By Caroline Blaha-Black
Published by Lulu, April 3, 2008
Retail Cost: $11.95
Amazon | Lulu
Twelve-year-old Anika and her two pet rats, Max and Cleo, find a magical spinning top under a rosebush in Anika’s mother’s garden. While playing with the top later that night in her bedroom, Anika and her rats are magically transported to a fantasy land beyond their wildest imagination. The land, called Animalia, is a magical land where no human has ever been before and only animals live there. Full of castles, quaint villages and ancient forests, Animalia is a land of animal warriors, magicians and peasants. Time passes differently there than on Earth. One year in Animalia is only one hour on Earth. Upon her arrival, Anika meets the animals in a place called Castle Village.She meets the elder of that village, the great white owl, who understands how the top works and Yardley, the fighting raccoon, who teaches Anika to use a battle staff. Anika is forced to live with the animals for an entire year, until she can again spin the top and get back to Earth. She learns that Animalia is ruled by an evil opossum king called Zarr, who is mean to everyone. She is entagled with this villain when one day the tax collectors from king Zarr come to collect taxes in the village and find Anika there. She is summoned by the evil king and so she, her rat friends, and the raccoon Yardley are forced to pay the king a visit, otherwise the animals of Castle Village would be in trouble. Anika visits the castle and meets Zarr, but he tricks the rat Cleo into telling him about the magical top. He steals the top, Anika’s only way to return to Earth, and throws Anika and her friends into the dungeon because he plans to use the top to conquer Earth. Anika and her friends are saved by Goldie, a fat kitchen mouse, and Emil, her mouse companion. Emil and Goldie help them escape from the castle by hiding them in a labyrinth of caves, but Zarr captures them, and interrogates Anika to tell him how to the top works. Desperate, Anika and her friends figure out a plan, manage to trick Zarr, and Anika banishes him with the help of the top to an unknown land, so he can’t tyranize Animalia anymore. Anika’s victory over Zarr is celebrated throughout the land. Max and Cleo, her two white rats, have also proven themselves helpful in depose of the villain and are honored throughout Animalia. The Animalians choose them as their new king and queen, and Max and Cleo stay in Animalia forever. Anika returns home safely with a special gift from the Animalians and with a promise to come back soon.
About the Author:
Caroline Blaha-Black lives and writes in Denton, TX with a husband and four cats. She is a freelance writer with many articles under her belt, and she is also a reviewer for the US Review of Books. Anika and the Magic Top is her first book. She is currently shopping her second book, a historical novel about pirates, to interested agents.
About the Illustrator:
Judith W. Huey does portraits of children, pets, adults in costumes in several styles and media. She considers herself a mixed media artist with an eclectic style. She enjoys juicy, fresh watercolors to tight rich oils to the pioneering digital scene. She lives in Dothan, Alabama.