The Secret of Zoone by Lee Edward Födi
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-284526-9 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-284529-0 $7.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4-7
Preteen Oswald Sparks (“most people call me Ozzie”) lives a clumsy, can-never-keep-his-shoes-tied, adventureless life until he finds a door to the magical Zoone Station, a neutral ground through which various creatures access the worlds of the multiverse. When he goes through it, the door back to his world is ruined, so Ozzie labors as a porter for the incoming creatures and awaits a convention of wizards, to whom he will appeal to magically fix the door and arrange his return. Along the way, he makes the acquaintance of the Station’s inhabitants: a skyger (a blue, winged tiger) named Tug; a cursed, purple-haired girl named Fidget; and Salamanda, the cute apprentice of the head wizard. Rumors of the notorious glibber king’s rogue spy have everyone on edge, and as conspiracies unfold around Ozzie, he discovers the spy (and also his own worth). A sharp sense of humor reminiscent of Rick Riordan pervades the story, and readers will enjoy the very literal gentle giant Tug. Though the story draws on typical genre tropes, it deploys them cleverly, and the novel is infused with a sense of magic and wonder. It also wraps up with a heartwarming message: the secret of Zoone is that it brings out one’s full potential, and there is inherent worth in everyone, even if they can’t keep their shoes tied.