by Malcolm Chester
Trafford Publishing

"She rounded a corner and saw a huge cage with a thirty-foot ape sitting on a large stool."

After her father walks out on the family, young Courtney becomes depressed and reserved. Becoming detached from her friends, her schoolwork, and the rest of the outside world, everything is set to change after a strange dream. In her dream, Courtney arrives in Elysia, a unique land solely for children who need to overcome a hardship in their lives. While there, it is up to Courtney to figure out the tools she needs to take control of her situation. Making friends with Penelope, a girl with low self-esteem, the two see the marvelous and amazing sites of the strange kingdom. A boy with piercing eyes also catches her attention, but Courtney resists the idea of premature womanhood. Still, he is all she can think about even as the kingdom faces a massive crisis.

In the tradition of classics like Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, the mysterious and magical Elysia serves as a retreat for Courtney away from the stresses of her own life, but introduces its own stresses. For young readers who can empathize and relate with Courtney, they will find escape in the pages of this book, but ultimately learn that the only way to get past a problem is to address it directly. With a mixture of fantasy, action, comedy, and even some young adult romance, this title manages to touch some valuable lessons to pre-adolescents without being preachy or too heavy-handed. An enjoyable read from start to finish, readers will find themselves wishing they could return for one more day to Elysia once it is gone, much like the characters in the book do.

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