As Scheherazade tales go, I prefer Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher. In fact, Betsy-Bee (13) just re-read Shadow Spinner for her medieval history and literature class, and I couldn’t help but compare this story to that one.

The Book of Wonders tries to include too many stories: all of the stories of Sinbad, some Aladdin and Ali Baba, and Scheherazade’s own story are all packed as episodes into this one book, which is obviously the beginning of a series or trilogy or something. (Warning: the ending is less than resolved.) I could have used a little more breathing room within and between adventures.

Yet, at the same time, I found the book easy to put down and hard to maintain interest in. Zardi and her friend Rhidan are likable enough as protagonists, but I didn’t really get into the whole girl looking for adventure and to save her sister from death and orphan foundling boy looking for his father and his heritage plot. Oh, and the orphan boy, Rhidan is also probably a magical chosen child of specialness, and Zardi is a roguish but courageous girl, skilled with the bow and full of spunk. Stereotypes abound.

It’s also possible that I’m just being cranky, and if you really have a predilection for the Arabian Nights and stories that take off therefrom, The Book of Wonders might be more wonder-filled for you than it was for me.

Jasmine Richards’ website.

Other voices:
Charlotte’s Library: “The Book of Wonders is a good title for this–like the Arabian Nights, once things get going, the episodic adventures fall one after another like beads on a string, and just when seem things settled, another perilous encounter appears! If you are a reader who delights in one magical, dangerous, imaginative adventure after another, this is a book for you.”
The HappyNappy Bookseller: “What I loved best about The Book of Wonders is the author never tries to do too much, simply lets the story unfold. The author has written a wonderful story that is inspired by Middle Eastern folk tales.”
The Book Cellar: “I am now curious for book 2 – as the story cut off at a really high action time. I wanted a few more answers to be revealed before this book was tied up.”

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