Review: Aziza’s Secret Fairy Door and the Mermaid’s Treasure by Lola Morayo, illustrated by Cory Reid

Cover image by Lola Morayo, published by Macmillan

This lovely magical adventure is written by the creative partnership of Tólá Okogwu and Jasmine Richards, who create inclusive stories under the pen name Lola Morayo. It is illustrated throughout the story in cute black and white graphics by Cory Reid; the first thing I admired was his gorgeous map of Shimmerton, just inside the front cover. I loved the style of this drawing and can imagine that it would encourage readers to create their own enchanting town maps.

Shimmerton is the setting for Aziza’s magical adventures when she steps through her fairy door. She is transported from the slightly chaotic setting of her family home, where Dad is packing the car for a family camping trip in less than promising weather! After shrinking to fairy size and growing her wings, Aziza finds herself on Shimmerton’s sunny beach. The mischievous Gigglers are noisily excavating sand for a super-sized sandcastle construction much to the annoyance of those in close proximity. Aziza skips past them to join her two close friends Peri and Tiko at the edge of the waves and there she is introduced to super-confident mermaid, Sirena and listens in awe to her stories of bravery and adventure under the ocean waves.

When the Gigglers’ antics wake a sleeping shell-seeker who has been hibernating under the sand, the very stability of all Shimmerton is under threat. Aziza and Peri are transformed into mermaids, Tiko transforms himself into an angler fish and the four friends embark on a quest to find a magical conch shell which will put the shell-seeker back to sleep and return the town to its peaceful existence. The ensuing adventure is filled with positive messages such as the importance of resilience, being your authentic self and the power of teamwork to overcome difficulties. Readers will also gain a knowledge of an incredible range of sea creatures as the quest plays out. At the end of the story there is a short “myths and legends” summary which explains the derivation of many of the character names from the myths and legends of a variety of countries. I found this utterly fascinating and I am certain that it would inspire many young readers to investigate further. It could also spark classroom discussions or projects around the beliefs or stories and legends of different cultural groups.

The length, illustrated style and short chapters in this book make it a perfect choice for children of 6 to 8 who are finding their independent reading confidence and want to get lost in a charming, enjoyable and heart-warming adventure.

I am most grateful to Antonia Wilkinson and Macmillan Children’s Books for my review copy in exchange for my honest opinion. I will be donating the book to my former primary school library, where I am sure it will be a popular choice.

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