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The Magic Gown Review by Kathy Gelzer

By J. L. Kimmel
Spring Tree Press
PO Box 461
Atlantic Highlands, NJ 07716

The Magic Gown is a 134-page soft-cover fantasy book for children. The story centers on eleven-year-old Lilly, who lives with her father and mother in New Jersey. At the beginning of the story, she receives an unusual shell from a seagull. Shortly after that, a wooden box containing magical flower seeds is delivered to her anonymously. Lilly sets out on a quest to find a missing neighbor boy, a princess, and a magic gown. During her adventures she meets a whole new world of creatures, including a friendly flying dragon and a blue elephant king.

The book is lavishly illustrated by the author with colorful paintings. Most of the pictures are innocuous, but a few depict the evil, skeleton-like "Lacks" who might be scary for young children. Along with the book, I received a press release which included a cast of characters. I think it would have been good to include this in the beginning of the book itself because it is very helpful in keeping the many characters straight.

The book doesn't specify what ages it is for, but I think imaginative eight- to twelve-year-old girls would especially like it. The beautiful descriptions of fanciful locations and the myriad of whimsical creatures would enchant this age group, particularly those who like the make-believe world of fairies and talking animals and insects.

The story line is indeed intriguing, but the author ignores many grammar and writing conventions. Comma splices; the omission of commas, apostrophes, and question marks; and incorrect quotation punctuation are common throughout the book. During dialogue, when the speaker changes, there isn't always a new paragraph. These errors are distracting and confusing to the reader. And it provides a poor example to children, who are still learning these necessary rules.

I do so wish the errors in The Magic Gown had been corrected before final publication, for it would have made this delightful tale all the more enjoyable.

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2007