Colette and the Golden Key
by Layla Rose Presant 
Lux Mentis Press

"Colette was in front of a beautiful wooden door. She opened the door with the golden key and stepped into a magical room."

A young girl goes on a magical search for the key to happiness in this delightful children's book. The story begins with Colette asking her mother what the key to happiness is. Her mother answers that it can be found by closing her eyes and breathing in and out. Upon closing her eyes, Colette meets the wise owl, Jung, who is to act as her guide. Together they travel to a tropical island where they meet Conch S. Ness, a stand in for the concept of consciousness, who advises Colette that being aware of one's thoughts is "a good way to get closer to the key." After meeting two beautiful mermaids, Colette and Jung visit Egor the eel. Unlike Conch S. Ness, Egor does not offer helpful advice to Colette. Representing the Ego, he is too self-involved and can only think about himself. To signal scene shifts, Presant uses different colored fonts for each section. This inventive way of marking progress helps hold children's interest in the story and is visually appealing.

Colette continues her journey, meeting a Bee who lives completely in the moment and Lennon, a bright floating heart, who believes that "Love is all you need." But like all great heroes in literature, Colette reaches a moment of crisis in the Transcendental Forest. As razor sharp vines wrap around her, negative thoughts and the desire to quit her quest fill her mind. But focusing her thoughts on her journey, Colette is able to battle through the vines and her dark thoughts. In the end, Sammy Somnio, with his bag of stardust, tells Colette that believing in yourself and your dreams is the key she was searching for. With some clever nods to the theories of Carl Jung, Presant weaves a magical tale that encourages children to find happiness in themselves.

Presant's use of advanced vocabulary, allegorical characters, and complex ideas challenges children to dig deep into the text to find meaning. Colette and the Golden Key is a wonderful book that teaches children that happiness ultimately comes from within and they, too, can go on a journey like Colette's to discover their own golden key.

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