________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 2 . . . . September 16, 2005


Kendra Kandlestar and the Box of Whispers.

Lee Edward Födi.
Dallas. TX: Brown Books, 2005.
222 pp., pbk. & cl., $10.95 (pbk.), $20.95 (cl.)
ISBN 1-933285-11-7 (pbk), ISBN 1-933285-10-9 (cl.).

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Deborah Mervold.

*** /4

Reviewed from uncorrected proof.


It is entirely possible that you have heard stories like this one before. You know the type: tales of high adventure, where you read about little folk with brave hears seeking some magic treasure in lands treacherous and unknown. Here danger lurks around every crook and bend in the trail. Here creatures more fierce than your darkest nightmare prowl amidst even darker shadows. And here, they say, sometimes heroes are born.

Well, in that regard, this tale is no different. But what does set this story apart is one tiny frightening thing. I suppose it’s a thing that might not seem frightening at all to you at first. At least not as terrifying as some of the things in those other stories, like an ancient hag, hunchbacked and cackling with three crooked fangs, or a goblin with scaly gray skin and one yellow eye a that glints like a bright gold coin in a dungeon's dim corner. No, this tiny thing doesn’t seem dangerous at all compared to the fiendish villains in those other stories.And now you wonder what this thing can be. Can you guess? No? Then let me tell you.

It is believe it or not, a secret.

Lee Edward Födi has created a unique world called the Land of Een which is led by an all-powerful council. A magic curtain protects the Land, and only Eens and Een animals can go through the curtain. When a monster appears through the magic curtain, which keeps Een separate from the rest of the world, and steals their magic box, the Orb is summoned. The Orb tells them that a rescue party must go and find the box. Kendra is to go because of her spark of courage; her Uncle Griffinskitch because of his magic; Broon Bumblebean, who is a respected scholar; Juniper Jinx to protect them with her sword; and little Oki because of his pure mind.

     Ratchet, the raccoon inventor, plans to accompany the group but is turned back. The magic sees them through many challenges with the outside creatures such as the Goojun and Unger. The only information the group has is what Uncle Griffinskitch remembers from being on the council and the books that Bumblebean brings along. They know that they must proceed to the castle where the Box of Whispers is being held. Once they reach the castle of the Giants, they must go through the one-way riddle door and find the treasure. They meet a dwarf named Pugglemud who decides to travel with them to find his gold, which he believes, is also in the castle.

     Their adventure doesn’t go according plan when Juniper is taken by a worm as food for the worm’s babies. The group becomes lost in the marshlands. When they finally arrive at the castle, they find the castle has been taken over by a dragon, one which has a direct link to the Land of Een. All of their skills are called into use as they must pass the test to obtain their magic box.

     The box contains secrets that people do not want known. Once they are able to face their secrets, the box no longer holds the power over them that it did. There is a strong moral in this tale that shows that secrets destroy because people will do anything to keep their own secrets. There are several subplots as Kendra learns that her family’s disappearance is Uncle Griffinskitch’s secret, and together they will try and find her family. Kendra’s own secret is what saves the day as she confesses to Oki that she saved an Unger early in their adventure. The result of an Een saving an Unger is exile from Een.

     This book uses the approach of a tale being told directly to the reader. In several places, the reader is reminded of plot and characters. This is a suitable approach for this work of fantasy. It would be very appropriate for the intended readers. There is good humour included in the story. For example, Juniper never gets Bumblebean’s name right. The plot has a good resolution with all the loose ends tied in. It is realistic and fits together well.

     The plot is divided into 26 chapters. Black and white drawings add much to the understanding of the plot and characterization. The detail allows the readers to comprehend the strange and unusual creatures. Language is very appropriate for the intended audience.

     This book would appeal to a variety of readers who like fantasy, adventure, or a strong story line. It is recommended as an oral reading choice for classes or individuals. Kendra Kandlestar and the Box of Whispers would be an excellent vehicle to promote discussion on a number of issues and would be a good purchase for school, public or personal libraries.


Deborah Mervold, a retired teacher librarian, educator and Resource Based Learning Consultant, lives in Shellbrook, SK.


To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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