The Slapstyx by Annabelle Franklin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
The Slapstyx by Annabelle Franklin is a charming children’s novel. It follows twins Gemma and Georgie on their mission to stop the Slapstyx goblin tribe from producing dirt and put environmentally-UNfriendly cleaning product ZOOM!!! out of business.
The Slapstyx contains numerous characters and themes that children love. It has magic – goblins, mermaids, and dreamwalking – that is playful and never too scary. Georgie and Gemma are both ambitious, clever, and kind. While I would have liked to have seen a bit more personality distinction between them, both girls are well-developed and very likable. The villain, Zachary Zigstack, is comically portrayed and the perfect level of evil for the twins to face. The side characters, while a bit simple, are developed enough for a children’s novel and touch on issues that many children have to tackle, including friendship, a parent’s remarriage, and (step-)siblinghood.
The over-arching theme of The Slapstyx is environmental consciousness. Franklin spends ample time explaining how ZOOM!!! adversely affects the environment. While much of the plot is enveloped in magic, there are still “real-world” elements that teach children about environmental issues, such as hints to capitalistic greed, toxins in the ocean, and animal endangerment. The environmental theme is well done and a great way to introduce children to this issue.
The writing itself is clear and simple, which allows the story and the characters to be the focus of the novel. The tone of The Slapstyx is playful and witty. Even in moments of danger, Franklin keeps the tone light and inserts comic relief. However, the novel does end on a rather violent note. While I do not think it was too violent for children, it did come as a bit of a surprise after how playful the rest of the novel was.
Overall, The Slapstyx is a fun novel with an important message. If your child (or even you) likes magic, adventure, take-charge characters, and socially-conscious themes, you will enjoy The Slapstyx.
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