Have you ever read a story that made you look up from the page at the world around you to see it with a renewed sense of wonder? That little patch of woods out back—or the bus stop down the street—suddenly harbors a new magic that lends itself to the imagination. Your eyes scan the trees for a glimmer of something you just know is there, or your hands press the steel bench beneath you in amazement at how solid it is.
Zao’s Tales is just that kind of story. A library, a bus stop, and the woods of Michigan become magical places where fairies and dragons come to life.
Patty and her daughters are accustomed to reading aloud together, but they’ve never read a book quite like Zao’s Tales—their gift from Dad’s current business trip. When they read one of the stories aloud, something from the story comes to life in the real world—with real world consequences. The only way to put these magical beings back is to finish the story! Unfortunately, a villain escapes when their backs are turned and tears out her last page. Patty, Carey, Ella, and Lili must pluck up their courage and set out to get the page back in order to finish the villain’s story and restore order to Michigan.
J. A. Sommer’s book is an adventure start to finish—one that I can’t wait to share with my children. But beyond the exciting and compelling nature of the story, I appreciate the care with which Patty shepherds her girls through the difficult emotions of anxiety, fear, anger, and jealousy. Even when they are separated, the girls draw on their mother’s wisdom and example and learn to work together to face danger and overcome challenging circumstances. There’s no girl-boss here—just young women who are growing in courage and grace, finding new strength in the face of conflict and adversity.
This is one of those books that not only captured my imagination, it inspired me as a mother and renewed my vision of who I want to be for my children. As C.S. Lewis said, “No book is worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally—and often far more—worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.” I’m only 39, but I think the principle applies—this is a story that has something for everyone, and I’m thrilled that Bandersnatch Books is working to bring it into the world.
My boys have been peeking over my shoulder through the editing process and begging to read Zao’s Tales. I keep promising them—as soon as it’s in print! Our Kickstarter is well on the way to making this a reality, and I am eager to see it happen. One more living book in the world—quite literally!
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