built on themes of friendship and love between two families, who live in the tiny kingdom of Falmoor. Their world is plagued by the disappearance of children, specifically the loss of one child from a pair of twins. (While this sounds frightening, the story eventually provides an explanation that is not upsetting.) The plot introduces magical elements to keep the families from harm for the first part of the tale. The ending offers surprising twists (no spoilers here!) that will make young readers pause and think. Mann leaves just enough suspense and loose endings to leave young readers eager for the next book in her series, Into Coraira.
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The first generation of protagonists, Gwendolyn and Lochlan, are entwined by magic. They are betrothed to each other at an early age in an arranged marriage their parents hope will protect the young couple from the evil that wraps Falmoor. I become fond of these characters as the writer fleshes out their personalities and tells of a sweet courtship.
The story skips ahead to find the two wed and parents of twins –uh-oh! You know how the citizens of Falmoor must fight evil to keep children safe. However, this is not done in a scary fashion.
Elora, the witchy titular character, is a multi-layered personality, who keeps children hooked as Mann unravels her secrets. She is ably assisted by her minion, Gimblerod, a grouchy gremlin children will love to hate. Cinnamon and Sibley delight as sweet fairies.
Since I read Elora in several sittings, it took a moment to adjust when new characters are introduced in the second half of the tale. The dialogue also shifts from third-person to first-person voice as Mann introduces Gwendolyn’s and Lochlan’s children. A character list or graphic organizer would be helpful, especially as the series evolves, to enable readers to keep track.
Even though e-books allow for adjusting font size and paragraph spacing, the native layout of the digital book on my tablet marks Elora of Stone as another example of the book’s appeal for children. There is enough white space on the page, so they will not feel overwhelmed by too much text. Chapters are short, and black-and-white drawings enhance comprehension and keep kids engaged.
The cover design is especially appealing. Its misty yellow-and-green swirls draw me in, and the teeny frog in the corner makes me want to know how that amphibian figures into the story.
This book is an excellent way to introduce fantasy/adventure to beginning readers and hook reluctant readers. Aside from it's perfect length and pacing, it's also the first of a series, which is a sure-fire way to attract children who will be eager to follow the characters they love in The Legend of Rime.
Imagine a gentle tale about friendship, magic, and adventure. Throw in not-too-scary meanies and cute fairy creatures. There you have author Jaime Lee Mann’s fantasy for early- and middle-grade readers, Elora of Stone: Legend of Rhyme Series (Vol. 1, Book 1).
I highly recommend Elora of Stone, especially for beginning and reluctant readers. It’s an awesome epic fantasy for pint-sized readers. Children will root for its heroes and hiss at villains, but they won't be frightened as they eagerly wait for more.
I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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