"They heard a loud BOOM, which could have been either a clap of thunder, or an explosion."

Santa Claus is known to give presents to good little boys and girls, but what if he were to whisk them off to a world in need of heroes instead? That is exactly what happens to Alex, a ten-year-old boy who reluctantly takes his five-year-old sister Annie to a Christmas party. He doesn’t believe in Santa or wishes, so when he finally meets the jolly old elf, Alex just scoffs and walks away... into another world. He and his sister are put into the middle of a political battle between the Four Queens of the Seasons, but Winter is the worst. She wants time to stand still in an eternal wintry slumber. Along with a few friends, Alex and Annie are determined to save Spring and find a way back home.

Salimova’s story is whimsical and magical, and just as her subtitle suggests, it is a “stone’s throw” removed from a classic fairy tale. This story will appeal to children of middle-school age who enjoy a light-hearted adventure where the heroes of the story meet a fantastic cast of characters along the way—from trolls and dragons to witches and birds. The heroes of the story, Alex and Annie, follow the traditional hero’s journey and come through all their trials and quest changed.

While the elements of the tale are fantastical in nature, some of the character names seem to not easily fit into that theme. However, this does not impact the overall narrative. In short, this is a wonder-filled story that will undoubtedly be enjoyed by children who need a little magic in their lives.

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