4 out of 4 stars
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There is something peculiar going on in the forest, and 10-year-old Jessie Fenton is determined to find out what it is. She is curious about the shimmering lights coming from the woods at night, and she can't shake the feeling that someone is watching her. That is when she meets Blaze who is a Tomtee from the Withywick clan. Tomtees look similar to humans, but they are about half the size and covered in hair.
Blaze and the other Tomtees mean no harm and are looking for help to protect their homes from obliteration. The dwindling of crops has affected their food supply, and some members of the Withywick clan have been displaced. Jessie wants to help whatever way she can, but she has to earn the trust of the Tomtees first.
Jessie and the Shimmering Withywicks by Viv Walker is the first book in the Tomtee Tales series. It is a children's book for 8-12 year-olds and follows the main character, Jessie, as she learns about the importance of friendship and facing her fears.
My favorite part of Jessie and the Shimmering Withywicks was Jessie's willingness to help a friend in need. Blaze and the rest of the Tomtees' issues were mostly due to decisions made by the humans living on Holly Mount Hall. Jessie's friendship was the first step in making amends. Her kindness sends a clear message to young readers about the importance of advocating for others that may not have the means to do so themselves.
Another thing that I particularly enjoyed was the author's emphasis on being yourself. Although Blaze and Jessie were unlikely friends, it was clear that differences should never be a deterrent in friendship. When one of the Tomtees felt shameful about his appearance, Jessie encouraged him by saying: "I like you. I don't care what you look like. It's what's inside that counts." I think the book did an excellent job of celebrating differences by embracing the unique qualities of Jessie's new friends.
The writing is superb, and I found no spelling or grammatical errors. It is apparent that the book has been professionally edited and the author is a well-seasoned writer. I have happily chosen to give Jessie and the Shimmering Withywicks a rating of 4 out of 4 stars.
I would recommend this book to preteens who enjoy reading stories about friendship and acceptance with some fantasy weaved into the plot. I think this would be an excellent book for the classroom as it emphasizes the importance of charity and advocacy. I would not recommend Jessie and the Shimmering Withwicks to adults as the book is intended to appeal to younger readers.
Jessie and the Shimmering Withywicks
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