________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 4 . . . . October 12, 2007


Kendra Kandlestar and the Door to Unger.

Lee Edward Fodi.
Dallas, TX: Brown Books, 2007.
258 pp., pbk. & hc., $10.95 (pbk.), $20.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-933285-82-5 (pbk), ISBN 978-1-933285-83-2 (hc.).

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Deborah Mervold.

***½ /4

Reviewed from Uncorrected Proof.


Kendra was bursting with questions. “I don’t understand,” she said to her uncle at breakfast. “How did Oroook get into Een?” Was it magic? How does he know my mother? Does that mean she’s still alive? And what does any of have to do with this Door to Unger?

“Humph,” Uncle Griffinskitch replied, sipping on his dandelion tea. Kendra knew the old wizard well enough to know that his humph meant he was in deep thought and that he didn’t feel like talking. Indeed, his only words came after breakfast, when he said, “Go out to the garden today, Kendra, and rake over the Unger’s footprints. If anyone finds them, there will be panic across Een.”


Kendra begins her second adventure and the search for her family. Somehow, their mysterious disappearance is connected to the Ungers. An Unger appears magically to Kendra and her Uncle Griffinskitch. The Unger sees a secret mark on Kendra’s palm and says they need to go and find the Door to Unger which is only open for one day of the year. Kendra is perplexed how their enemy was able to get through the magic curtain which keeps all the Een people in and the rest of the world out. The Eens are tiny creatures who have made a special bond with the animals in their world. Uncle Griffinskitch knows that, if the rest of the Een see the huge footprints, they will panic. Winter Woodsong, the previous head of the council and friend to Griffinskitch, has been retired by Burdock Brown who wants to take over the power. In his first act, Burdock has dismissed all of the Een animals from their roles in the kingdom and has established the Elder Stone as a place for only Eens. Kendra and her uncle go to Elder Woodsong because of her age and position, and they think she may to be only person able to assist them in finding the door to Unger. Winter Woodsong tells them the story of the Greeven Wastes which may have possibilities. They must access the Wasteland through a secret door in the caves which they must first find.

     Burdock has made it punishable by imprisonment for any Een to leave their land. Kendra, Uncle Griffinskitch, Bumblebean, the renowned scholar, Juniper Jinx, the grasshopper and previous guard, Ratchet, the raccoon and want-to-be magician, and Oki, the little mouse who is acting as an apprentice to Ratchet, decide to go against the law and try and follow the advice of the Unger and find the secret door. Through an accidental meeting with Burdock who is trying to prevent them from leaving, Oki stumbles upon the secret entrance out of Een. The group travels with trepidation through the underground caverns until they are attacked by a huge serpent. Crumpit, the Master of Keys, rescues them and takes them to the court of Reginaldo, someone they had met previously (in the first book, Kendra Kandlestar and the Box of Whispers) when he was known as the Dwarf, Puddlemud. Puddlemud was always looking for gold. They are now in the land of Umbor, inhabited by dwarfs. King Reginaldo fills them in on his adventures and how he found the magic belt which has enabled him to become the King of the Dwarfs.

     Kendra is uneasy that everything is not as it should be. Immediately after the banquet, composed completely and only of turnips, Griffinskitch, Bumblebean and Jinx fall into a deep sleep. Oki, Ratchet and Kendra had not eaten their meal and had instead used “Dinner Thinner,” a magic powder which had made their meals disappear as if being eaten. The three find a cloak, and when they stand on one another’s shoulders, they are disguised to look like a dwarf. Ratchet is on the bottom but does the speaking because he has the deepest voice and sounds most like a dwarf. They immediately encounter Fiddlewick, a dwarf who mistakes them for a fellow guard called Ornelius. He says that Reynaldo has given instructions to get some additional cages ready in the pens. The three follow Fiddlewick to a door which is the only thing they haven’t seen covered in gold. From behind the door they hear a strange hammering sound which adds to Kendra’s uneasiness. The guard lets them in to take the next watch.

     Instead, they discover a mining operation which utilizes slaves from different races. They are afraid because they see these slaves as beasts. Here, they encounter Trooogul, the Unger that Kendra saved in the first book. Kendra sees that she must free the captives much to the dismay of her companions. Kendra is uncertain how much she can trust Trooogul, but circumstances throw them together, and together they travel to the door which is only open once in the year. Her companions, who had first been put to sleep by poison in the turnips, had now been captured by the Ungers and taken to the secret door. Kendra and Trooogul discover they have a closer bond than they thought when they go through the magic door and, instead of Kendra turning into an Unger, Trooogul turns back into her brother, Kiro. When Griffenskitch is bitten by a Krake on the shoulder, the only remedy is to get him back to Een for the fireflower, which will save his life.

     On their return, they have many questions. Will Kiro return to being an Unger? Will Burdock Brown continue to misuse his power? Will Kendra find out what happened to her family? Will they be reunited? Elder Wintersong reminds Kendra that she has changed, and it may be through Kendra that peace will come to the groups surrounding the Eens. Kendra learns that with courage she is the gatekeeper of her own truth.

     The novel is divided into 32 chapters which each end on a high point that encourages readers to continue reading. Vocabulary is suitable and appropriate for the intended audience, and the dialogue is realistic. There is an interesting approach used for the speech of the Ungers. An extra syllable is added to the end such as “zum” which adds interest but not too much difficulty in comprehension. It would be a fun read-aloud section. The author gives subtle clues to the reader about the plot. When Kendra is uneasy in the court of Reynaldo, the characters keep slipping up with their words and introducing them as “sl” and then changing to other words like folk. The premise is that the word they want to use is “slave." There is also humour in the book as Ratchet puts Burdock to sleep using a powder called “Snore Galore.” Like most of his inventions, it has a few kinks that need to be worked out. Ratchet has a number of powders that he has developed for the group to put to use in their adventures. The black and white illustrations add humour and understanding to the text.

     Although it is a sequel, this book also stands alone. It would appeal to a variety of readers, including readers of fantasy and adventure stories. The ending certainly leads the reader to the conclusion that there will be more adventures for Kendra and her associates. This book would be an excellent class novel for individual reading or as a read aloud choice. It would be an excellent addition for personal, class, school and public libraries.

Highly Recommended.

Deborah Mervold, an educator from Shellbrook, SK, is now doing faculty training and program development at Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology.

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

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.