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Scholastic Kids and Family Reading Report, Fifth Edition

The Magical Animal Adoption Agency, Book 1: Clover's Luck: Kallie George

Book: The Magical Animal Adoption Agency, Book 1: Clover's Luck
Author: Kallie George
Illustrator: Alexander Boiger
Pages: 128
Age Range: 7-10

Clover's Luck is the first book in the new Magical Animal Adoption Agency early chapter book series by Kallie George, with illustrations by Alexandra Boiger. Clover's Luck is about a little girl named Clover who has always been (or at least perceived herself to be) terribly unlucky. One day, when Clover has her pet canary out of its cage, a baseball comes through her window, and the canary escapes (bad luck indeed).

Clover follows the canary into The Woods, a mysterious forest into which people from her town never venture. There, Clover finds an ad seeking volunteers for the Magical Animal Adoption Agency (MAAA). At loose ends for the summer, Clover decides to volunteer. At the MAAA, Clover learns that magic is real. The MAAA is home to unicorns, a color-changing enchanted frog, and even a small dragon, all of which need to find good homes. When the proprietor of the MAAA goes out of town unexpectedly, leaving Clover in charge, she encounters a witch, and has a series of adventures. 

Clover's Luck is perfect fare for young readers who are charmed by magic, and who enjoy animals. There are black and white pencil illustrations every few pages, mostly small, but some full-page, bringing the magical animals and the determined Clover to life. At ten chapters and 128 pages, Clover's Luck is a couple of steps beyond easy readers, but still short enough to be unintimidating for relatively new readers. Here are a couple of quotes, to give a feel for the difficulty level of the text:

"She was so distracted thinking about magical animals that she dropped and broke not just her glass but also her plate when she was doing the dishes. And at bedtime, her toothbrush slipped in into the soap dish, and no matter how much she rinsed it, it still tasted like soap." (Page 21, ARC)

"A dark and far-off look came over Mr. Jams. He turned to Clover. "Many people want magical animals, but not all of them for the right reasons. Our creatures are meant for those who truly deserve them, those with good hearts. The animals at our Agency aren't possessions to be shown off, but companions, pets to be loved and cared for." (Page 40)

Clover is a delightful protagonist, somewhat lacking in self-confidence, but determined to do the right thing. She has conveniently neglectful parents, and is thrust into a position of responsibility beyond her years, but while she worries, she never shirks her new responsibilities. She grows emotionally over the course of the book, too (no mean feat for such a brief story).

George does come down quite directly on questions of right and wrong and looking on the bright side in this book, but for me, she stays on the right side of lesson-y. Things become clear to the reader as they become clear to Clover. 

In short, Clover's Luck is a delightful addition to the ranks of early chapter books. I look forward to future titles in the series, and hope that they are available in time for my almost five-year-old to appreciate them. 

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion 
Publication Date: February 3, 2015
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

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