Caught in the Enigmas of the Enchanted Forest
by Ne'zz Amar
Partridge Publishing Singapore

"She then truly believed that friends and family are like worthy treasures."

Two stories of young girls encountering life-changing experiences in the same enchanted forest comprise this book. In the first, a petulant, somewhat spoiled girl named Shaylee (a.k.a. "Miss Grumpy Shaylee") is taught a lesson in maturity via the effects of selfishness on personal perceptions and development and its impact on the larger society. A dwarf entices her into the belief that her dearest wish will come true, but only if Shaylee is able to rid herself of selfishness. Shaylee's subsequent lessons are dramatic and, finally, instructive.

Another girl named Piper ventures into the forest to vanquish an evil sorcerer and free her mother from imprisonment by the evil one. Along the way—and in shades of A Midsummer Night's Dream—Piper meets an extremely helpful being named Oberon. Other beings, such as an imprisoned giant, a beautiful but terrifying monster, and the people the sorcerer has enslaved, await inside the sorcerer's castle, along with multiple challenges which much be faced before the ultimate resolution.

The stories share philosophies and concepts similar to The Wizard of Oz, A Wrinkle In Time, and other coming-of-age fantasies. The similarity to A Wrinkle in Time is especially seen in Piper's story, by the child risking her life to free a parent and reunite the family. The young protagonists must face multiple situations, many of them critical. They must work through them by using common sense and appreciating love and friendship before they are freed. The entertaining and sometimes amusing illustrations by Amiza Sulaiman (Mija) and Liyana Rizzle enhance the stories.

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