Maeve Merritt doesn't exactly fit in with the other young ladies at Miss Salamanca's School for Upright Young Ladies. She'd much rather be living out adventures, playing sports, and beating the neighborhood boys at cricket! Because of her latest outburst, Maeve is assigned garbage duty as detention. While sorting the rubbish, she finds a sardine tin that is more than it appears. It is, in fact, the current home of Mermeros, a djinni.
Maeve needed time to think about her three wishes, so she took the can to her room. Her plan was to keep Mermeros a secret, but (a) Tommy, a young boy who lived in the orphanage saw her; and (b) she told Alice Bromley, her roommate. She wasted one wish on Theresa Treazleton, and NOW she was going to probably have to share the last two wishes. Tommy has a plan that might get them more than three wishes, except that Theresa has told her father about the sardine djinni and he is determined to force Maeve to give him up!
I was expecting a pretty formulaic story. Then Mermeros and Maeve met for the first time. They are well-matched, witty and engaging. Tommy is also a great match for the independent-minded Maeve. While predictable in some spots, that is not always the case. The result is a well-paced adventure that gives readers balance in what they know and what they *think* they know about what happens next. The audience is most likely with Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, and, to a degree, Harry Potter, all stories which will help them visualize the story. Without that frame of reference, young readers may find it harder to appreciate the setting (1893 London), which is key to the story making sense.
Maeve is, as the book described "spunky," but she is much deeper than that. As narrator, she is obviously the star of the show, but I do wish the author had carved out a bit more space for Tommy, Alice, and Maeve's relationship with her father. Having more backstory for them earlier would have added a lot of depth to the story. Conversely, I wish much less time was spent on the Treazletons, Miss Salamanca, and her staff. They are cloying stereotypes.
All in all, this is a fun story that feels both nostalgic and fresh. It would be perfect for a family read-aloud or bedtime story.
Adventure and magic mix together with a dose of friendship, a drop of history, and a bit of suspense in a fun, wholesome tale perfect for bedtime (or anytime).
This is a historical fiction adventure with three fun, spunky young characters.
This is a story for enjoyment reading, though it could be fun to talk about what three wishes you would make.
10 and Up
9 and Up
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer's Age: