Nevermoor meets Keeper of the Lost Cities in the second wondrous adventure in the Unmapped Chronicles fantasy series from bestselling author Abi Elphinstone.
Twins Fox and Fibber are riding on a train through Germany when it plunges into a dark tunnel—and emerges in Jungledrop, one of the Unmapped Kingdoms in charge of controlling the weather in their world. The land is beautiful but perilous, with grizzlebears and gobblequick trees. Together, they must brave the glow-in-the-dark rainforests to find the Forever Fern. Along the way, they learn to work together, see the beauty in the environment around them, and forgive themselves for past mistakes.
Abi Elphinstone grew up in Scotland where she spent most of her childhood building dens, hiding in tree houses, and running wild across highland glens. After being coaxed out of her treehouse, she studied English at Bristol University and then worked as a teacher in Africa, Berkshire, and London. She is the author of the Dreamsnatcher trilogy and the Unmapped Chronicles, among other books for young readers, and the editor of anthology Winter Magic. When she’s not writing, Abi volunteers for the children’s literacy charity Coram Beanstalk, speaks in schools, and travels the world looking for her next story. You can find more about Abi at AbiElphinstone.com or on Facebook at Facebook.com/Abi.Elphinstone.
Seventy years after the events of Casper Tock and the Everdark Wings (2019), readers are welcomed back to the alternate Earth known as the Faraway and the Unmapped Kingdoms that are the source of the Faraway’s weather. Twins Fox and Fibber Petty-Squabble, 11, have been rivals from birth, to the delight of their parents—the family motto is “do not be afraid to stamp all over other people’s feelings.” This comes to a head after the Petty-Squabble parents force the pair to present brilliant business plans to save the family fortune or be exiled to Antarctica. Fox, feeling the pressure, snatches Fibber’s briefcase and makes a run for an antiques shop, where a familiar face tells the twins that they’re meant to save the world from the inexplicable water crisis and defeat Morg, the evil harpy. The twins arrive in the Unmapped Kingdom of Jungledrop on a magical train (powered by junglespit) to learn they must find the elusive Forever Fern—a plant that can grant immortality or save an entire kingdom. An adventure that starts as a selfish race to make millions just may be the thing these siblings (who both appear white) need to heal their relationship and learn it’s OK to help others. The omniscient narrator uses snark, humor, and short chapters to keep this fun, enlightening adventure moving. Themes of respect for other humans and for nature are explained clearly and creatively, never condescendingly.
A satisfying second installment. (Fantasy. 8-13)
– Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2020
ELPHINSTONE, Abi. The Bickery Twins and the Phoenix Tear. 336p. (Unmapped Chronicles: Bk. 2). S. &S./Aladdin. Aug. 2020. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534443105.
Gr 3-7–The Petty Squabbles’s family motto is “Do not be afraid…to stamp all over other people’s feelings.” That has worked well for 11-year-old twins Fox and Fibber until recently. Programmed by their money-grubbing parents, the twins only know greed and glory. Until a Bavarian antique store sends them on a quest into the Unmapped Kingdom of Jungledrop, which resembles a magically populated Amazon rainforest. The twins reluctantly agree to locate the Forever Fern, the only hope to save Jungledrop and nonmagical Earth, generally called the Faraway by Unmappers. Enchanting companions like Heckle the overly honest parrot help the children as they are pursued by Morg the harpy and her evil minions. Environmental awareness cleverly winds through the journey. This second book in the “Unmapped Chronicles” series can stand alone. It is told from the point of view of Fox, the female twin, with healthy doses of direct address. As with the first installment, the backstory is a little overwhelming. However, this volume better introduces setting, characters, and quest and achieves quick reader buy-in. This title stands out, not only for lovable secondary characters, but for the exquisitely horrible sibling rivalry. These are not pleasant children and that feels refreshing, especially as Elphinstone shows, (and never tells), how love can grow during a magical adventure. VERDICT While the idea of Unmapped Kingdoms may require explanation, children will fall in love with the twins soon after meeting them. Recommended, especially for “Artemis Fowl” fans.–Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Lib. Assoc., CT