The Familiars (Familiars Series #1)

The Familiars (Familiars Series #1)

4.8 234
by Adam Jay Epstein, Andrew Jacobson
     
 

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When Aldwyn, a young alley cat on the run, ducks into a mysterious pet shop, he doesn’t expect his life to change. But that’s exactly what happens when Jack, a young wizard, picks Aldwyn to be his magical familiar.

Finally off the tough streets, Aldwyn thinks he’s got it made. He just has to convince the other familiars—the know-it-all

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Overview

When Aldwyn, a young alley cat on the run, ducks into a mysterious pet shop, he doesn’t expect his life to change. But that’s exactly what happens when Jack, a young wizard, picks Aldwyn to be his magical familiar.

Finally off the tough streets, Aldwyn thinks he’s got it made. He just has to convince the other familiars—the know-it-all blue jay Skylar and the friendly tree frog Gilbert—that he’s the telekinetic cat he claims to be. But when Jack and two other wizards in training are captured by a terrible evil, it will take all of Aldwyn’s street smarts, a few good friends, and a nose for adventure to save the day!

Editorial Reviews

Michael Buckley
“The Familiars combines the magic of Harry Potter and the adventure of Warriors into an enchanting story readers will love. Whether furry [like Aldwyn], flippered [like Gilbert] or feathered [like Skylar] you’ll be taking a closer look at your family pet.”
Becky Anderson
“Kids who love animal stories, adventure, fantasy and good humored friendship will be waiting impatiently for the next book in this rich and fantastical trilogy. So get familiar with the Familiars!”
Publishers Weekly
After starving alley cat Aldwyn steals food from a fishmonger once too often, he is chased by a notorious bounty hunter intent on exterminating him. He takes refuge in a pet store that sells animal familiars to local wizards and is purchased by Jack, a young apprentice. Aldwyn likes his cushy new life in Stone Runlet with Jack and two other students, but he struggles to convince his fellow familiars--a blue jay named Skylar and a tree frog named Gilbert--that he's as magical as they are. When a prophecy foretells that three spell-casters from Stone Runlet will save the world, the formerly benevolent Queen Loranella kills the students' mentor and takes the young novices prisoner, leaving it to the familiars to rescue the children. Screenwriters Epstein and Jacobson's children's book debut is a grand adventure with entertaining characters and magic-induced fun, written in an appropriately cinematic style (Sony Pictures Animation has optioned the story). Even adults will appreciate a tale in which street smarts mix with book learning, and resourcefulness and confidence are matched by loyalty and respect. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Amy McMillan
Aldwyn is an alley cat living in the queendom of Vastia. One day, when running from an angry bounty hunter, he ducks into a shop that sells a vast array of magical animals used as wizard's familiars. There he is chosen by young Jack and taken to live with him while he completes his wizard training. Aldwyn is torn by his desire to tell the truth about his lack of powers and his enjoyment of his new life. But his pleasure is short lived. The queen visits their little camp, killing the wizard tutor and taking Jack, his sister and friend captive, thinking they are the three spellcasters foretold in a prophecy. Aldwyn and the other wizards' familiars, Gilbert (a frog) and Skylar (a bluejay), set off on a quest to rescue their loyals. Together they fight off a seven-headed dragon, brave cave trolls, spyballs and more before rescuing their loyals, as well as the true queen. There are lessons of friendship and honesty learned along the way as Aldwyn's lies catch up with him, though he does discover his powers in the end. There is nothing grand or particularly new in this story; however it is a fun tale of animal fantasy and adventure, perfect for fans of the "Warriors" series or those not quite ready for the depth and darkness of Harry Potter or Redwall. Reviewer: Amy McMillan
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—This series opener won't disappoint. Escaping from a bounty hunter, a streetwise cat becomes the familiar of a boy magician-in-training. Almost before Aldwyn gets to know his new surroundings, Jack, his sister, and a fellow student are kidnapped and it is up to him; Skylar, a magic-adept bluejay; and Gilbert, a clumsy, red-eyed tree frog, to rescue their "loyals." The consistently suspenseful narrative moves quickly and is full of twists and turns. The characters are genuinely familiar: Aldwyn feels inadequate and works hard to conceal his humble origins; Skylar has secretly studied human magic and can be arrogant about her abilities; bumbling Gilbert thinks mostly about food and fears the father he has disappointed. The history of the queendom of Vastia is smoothly worked into the narrative. This winning combination of action and humor will keep readers turning pages right up to the ending, which successfully concludes this adventure but leaves room for more.—Kathleen Isaacs, Children's Literature Specialist, Pasadena, MD
Kirkus Reviews

The calculated invocation of too many tropes makes for a joyless fantasy debut. Aldwyn may be an orphaned alley cat with a mysterious past, but he has street smarts in abundance, so when young wizard-in-training Jack adopts him as his "familiar," Aldwyn knows he's on to a good thing. To secure his position among the other familiars--Skylar, the know-it-all bluejay, and Gilbert, the goofily genial tree frog--he pretends to possess magic as well. But when the three apprentice wizards are kidnapped by an evil sorceress, Aldwyn's lie puts their already-impossible rescue mission in danger. There isn't a fantasy cliché left out of this tale nor anything particularly clever or original in their use. The familiars might as well have been named Harry, Hermione and Ron, with only the barest nod to nonhuman traits; the magical system is painfully muddled; the plot is driven by random encounters and ridiculous coincidences; the climactic Big Reveal is telegraphed far in advance; the denouement serves only as a blatant advertisement for a sequel. Pass. (Fantasy. 8-12)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061961106
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/07/2011
Series:
Familiars Series, #1
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
134,156
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile:
920L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

What People are saying about this

Becky Anderson
“Kids who love animal stories, adventure, fantasy and good humored friendship will be waiting impatiently for the next book in this rich and fantastical trilogy. So get familiar with the Familiars!”
Michael Buckley
“The Familiars combines the magic of Harry Potter and the adventure of Warriors into an enchanting story readers will love. Whether furry [like Aldwyn], flippered [like Gilbert] or feathered [like Skylar] you’ll be taking a closer look at your family pet.”

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