The Secrets of Magnolia Moon (Edwina Wyatt, illus by Katherine Quinn, Walker)
The Secrets of Magnolia Moon is the first middle-grade novel from Edwina Wyatt, who has been twice listed as a CBCA notable author for her work in picture books. Magnolia is a quirky and imaginative nine-year-old living in Thistledown with her soon-to-be expanding family. She is extremely good at keeping secrets, which is lucky, because lots of people tell her theirs. A friend leaving town, the quiet new kid at school, a birthday that will go unremarked upon––Magnolia knows what to do about all these secrets and more. Her solutions are creative and empathetic, always aiming to make the world a more joyful place. However, the structure of the story detracts from the premise. Magnolia learns and solves a new secret with every chapter, leaving the reader with little dramatic tension and not quite enough development to warm to many of the secondary characters. The writing is packed with inventive imagery and metaphors, resulting in some lyrical, fanciful passages, but often at the expense of clarity. Interspersed with gentle, dreamy illustrations, The Secrets of Magnolia Moon is aimed at the readership of the Ruby Red Shoes or Clementine Rose series—eight to 10-year-olds who like whimsical, cutesy books about friendship and emotional problem solving. It could also make a good read-aloud book for a slightly younger reader.
Annie Waters sells books, writes about books and podcasts about books